Exodus 7
Matthew Poole's Commentary
And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
God encourages Moses to speak to Pharaoh, Exodus 7:1. God foretells the hardness of, Pharaoh’s heart, that he might multiply his wonders in Egypt, Exodus 7:3,4 to declare to the Egyptians that he only is the Lord, Exodus 7:5. Moses and Aaron obey God’s command, Exodus 7:6. Their age, Exodus 7:7. God commands them to show a miracle for the confirmation of their authority, Exodus 7:8,9. Their rod turned into a serpent, Exodus 7:10. The magicians do the same, Exodus 7:11. Aaron’s rod devoureth theirs, Exodus 7:12. Pharaoh is hardened, as the Lord had said, Exodus 7:13; and refuseth to let the people go, Exodus 7:14. God denounces judgments on the Egyptians, Exodus 7:17,18. Commands Moses and Aaron to stretch out their hands oven the waters, Exodus 7:19. The waters are turned into blood, Exodus 7:20. The fish die, and the river stinks, Exodus 7:21. The magicians do the same, whereby Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, Exodus 7:22. The means they used against this plague, Exodus 7:24. The continuance of it, Exodus 7:25.

To represent my person, to act like God, by requiring his obedience to thy commands, and by punishing his disobedience with such punishments as none but God can inflict, to which end thou shalt have my omnipotent assistance. i.e. Thy interpreter, or spokesman, as Exodus 4:16, to deliver thy commands to Pharaoh.

Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.
Heb. And he will send or dismiss, to wit, at last, being forced to it. Success shall attend your endeavours.

And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
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But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
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And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they.
An emphatical repetition, to show their courage in attempting to say and do such things to so great a monarch in his own dominions, and their fidelity in the execution of all God’s commands.

And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.
1491 The ages of Moses and Aaron here, as of Levi and Kohath Exodus 6:16,18, and before them of Jacob and Joseph, are so exactly set down, that thence we may, understand the accomplishment of God’s prediction, Genesis 15:13, and the time of Israel’s being in Egypt.

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
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When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.
Say unto Aaron, by whose hands this and other miracles were to be done, and not by Moses immediately; partly to take off the some suspicion that these miracles were wrought by magical artifice of Moses; and partly for the greater honour of Moses, that he might be what God had said, Exodus 7:1, a god to Pharaoh, who not only could work wonders himself, but also give power to others to do so.

Take thy rod: the same rod is called the rod of God, and of Moses, and of Aaron, here and Exodus 7:12, because it was appointed, and as it were consecrated by God, and used both by Moses and Aaron in their great works. And this rod Moses ordinarily held in his hand, and delivered it to Aaron upon occasion for the execution of his commands.

A serpent; Heb. a dragon, which is a great serpent. Others, a crocodile, to whose jaws he had exposed the Israelitish infants.

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
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Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.
Under the general title of

wise men he seems to comprehend all who were most eminent in any sort of wisdom, either natural, or civil, or divine, who were all called to give their opinion and advice in these matters.

The magicians, the same now called

sorcerers, who acted by the power of the devil, whom by certain rites and ceremonies they engaged to their assistance. Of these the two chief were Jannes and Jambres, 2 Timothy 3:8.

They also did in like manner, in show and appearance, which was not difficult for the devil to do, either by altering the air and the spectators’ sight, and by causing their rods both to look and move like serpents; or by a sudden and secret conveyance of real serpents thither, and removing the rods. Nor is it strange that God permitted those delusions, partly because it was a just punishment upon the Egyptians for their horrid and manifold idolatry, and barbarous cruelty towards the Israelites, and their other wickedness; and partly because there was a sufficient difference made between their impostures, and the real miracles wrought by Moses and Aaron, as appears from the next verse, and from Exodus 8:18, and from other passages. And this is a great evidence of the truth of Scripture story, and that it was not written by fiction and design. For if Moses had written these books to deceive the world, and to advance his own reputation, (as some have impudently said,) it is ridiculous to think that he would have put in this, and many other passages, which might seem so much to eclipse his honour, and the glory of his works.

For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.
They became serpents; either,

1. In appearance. For the Scripture oft speaks of things otherwise than they are, because they seem to be so. And therefore as the devil appearing to Saul in the likeness of Samuel is called Samuel; so may these rods upon the same account be called serpents, because through diabolical illusion they seemed to be so. Or,

2. Really, in manner expressed, Exodus 7:11.

Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods; by which it was evident, either that Aaron’s rod was turned into a real serpent, because it had the real properties and effects of a serpent, viz. to devour; or, at least, that the God of Israel was infinitely more powerful than the Egyptian idols or devils.

And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
He, the Lord, to whom this act of hardening is frequently ascribed both in this book and elsewhere.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.
He is obstinate, and resolved in his way, so as neither my word nor my works can make any impression upon him.

Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.
He goeth out unto the water, i. e. the Nile, whither he went at that time, either for his recreation, or to pay his morning worship to that river, which the Egyptians had in great veneration, as Plutarch testifies.

And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.
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Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.
Because thou saidst, Who is the Lord? and, I know not the Lord, Exodus 5:2, thou shalt know him experimentally, and to thy cost. Behold, I will smite, viz. by Aaron’s hand, who shall do it by my command and direction. Thus Pilate is said to give Christ’s body to Joseph, Mark 15:45, because he commanded it to be delivered by others to him. The same action is ascribed to the principal and instrumental cause. The river Nile, which was one of their principal gods; and therefore it was inexcusable in them, that they would not renounce those feeble gods, which were unable to help not only their worshippers, but even themselves, nor embrace the service and commands of that God whose almighty power they saw and felt.

They shall be turned to blood, which was a very grievous plague to them; both because it was an eternal dishonour to their religion, and because from hence they had both their drink, Deu 11:10,11 Jer 2:18, and their meat, Numbers 11:5; for greater and lesser cattle they would not eat, Exodus 8:26. And it was a very proper punishment for them, who had made that river an instrument for the execution of their bloody design against the Israelitish infants, Exodus 1:22.

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.
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 LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.
Not that he was to go to every pool to use this ceremony there, but he stretched his hand and rod over some of them in the name of all the rest, which he might signify either by his words, or by the various motions of his rod several ways.

And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
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And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
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And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.
It was not difficult for the devil to convey blood speedily and unperceivably, and that in a great quantity, which might suffice to infect with a bloody colour those small parcels of water which were left for them to show their art in.

Quest. Whence could they have water, when all their waters were turned into blood?

Answ. It might be had, either,

1. By rain, which at that time God was pleased to send down either for this purpose, or to mitigate the extremity of the plague, or for other reasons known to him, though not to us. For that rain sometimes falls in Egypt, though not much nor often, is affirmed by ancient writers and late travellers. Or,

2. From Goshen, which was not far from the court, or from some houses of the Israelites, who dwelt amongst the Egyptians, as appears from many places of this history, and who were free from these plagues. See Exodus 8:22 9:26 10:23 12:13 &c. Or,

3. From the pits which they digged, Exodus 7:24. Or,

4. From some branch of Nilus, or some vessels in their houses, whose waters were not yet changed; for this change might be wrought not suddenly, (which is not affirmed in this relation,) but by degrees, which God might so order for this very end, that the magicians might have matter for the trial of their experiment.

And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.
He did not seriously consider it, nor the causes or cure of this plague, and was not much affected with it, because he saw this fact exceeded not the power of his magicians.

And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.
It is not much material to us, whether they lost their labour, and found only blood there, as Josephus affirms; or whether they succeeded and found water there, which seems more probable, because these come not within the compass of Moses’s commission, Exodus 7:17,19,20, or whether they found the water something purified and less bloody, though mixed with blood. But it is observable, that though the devil could do something which might increase the plague, or imitate it, yet he could do nothing to remove it.

And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.
For seven days were fulfilled, ere all the waters of Egypt were perfectly free from this infection.

Quest. How could the Egyptians subsist so long without water?


1. Philo tells us that many of them died of this plague.

2. As the plague might come on, so it might go off, by degrees; and so the water, though mixed with blood, might give them some relief.

3. The juices of herbs, and other liquors, which were untouched with this plague, might refresh them.

4. They might have some water, either from their pits, or by rain from heaven, as was said before; or from Goshen; for though it be said that the blood was in all their vessels, Exodus 7:19, yet it is not said that all that should afterwards be put into them should be turned into blood.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

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