Psalm 78:45
He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.
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(45) Divers sorts of flies.—Better, simply flies. See Note Exodus 8:21.

Frogs.—See Exodus 8:2, and Bib. Ed., iv. 145.

78:40-55. Let not those that receive mercy from God, be thereby made bold to sin, for the mercies they receive will hasten its punishment; yet let not those who are under Divine rebukes for sin, be discouraged from repentance. The Holy One of Israel will do what is most for his own glory, and what is most for their good. Their forgetting former favours, led them to limit God for the future. God made his own people to go forth like sheep; and guided them in the wilderness, as a shepherd his flock, with all care and tenderness. Thus the true Joshua, even Jesus, brings his church out of the wilderness; but no earthly Canaan, no worldly advantages, should make us forget that the church is in the wilderness while in this world, and that there remaineth a far more glorious rest for the people of God.He sent divers sorts of flies ... - The account of this plague is found in Exodus 8:24. The word there used is simply "swarm," without indicating what the swarm was composed of. The rabbis explain the word as denoting a mixture, or a conflux of noxious insects, as if the word were derived from ערב ‛ârab - "to mix." The Septuagint renders it κυνόμνια kunomnia - "dog-fly" - which Philo describes as so named from its impudence. The common explanation of the word now is that it denotes a species of fly - the gad-fly - exceedingly troublesome to man and beast, and that it derives its name - ערב ‛ârôb - from the verb ערב ‛ârab, in one of its significations to suck, and hence, the allusion to sucking the blood of animals. The word occurs only in the following places, Exodus 8:21-22, Exodus 8:24, Exodus 8:29, Exodus 8:31, where it is rendered swarm, or swarms, and Psalm 105:31, where (as here) it is rendered divers sorts of flies.

And frogs which destroyed them - Exodus 8:6. The order in which the plagues occurred is not preserved in the account in the psalm.

45. The dog-fly or the mosquito. Devoured them; or, destroyed them; which they might do by their cruel and numerous stings, for these flies were doubtless extraordinary in their nature and quantity, and poisonous and hurtful qualities. And the like is to be thought concerning the frogs here following, which also might destroy the people by infecting the air with their stink, and corrupting their meats and drinks. He sent divers sorts of flies among them,.... This was the fourth plague; see Exodus 8:24, the word signifies a "mixture" (f), and the Targum renders it

"a mixture of wild beasts;''

so Josephus (g) understood this plague of various sorts of beasts of different forms, and such as had never been seen before. Aben Ezra, on Exodus 8:24 interprets it of evil beasts mixed together, as lions, wolves, bears, and leopards; and Jarchi, on the same place, of serpents and scorpions: the Syriac and Arabic versions here, following the Septuagint, render the word "dog flies"; so called because they were, as Pliny (h) says, very troublesome to dogs, and so might give the Egyptians greater uneasiness, because they worshipped dogs. God can make use of very mean and contemptible instruments, the least of insects, to plague and distress the most powerful enemies of his people;

which devoured them; corrupted their land, Exodus 8:24, perhaps produced a pestilence, which destroyed many of the inhabitants, or consumed the vegetables of the land; as but a few years ago (e), in New England, a sort of insects came out of little holes in the ground, in the form of maggots, and turned to flies, which for the space of two hundred miles poisoned and destroyed all the trees in the country (i):

and frogs, which destroyed them; with their stench; see Exodus 8:5, with this plague compare Revelation 16:13, this was the second plague.

(e) This was written about 1750. Editor. (f) "mixtionem", Montanus; "miscellam", Vatablus; "a mixed swarm", Ainsworth. (g) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 14. sect. 3.((h) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 34. (i) See Philosoph. Transact. vol. 2. p. 766. See also p. 781.

He sent {b} divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.

(b) This word signifies a confused mixture of flies and venomous worms. Some take it for all sorts of serpents: some for all wild beasts.

45. The fourth and second plagues, Exodus 8:20 ff., Exodus 8:1 ff. The word rendered divers sorts of flies, or, swarms of flies (R.V.), is used only with reference to this plague (Exodus 8; Psalm 105:31), and probably means some venomous kind of fly, such as abound in Egypt.Verse 45. - He sent divers sorts of flies among them (see Exodus 8:24). A particular sort of fly or beetle is meant, rather than many different sorts. Dr. Kay and Professor Cheyne suggest "dog flies" - Canon Cook, the Blatta Orientalis. Which devoured them; i.e. "preyed upon them," sucking out their life blood. And frogs, which destroyed them (see Exodus 8:6). The poet, not being an historian, does not give the plagues in their chronological order, neither regards himself as bound to mention all of them. He omits the third, and reverses the order of the second and fourth. The second part of the Psalm now begins. God, notwithstanding, in His compassion restrains His anger; but Israel's God-tempting conduct was continued, even after the journey through the desert, in Canaan, and the miracles of judgment amidst which the deliverance out of Egypt had been effected were forgotten. With והוּא in Psalm 78:38

(Note: According to B. Kiddushin 30a, this Psalm 78:38 is the middle one of the 5896 פסוקין, στίχοι, of the Psalter. According to B. Maccoth 22b, Psalm 78:38, and previously Deuteronomy 28:58-59; Deuteronomy 29:8 [9], were recited when the forty strokes of the lash save one, which according to 2 Corinthians 11:24 Paul received five times, were being counted out to the culprit.)

begins an adversative clause, which is of universal import as far as ישׁהית, and then becomes historical. Psalm 78:38 expands what lies in רחוּם: He expiates iniquity and, by letting mercy instead of right take its course, arrests the destruction of the sinner. With והרבּה (Ges. ֗֗142, 2) this universal truth is supported out of the history of Israel. As this history shows, He has many a time called back His anger, i.e., checked it in its course, and not stirred up all His blowing anger (cf. Isaiah 42:13), i.e., His anger in all its fulness and intensity. We see that Psalm 78:38 refers to His conduct towards Israel, then Psalm 78:39 follows with the ground of the determination, and that in the form of an inference drawn from such conduct towards Israel. He moderated His anger against Israel, and consequently took human frailty and perishableness into consideration. The fact that man is flesh (which not merely affirms his physical fragility, but also his moral weakness, Genesis 6:3, cf. Genesis 8:21), and that, after a short life, he falls a prey to death, determines God to be long-suffering and kind; it was in fact sensuous desire and loathing by which Israel was beguiled time after time. The exclamation "how oft!" Psalm 78:40, calls attention to the praiseworthiness of this undeserved forbearance.

But with Psalm 78:41 the record of sins begins anew. There is nothing by which any reference of this Psalm 78:41 to the last example of insubordination recorded in the Pentateuch, Numbers 35:1-9 (Hitzig), is indicated. The poet comes back one more to the provocations of God by the Israel of the wilderness in order to expose the impious ingratitude which revealed itself in this conduct. התוה is the causative of תּוה equals Syriac tewā', תּהא, to repent, to be grieved, lxx παρώξυναν. The miracles of the tie of redemption are now brought before the mind in detail, ad exaggerandum crimen tentationis Deu cum summa ingratitudine conjunctum (Venema). The time of redemption is called יום, as in Genesis 2:4 the hexahemeron. שׂים אות (synon. עשׂה, נתן) is used as in Exodus 10:2. We have already met with מנּי־צר in Psalm 44:11. The first of the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:14-25), the turning of the waters into blood, forms the beginning in Psalm 78:44. From this the poet takes a leap over to the fourth plague, the ערב (lxx κυνόμυια), a grievous and destructive species of fly (Exodus 8:20-32), and combines with it the frogs, the second plague (Exodus 8:1-15). צפרדּע is the lesser Egyptian frog, Rana Mosaica, which is even now called Arab. ḍfd‛, ḍofda. Next in Psalm 78:46 he comes to the eighth plague, the locusts, חסיל (a more select name of the migratory locusts than ארבּה), Exodus 10:1-20; the third plague, the gnats and midges, כּנּים, is left unmentioned in addition to the fourth, which is of a similar kind. For the chastisement by means of destructive living things is now closed, and in Psalm 78:47 follows the smiting with hail, the seventh plague, Exodus 9:13-35. חנמל (with pausal , not ā, cf. in Ezekiel 8:2 the similarly formed החשׁמלה) in the signification hoar-frost (πάχνη, lxx, Vulgate, Saadia, and Abulwald), or locusts (Targum כּזוּבא equals חגב), or ants (J. D. Michaelis), does not harmonize with the history; also the hoar-frost is called כּפוּר, the ant נּמלה (collective in Arabic neml). Although only conjecturing from the context, we understand it, with Parchon and Kimchi, of hailstones or hail. With thick lumpy pieces of ice He smote down vines and sycamore-trees (Fayum was called in ancient Egyptian "the district of the sycamore"). הרג proceeds from the Biblical conception that the plant has a life of its own. The description of this plague is continued in Psalm 78:48. Two MSS present לדּבר instead of לבּרד; but even supposing that רשׁפים might signify the fever-burnings of the pestilence (vid., on Habakkuk 3:5), the mention of the pestilence follows in Psalm 78:50, and the devastation which, according to Exodus 9:19-22, the hail caused among the cattle of the Egyptians is in its right place here. Moreover it is expressly said in Exodus 9:24 that there was conglomerate fire among the hail; רשׁפים are therefore flaming, blazing lightnings.

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