Exodus 8:24
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.
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(24) The land was corrupted.—Rather, as in the margin, destroyed. Kalisch observes, “These insects”—i.e., the kakerlaque (Blatta Orientalis), “really fill the land, and molest men and beasts; they consume all sorts of materials, devastate the country, and are in so far more detrimental than the gnats, as they destroy also the property of the Egyptians.”

8:20-32 Pharaoh was early at his false devotions to the river; and shall we be for more sleep and more slumber, when any service to the Lord is to be done? The Egyptians and the Hebrews were to be marked in the plague of flies. The Lord knows them that are his, and will make it appear, perhaps in this world, certainly in the other, that he has set them apart for himself. Pharaoh unwillingly entered into a treaty with Moses and Aaron. He is content they should sacrifice to their God, provided they would do it in the land of Egypt. But it would be an abomination to God, should they offer the Egyptian sacrifices; and it would be an abomination to the Egyptians, should they offer to God the objects of the worship of the Egyptians, namely, their calves or oxen. Those who would offer acceptable sacrifice to God, must separate themselves from the wicked and profane. They must also retire from the world. Israel cannot keep the feast of the Lord, either among the brick-kilns or among the flesh-pots of Egypt. And they must sacrifice as God shall command, not otherwise. Though they were in slavery to Pharaoh, yet they must obey God's commands. Pharaoh consents for them to go into the wilderness, provided they do not go so far but that he might fetch them back again. Thus, some sinners, in a pang of conviction, part with their sins, yet are loth they should go very far away; for when the fright is over, they will turn to them again. Moses promised the removal of this plague. But let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: if we think to cheat God by a sham repentance and a false surrender of ourselves to him, we shall put a fatal cheat upon our own souls. Pharaoh returned to his hardness. Reigning lusts break through the strongest bonds, and make men presume and go from their word. Many seem in earnest, but there is some reserve, some beloved, secret sin. They are unwilling to look upon themselves as in danger of everlasting misery. They will refrain from other sins; they do much, give much, and even punish themselves much. They will leave it off sometimes, and, as it were, let their sin depart a little way; but will not make up their minds to part with all and follow Christ, bearing the cross. Rather than that, they venture all. They are sorrowful, but depart from Christ, determined to keep the world at present, and they hope for some future season, when salvation may be had without such costly sacrifices; but, at length, the poor sinner is driven away in his wickedness, and left without hope to lament his folly.I will sever ... - This severance constituted a specific difference between this and the preceding plagues. Pharaoh could not of course attribute the exemption of Goshen from a scourge, which fell on the valley of the Nile, to an Egyptian deity, certainly not to Chepera (see the last note), a special object of worship in Lower Egypt. Ex 8:20-32. Plague of Flies.

20-24. Rise up early … Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water, &c.—Pharaoh still appearing obdurate, Moses was ordered to meet him while walking on the banks of the Nile and repeat his request for the liberation of Israel, threatening in case of continued refusal to cover every house from the palace to the cottage with swarms of flies—while, as a proof of the power that accomplished this judgment, the land of Goshen should be exempted from the calamity. The appeal was equally vain as before, and the predicted evil overtook the country in the form of what was not "flies," such as we are accustomed to, but divers sorts of flies (Ps 78:45), the gad fly, the cockroach, the Egyptian beetle, for all these are mentioned by different writers. They are very destructive, some of them inflicting severe bites on animals, others destroying clothes, books, plants, every thing. The worship of flies, particularly of the beetle, was a prominent part of the religion of the ancient Egyptians. The employment of these winged deities to chastise them must have been painful and humiliating to the Egyptians while it must at the same time have strengthened the faith of the Israelites in the God of their fathers as the only object of worship.

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 the Lord did so,.... And this he did immediately of himself without any means; not by the rod of Aaron, to let the Egyptians see that there was nothing in that rod, that it had no magic virtue in it, and what was done by it was from the Lord himself, who could as well inflict plagues without it as with it; see Psalm 105:31 and there came a grievous swarm of flies; or a "heavy" (q) one, which was both very numerous, and very troublesome and distressing:

into the house of Pharaoh, and into the houses of his servants, and into all the land of Egypt: into the palace of Pharaoh, and into the palaces of his nobles, ministers, and courtiers, and into the dwelling places of all his subjects, throughout the whole land, excepting the land of Goshen:

the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies; Josephus (r) says, the land lay neglected and uncultivated by the husbandmen; it may be, the air was infected by the flies, which produced a pestilence that took off many of the inhabitants; so among the Eleans, as Pliny (s) reports, a multitude of flies produced a pestilence; however, it is certain many of the inhabitants of Egypt perished by them; they might sting them to death, suck their blood, and poison them with their envenomed stings; see Psalm 78:45.

(q) "gravis", Montanus, "gravissime", V. L. (r) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 2. c. 14. sect. 3.) (s) Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 28.

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.
24. grievous] lit. heavy, combining, as Exodus 10:14, the ideas of both numerous (Exodus 12:38, Genesis 50:9, Heb.), and severe (Exodus 9:3; Exodus 9:18; Exodus 9:24). ‘Grievous’ is an archaism, meaning burdensome (ultimately from Lat. gravis1[124]): see DB. s.v.; and cf. Genesis 12:10 (AV.), Genesis 50:11, 2 Corinthians 12:14 AV. (RV. ‘be a burden to’)2[125].

[124] Cf. to grieve, i.e. originally to be a burden or trouble to, to harass (Genesis 49:23) from gravare.

[125] Murray quotes from a writer of 1548, ‘Ye shall be grievous to no man with begging’ (cf. the Glossary in the writer’s Jeremiah, p. 373).

and into, &c.] read probably, with LXX. Sam. Pesh., adding only one letter, but improving the sentence, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt; and the land was, &c.

corrupted] rather, ruined,—by the suffering inflicted on men and cattle, and the interruption caused to daily occupations, &c. (v. 21).Verse 24. - A grievous swarm of flies. Rather "a multitude of beetles." As with the frogs, so with the beetles, it aggravated the infliction, that, being sacred animals, they might not be destroyed or injured. Beetles were sacred to Ra, the sun-god; and one form of Ra, Chepra, was ordinarily represented under the form of a beetle, or as a man with a beetle for his heath The land was corrupted. Rather "destroyed;" i.e. grievously injured, or "devastated"(as Kalisch renders). The beetles seriously damaged the growing crops.

CHAPTER 8:25-32 "The magicians did so with their enchantments (i.e., smote the dust with rods), to bring forth gnats, but could not." The cause of this inability is hardly to be sought for, as Knobel supposes, in the fact that "the thing to be done in this instance, was to call creatures into existence, and not merely to call forth and change creatures and things in existence already, as in the case of the staff, the water, and the frogs." For after this, they could neither call out the dog-flies, nor protect their own bodies from the boils; to say nothing of the fact, that as gnats proceed from the eggs laid in the dust or earth by the previous generation, their production is not to be regarded as a direct act of creation any more than that of the frogs. The miracle in both plagues was just the same, and consisted not in a direct creation, but simply in a sudden creative generation and supernatural multiplication, not of the gnats only, but also of the frogs, in accordance with a previous prediction. The reason why the arts of the Egyptians magicians were put to shame in this case, we have to seek in the omnipotence of God, restraining the demoniacal powers which the magicians had made subservient to their purposes before, in order that their inability to bring out these, the smallest of all creatures, which seemed to arise as it were from the dust itself, might display in the sight of every one the impotence of their secret arts by the side of the almighty creative power of the true God. This omnipotence the magicians were compelled to admit: they were compelled to acknowledge, "This is the finger of God." "But they did not make this acknowledgment for the purpose of giving glory to God Himself, but simply to protect their own honour, that Moses and Aaron might not be thought to be superior to them in virtue or knowledge. It was equivalent to saying, it is not by Moses and Aaron that we are restrained, but by a divine power, which is greater than either" (Bochart). The word Elohim is decisive in support of this view. If they had meant to refer to the God of Israel, they would have used the name Jehovah. The "finger of God" denotes creative omnipotence (Psalm 8:3; Luke 11:20, cf. Exodus 31:18). Consequently this miracle also made no impression upon Pharaoh.
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