Exodus 7:18
And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(18) The fish that is in the river shall die.—The natural discoloration of the Nile, whether by red earth or by Cryptogams and Infusoriæ, has no pernicious effect at all upon the fish, nor is the water rendered by these discolorations at all unfit for use. The Nile naturally abounds with fish of various kinds; and though to Europeans they have, most of them, an insipid taste, yet, both in ancient and in modern times, the subsistence of the natives has been largely drawn from this source. It was a severe punishment to the Egyptians to be deprived of their fish supply. It was also implied contempt in regard of their religious worship, since at least three species of the Nile fish were sacred—the oxyrhineus, the lepidotus, and the phagrus, or eel. (Herod. ii. 72; Plut. De Ibid. et Osir. vii. 18, 22.)

The river shall stink.—The Nile is said to have sometimes an offensive odour naturally; but the phenomenon is not marked, and can scarcely be that which is here alluded to, when the blood-like waters, laden with the bodies of putrid fish, caused a disgust and horror that were unspeakable.

Exodus 7:18. The Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water — “There are a few wells,” says Harmer, “in Egypt, but their waters are not drunk, being unpleasant and unwholesome. The water of the Nile is what they universally make use of in this country, which is looked upon to be extraordinarily wholesome, and at the same time extremely delicious.” And he refers to Maillett and another author, as affirming that the Egyptians have been wont to excite thirst artificially, that they might drink the more of it. He then quotes, the Abbot Mascrier (let. 1, pp. 15, 16) in the following words: “The water of Egypt is so delicious that one would not wish the heat should be less, nor to be delivered from the sensation of thirst. The Turks find it so exquisitely charming that they excite themselves to drink of it by eating salt. It is a common saying among them, that if Mohammed had drunk of it he would have begged of God not to have died, that he might always have done it.” On these facts Harmer remarks as follows: “A person that never before heard of this delicacy of the water of the Nile, and of the large quantities which on that account are drunk of it, will, I am sure, find an energy in those words of Moses to Pharaoh, which he never observed before, The Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the river. They shall loathe to drink of that water which they used to prefer to all the waters in the universe — that which they had been wont eagerly to long for; and will rather drink of well-water, which in their country is detestable.” — Harmer, vol. 2. p. 295.

7:14-25 Here is the first of the ten plagues, the turning of the water into blood. It was a dreadful plague. The sight of such vast rolling streams of blood could not but strike horror. Nothing is more common than water: so wisely has Providence ordered it, and so kindly, that what is so needful and serviceable to the comfort of human life, should be cheap and almost every where to be had; but now the Egyptians must either drink blood, or die for thirst. Egypt was a pleasant land, but the dead fish and blood now rendered it very unpleasant. It was a righteous plague, and justly sent upon the Egyptians; for Nile, the river of Egypt, was their idol. That creature which we idolize, God justly takes from us, or makes bitter to us. They had stained the river with the blood of the Hebrews' children, and now God made that river all blood. Never any thirsted after blood, but sooner or later they had enough of it. It was a significant plague; Egypt had great dependence upon their river, Zec 14:18; so that in smiting the river, they were warned of the destruction of all the produce of their country. The love of Christ to his disciples changes all their common mercies into spiritual blessings; the anger of God towards his enemies, renders their most valued advantages a curse and a misery to them. Aaron is to summon the plague by smiting the river with his rod. It was done in the sight of Pharaoh and his attendants, for God's true miracles were not performed as Satan's lying wonders; truth seeks no corners. See the almighty power of God. Every creature is that to us which he makes it to be water or blood. See what changes we may meet with in the things of this world; what is always vain, may soon become vexatious. See what mischievous work sin makes. If the things that have been our comforts prove our crosses, we must thank ourselves. It is sin that turns our waters into blood. The plague continued seven days; and in all that time Pharaoh's proud heart would not let him desire Moses to pray for the removal of it. Thus the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath. No wonder that God's anger is not turned away, but that his hand is stretched out still.Shall lothe - The water of the Nile has always been regarded by the Egyptians as a blessing unique to their land. It is the only pure and wholesome water in their country, since the water in wells and cisterns is unwholesome, while rain water seldom falls, and fountains are extremely rare. 17-21. Aaron lifted up the rod and smote the waters, &c.—Whether the water was changed into real blood, or only the appearance of it (and Omnipotence could effect the one as easily as the other), this was a severe calamity. How great must have been the disappointment and disgust throughout the land when the river became of a blood red color, of which they had a national abhorrence; their favorite beverage became a nauseous draught, and the fish, which formed so large an article of food, were destroyed. [See on [17]Nu 11:5.] The immense scale on which the plague was inflicted is seen by its extending to "the streams," or branches of the Nile—to the "rivers," the canals, the "ponds" and "pools," that which is left after an overflow, the reservoirs, and the many domestic vessels in which the Nile water was kept to filter. And accordingly the sufferings of the people from thirst must have been severe. Nothing could more humble the pride of Egypt than this dishonor brought on their national god. Therefore the Israelites were free from this plague, and those branches of Nilus which they used were uncorrupted, when all others were turned into blood.

Shall lothe, or, shall weary themselves, in running hither and thither in hopes of finding water in some parts or branches of the river.

And the fish that is in the river shall die,.... Their element being changed, and they not able to live in any other but water:

and the river shall stink; with the blood, into which it should be congealed, and with the putrefied bodies of fishes floating in it:

and the Egyptians shall loath to drink of the water of the river; the very colour of it, looking like blood, would set them against it, and create a nausea in them; or "shall be weary" (h), tired of drinking it in a little time, through the loathsomeness of it; or be weary in digging about it, Exodus 7:24 to get some clear water to drink of; or in seeking to find out ways and methods to cure the waters, that so they might be fit to drink of, as Jarchi interprets it.

(h) "delassabuntur", Tigurine version, Vatablus. "Defatigabuntur", Cartwright.

And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river.
18. Fish was one of the principal articles of food in ancient Egypt (Erman, p. 239), so that the death of the fish in the Nile would be serious calamity.

loathe] weary themselves (Genesis 19:11 al.) in the vain effort to obtain drinkable water.

Verse 18. - The fish... shall die. This would increase the greatness of the calamity, for the Egyptians lived to a very large extent upon fish (Birch, 'Egypt from the Earliest Times,' p. 45), which was taken in the Nile, in the canals, and the Lake Morris (Herod. 2:149). The river shall stink. As Keil and Delitzsch observe, "this seems to indicate putrefaction." The Egyptians shall loathe to drink. The expression is stronger in verse 24, where we find that "they could not drink." We may presume that at first, not supposing that the fluid could really be blood, they tried to drink it, took it into their mouths, and possibly swallowed some, but that very soon they found they could not continue to do so. Exodus 7:18When Pharaoh hardened his heart against the first sign, notwithstanding the fact that it displayed the supremacy of the messengers of Jehovah over the might of the Egyptian conjurers and their gods, and refused to let the people of Israel go; Moses and Aaron were empowered by God to force the release of Israel from the obdurate king by a series of penal miracles. These מפתים were not purely supernatural wonders, or altogether unknown to the Egyptians, but were land-plagues with which Egypt was occasionally visited, and were raised into miraculous deeds of the Almighty God, by the fact that they burst upon the land one after another at an unusual time of the year, in unwonted force, and in close succession. These plagues were selected by God as miraculous signs, because He intended to prove thereby to the king and his servants, that He, Jehovah, was the Lord in the land, and ruled over the powers of nature with unrestricted freedom and omnipotence. For this reason God not only caused them to burst suddenly upon the land according to His word, and then as suddenly to disappear according to His omnipotent will, but caused them to be produced by Moses and Aaron and disappear again at their word and prayer, that Pharaoh might learn that these men were appointed by Him as His messengers, and were endowed by Him with divine power for the accomplishment of His will.

Exodus 7:14-21

The Water of the Nile Turned into Blood. - In the morning, when Pharaoh went to the Nile, Moses took his staff at the command of God; went up to him on the bank of the river, with the demand of Jehovah that he would let His people Israel go; and because hitherto (עד־כּה) he had not obeyed, announced this first plague, which Aaron immediately brought to pass. Both time and place are of significance here. Pharaoh went out in the morning to the Nile (Exodus 7:15; Exodus 8:20), not merely to take a refreshing walk, or to bathe in the river, or to see how high the water had risen, but without doubt to present his daily worship to the Nile, which was honoured by the Egyptians as their supreme deity (vid., Exodus 2:5). At this very moment the will of God with regard to Israel was declared to him; and for his refusal to comply with the will of the Lord as thus revealed to him, the smiting of the Nile with the staff made known to him the fact, that the God of the Hebrews was the true God, and possessed the power to turn the fertilizing water of this object of their highest worship into blood. The changing of the water into blood is to be interpreted in the same sense as in Joel 3:4, where the moon is said to be turned into blood; that is to say, not as a chemical change into real blood, but as a change in the colour, which caused it to assume the appearance of blood (2 Kings 3:22). According to the statements of many travellers, the Nile water changes its colour when the water is lowest, assumes first of all a greenish hue and is almost undrinkable, and then, while it is rising, becomes as red as ochre, when it is more wholesome again. The causes of this change have not been sufficiently investigated. The reddening of the water is attributed by many to the red earth, which the river brings down from Sennaar (cf. Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses, pp. 104ff. transl.; Laborde, comment. p. 28); but Ehrenberg came to the conclusion, after microscopical examinations, that it was caused by cryptogamic plants and infusoria. This natural phenomenon was here intensified into a miracle, not only by the fact that the change took place immediately in all the branches of the river at Moses' word and through the smiting of the Nile, but even more by a chemical change in the water, which caused the fishes to die, the stream to stink, and, what seems to indicate putrefaction, the water to become undrinkable; whereas, according to the accounts of travellers, which certainly do not quite agree with one another, and are not entirely trustworthy, the Nile water becomes more drinkable as soon as the natural reddening beings. The change in the water extended to "the streams," or different arms of the Nile; "the rivers," or Nile canals; "the ponds," or large standing lakes formed by the Nile; and all "the pools of water," lit., every collection of their waters, i.e., all the other standing lakes and ponds, left by the overflowings of the Nile, with the water of which those who lived at a distance from the river had to content themselves. "So that there was blood in all the land of Egypt, both in the wood and in the stone;" i.e., in the vessels of wood and stone, in which the water taken from the Nile and its branches was kept for daily use. The reference is not merely to the earthen vessels used for filtering and cleansing the water, but to every vessel into which water had been put. The "stone" vessels were the stone reservoirs built up at the corners of the streets and in other places, where fresh water was kept for the poor (cf. Oedmann's verm. Samml. p. 133). The meaning of this supplementary clause is not that even the water which was in these vessels previous to the smiting of the river was turned into blood, in which Kurtz perceives "the most miraculous part of the whole miracle;" for in that case the "wood and stone" would have been mentioned immediately after the "gatherings of the waters;" but simply that there was no more water to put into these vessels that was not changed into blood. The death of the fishes was a sign, that the smiting had taken away from the river its life-sustaining power, and that its red hue was intended to depict before the eyes of the Egyptians all the terrors of death; but we are not to suppose that there was any reference to the innocent blood which the Egyptians had poured into the river through the drowning of the Hebrew boys, or to their own guilty blood which was afterwards to be shed.

Exodus 7:18 Interlinear
Exodus 7:18 Parallel Texts

Exodus 7:18 NIV
Exodus 7:18 NLT
Exodus 7:18 ESV
Exodus 7:18 NASB
Exodus 7:18 KJV

Exodus 7:18 Bible Apps
Exodus 7:18 Parallel
Exodus 7:18 Biblia Paralela
Exodus 7:18 Chinese Bible
Exodus 7:18 French Bible
Exodus 7:18 German Bible

Bible Hub

Exodus 7:17
Top of Page
Top of Page