Exodus 8
Matthew Poole's Commentary
And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
God sends Moses to Pharaoh that he might let the people go, Exodus 8:1. He threatens his denial with a judgment of frogs, Exodus 8:2-4. Aaron stretching forth his rod, Egypt is covered with frogs, Exodus 8:6. The magicians do so, Exodus 8:7. Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron to entreat the Lord to remove the frogs, and promises them to let them go, Exodus 8:8. Moses and Aaron cry to the Lord to take away the frogs, Exodus 8:12; which he did, Exodus 8:13. Pharaoh’s heart still hardened, Exodus 8:15. Aaron stretching forth his rod smites the dust, which becomes lice, Exodus 8:17. The magicians attempt the same, but could not, Exodus 8:18; which extorted a confession from them that this is the finger of God, yet Pharaoh is hardened, Exodus 8:19. Swarms of flies threatened, Exodus 8:20-23. God fulfills his word, Exodus 8:24. Pharaoh sends for Moses and Aaron, and permits a sacrifice in Egypt, Exodus 8:25. Moses would go three days into the wilderness, Exodus 8:27. Pharaoh permits that, but not far, Exodus 8:28. The flies are removed, Exodus 8:29-31. Pharaoh is hardened, Exodus 8:32.

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And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs:
All thy land which is within thy borders; a synecdoche; so that word is used also Exodus 10:4,19 1 Kings 1:3 Psalm 147:14 Jeremiah 15:13. So the gate and the wall are put for the city to which they belong, Genesis 22:17 Amos 1:7,10,14.

And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs:
The river; under which are comprehended all other rivers, streams, and ponds, as appears from Exodus 8:5. But the river Nilus is mentioned, because God would make that an instrument of their misery in which they most gloried, Ezekiel 29:3, and to which they gave divine honours, and which was the instrument of their cruelty against the Israelites, Exodus 1:22.

Into thy bed-chamber; either because God made the doors and windows to fly open, which it is easy to believe concerning God, seeing that this hath been many times done by evil angels; or because whensoever men entered into any house, or any room of their house, which their occasions would oft force them to do, the frogs, being always at their heels in great numbers, would go in with them. This plague was worse than the former, because it was more constant and more general; for the former was only in the waters, and did only molest them when they went to drink or use the water; but this infected all liquors, and all places, and at all times, and annoyed all their senses with their filthy substance, and shape, and noise, and stink, and mingled themselves with their meats, and sauces, and drinks, and crawling into their beds made them restless. And many of them probably were of a more ugly shape and infectious nature than ordinary.

And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.
Not upon the Israelites, whom he hereby exempts from the number of Pharaoh’s people and subjects, and owns them for his peculiar people. The frogs did not only invade their houses, but assault their persons, which is not strange, considering that they were armed with a Divine commission and power.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.
The Lord spake unto Moses, by inward instinct or suggestion to his mind; for He was now in the king’s presence.

And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.
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And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.
Nor was it hard for the devil to produce them out of their own spawn, and the slime of the river.

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD.
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And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?
Glory over me: as I have gloried over thee in laying first my commands, and then my plagues upon thee, so now lay thy commands upon me for the time of my praying; and if I do not what thou requirest, I am content thou shouldst insult over me, punish me. Or, glory, or boast thyself of, or concerning me, as one that thy God’s power can do that for thee which all thy magicians cannot, of whom therefore thou now seest thou canst not glory nor boast, as thou hast hitherto done.

When shall I entreat for thee? Appoint me what time thou pleasest. Hereby he knew that the hand and glory of God would be more conspicuous in it. And this was no presumption in Moses, because he had a large commission, Exodus 7:1; and also had particular direction from God in all that he said or did in these matters.

And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God.
Why not presently?

Answ. 1. Because he hoped ere that time they might be removed, either by natural causes or by chance, and so he should not need the favour of Moses or his God.

2. Because he thought it a hard and long work to remove so vast a number of frogs, and that Moses might use divers ceremonies, as the magicians did, in his addresses to God, which would require some considerable time.

And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only.
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And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the LORD because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh.
Or, as the place is fitly rendered by others, because of the word, or matter of, or about the frogs which he had given or propounded to Pharaoh. Because he had given his word both for the thing and the time of it, he prayed more earnestly lest God should be dishonoured, and Pharaoh have occasion of triumph. The Hebrew verbs to put and to give are frequently exchanged, as appears by comparing 1 Kings 10:9, with 2 Chronicles 9:8; and Isaiah 42:1, with Matthew 12:18.

Moses cried unto the Lord: though he was assured that the frogs would depart at his word, yet he would use the means appointed by God for the accomplishment of it.

And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields.
A short speech for they died and were removed out of, &c, as appears from the next verse; it being frequent in the Hebrew tongue under one verb expressed to understand another agreeable to it. See examples in the Hebrew, Genesis 43:33,34 Exo 18:12 25:2 Proverbs 25:22.

And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank.
Doubtless they cast them into their rivers, or pits, &c., though that be not here mentioned. God would not instantly and wholly take them away, both to convince them of the truth of the miracle, and to make them more sensible of this judgment, and more fearful of bringing another upon themselves.

But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
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And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
God, it seems, gave him no warning, because he showed himself in the very last plague to be both perfidious and incorrigible. Others think he was forewarned, though that be not here expressed.

Lice, so the Hebrew word is rendered by all the Jewish and most other interpreters. But it is probable that what is said of the locusts, Exodus 10:14, was true of these, that they were much more loathsome and troublesome than ordinary.

And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
The dust was not fit matter to produce lice, and therefore shows this work to be Divine and miraculous.

All the dust of the land, i.e. a great part of it, the word all being commonly so understood in Scripture.

And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast.
Did so, i.e. endeavoured to do so. Thus to enter, Matthew 7:13, is put for striving to enter, Luke 13:24. Thus men are said to deliver, Genesis 37:21; to fight, Joshua 24:9; to return, Joshua 10:15; when they only attempted or endeavoured to do so. And therefore when it is said in any of the plagues that the magicians did so, it is not to be understood that they really did the same thing, but that they endeavoured to do so, and that they did something which looked like it.

It was as easy for them to produce lice as frogs, but God hindered them, partly to confound them and their devilish arts, and to show that what they did before was only by his permission; and partly to convince Pharaoh and the Egyptians of their vanity in trusting to such impotent magicians, and in opposing that God who could control and confound them when he pleased.

Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
The finger is put either synecdochically for the hand, as it is Exodus 31:18 Psalm 8:3 144:1; or metaphorically for the power or virtue, as Luke 11:20, compared with Matthew 12:28.

Of God; of that supreme God, whom both the Egyptians and other heathen idolaters acknowledged as superior to all men, and idols, and devils. This they said, lest they should be thought inferior to Moses and Aaron in magical art. But hereby they own the sovereign God to be on Israel’s side; and yet, like the devils, they proceed to fight against him.

He hearkened not unto them; either to his magicians, of whom he last spake; or rather to Moses and Aaron, as the following words show. For relatives oft belong to the remoter antecedents, as Genesis 9:13 1 Samuel 7:17 Mark 2:13.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
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Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are.
Swarms of flies; Heb. a mixture of insects or flies, as appears from Psalm 78:45, which were of various kinds, as bees, wasps, gnats, hornets, &c, infinite in their numbers, and doubtless larger and more venomous and pernicious than the common ones were.

And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.

1. Of the whole earth, and consequently of Egypt, that I am not only the Lord of Israel, but of thee and thy dominions too. God is here spoken of after the manner of earthly princes, who use to reside in the midst of their kingdoms, that they may more conveniently rule and influence them. Or rather,

2. Of Goshen; the words being properly thus rendered, that I the Lord am in the midst of that land, to wit, the land of Goshen now spoken of, to defend and preserve it. For God is said to be in the midst of them whom he protects, Deu 7:21 23:14 Joshua 3:10 Psalm 46:5; and not to be in the midst of others whom he forsakes, and designs or threatens to destroy, Numbers 14:42 Deu 1:42 31:17. Compare Exodus 33:3, with Exodus 34:9.

And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.
A division; Heb. a redemption or deliverance, i.e. a token or mean of deliverance, by a metonomy; a wall of partition, by which I will preserve the Israelites, whilst I destroy the Egyptians.

Tomorrow shall this sign be. This he saith, partly to gain the more belief to himself in what he now did or should timber speak in God’s name to them; and partly to warn them of their danger, and make their disobedience more inexcusable.

And the LORD did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies.
The Lord did so, immediately by his own word, and not by Moses’s rod, lest the Egyptians should think it was a magician’s wand, and. that all Moses’s works were done by the power of the devil.

A grievous swarm of flies; Heb. a heavy mixture of flies. Heavy, i.e. either great, as this Hebrew word is used, Genesis 41:31 Isaiah 32:2, or mischievous and troublesome; or rather, numerous, as it is taken, Genesis 1:9 Numbers 11:14 1 Kings 3:9, compared with 2 Chronicles 1:10.

The land, i.e. either the fruits or products of the land; or rather, the inhabitants of the land, as the word land is taken, Genesis 41:36 1 Samuel 27:9 many of the people were poisoned or stung to death by them, as appears from Psalm 78:45. See also /APC Wis 16:9.

And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.
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And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?
It is not meet, Heb. not right, neither in God’s eyes, who hath appointed us the place as well as the thing; nor in the Egyptians’ eyes, as it follows.

The abomination of the Egyptians; that which the Egyptians abhor to kill, or to see killed; as not only Scripture, but profane authors, as Diodorus, and Tully, and Juvenal, witness, because they worshipped them as gods, as is notoriously known. Their fear was just; for when once a Roman had but killed a cat, though imprudently, the people tumultuously met together, and beset his house, and killed him in spite of the king and his princes, who used their utmost power and diligence to prevent it.

We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as he shall command us.
For we know not what kind or number of sacrifices to offer to him till we come thither.

And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me.
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And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.
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And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.
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And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one.
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And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.
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Matthew Poole's Commentary

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