More plagues for Egypt
Invasion of the frogs1 The LORD told Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘The LORD says: Let my people go and worship me. 2 If you don’t let them go, I’m going to unleash a plague of frogs on your entire country. 3 The Nile River will clog in frogs. They’ll visit you in your palace. They’ll join you in your bedroom. They’ll hop up into your bed. You’ll find them in the homes of your officials and your citizens. They’ll show up in your ovens and in the bowls you use to knead bread. 4 Frogs will find a way to get an audience with you and with all your officials. They’ll hop right up to you.’”
5 Next, the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Raise the walking stick. Hold it above all the rivers, irrigation ditches, and ponds. This will signal the frogs to overrun all of Egypt.’” 6 Aaron did just that. He waved the walking stick above the waters of Egypt, and out came the frogs, covering the ground. 7 Magicians of Egypt drew from their secret arts to do the same thing. They called frogs up onto the land, too.
8 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Ask the LORD to please get rid of these frogs. Get them away from me and my people and I’ll let your people go sacrifice to the LORD.” 9 “Well then,” Moses told Pharaoh, “I’ll let you set the time to do that. Tell me when to pray for you and your officials and your citizens. Then I’ll ask the LORD to get the frogs out of your houses and back into the Nile.”
10 “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh answered. “Okay,” Moses said. “I’ll do what you ask, so you’ll see there is no one who compares to our LORD and God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your officials and your citizens. They’ll go back to the Nile where they belong.” 12 Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh. As Moses promised, he begged the LORD to get rid of the frogs that were plaguing Pharaoh. 13 The LORD did what Moses asked. Frogs dropped dead everywhere. In houses. Outside in courtyards. In the fields. 14 People shoveled them into piles, until the land reeked of rotting frogs. 15 When life in Egypt started getting back to normal, Pharaoh had another attack of stubbornness. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron anymore, just as the LORD had predicted.
Dust turns into gnats16 The LORD told Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Lift your walking stick and hit the dust of the ground. When Aaron does this, the spray of dust will turn into gnats.’” 17 Both men obeyed. When Aaron’s walking stick hit the ground and stirred up the dust, gnats swarmed onto people and animals. The dust in Egypt became the gnats of Egypt. 18 This was a marvel that Egypt’s magicians couldn’t reproduce with their secret arts. Gnats were everywhere, on people and animals alike. 19 The magicians told Pharaoh, “There’s no magic here. It’s the real thing. God has his hand in this.” Pharaoh stuck with stubborn. He wouldn’t listen to anyone, just as the LORD had said.
Flies for Egyptians, none for Israelites20 The LORD told Moses, “Early in the morning go meet Pharaoh as he comes down to the water. Give him this message. ‘The LORD says: Let my people go and worship me. 21 If you don’t let my people go, I’ll send swarm after swarm of flies. They’ll come to you, your officials, and your citizens. And you’ll find them in your houses. In fact, Egyptian houses will fill with flies. They’ll blanket the ground, as well. 22 But that’s not going to happen in Goshen, where my people live. There won’t be any swarms of flies in that region. That’s so you’ll know that I, the LORD, am here. I’m in this land. 23 I’m drawing a line between your people and mine, making a distinction. This will be a sign to prove to you who I am. It’s happening tomorrow.
24 The LORD did what he said. Black swarms of flies descended into Pharaoh’s palace and into the homes of his officials. Egypt became smothered in flies. 25 Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron back again. He told them, “Get out of here. Go and sacrifice to your God, but do it somewhere in Egypt. 26 Moses said, “That’s not good enough. Sacrifices we would offer the LORD our God would disgust Egyptians. And if we disgust your people, they would stone us, wouldn’t they? 27 We need to take a road trip three days away, into the desert. That’s where we need to offer the sacrifices that the LORD our God wants. 28 Pharaoh said, “Okay, I’ll let you offer sacrifices to the LORD your God out in the desert. But you can’t go very far. Now say a prayer for me.”
29 Moses answered, “I will. As soon as I leave, the first thing I’ll do is to pray to the LORD. Tomorrow, the flies will leave. Pharaoh, his officials, and his citizens won’t have to swat them away any longer. But a word of warning. Let’s not have any more of Pharaoh backtracking on his word and once again refusing to let the people go and sacrifice to the LORD.” 30 Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. 31 The LORD did what Moses asked. The flies bugged out, leaving Pharaoh, and his officials, and his citizens. Egypt became a no-fly zone, with zero flies. 32 Pharaoh remained stuck on stubborn. Once again, he refused to let the people go.
BY ROBERT V. HUBER
Pharaoh had refused to be affected by the plague of the bloody Nile, but he seems to weaken just a bit when reacting to the presence of frogs everywhere in Egypt, even in the royal palace and in people’s laps. He tells Moses that he will let his people go worship if Moses will get rid of the frogs. Moses counters by asking when Pharaoh will let the people out to pray. What do you see changing here?
By imitating Moses and Aaron, the Egyptian magicians manage to conjure up some frogs. Do you think they are keeping up with Moses and Aaron? Or do their efforts look a bit desperate and diminished as they try to outdo the Israelites?
Why do you think Moses agreed to ask God to remove the frogs from the land? Was he negotiating to free his people? Writing history? Or was it something else?
When Aaron wields his staff again and turns the dust into gnats that bite both humans and animals, the Egyptian magicians again try to replicate the wonder brought by Moses and Aaron. However, they cannot. What do you make of their conclusion: “There’s no magic here. It’s the real thing. God has his hand in this.” (Exodus 8:19)? Pick one response or create one of your own.
- Took them long enough to figure that out.
- They knew it all along but didn’t want to appear weak before the king.
- By this time, they were probably too weary to work up a sweat only to get swatted down again. Pun intended.
- What about them Yankees.
In Exodus 6:7, God had promised to make the Israelites his people, saying “I choose you as my people. I’ll be your God.” He is as good as his word. Before sending down the plague of flies, the LORD tells Pharaoh, through Moses, that he will distinguish between his people, the Israelites, and the Egyptians. Flies will descend upon the Egyptians, but none will enter the region of Goshen, where the Israelites live. God will punish Pharaoh’s people but protect his own. What do you think we should read into these few meaningful verses?
How fair is it that God picked the Israelites as his people but not the Egyptians?
Pharaoh seems to be slowly caving in. For the first time, he makes a concession in his negotiations with Moses and Aaron. The Hebrews may go out to pray, but they must remain within the boundaries of Egypt. What do you see in the way Moses deals with this offer?