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EXODUS 8

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Frogs Over the Land The Second Plague: Frogs Second Plague: Frogs (7:25-8:15) Frogs (follows MT versing) The Second Plague: the Frogs
7:26-8:3
8:1-7 8:1-4 8:1-7 8:1-4
8:4-11
8:5-7 8:5-7
8:8-9 8:8-15 8:8-15 8:8
8:9
8:10-15 8:10a
8:10b-15 The Third Plague: the Mosquitoes
The Plague of Insects The Third Plague: Lice Third and Fourth Plagues Gnats 8:12-15
8:16-19 The Fourth Plague: the Horse Flies
8:16-19 8:16-19 8:16-19 8:16-20
The Fourth Plague: Flies Flies
8:20-24 8:20-24 8:20-24 8:20-24
8:21-28
8:25-29 8:25-32 8:25-29 8:25
8:26-27
8:28
8:29
8:30-32 8:30-32 8:30-32

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph
  4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

  1. English translations start Exodus 8 at the MT's 7:26. The NJB follows the MT's versing.

  2. This chapter records the plague of the
    1. frogs (Exod. 8:1-15)
    2. gnats (Exod. 8:16-19)
    3. insects (Exod. 8:20-32)

  3. Notice the repetitive formulaic way the plagues are presented.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:1-7
1Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs. 3The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls. 4So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants."'" 5Then the Lord said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.'" 6So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

8:1 This is a repeated formulaic introduction (cf. Exod. 4:23; 5:1; 7:16; 8:1,20; 9:1,13; 10:3). Each plague has this statement as its purpose.

8:2 "I will smite your whole territory with frogs" Egypt, being located on a large river, was familiar with frogs (BDB 862; surprisingly this Hebrew word is used only 13 times, 11 in this context). Again, it is not the presence of frogs that was miraculous but the intensity, timing, and selectivity of their presence (i.e., not in Goshen, cf. Exod. 8:22). There are two particular gods of Egypt who use the frog as a symbol: Heqt, a goddess and Hapi, a god (god of the annual flooding of the Nile). Again, God is showing His superiority over the gods of Egypt. He wants Egyptians to believe in Him also (cf. Isa. 19:23-25).

8:4 This plague is directed to Pharaoh and his house directly. The people of the land would suffer also but especially Pharaoh's house (cf. VERB, "put" or "placed," BDB 962, KB 1321, Qal PERFECT, cf. Exod. 8:12).

8:5 Notice the same procedure with which YHWH turned the Nile to blood (cf. Exod. 7:19).

8:7 "The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt" See full notes at Exod. 7:11. This is exactly what the Egyptians needed at this time - more frogs!! The duplication was possibly YHWH's way of hardening Pharaoh's heart. I think this was demonic power (see notes at Exod. 7:11).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:8-9
8Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, "Entreat the Lord that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord." 9Moses said to Pharaoh, "The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?"

8:8 "Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, 'Entreat the Lord that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord'" It is interesting that this concession is immediately modified. Through a series of Oriental bargaining sessions Moses and Pharaoh barter back and forth over the stipulations for the Hebrews' leaving.

  1. in Exod. 8:25 Pharaoh says to sacrifice in the land
  2. in Exod. 8:28 Pharaoh says to go but not too far
  3. in Exod. 8:27-28, like 8:8, he says to go with no stipulations but he later reneges
  4. in Exod. 10:8 he says men only
  5. in Exod. 10:16-20,24 he says to go but to leave the herds.
Here we see the gradual weakening of Pharaoh's will, but he will not allow the Hebrew slaves to leave.

8:9 "The honor is yours to tell me" This is a Hebrew idiom meaning, "I will give you the advantage; set the time for it." Again, God is trying to work with Pharaoh. He is using natural means but with supernatural timing, intensity, and locality. Therefore, Pharaoh is to choose the exact time that the plague will leave (cf. Exod. 9:5). This clearly reveals God's power and control over these events.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:10-15
10Then he said, "Tomorrow." So he said, "May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 11The frogs will depart from you and your houses and your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile." 12Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord concerning the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh. 13The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. 14So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

8:10 "May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God" Here again, is the theological and redemptive purpose of the plagues. Also, note the emphasis on monotheism (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM).

8:15 This is a recurrent pattern. Once the plague was removed, Pharaoh returned to his hard heart.

▣ "relief" This term (BDB 926) basically means "to be wide or spacious." Only here and in Lam. 3:56 does it have the connotation of "relief" or "respite." Remember, words have meaning only in context!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:16-19
16Then the Lord said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.'" 17They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. 18The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. 19Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

8:16
NASB, NRSV, TEV, LXX  "gnats"
NKJV, Peshitta, Targums  "lice"
NJB  "mosquitoes"
JPSOA  "swarm of insects"
REB  "maggots"
Jer. Tar, JPSOA footnote  "wild beasts"
There has been much discussion about the identity of these flying insects (NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 665). Some say they are mosquitoes (NJB, similar Egyptian root), gnats (Herodotus 2:95), or gad flies. The emphasis is on their number and not their exact identity. The term (BDB 487 IV, KB 483 II) occurs only here in the Hebrew except for Ps.105:31, which describes this incident, and Isa. 51:6.

8:18 "the magicians tried with their secret arts, but they could not" Why they were successful in duplicating the previous plagues and not this one is uncertain, but theologically it shows the superiority of YHWH over the gods and the wisemen of Egypt.

8:19 "Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God" This, of course, is an anthropomorphic phrase (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN) describing God's (or "a god's activity"; the term is Elohim. See SPECIAL TOPIC: ELOHIM) activity in the world. This also shows that the magicians themselves have been moved, if not to believe, at least to some kind of recognition of the power and presence of YHWH, the God of the Hebrews. It may have been their way of deflecting blame for their inability.

▣ "he did not listen to them" In context, this probably refers to the Egyptian magicians' statement in Exod. 8:19.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:20-24
20Now the Lord said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they dwell. 22But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land. 23I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur."'" 24Then the Lord did so. And there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of flies in all the land of Egypt.

8:20 "the Lord said to Moses, 'Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water'" This was a ritual that Pharaoh went through every morning. Several times God directs Moses to meet Pharaoh early or at the water (i.e., Exod. 7:15). The Nile, being an Egyptian god, may have been the place of morning ablutions or prayers (cf. Exod. 2:5, where the daughter of Pharaoh comes to the Nile to bathe).

8:21
NASB, JPSOA  "swarms of insects"
NKJV, NRSV, REB  "swarms of flies"
TEV  "flies"
NJB  "house flies"
LXX  "stinging flies" or "dog-flies"
This is a separate plague from Exod. 8:16-19. The term (BDB 786) means "swarm," but does not identify what kind (NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 525).
The two Psalms where this term is used seem to see Exod. 8:16-24 as one plague (cf. Ps. 78:45; 105:1). This is surely possibly that two different oral traditions, using two different terms, were combined by a later editor. See John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy, The Lost World of Scripture. The Bible never says there were "10" plagues.

8:22 "But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land" The "you" is SINGULAR, referring to Pharaoh. This is the first specific mention of the locality limitations of the plagues (cf. Exod. 9:4,26; 10:23; 11:7), but I think it was a feature of all of them. It was just pointed out to Pharaoh here for the first time. It is also significant that the theological thrust of God's presence with His people is mentioned. This becomes a major theological truth in the term "Emmanuel" (i.e., God with us), not only in the Garden of Eden and the coming of the Messiah but also in the conclusion of the book of Revelation.

8:22 This shows that YHWH was able to spare His people from the plagues. The "land of Goshen" was great cattle and sheep country in the eastern delta region (cf. Gen. 45:10).

▣ "in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land" YHWH is continuing to reveal His mercy to Israel and power to the Egyptians.

8:23
NASB, Peshitta  "put a division"
NKJV  "make a difference"
NRSV, TEV, NJB, JPSOA, REB, LXX  "make a distinction"
The MT has "redemption" (BDB 804, KB 913). Some get "division" or "distinction" from an emendation.
  1. פדות (KB 913) - ransom
  2. פלת (KB 936) - separation
  3. פרדת (BDB 825) - divide (NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 581)
The UBS Text Project (p. 99) gives "ransom/redemption" an "A" rating (i.e., high probability). It just does not make sense in this context. Unless we understand it as "the act of geographical distinction will show YHWH's special relationship with Israel." YHWH is her deliverer.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:25-29
25Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God within the land." 26But Moses said, "It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the Lord our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us? 27We must go a three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He commands us." 28Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Make supplication for me." 29Then Moses said, "Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord."

8:25 See note at Exod. 8:8.

8:26 "It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the Lord our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians" From history we know that the Egyptians did offer some vegetable sacrifices along with pieces of meat. There has been some disagreement among ancient commentators about the type of sacrifice to which Moses was referring. The Targum Onkelos says that it refers to the sacrifice of cattle, while the Jerusalem Targum says it refers to the sacrifice of sheep. We know that these animals were Egyptian gods and sacrificing them would be viewed with some hostility.

▣ "abomination" See SPECIAL TOPIC: ABOMINATION (OT).

8:27 "We must go a three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He commands us" This refers to God's command to Moses to bring the people back to Mt. Sinai (cf. Exod. 3:18). However, the problem is that it was much farther than a three-day journey. Some have speculated

  1. Moses is simply lying to Pharaoh here
  2. it is an idiom which refers to a longer period of time (cf. Exod. 10:23)
  3. we have the wrong site for Mt. Sinai
We must remember that the site of Mt. Sinai is not a major concern to the Hebrews. The Promised Land is the major emphasis for them (i.e., Gen. 15:12-21) and not Mt. Sinai. There is one theory that Mt. Sinai is close to Kadesh Barnea, which would fit this three-day journey, if it is meant to be taken literally. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE LOCATION OF MT. SINAI.

8:28 "only you shall not go very far" The Oriental bargaining continues (cf. Exod. 8:8), but Moses refuses until an unconditional surrender of the Egyptians is made.
The grammatical form of this phrase is an INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and an IMPERFECT VERB from the same root (BDB 934, KB 1221), which denotes intensity.

8:29 "only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully" This refers to Pharaoh saying one thing and then when the plague is removed, changing his mind (cf. Exod. 8:15) and he will again (cf. Exod. 8:32).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:30-32
30So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 31The Lord did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained. 32But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. How many plagues are there?
  2. How did the magicians duplicate the first three plagues?
  3. Explain the idiom of Exod. 8:9.
  4. How does Exod. 8:11 make the plague directly related to Pharaoh?
  5. Why is Exod. 8:27 theologically crucial?
  6. Explain Exod. 8:26.

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