GOD COUNSELS MOSES AND AARON ON HOW TO APPROACH PHARAOH
Vs. 1-9. — Once more God made allowance for the weakness and self-distrust
of Moses, severely tried as he had been by his former failure to persuade Pharaoh
(ch. 5:1-5) and his recent rejection by the people of
allowance, and raised his courage and his spirits by fresh promises, and by a call
upon him for immediate action. The process of deliverance, God assured him,
was just about to begin. Miracles would be wrought until Pharaoh’s stubbornness
was overcome. He was himself to begin the series at once by casting his rod upon
the ground, that it might become a serpent (v. 9). From this point Moses’
diffidence wholly disappears. Once launched upon his Heaven-directed
course, assured of his miraculous powers, committed to a struggle with the
powerful Egyptian king, he persevered without blenching or wavering until
success crowned his efforts.
1 “And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a God to
Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.”
“And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a God to Pharaoh:
Moses was diffident of appearing a second time before Pharaoh, who was so much his
worldly superior. God reminds him that he is in truth very much Pharaoh’s superior.
If Pharaoh has earthly, he has unearthly power. He is to Pharaoh “as a god,” with a
right to command his obedience, and with strength to enforce his commands. “and
Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet”. “thy spokesman”— the interpreter of thy
will to others. Compare ch. 4:16.
2 “Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak
unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of
speak. The Septuagint and the Vulgate have, “Thou shalt speak to him,” which
undoubtedly gives the true sense. Moses was to speak to Aaron, Aaron to Pharaoh.
(See ch. 4:15-16.)
God Assigns to Each Man His intellectual Grade (vs. 1-2)
Three different intellectual grades are here set before us:
Ø that of the thinker,
Ø that of the expounder, and
Ø that of the mere recipient.
Pharaoh, notwithstanding his exalted earthly rank, occupies the lowest position. He
is to hang on the words of Aaron, who is to be to him as a prophet of the Most High.
Aaron himself is to hang on the words of Moses, and to be simply his mouthpiece.
Moses is to stand to both (compare ch. 4:16) as God. And here note, that the
positions are not self-assumed (like Korah – Numbers 16; Jude 1:11; Aesop’s
Fable of The Ox and the Frog – CY – 2017) — GOD ASSIGNS THEM!
So there are leaders of thought in all ages, to whom God has given their
intellectual gifts, whom He has marked out for intellectual pre-eminency, and
whom He makes to stand to the rest of men as gods. Sometimes they are their
own prophets — they combine, that is, the power of utterance with the power of
thought. But very often they need an interpreter. Their lips are uncircumcised.
They lack eloquence; or they even lack the power of putting their thoughts into
words, and require a “prophet,” to publish their views to the world. The
“prophet-interpreter” occupies a position very much below theirs, but still one
requiring important and peculiar gifts, such as God alone can give. He must have
the intelligence to catch the true bearing, connection, and force of the ideas
presented to him, often in rude and uncouth language, like statues roughhewn.
He must be able to work up the rough material into presentable
form. He must have a gift of language, if not a gift of speech. The great
mass of men occupy a lower rank than either of these; they can neither
originate, nor skillfully interpret; it remains that they be content to receive.
God has given to them their humble position, as He has given to the others
their loftier ones. They should cultivate their receptivity. They should be
satisfied to listen and learn. (As Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him
hear.” Matthew 11:15; “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
saith unto the churches.” Revelation 2:7,17,29. Unfortunately many are
in the condition spoken of by Paul from Isaiah “Well spake the Holy Ghost by
Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say,
Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see,
and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their
ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should
see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their
heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Acts 28:25-27 –
CY – 2017)
3 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart (See the comment on Exodus 4:21),
and multiply my signs and my wonders in the
long series of miracles is here, for the first time, distinctly introduced. Three signs
had been given (ch. 4:3-9); one further miracle had been mentioned (ibid. 23).
Now a multiplication of signs and wonders is promised. Compare chps. 3:20,
and 6:6, which, however, are not so explicit as the present passage.
Heart-Hardening (v. 3)
On this subject, see above, and on ch. 4:21. The present seems an appropriate
place for a somewhat fuller treatment.
heart.” This, assuredly, is more than simple permission. God hardens the heart:
Ø Through the operation of the laws of our moral constitution, These
laws, of which God is the author, and through which He operates in the
soul, ordain hardening as the penalty:
o of evil conduct,
o of resistance to truth, and
o of all misimprovement and abuse of privilege.
Ø Through His providence — as when God, in the execution of His
judgments, places a wicked man in situations which He knows can only
have a hardening effect upon him. He does this in righteousness. “God,
having permitted evil to exist, must thereafter of necessity permit it also to
run its whole course in the way of showing itself to be WHAT IT REALLY
IS, as that which aims at the defeat of the Divine purpose, and the
consequent dissolution of the universe.” This involves hardening. (Acts 5:29)
Ø Through a direct judgment in the soul of the individual, God smiting
him with a spirit of blindness and infatuation in punishment of obstinate
resistance to the truth. This is the most difficult of all aspects of hardening,
but it only cuts the knot, does not untie it, to put superficial meanings upon
the scriptures which allege the reality of the judgment (e.g. Deuteronomy 28:28;
II Thessalonians 2:11). It is to be viewed as connected with what may be called
the internal providence of God in the workings of the human mind; His
government of the mind in the wide and obscure regions of its involuntary
activities. The direction taken by these activities, seeing that they do not
spring from man’s own will, must be as truly under the regulation of
outward circumstances of our lot, or those so-called fortuities concerning
which we are assured: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one
of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29).
It is a significant fact that, as sin advances, the sinner becomes less and less a
free agent, falls increasingly under the dominion of necessity. The involuntary
activities of the soul gain ground upon the voluntary. The hardening may be
conceived of, partly as the result of a withdrawal of light and restraining grace;
partly as a giving of the souL up to the delusions of the adversary, “the spirit
that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), whose will
gradually occupies the region in the moral life vacated by the human will,
and asserts there a correspondingly greater power of control; and partly as
the result of a direct Divine ordering of the course of thought, feeling, and
of what happens to an individual, can and does happen on a large scale,
and that seems to be what is happening today! Compare Genesis 6:3;
II Thessalonians 2:7-12 – CY – 2017) Hengstenberg acutely remarks:
“It appears to proceed from design, that the hardening at the beginning
of the plagues is attributed, in a preponderating degree, to Pharaoh, and
towards the end to God. The higher the plagues rise, so much the more does
Pharaoh’s hardening assume a supernatural character, so much the more
obvious is it to refer it to its supernatural causality.”
personality, the source of moral life, the seat of the will, the conscience,
and the affections (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:18). The hardening
of the heart may be viewed under two aspects:
Ø More generally as the result of growth in sin, with consequent loss of
moral and religious susceptibility; and
Ø As hardening against God, the author of its moral life. We have but to
put these two things together: the heart, the seat of moral life, hardening
itself against the Author of its moral life — to see that such hardening is of
necessity FATAL, an act of moral suicide. It may elucidate the subject to
remark that in every process of hardening there is something which the
heart parts with, something which it resists, and something which it
becomes. There is, in other words:
o That which the heart hardens itself in, viz. some evil quality, say
injustice, cruelty, lust, hate, secret enmity to God, which quality
gradually becomes a fixed element in character;
o that which the heart hardens itself against, viz. the influences of truth,
love, and righteousness, in whatever ways these are brought to bear
upon it, whether in:
§ the promptings of conscience,
§ the movements of natural sensibility,
§ the remonstrances of parents and friends,
§ the Word of God, and/or
§ the internal strivings of the Spirit!
o that which the heart parts with in hardening, viz.:
§ with its original susceptibility to truth,
§ with its sensitiveness to moral influences,
§ with its religious feeling,
§ with its natural generosity, etc.
The result is:
§ lostness to:
ü the feeling of right,
ü the sense of shame,
ü the authority of God,
ü the voice of truth, and
ü even to TRUE SELF-INTEREST.
(THIS IS SHOWN EMPHATICALLY NOWHERE
SINS WHICH ARE FLAUNTED IN YOUR-FACE
AND WHICH CERTAINLY DOES NOT PROMOTE
THE GENERAL WELFARE OF THE NATION!
ü division of the sexes
ü (ad nauseam – CY – 2017)
Ø All hardening is thus double-sided;
o hardening in hate, e.g., being at the same time hardening against love,
with a loss of the capacity of love;
o hardening in injustice being a hardening against justice, with a loss
of the capacity for moral discernment;
o hardening in cruelty being a hardening against kindliness the quality
of being kind, warmhearted, or gentle; benevolent, tender, sympathetic,
compassionate, and underestanding, with a corresponding destruction
of the benevolent sensibilities;
o hardening against God being at the same time hardening in self-hood,
in egoism, with a loss of the capacity of faith.
We hence conclude:
Ø All evil hardens, and all hardening in moral evil is in principle
hardening against God. The hardening may begin at the circumference of
the moral nature, and involve the center, or it may begin at the center, and
work out to the circumference. Men:
o may be enemies to God in their mind by wicked works (Colossians 1:21),
o they may have “the understanding darkened,” and be “alienated from
the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the
blindness (margin: hardness) of their hearts,” and being “past feeling”
may give “themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness
with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19), and be STRANGERS to God’s
revealed truth. All sin, all resistance to light, all disobedience to
conscience, has this hardening effect (compare Romans 1:19-32).
But it is a will which has broken from God which is thus in various
ways hardening itself, and enmity to God is latent in the process. The
moment the truth of God is brought to bear on such a nature, this
latent enmity is made manifest, and, as in the case of Pharaoh, further
hardening is the result. Conversely:
Ø Hardening against God is hardening in moral evil. The hardening may
begin at the center, in resistance to God’s known will, and to the strivings
of His Spirit, and thence spread through the whole moral nature. This is
the deepest and fundamental hardening, and of itself gives a character to the
being. A heart hardened in its interior against its Maker would be entitled
to be called hard, no matter what superficial qualities of a pleasant kind
remained to it, and no matter how correct the moral conduct.
Hardening results in a very special degree from RESISTANCE TO THE
WORD OF GOD, TO DIVINE REVELATION! This is the type of
hardening which is chiefly spoken of in Scripture, and which gives rise to
what it specially calls “the hard and impenitent heart” (Romans 2:5).
All revelation of God, especially His revelation in Christ, has a testing power,
and if resisted produces a hardness which speedily becomes obduracy
(stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing, resistant to persuasion or softening
influences), God may be resisted in:
o His Word,
o His Spirit,
o His servants,
o His chastisements, and
o in the testimony to His existence and authority written
on the soul itself.
But THE HIGHEST FORM OF RESISTANCE — THE WORST AND
DEADLIEST — IS RESISTANCE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WITNESS
OF AND DRAWING TO CHRIST!
HARDENING UNDER THE GOSPEL. Pharaoh stands out in Scripture
as the typical instance of hardening of the heart.
Ø He and Jehovah stood in direct opposition to each other.
Ø God’s will was made known to him in a way he could not mistake.
He pretended at first to doubt, but doubt soon became impossible.
Ø He resisted to the last. And the longer he resisted, his heart grew harder.
Ø His resistance was his ruin.
In considering the case of this monarch, however, and comparing it with
our own, we have to remember:
Ø That Pharaoh was a heathen king. He was naturally prejudiced in favor
of the gods of
have had from infancy the advantage of a knowledge of the true God,
of His existence, His attributes, and His demands.
Ø Pharaoh had a heathen upbringing. His moral training was vastly
inferior to that which most have enjoyed who hear the Gospel.
Ø The influences he resisted were outward influences — strokes of
judgment. The hardening produced by resistance to the inward
influences of Christianity, strivings of the Spirit, etc., is necessarily
of a deeper kind.
Ø What was demanded of Pharaoh was the liberation of a nation of slaves
— in our case it is required that we part with sins, and yield up heart
and will to the Creator and Redeemer. Outward compliance would
have sufficed in his case; in ours, the compliance must be inward and
spiritual. Here, again, inasmuch as the demand goes deeper, the
hardening produced by resistance is of necessity deeper also. There is
now possible to man the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against
THE HOLY GHOST!(Matthew 12:32; Hebrews 6:4 6).
Ø The motives in the two cases are not comparable. In the one case, God
revealed in judgments; in the other, in transcendent love and mercy.
(Hebrews 3:7-8, 13, 15, 4:7). Beware, in Connection with this hardening, of
“the deceitfulness of sin,” The heart has many ways of disguising from itself
the fact that it is resisting God, and hardening itself in opposition to Him.
(“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Jeremiah
Ø One form is procrastination. Not yet — a more convenient season.
Ø A second is compromise. We shall find attempts at this with Pharaoh.
By Conceding part of what is asked-giving up some sin to which the
heart is less attached — we hide from ourselves the fact that we
are resisting the chief demand. Herod observed John the Baptist, and
“when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly’
Ø The forms of godliness, as in the Pharisees, may conceal from the
heart its denial of the power thereof. Conscience is quieted by
church membership, by a religious profession.
Ø There is disguised resistance in all insincere repentance. This is seen
in Pharaoh’s relenting. Even when the resistance becomes more avowed,
there are ways of partially disguising the fact that it is indeed God
we are resisting.
Ø Possibly the heart tries to wriggle out of the duty of submission by
caviling at the evidence of revelation.
Ø Or, objection is perhaps taken to something in the manner or
form in which the truth has been presented; some alleged defect
of taste, or infelicity of illustration, or rashness of statement, or
blunder in science, or possibly a slip in grammar. Any straw will
serve which admits of being clutched at. So:
o conviction is pushed off,
o decision is delayed,
o resistance is kept up,
and all the while:
o the heart is getting harder;
o less sensible of the truth,
o more ensnared in error.
It is well also to remember that even failure to profit by THE WORD, without active
resistance to it (if such a thing is possible) — simple want of care in the cherishing
of good impressions, and too rash an exposure to the influences which tend to
dissipate and destroy them — will result in THEIR DISAPPEARANCE and in
A CONSTANT HARDENING OF THE HEART! The impressions will not
readily return with the same vividness.
TODAY AND NOW, HEAR AND OBEY THE VOICE OF GOD!
4 “But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand
“But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my
Pharaoh’s obstinacy was foreseen and foreknown. He was allowed to set his will
against God’s, in order that there might be a great display of Almighty power,
such as would attract the attention both of the Egyptians generally and of all the
surrounding nations. God’s glory would be thereby promoted, and there would
be a general dread of interfering with His people. (See ch.15:14-16; Deuteronomy
11:25) “and bring forth mine
armies, and my people the children of
out of the
5 “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth
mine hand upon
(Sixty-two (62) times this phrase is used in Ezekiel alone about God working in
the end times – Reader – we need to “look up for our redemption draws nigh” –
[Luke 21:28] – CY – 2010) They shall know that I am the only God who is truly
existent, other so-called gods being nonentities. They will know this and feel this
when I stretch forth mine hand upon
The Fierceness of Man Turns to God’s Praise (vs. 3-5)
The most signal triumphs of Divine power are those in which the resistance
to it is the most determined. The greatest of all victories was probably that
which was gained when — after “war in heaven” – (Revelation 12:7) - Satan
was seen, like lightning, falling from heaven to earth. Since then, great triumphs,
tending to God’s praise, occur whenever the right and the truth succeed against
seemingly insuperable opposition. When the boy shepherd with his sling and
stone smites to the earth the gigantic Philistine — when the proud Sennacherib
his boasts has to leave
might is seen and recognized, as it would not have been, unless overwhelming
strength had seemed to be arrayed against comparative weakness. When the
“heathen rage,” and the “kings of the earth and rulers” are on their side,
and the cry of defiance goes forth: “Let us break God’s bands asunder, and
cast away His cords from us” – (Psalm 2:1-4) then God is most apt to show
His might — to “refrain the spirit of princes,” and make it manifest that He
“is “wonderful among the kings of the earth.” The longer and fiercer the
opposition, the more conspicuously is God’s praise shown forth. Blow follows
blow until the opposing power is shattered, smitten to the ground, laid prostrate.
Then is the time for the song of triumph: “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings:
be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice
with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the right
way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put
their trust in him!” (Psalm 2:10-12).
6 “And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they”. This
statement is general, and anticipative of the entire series of interviews beginning here
(v.10), and terminating at ch.10:29, with the words, “I will see thy face no more.”
The obedience of Moses and Aaron was perfect and continuous from this time
7 “And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three
years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh. 8 And the LORD spake unto Moses
and unto Aaron, saying,” Fourscore years old. This age is confirmed by the
statement (in Deuteronomy 31:2; 34:7) that Moses was a hundred and twenty at his
death. It is also accepted as exact by St. Stephen (Acts 7:23, 30). Moderns are
surprised that at such an age a man could undertake and carry through a difficult
dangerous enterprise; but in
considered a very exceptionally long life, and men frequently retained their
full vigor till seventy or eighty.
God Still Glorified Amid Human Weakness and Sin. (ch. 6:28-7:7)
“Speak thou unto Pharaoh.” Moses in his despondency is overpowered by
the sense of his infirmity. He fears the ridicule of the Egyptian court. There
are times when the sense of our unfitness for speaking God’s words
crushes us. Let us take heed lest lowly self-judgment pass into unbelief and
disobedience. The loss of faith in ourselves is no reason why we should
cease to trust God.
veiled by unthought-of glory. He that feared the derision of Pharaoh is
surrounded with dreadful majesty and made as God to him. To obedient
faith, felt incompetency for the task God calls us to, will only be the
occasion of His bestowing upon us more abundant honor. Our very
defects can be transformed into power. A man’s very awkwardness often
disarms criticism and appeals to the heart as the most faultless elegance can
Ø They are forewarned of Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal. We are not sent on
God’s errand with false expectations.
Ø God’s purpose will be accomplished, not defeated, by that opposition.
His defiance will only call forth the revelation of God’s terribleness. Where
sin has sought to dwell and to reign, the terrors of God’s judgment will
alone be remembered.
name will be
written in their punishment
as well as in
(v. 7). The childhood of Samuel, the youth of Daniel, the old age of
Moses and Aaron are arguments of unconquerable strength for the feeble
and despised to trust and toil.
Ø There is a place for all.
Ø No man’s day is over if he will only yield to God. The dying thief who
believed in his dying agonies has been among the mightiest preachers of
God’s infinite grace.
A God to Pharaoh (vs. 1-8)
Moses was in the trying position of being sent out anew upon a mission in
which hitherto he had not had the slightest particle of success. His
discouragement was natural. Pharaoh, on a previous occasion, had
repulsed him. He had lost the ear even of his own people. The situation,
since his former interview with the monarch, had altered for the worse. To
proceed further was like rowing against wind and tide, with little prospect
of ever reaching shore. Discouragement wrought in the usual way. It led
him to magnify difficulties. He brought up again his old objection of his
deficiencies of speech. Even with Aaron as an intermediary, he felt how
awkward it would be to appear in the presence of Pharaoh, and not be able
to deliver his own message. His inability of speech would certainly, he
thought, expose him to contempt. Yet observe, God forebore with him.
His reluctance was not without sin, but God, who knows our frame, does
not expect to find in us all at once the perfection of angels, and is
compassionate of our weakness. We have here, therefore:
Ø That he would clothe him with an authority which even Pharaoh would
be compelled to respect. “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”
(v. 1). It was not with words only that Moses was sent to Pharaoh. Powers
would be given him to enforce his words with deeds. The judgments he
would bring upon the land would clothe him with a supernatural terror —
make him a superhuman and almost a divine person — in the eyes of
Pharaoh and his servants. (compare ch. 12:33.) So God gives attestation
to His servants still, making it evident by the power of the Holy Ghost upon
them, that they come in His name, and speak with His authority. He
accompanies their word with Divine power, giving it efficacy to arrest,
convict, and convert, and compelling the haughtiest of the earth to
acknowledge the source of their message. So Felix trembled before Paul
(Acts 24:25). Paul’s Gospel came to the Thessalonians, “not in word
only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance”
(I Thessalonians 1:5).
Ø That the work of deliverance would be no longer delayed. This also was
implied in what God said to Moses: the time had come for speech to be
exchanged for action. Everything indicated that the “charge” with which
Moses was now entrusted was to be the final one. It should encourage
desponding servants to reflect that God has His “set time” for the fulfillment
of every promise; and that, when this period arrives, all their mourning will
be turned into joy.
Ø Foretold because foreseen. It is God’s prerogative that He knows the
end from the beginning (Isaiah 42:9). Nothing can take Him by surprise.
He knows all the way His purposes are to travel. The whole future lies
mapped out, as in a clear-drawn chart, before Him.
Ø Foreseen because pre-ordained. God, like Christ in the miracle of the
loaves, knew in Himself what He would do (John 6:6). Nothing was left
to chance in His arrangements. The steps in His plan were fixed beforehand.
What would be done would be according to God’s “determinate counsel
and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23) — would be “whatsoever (His) hand
and (His) counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28). The
deliverance was arranged in such a way as most to glorify the power and
greatness of the Deliverer, and demonstrate His superiority to heathen
idols. This in no wise implies that violence was in the very least done to
human freedom, though it suggests that God can so interweave the
volitions of men, in the situations in which He places them, into His
purposes, as to leave not one of them outside His settled plan. The chief
difficulty is in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, here (v. 3) represented
as an ordained link in the chain of God’s designs. But if this hardening
simply means that God will place Pharaoh, already a bad man, in
circumstances which He knows infallibly will harden his heart, and if this is
done justly, and in punishment of former sins, the hardening taking effect
through unalterable laws of the moral nature, which also are of God’s
ordainment, it is difficult to see what righteous objection can be taken to it.
Ø Foretold for wise ends. Similar predictions of the course of the
deliverance had been made at earlier stages (compare ch. 3:19-22; 4:21-23;
6:1-9). They are here repeated:
o For the instruction of Moses, that he might be prepared for all that was
to happen — that he might understand and cooperate with God in the
execution of His designs.
o For the re-invigoration of Moses’ faith.
o That it might be evidenced by the working-out of this fore-announced
plan, that the God of Israel was indeed Jehovah, a free, personal Being,
working in history for the accomplishment of gracious purposes. “The
secret of the Lord is with them that fear him” (Psalm 25:14). God takes
Moses into His counsel, and discovers to him something of His plan of
operation. So he does in the Scriptures with His Church (Revelation 1:1).
GOVERNMENT (vs. 3-4). The end is twofold:
Ø The manifestation of the utterly free and unconstrained character of
His grace and mercy in THE SALVATION OF MAN; and
Ø What is the necessary counterpart of this, the manifestation of His power
and justice in the infliction of judgments upon His enemies. Even evil is
thus made to contribute indirectly to the ultimate and eternal
establishment of RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!
9 “When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for
you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it
before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.” It is obvious that there
would have been an impropriety in Moses and Aaron offering a sign to Pharaoh
until he asked for one. They claimed to be ambassadors of Jehovah, and to speak
in His name (ch. 5:1). Unless they were doubted, it was not for them to produce
their credentials. Hence they worked no miracle at their former interview. Now,
however, the time was come when their credentials would be demanded,
and an express command was given them to exhibit the first “sign.”
Miracles the Credentials of an Ambassador from God (v. 9)
It is not easy to see any way in which God could authenticate a message
as coming from Him, except by giving the messenger supernatural powers.
Conceivably, He might proclaim His will from heaven directly, in terms of
human speech. But even then doubts would be raised as to the words uttered;
men’s recollections of them would differ; some would question whether words
were used at all, and would hold that it had “thundered” - (John 12:29). If, to
avoid such results, He speaks to man through man, how is he to make it clear
that His prophet has indeed been sent by Him? He cannot make His messenger
impeccable, if he is still to be man. He cannot give him irresistible eloquence,
for eloquence is at once suspected; the reason rises up against it and resists it.
What other course is there, but to impart to His messenger a portion of His own
command over nature — in other words, to give him the power of working
miracles? The light of nature seems to have taught Pharaoh to ask for this proof.
The same light taught Nicodemus to accept it — “No man can do these
miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2). So it will
ever be with simple men in simple times. It is only when men have become
sophisticated, when they have darkened the light that is in them by “foolish
questionings” (II Timothy 2:23) - and “oppositions of science falsely so
called,” (I Timothy 6:20) that they begin to see specious objections to
miracles, and regard them as “difficulties in the way of receiving a
revelation” rather than as convincing evidences of it. We may properly call
upon an opponent to tell us what evidence of a Divine mission he would accept,
if he rejects miracles as an evidence, and wait for his answer. We shall probably
find that “he who destroys this basis of belief will not discover a surer one”.
THE FIRST SIGN AND ITS FAILURE TO CONVINCE PHARAOH
Obeying the command given them (vs. 2 and 9), Moses and Aaron went to the court a
second time, and entering into the royal presence, probably repeated their demand —
as from God — that the king would let the Children of Israel go (ch. 6:11), when
Pharaoh objected that they had no authority to speak to him in God’s name, and
required an evidence of their authority, either in the actual words of v. 9 (“Shew
a miracle for you”), or in some equivalent ones. Aaron hereupon cast down on
the ground the rod which Moses had brought from Midian, and it became a serpent
(v.10). Possibly Pharaoh may have been prepared for this. He may have been told
that this was one among the signs which had been done in the sight of the elders
If he knew of it, no doubt the “magicians” knew of it, and had prepared themselves.
Pharaoh summoned them, as was natural, to his presence, and consulted them with
respect to the portent, whereupon they too cast down the rods which they were
carrying in their hands, and they “became serpents; but Aaron’s rod swallowed
up their rods” (v. 12). Pharaoh was to some extent impressed by the miracle,
but not so as to yield. His heart remained hard, and he refused to let the people go.
10 “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." Aaron cast down his rod. The rod is called
indifferently “Aaron’s rod” and “Moses’ rod,” because, though properly the rod of
Moses (ch. 4:2), yet ordinarily it was placed in the hands of Aaron (vs. 19-20;
ch. 8:5, 17, etc.) It became a serpent. The word for “serpent” is not the same as
was used before (ch. 4:3); but it is not clear that a different species is meant. More
probably it is regarded by the writer as a synonym.
11 "Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians
called the wise men and the sorcerers. That magic was an object of much attention
the Past,’ vol. 4. pp. 133-148), “The Magic Papyrus” (ibid. vol. 10. pp. 137-158),
and many other writings. It consisted, to a large extent, in charms, which were
thought to have power over men and beasts, especially over reptiles. What amount
of skill and power the Egyptian magicians possessed may perhaps be doubted.
Many commentators believe them to have been in actual communication
with the unseen world, and to have worked their wonders by the assistance
of evil spirits. Others, who reject this explanation, believe that they
themselves were in possession of certain supernatural gifts. But the
commonest view at the present day regards them as simply persons who
had a knowledge of many secrets of nature which were generally unknown,
and who used this knowledge to impress men with a belief in their
supernatural power. The words used to express “magicians” and
“enchantments” support this view. The magicians are called khakamim,
“wise men,” “men educated in human and divine wisdom” (Keil and
Delitzsch); mekashshephim, “charmers,” “mutterers of magic words”
(Gesenius); and khartummim, which is thought to mean either “sacred
scribes” or “bearers of sacred words” (Cook). The word translated
“enchantments” is lehatim, which means “secret” or “hidden arts”
(Gesenius). On the whole, we regard it as most probable that the Egyptian
“magicians” of this time were jugglers of a high class, well skilled in
serpent-charming and other kindred arts, but not possessed of any
their enchantments. The magicians, aware of the wonder which would
probably be wrought, had prepared themselves; they had brought serpents,
stiffened so as to look like rods (a common trick in
‘Description de l’Egypte,’ vol. 1. p. 159) in their hands; and when Aaron’s
rod became a serpent, they threw their stiffened snakes upon the ground,
and disenchanted them, so that they were seen to be what they were —
snakes, and not really rods.
12 "For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but
Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods." But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.
Aaron’s serpent turned upon its rivals and devoured them, thus exhibiting a marked
False Imitations of Things Divine not Difficult of Detection (vs. 10-12)
It is Satan’s wont, in all ages and on all possible occasions, to set up counterfeits of
things Divine, in order to confuse men’s minds, and make them mistake the false
for the true. Aaron no sooner works a true miracle, a real proof that he is a
God (v. 1), than Satan’s instruments, the magicians of
are ready with an imitation of the miracle, on which they base a claim that
Pharaoh is not to listen to Aaron, but to them. “Curious arts” (Acts 19:19) and
“lying wonders” (II Thessalonians 2:9) were employed to discredit the genuine
miracles of the Apostles. False Christs rose up in various places, soon after the
lifetime of our Lord, claiming to be the Messiah spoken of by the prophets, who
“showed great signs and wonders,” capable of deceiving, if it had been possible,
even “the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Apocryphal gospels were put out by the
side of the true ones. A new and mystic philosophy was set up as the real
“knowledge” which the Son of God had come to reveal, and new religions,
like Gnosticism and Manichaeism, disputed with real Christianity the right
to be viewed as the actual religion of Jesus. Fanatics, at the time of the
Reformation, parodied the Reformed religion, and established “Churches of
the True Saints,” which while affecting extreme purity fell practically into
fearful excesses. Even at the present day rivals are set up to the revelation
of God given us in the Bible — and the religious books of the Egyptians,
or the Hindoos, or the Persians, or the Buddhists, or the Mahometans,
(Muslims) are declared to be just as good, just as much from God, just as
deserving of our attention, as the Old and New Testaments. But, if men are
honest and do not wish to be deceived, it is easy, with a little patience, to detect
each spurious imitation. Aaron’s rod swallowed up the rods of the magicians. It
remained — they ceased to exist altogether. The “curious arts” and “lying
wonders” of those who opposed the Apostles, if examined into, would
have been found either mere tricks, or weak devices of Satan, with none of
the power, the dignity, the awfulness, of a true miracle. And time brought
them to nought — they built up nothing — effected nothing. So with the
“false Christs,” and the apocryphal gospels, and the religions of Gnosticism
and Manichaeism, and the fanatical sects of the Reformation period: they
took no hold on the world — the truth “swallowed them up” — they
vanished away. With the spurious “revelations,” if the case is not the same,
it is nearly the same — if they have not, all of them, vanished, they are all
of them, vanishing. Brought into contact with the truth — placed side by
side with it — they cannot maintain themselves — they are “swallowed up”
while. The ancient pantheism of
century; the religion of Zoroaster is almost non-existent; that of the Vedas
crumbling to decay in the schools of
Mahometanism shows signs of breaking up (except for the militant wing).
When Thibet and
of Buddhism will not be far off. The Divine sweeps away the human —
Aaron’s rod swallows up its rivals.
13 "And He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them;
as the LORD had said”. And He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Rather, “But
Pharaoh’s heart was hard.” The verb employed is not active, but neuter; and
“his heart” is not the accusative, but the nominative. Pharaoh’s heart was too
hard for the sign to make much impression on it. He did not see that Moses
had done much more than his own magicians could do. As the Lord had
said. See v. 4.
The Credentials of God’s Ambassadors to the Froward (vs. 8-13)
BANISHED. The rod which Pharaoh refuses to be shepherded by, cast
down before him, springs into life. To those who refuse obedience to
God’s Word, that Word will cling and become a living thing.
to have done with God and to be like the heathen: it was a vain dream.
Pharaoh would shake off care, and become like one of whom God had
asked nothing: the dream was equally vain. We may deny God, but His
words will live and pursue us.
THE FROWARD (a person hard to deal with, contray person). The rod
cast from the hand becomes a serpent. The vain demand for righteousness
will at last become the sentence of condemnation, and the sin that is clung
to, the sting of death.
THE EFFORT TO DEADEN ITS EFFECT. The rods of the magicians
were swallowed up and the rod of God left more terrible than it was
before. The Divine retribution will swallow up every comfort and stay
which the sinful may summon to sustain them.
The First Sign to Pharaoh: The Rod Becomes a Serpent (vs. 8-13)
INDICATES THAT PHARAOH MAY MAKE. Perhaps we might even
say, will make. “When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a
miracle for you.” This is a great change from his former attitude, that he
should be capable of stooping to such a request. But men who have
despotic power sometimes do strange and contradictory things. The freaks
of tyrants in the way of a seeming liberality and kindliness are among the
curiosities of history. Pharaoh may have said to himself, “It will be rare
sport to give this monomaniac full scope; let him with his own failure
expose the delusion under which he is suffering; it may be the shortest way
out of the difficulty.” On the other hand, it is not at all improbable that
some news of the signs wrought before
the barriers which stand between a palace and the life of the common
people; and Pharaoh may have wished to discover how far the rumor was
founded in reality. Though when we have said all by way of suggesting
secondary causes for the request, we must come in the end to this feeling,
that the only sufficient way of accounting for it is to treat it as an impulse
from Jehovah Himself. Certainly His providence must have much to do with
gaining access to Pharaoh and keeping up the communications of Moses
with him. God can lead Pharaoh, even when he knows not that he is led.
Men are walking in the way of God’s providence and serving His purposes,
even when quite satisfied in the ignorance of their hearts that they are
walking in their own way.
the same which had been a serpent twice already; so that by this time
Moses must have looked upon it with great serenity of confidence. It is
now impossible for us to say why the Lord began His manifestations of
power to Pharaoh with this rather than with some other sign. Reasons
discernible at the time are not discernible now; the light which would have
revealed them has long since died away. We can but see that there was
much in the miracle which would have taught valuable lessons to Pharaoh,
if only he had received it in the simplicity of one who is really looking for
truth and guidance. He would have learned not to despise the absence of
promise in the external appearance of things. He would have learned that a
thing is not ridiculous because it is laughed at. He would have felt, too,
that as the innocent and unimposing rod became suddenly a dangerous
serpent, so this Moses — humble, unsustained and impotent as he seemed
— might also become all at once a destroying force utterly beyond
resistance by any Egyptian defense. Nor must we forget that the choice of
this particular sign may have been influenced by the fact that the
magicians had a favorite and imposing trick of their art which, to the
uninstructed eye, resembled it. They seemed to do, by their magic, what
Moses really did by Divine power, and so their skill, while it had for one
result a renewed defiance of Jehovah on the part of Pharaoh, had another
result in this, that it led up to a strengthening of the faith of Moses. He
might not be able to explain how the magicians did their wonders; but he
knew very well that he was no magician himself, and that his rod had been
Divinely changed, whatever cause had been at work to change the others.
And then, at last, whatever perplexity remained in his mind was swept
away when he saw the power of God rising supreme over mere trickery,
and the serpent from his rod swallowing up the serpents from the other rods.
MAGICIANS. They know that their wonders are lying wonders. Powers
great by nature, trained and increased with the utmost ingenuity, and which
were intended to be and might have been for the good of their fellow-men,
they turn without any compunction into instruments for the promotion of
their selfish glory. They know that, whatever their pretences may be, they
are not acting in a straightforward and humble service of supernatural
power. They know that when Pharaoh puts confidence in them, he is
putting confidence in a lie. Furthermore, they must have known that there
was something in the transformation of Moses’ rod which wanted
accounting for. Magicians understand each other’s tricks quite well, and it
must have been evident to them that Moses was no magician. They know
in their consciences that he is greater than themselves; but what can they
say? Committed to lies, they must go on with them. They must pretend to
have as much power as Moses, even if they have it not; and thus the
induced necessities of their dark and secret arts compel them to hide the
truth from Pharaoh. Nor was it any real excuse that Pharaoh was willing to
be deceived. His destruction ultimately came from his own perversity; but
he also presents the melancholy spectacle of being surrounded by those
who, if only they had been truthful, might have interposed some obstacles
in his downward way.
AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THE MIRACLE. When Aaron’s rod
had swallowed up the others, he still remained unimpressed. It seems as if
he had allowed his attention to be fixed on one part of the miracle, while
another he regarded but carelessly. When his magicians seemed to produce
serpents from rods, this was just according to his inclinations, and he made
much of it. Moses could do nothing more than the magicians could do. But
when their serpents were swallowed up — well, it was not a very
encouraging sight — but still it might be accounted for. And so we are in
danger of depreciating the significance of God’s works by not looking at
them in every part. Every part is to be regarded, if we are to get the full
impression of the whole. If the magicians did what Moses did, it was
equally evident that Moses did what the magicians did. A child could see
that his power was at least equal to theirs. If Pharaoh had not been blinded
by vanity and by traditional reliance on his magicians, he would have
demanded that these magicians should do something more than Moses had
done. What an illustration we have here, of how, when a man gets away
from right thoughts of God, he soon comes to call evil good and good evil
(Isaiah 5:20). Pharaoh believes his lying magicians, though he will not
believe the truthful servant of a true God. He has no discriminating power
to find the difference between things, which, however they may resemble
each other outwardly, are yet inwardly quite opposed. He thinks that he
has power enough with his gods to meet whatever power has yet been
brought against him. It has been already made evident that there is no sense
of pity or justice in him; and it is now made plain that he is not to be
reached by the exhibition before him of a significant symbol of pain and
destruction. Pharaoh must be touched more closely still — must be made
and suffer most dreadfully, before he will consent to let
The Rod Turned into a Serpent (vs. 8-14)
On this sign, notice:
Ø Its distinctness from the similar sign wrought for the conviction of the
Israelites. On the meaning of the latter, see ch. 4:1-6. There the
serpent into which the rod was turned seemed to denote the power of the
monarch — the royal and divine power of
was an Egyptian emblem. However threatening the aspect of this power to
Moses and the Israelites, the sign taught them not to fear it, and promised
victory over it. Here, on the contrary, the serpent is a menace to Pharaoh.
It speaks to him in his own language, and tells him of a royal and Divine
power opposed to his which he will do well not to provoke. The sign was
harmless in itself, but menacing in its import.
Ø Its relation to Egyptian magic. On this, see the exposition. The
magicians produced an imitation of the miracle, but this very circumstance
was turned into an occasion of greater humiliation to them. “Aaron’s rod
swallowed up their rods.” The truth taught was the impotence of magic
arts as opposed to the power of Jehovah. Royalty, divinity, magic, all are
represented as overthrown in this significant marvel. Note — God seldom
destroys a sinner WITHOUT FIRST WARNING HIM! The warnings are
such that, if taken in time, worse consequences may be escaped.
o Conscience warns,
o the Spirit warns,
o providence warns.
Red danger-signals stand at the opening of every path of crime, if the
deluded transgressor would but take heed to them.
to Pharaoh’s demand for a miracle (v. 9). Presumably, Pharaoh made the
request, then the wonder was performed. Note here:
Ø The human mind naturally craves for miracle as an evidence of
revelation. The evidence of outward miracle is not the highest, but neither’
should it be disparaged. It is the kind of evidence which minds at an
inferior stage of development are most capable of appreciating, while, in
connection with other circumstances, it is a powerful confirmation to the
faith even of those who might possibly dispense with it. Christ’s repeated
refusal of a sign was not based upon the principle that signs were
unnecessary, but upon the fact that a superabundance of signs had already
been given. A faith resting merely on miracles (John 2:23-24) may be
destitute of moral worth, but miracles had their value in certifying the
source of the message, as well as in arousing attention, and they were
themselves vehicles of moral teaching.
Ø God satisfies this craving of the mind by granting the evidence
required. It does not lessen, but greatly enhances, the value of this
evidence that most of the miracles of Scripture are not merely credentials
of the revelation, but constitutive parts of it.
Ø Pharaoh’s request for the miracle. It is a significant circumstance that
whereas on the previous occasion (ch. 5:1-5) Pharaoh made no
request for a sign, he asks for one at this second interview. The unexpected
reappearance of these two men, renewing their former demand, and doing
so with even more emphasis and decision than at first, must have produced
a startling effect upon him. Truth, to a certain extent, carries its own
credentials with it. There must have been that in the manner and speech of
these grave and aged men (v. 7) which repelled the hypothesis that they
were impostors. Probably Pharaoh had never been quite sure that their
mission was mere pretence. A secret fear of the God whose worshippers he
knew he was maltreating may have mingled with his thoughts, and kept
him in vague uneasiness. He may thus have been more disturbed by the
former demand than he cared to allow, and now thought it prudent to
satisfy himself further. Professed disbelief in the Bible is in the same way
often accompanied by a lurking suspicion that there is more in its teaching
than is admitted.
Ø He permitted himself to be imposed on by the counterfeit of the
magicians. Their imitation of the miracle furnished him with a plausible
excuse for ascribing the work to magic. It gave him a pretext for unbelief.
He wished one, and he got it. He ignored the strong points in the evidence,
and fixed on the partial resemblance to the miracle in the feats of his
tricksters. There were at least three circumstances which should have made
him pause, and, if not convinced, ask for further proof.
o The miracle of Moses and Aaron was not done by enchantments.
o The men who did the wonder themselves asserted that it was wrought
by Divine power.
o The superiority of their power to that of the magicians was evinced by
Aaron’s rod swallowing up the rods of the others. And seeing that the
miracle of God’s messengers was real, while that of the magicians
was (so far as we can judge) but a juggler’s trick, there were probably
numerous other circumstances of difference between them, on which,
had Pharaoh been anxious to ascertain the truth, his mind would
naturally have sensed. But Pharaoh’s mind was not honest.
He wished to disbelieve, and HE DIDN'T BELIEVE!
Ø He refused the request. He hardened himself, i.e. the unwillingness of
his heart to look at the truth, now that it had got something to stay itself
upon, solidified into a fixed, hard determination to resist the demand made
upon him. Note:
o God tries men’s dispositions by furnishing them with evidence which,
while abundantly sufficient to convince minds that are honest, leaves
numerous loopholes of escape to those indisposed to receive it.
o It is the easiest thing in the world, if one wants to do it, to find pretexts
for unbelief. We are far from asserting that all doubt is dishonest, but it
is unquestionable that under the cloak of honest intellectual inquiry A
THAT IS NOT HONEST IS FREQUENTLY
CONCEALED! To a mind unwilling to be convinced, there is nothing
easier than to evade evidence. (It is called in scripture "willful
ignorance" - "For this they are willingly ignorant" - II Peter 3:5 -
CY - 2017) Specious counter-arguments are never far to seek.
Any specious reply to Christian books, any naturalistic hypothesis,
any flimsy parallel, will serve the purpose. The text directs attention
to the method of false parallels — a favorite one with modem skeptics.
Parallels are hunted up between Christianity and the ethnic religions.
Superficial resemblances in ethics, doctrine and ritual, are laid hold
upon and magnified. Christ is compared with Buddha and Confucius,
or His miracles are put in comparison with the ecclesiastical miracles
of the middle ages. And thus his religion is supposed to be reduced
to the naturalistic level. The defeat of all such attempts is
shadowed forth in the miracle before us.
NOW FOR A NOTE ON SIGNS.
The Greek word for sign is σημεῖον - say-mi’-on; neuter of a presumed derivative of
the base of σημαίνω - say-mah’-ee-no – an indication, especially ceremonial or
supernatural: thus a miracle, sign, token, or wonder. It corresponds with the Hebrew
אות, and is generally, in the Acts as well as in the Septuagint, associated with τέρατα,
or "portents;" when it occurs in the synoptists it is translated "signs." The Book of
John in the New Testament presents Jesus Christ as doing signs as evidence that He
was the Son of God.
shown by turning water into wine, Christ showed His Omnipotence as El Shaddai
by mastery over creation - done in love & power, with authority over matter,
also disease and death. The effects of these signs “manifested His glory” - “His
disciples believed on Him”. The word σημεῖον is associated with τέρας— ter’-as;
of uncertain affinity; a prodigy or omen: a wonder. The word ὕλη — hoo-lay’;
perhaps akin to (ξύλον - xoo’-lon - a forest, i.e. (by implication) fuel: or matter –
tells us that He who can create the grape can create wine - He who can create
matter can easily change it from one kind to another! (El Shaddai) In John 2
Jesus Christ demonstrates control of matter – in John 6 He controls the forces
of nature by walking on the sea, by calming the storm. In John 21 He controls
the animate creation, and in other places, John 4, 5, and 6, the mastery over
the human body, diseases, our necessities and even death! In the synoptic
gospels Christ’s wonderful actions are called - δύναμις— doo’-nam-is; from
(δύναμαί - doo’-nam-ahee; ); force (literal or figurative); specially miraculous
power (usually by implication a miracle itself): — ability, abundance, meaning,
might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle (-s), power,strength, violence, might
(wonderful) work. This is where the English word “dynamite” comes from.
John calls them (the works of Christ) “erga” – works from - ἔργον;— er’-gon;
from a primary (but obsolete) ἔργον (to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by
implication an act: —deed, doing, labor, work. Some might call these deeds
of Jesus Christ, portents, miracles, or marvels. John simply calls them
“works”. I would also like to point out in the gospel of John, the connection
between the name which God told Moses “I AM” or “I AM THAT I AM” with
Jesus’ coming and revealing Himself as:
I AM the water of life – ch. 4:10-14
“I AM the bread of life” – ch. 6:48
“I AM the light of the world” – ch. 8:12
“I AM the door” – ch. 10:7
“I AM the good shepherd” – ch. 10:11
“I AM the resurrection and the life” – ch. 11:25
“I AM the way, the truth and the life” – ch. 14:6
“I AM the true vine” – ch.15:1
(Reader, remember – “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners
spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last
days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all
things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of
His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things
by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat
down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” – [Hebrews 1:1-3] – CY –
THE FIRST PLAGUE – THE TURNING OF WATER TO BLOOD
The first miracle had been exhibited, and had failed. It had been a mere “sign,’’ and
in no respect a “judgment.” Now the “judgments ‘ were to begin. God manifests
Himself again to Moses, and gives him exact directions what he is to do. He is to
Pharaoh on the banks of the
Nile will be turned to blood, so that the ash will die, and the river stink, and
the Egyptians loathe to drink of the water of the river (vs. 15-18).
Pharaoh not yielding, making no sign, the threat is to be immediately
followed by the act. In the sight of Pharaoh and his court, or at any rate of
of attendants (v. 20), Aaron is to stretch his rod over the
and the water is at once to become blood, the fish to die, and the river in a
short time to become offensive, or, in the simple and direct language of the
Bible, to stink. The commands given by God are executed, and the result is
as declared beforehand by Moses (vs. 20-21).
14 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he
refuseth to let the people go.” Pharaoh’s heart is hardened. Rather,
“is hard, is dull.” The adjective used is entirely unconnected with the verb
of the preceding verse.
15 “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.” In the morning. The
expression used both here and again in ch. 20 seems rather to imply a daily custom
of the Pharaoh. It is conjectured; not without reason, that among the recognized
duties of the monarch at this time was the offering of a morning sacrifice to the
however, this may not have been the case, and God may have chosen for
certain miracles particular days, on which the king was about to proceed to
the river in view of some special ceremony connected with the annual
inundation. Against he come. Literally, “to meet him.” In their hand.
When the time came for smiting the waters, the rod was transferred to
Aaron’s hand (v. 19).
16 “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.” The Lord God… hath sent me
unto thee. Rather, “sent me unto thee.” The reference is to the original sending
(ch. 5:1). Thou wouldest not hear. Literally, “Thou hast not heard,” i.e. up to this
time thou hast not obeyed the command given to thee.
17 “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.”
In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord. (Once again, I recommend
Ezekiel: Study of God’s Use of the Word Know – this website - # 233 –
CY – 2017) Pharaoh had declared on the occasion specially referred to, “I know
not Jehovah, neither will I let
“know Jehovah” in the coming visitation; he shall know, i.e., that there is a great
and truly existent God who controls nature, does as He will even with the
fit, the greatest blessings into curses. Behold, I will smite. God here
speaks of the acts of Moses and Aaron as His own acts, and of their hands
as His hand, because they were mere instruments through which He worked.
The Roman law said: “Qui facit per alium, tacit per se.” "He who acts through
another does the act himself." The waters…shall be turned to blood. Not
simply, “shall be of the color of blood,” but shall become and be, to all
intents and purposes, blood. It is idle to ask whether the water would have
answered to all the modern tests, microscopic and other, by which blood is known.
The question cannot be answered. An that we are entitled to conclude from
the words of the text is, that the water had all the physical appearance the
look, taste, smell, texture of blood: and hence, that it was certainly not
discolored by the red soil of
or surface crust) covered with or consisting of a fragile black layer of cyanobacteria, mosses, and
lichens, which is often important in preventing erosion) plants and infusoria (a collective term
neither kill fish, nor “stink,” nor be utterly undrinkable.
18 “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.”
The fish… shall die. This would increase the greatness of the
calamity, for the Egyptians lived to a very large extent upon fish (Birch,
and Delitzsch observe, “this seems to indicate putrefaction.” The Egyptians
shall loathe to drink. The expression is stronger in v. 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.
19 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod,
and stretch out thine
hand upon the waters of
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
and in vessels of stone.” Say unto Aaron. There is an omission here (and
generally throughout the account of the plagues) of the performance by
Moses of God’s behest. The Samaritan Pentateuch in each case supplies the
omission. It has been argued (Kennicott) that the Hebrew narrative has
been contracted; but most critics agree that the incomplete form is the early
one, and that, in the Samaritan version, the original narrative has been
expanded. The waters of
water. The waters of
seven when Herodotus wrote (Herod. 2:17), whence the
“septemfluus,” or “septemgeminus;”
of its percolation through its banks on either side; and
inundation was over.
The four terms of the text seem applicable to this four-fold division, and
accurate knowledge of
“streams” are the
“ponds” are the natural accumulations of waters in permanent lakes or in
temporary pools and marshes; while the “pools,” or “gatherings of waters”
(margin), are the reservoirs made by art. Aaron was to stretch out his rod over
would at once be smitten, the streams and the canals and the natural lakes and the
reservoirs. The miracle would even extend to private dwellings, and the change
open waters spread over the country, but even in respect of that stored, as
was usual, in houses, and contained either in vessels of wood or in vessels
of stone. With respect to these, it is to be observed that the
much improved by keeping, since the sediment subsided; and that tanks,
sometimes of wood, sometimes of stone, were usual adjuncts of all the
better class of houses.
20 “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.” (This is for the agnostic –
I guess you think that man can make a pitcher of Kool-Aid – well, the God of
universe could stir up the
impossible or improbable – I recommend typing in “Fantastic Trip”
in your browser and see where it leads – CY – 2010) He lifted up the rod. “He”
must be understood to mean “Aaron” (see v. 19); but the writer is too much
engrossed with the general run of his narrative to be careful about minutia.
All that he wants to impress upon us is, that the rod was used as an instrument
for the working of the miracle. He is not thinking of who it was that used it. In
the sight of Pharaoh. See the comment on v. 15. And of his servants.
Either “his courtiers generally,” or, at any rate, a large troop of attendants.
21 “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
It is most natural to understand “all the fish.” There was blood, etc. Literally,
“and the blood was throughout all the
the phrase is doubtful, since undoubtedly “in numberless instances, the Hebrew
terms which imply universality must be understood in a limited sense (Cook).
“All the land” may mean no more than “all the Delta.”
God’s Punishments Appropriate and Terrible (vs. 17-20)
There was something peculiarly appropriate in the first judgment falling upon
by the first tyrannical Pharaoh (probably Seti I.). It had been defiled with the
blood of thousands of innocent victims. Crocodiles had in its waters crushed
the tender limbs of those helpless infants, (NO WORSE THAN THE
ABORTION INDUSTRY OF MODERN TIMES - may I recommend –
Abortion Rationale – 2009 – this web site – CY – 2010) and had stained them
with a gore that in God’s sight could never be forgotten. The king, and the
persons who were his instruments, had in so doing polluted their own holy
river, transgressed their own law, offered insults to one of the holiest of their
own deities. And all for the destruction of God’s people. So, now that
destruction was coming upon themselves, now that the firstborn were doomed
(ch. 4:23), and the catastrophe
sign, which threatened
carnage, was given — the
blood. The Egyptians had among their traditions one
which said that the
had once for eleven days flowed with honey (Manetho ap. Syncell.
‘Chronograph.’ p. 55 A). As this supposed miracle indicated a time of peace
and prosperity, so the present actual one boded war and destruction. Again,
Pharaoh’s especial crime at this time was, that he despised God. God
therefore caused his own chief deity to be despised. There are indications
that, about this period, a special Nile-worship had set in. Hapi, the Nile-god,
was identified with Phthah and Ammon — he was declared to stand “alone and
self-created” — to be “the Father of all the gods,” “the Chief on the waters,”
“the Creator of all good things,” “the Lord of terrors and of choicest joys.”
“Mortals” were said to “extol him, and the cycle of Gods” — he stood above
them all as the One Unseen and Inscrutable Being. “He is not graven in marble,”
it was said; “he is not beheld; he hath neither ministrants nor offerings; he is not
adored in sanctuaries; his abode is not known; no shrine of his is found with
painted figures; there is no building that can contain him;” and again, “unknown
is his name in heaven; he doth not manifest his forms; vain are all
representations.” (‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 4. pp. 107-113; vol. 10. pp. 41-2.)
Menephthah was a special devotee of Hapi (ib. vol. 10. p. 38). Nothing could
have seemed to him more terrible and shocking, than the conversion of his pure,
clean, refreshing, life-giving, god-like stream, into a mass of revolting putridity.
And on the people the judgment was still more terrible. Under ordinary
circumstances, the whole nation
depended on the
There were no streams in the country
other than the
brooks, no rills, no springs or fountains. The sudden conversion of all the
readily accessible water — even such as was stored in houses — into
blood, was sickening, horrible, tremendous. Scarcely could any severer
punishment of the people have been devised. If a partial remedy had not
been found (v. 24), it would have been impossible for them to endure
through the “seven days” (v. 25). So fearful are the judgments of God
upon those who offend Him!
Pharaoh Still Hardens His Heart (vs. 22-23)
On the occurrence of the second sign and first plague, the magicians were again consulted;
and, by means which it is impossible to do more than conjecture, they produced a
seeming transformation into blood of a certain quantity of water. The
inquiry, whence they procured the water, is answered by v. 24. That they actually
turned water into blood is scarcely asserted in the vague “did so” of v. 22. Perhaps
they had recourse to sleight of hand, and made a substitution, like modem conjurors;
perhaps they merely turned the water of a red color. All that was necessary was to
convince Pharaoh that they were able to do what Moses and Aaron had done — there
was no one to watch, and test, and examine their pretended miracle, which
consequently passed muster, though it may have been no more than a trick. Pharaoh,
however, suffered himself to be convinced, and “turned and went into his house”
without paying any attention to the marvel wrought (v. 23).
22 “And the magicians of
Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the
LORD had said.” The magicians of
Aaron had done — stretch out, that is, a rod over the
turn it and all its branches, and ponds, and pools, into blood, for this was
already done. They could only show their skill upon some small quantity of
water in a cup or other vessel. No doubt they produced some apparent
change, which was accepted by Pharaoh as an equivalent to what had been
effected by the Israelite chiefs, but which must have fallen far short of it.
Pharaoh would not be a severe critic.
23 “And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his
heart to this also.” Pharaoh turned — i.e. “returned” — quitted the river-hank,
satisfied with what the magicians had done, and went back to the palace.
Neither did he set his heart to this also. A better translation is “Nor did he lay
even this to heart.” In the expression “even this” there is an allusion to the previous
neglect of the first sign (ver. 13).
The Power of Satan is with All Deceivableness (vs. 22-23)
Satan himself, and wicked men, his instruments, are especially strong in the
power of deception. Satan deceived Eve (I Timothy 2:14). The lying spirit
deceived Ahab (I Kings 22:22). Rebekah and Jacob together deceived Isaac.
Gehazi deceived Naaman. Bad men are clever and plausible, and keen-sighted,
and painstaking, and careful — they lay their plans skillfully, and carry them
out boldly, and are usually successful. The magicians had not only their own
credit at stake, but also that of the priests, who were in league with them. They
would not be very scrupulous what means they used, so that they could
persuade the Pharaoh that whatever Moses and Aaron could do, they could do:
and they succeeded. The “father of lies” – (John 8:44) - no doubt suggested to
them some clever method of seeming to perform the same sort of miracle as the
Israelitish leaders had performed — they adopted it, and cheated the eyes of the
beholders. When men wished to nip the religion of Christ in the bud, they called
its Founder “that deceiver” (Matthew 27:63). Deceit is a device of Satan. In
nothing are the powers of light and darkness more contrasted than in the
simpleness, the straightforward sincerity that characterizes the former, and
the crookedness, the tortuousness, the insincerity that goes with the latter.
He who is “the Way” and “the Life,” is also “the Truth.” (John 14:6) - All
who would have fellowship with him must “walk in truth.”
THE EGYPTIAN PEOPLE SUFFER FOR SEVEN DAYS
is the mother of invention. Finding the
undrinkable, the Egyptians bethought themselves of a means of obtaining water to
which they never had recourse in ordinary times. This was to dig pits or wells at some
distance from the river, and so obtain the moisture that lay in the ground, no doubt
derived from the river originally, but already there before the change of the water
into blood took place. This, it appears, remained water, and was drinkable, though
not very agreeable, since, owing to the nitrous quality of the soil in
well-water has always a bitter and brackish taste. It sufficed, however, for drinking
and culinary purposes during the “seven days” that the plague continued (v. 25).
24 “And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for
they could not drink of the water of the river.” And all the Egyptians digged
(Not the Hebrews). The water stored in the houses of the Hebrews in reservoirs,
cisterns, and the like, was (it would seem) not affected; and this would suffice for
the consumption of seven days – the duration of the first plague). Water to drink.
Blood would not become water by percolation through earth, but there might have
been sufficient water in the ground before the plague began, to fill the wells dug,
for seven days.
God Allows Men to Seek and Obtain Alleviations of His Judgments (v. 24)
We are not intended to sit down under the judgments of God, and fold our hands, and
do nothing. Whether it be war, or pestilence, or famine, or any other Heaven-sent
calamity that comes upon us for our sins and those of our nation, we must beware of
sinking into apathy under the infliction, and allowing it simply to run its course. God
does not desire that we should show our submission in this way. He gives us thought,
and ingenuity, and inventiveness, that, in every difficulty we may devise
remedies, and so lessen our own and our neighbors’ sufferings. Oriental
nations view each calamity that comes upon them as Kismet, “fate,” and
make no exertions to meet it, stem it, minimize it. Christians should act
otherwise. They should so far imitate the Egyptians as to set to work actively,
to do what can be done in the way of relief and alleviation. God freely allows
this. He did not punish the Egyptians for digging, or frustrate their efforts by
preventing the water that was in the ground from filling the wells, or by
rendering it undrinkable. And so He allows cholera or plague, or even
ordinary sickness, which is His judgment on an individual, to be met by care,
attention, cleanliness, remedial measures, and is so far from interfering
against such exertions, that He blesses them, and for the most part renders
25 “And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the
river.” And seven days were fulfilled. This note of time has been regarded as
merely fixing the interval between the first plague and the second. But it is more
natural to regard it as marking the duration of the first plague. The intervals between
one plague and another are nowhere estimated.
of the series of plagues which fell on
character. At the stretching out of the red of Aaron, the broad, swift-flowing
of blood. The stroke fell also on the reservoirs, canals, and ponds.
Whatever connection may be traced between this plague and natural
phenomena it is plain that it stood on an entirely different footing from
changes produced under purely natural conditions.
1. The water was rendered wholly unfit for use.
2. It became deadly in its properties (v. 18).
3. The stroke was instantaneous.
4. It was pre-announced.
5. It descended on the river at the summons of Moses and Aaron.
6. It lasted exactly seven days (v. 25).
An event of this kind was palpably of supernatural origin. Contrast Moses
with Christ, the one beginning the series of wonders by turning the river
into blood; the other, in his first miracle, turning the water into wine
(John 2:1-12). The contrast of judgment and mercy, of law and Gospel.
THREAT (vs. 16-19).
Ø The demand was that which Pharaoh had hitherto resisted. It was a
demand righteous and reasonable in itself — “Let my people go,” etc. It
had come to him, moreover, as the command of Jehovah, and proof had
been given him that such was its character. Still he had resisted it. This,
however, did not dispose of the demand, which now confronts him again.
Ø The demand which Pharaoh would not freely grant, he is now to be
compelled to grant. If he will not bow to reason, to persuasion, to
evidence, he must bow to power. An unprecedented calamity would
overtake his land: “In this shalt thou know that I am the Lord; behold, I
will smite with the rod,....the waters which are in the river.” etc. (v. 17).
o Reasonable means are exhausted with the sinner before compulsion is
resorted to. God is unwilling to proceed to extremities.
o Nevertheless, if gentler methods fail, means will be used which will
compel submission. “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow
to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11;
o Excuses are not admitted for willful unbelief. Pharaoh would probably
have pleaded as a ground for his refusal, that he did not believe that the
command in question proceeded from Jehovah. No such plea will be
admitted in the court of heaven. Every allowance will be made for
involuntary ignorance, but none for willful unbelief. What the sinner is
asked to do is righteous and reasonable in itself; is made known to him
as God’s will; and is evidenced to be such by many infallible proofs.
Refusal to acknowledge the sufficiency of this evidence does not
exculpate from the guilt of disobedience. The question is not —
Does he, or will he, admit its sufficiency, but is it sufficient? Not,
Does it convince him? but, Ought it to convince him? Our errors,
follies, and mistakes will not hinder the Almighty from EXECUTING
HIS PURPOSES! If we stand in the way of them, and will not bend,
we must be crushed. (“...whosoever shall fall on this stone shall
be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, IT WILL GRIND HIM
TO POWDER.” - Matthew 21:44)
smiting of the
Ø A proof of the power of Jehovah (v. 17). It showed:
o Him to be an actually existing Being,
o demonstrated His supremacy in nature, and
o made manifest His determination to punish resistance to His will.
A blow at Egyptian idolatry. It turned the
worshipped as a divinity, into an object of loathsomeness and source of
death to its worshippers. They were the chief gods of
were supposed to be embodied in the river. How clear the proof of the
vanity of the idols, and of the unchallengeable superiority of Jehovah! Yet
we do net learn that one idol the less was
A warning of worse evil to come. The
blood was in fact a prophecy or threat of utter ruin to the state. The
succeeding plagues are merely the unfolding of the threat contained in this
Ø The removal of the plague at the end of seven days betokened the
unwillingness of God to proceed to extremities. It is very noticeable that
the plague was removed unasked, and while Pharaoh was still hardening his
heart. So long-suffering is God that He will try all means with sinners
before FINALLY GIVING THEM UP! The lessons for ourselves from this
plague are these:
Ø The certainty of GOD’S THREATENINGS BEING EXECUTED!
Ø The terrible punishments in reserve for DISOBEDIENCE!
Ø The ease with which God can smite a nation, and bring it to the point of
ruin. (As I work on this:
there are wildfires raging in the western
last week Hurricane Harvey hit south
and is considered the most devastating storm in American history,
Irma is predicted to hit
o there is so much hate among various sections of the American
Citizenry, and jealousy of the President of the United States that
we are becoming more unproductive than usual,
do you think there is a great possibility that God is not working against
this nation that has turned its back on Him? Looks easy to me! CY – 2017)
The smiting of the
commerce, and agriculture throughout the
plague lasted a few days longer, the result would have been the death of
the whole population. We call this “miracle,” but miracle is only the
coming forth into visibility of the hand which is at all times working in the
phenomena of nature, and in the affairs of history. By famine, by pestilence,
by blight of crops, by clap of war, turning the river of a nation’s life into
very literal blood (so
so it pleased him-could Jehovah speedily reduce our national pride, and
smite at the fountain-heads the sources of our national prosperity. A very
sensible proof was given of this — of the readiness with which the trade of
a whole country could be paralyzed, and great cities reduced in no long
period to absolute starvation, by a slight change in natural conditions — in
the great snowstorm of January 1881. (See the Spectator of 29th January,
1881 – if interested, check your browser – I did, and it was very interesting –
CY – 2017) (I was amazed at how quickly that
of secularism as
history, though relegated to the third costliest by Harvey - CY – 2017)
Had the storm lasted but a week or two longer, the effects would
have been as serious to cities like
as this smiting. of the Nile in
Ø God’s judgments are anticipative. Judgments in this life forewarn of
judgments beyond. (“Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He
will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained;
whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him
from the dead!” - Acts 17:31)
Ø The magicians could not remove the plague; they could only with the
few drops of water at their command produce a feeble imitation of it. How
futile is this as a disproof of God’s agency! So it is a pitiable way of
disposing of God’s judgments to show that something like them can be
produced by undivine means. The savant (a learned person in science or
literature) , e.g., may produce in his laboratory an imitation of rain or thunder,
and may think that he has thereby disproved God’s agency in any infliction
he may send upon a land through these instrumentalities; but this is small
comfort to the country that is being smitten by them. (Once again, apply
this to current events in the
Ø The attempts of the magicians to refute the pretensions of Moses only
resulted in making the supernatural character of the plague more manifest.
In the same way, the efforts of skeptics to disprove, e.g., the Divine origin
of the religion of the Bible, or of the book itself, only end in making its
ITS DIVINITY MORE APPARENT! “The more conclusively you
demonstrate to the human reason that that which exists ought not to exist,
so much the more do you enhance the miracle of its existence. That must
be the most astounding of all facts that still exists notwithstanding the
gravest objections to its existence.”
Pharaoh here enters on a new phase. It was:
Ø Hardening against conviction. Pharaoh must have felt in this case that he
was in presence of a true work of God. The puny efforts of his magicians
could not possibly impose upon him. But he would not yield. He would not
Hardening under punishment. Pharaoh was in the position of one who,
being often reproved, hardeneth his neck (Proverbs 29:1). He had
risked, even after this last warning, the chances of the threatening turning
out to be untrue. Now, to his utter discomfiture, the stroke descends, and
his empire is on the point of ruin. Yet he hardened himself in resistance.
Ø Hardening which was deliberate. “Pharaoh turned and went into his
house, neither did he set his heart to this also” (v. 23). He had reached a
point at which he could only stiffen himself in his determination to resist
God, by refusing to think, by deliberately turning away from the light and
resolving not to face the question of his duty. The monarch knows his duty,
and knows that he knows it, yet, he will not obey.
Ø Hardening obstinately persevered in. He held out through all the seven
days of the duration of the plague. Hardening of this kind speedily robs the
soul of its few remaining sparks of susceptibility to truth.
The Water Turned into Blood (vs. 14-25)
Ø The deprivation: water, one of the most essential of all God’s gifts, was
suddenly made useless.
The horror. Had all the water of
punishment had been infinitely less. Instead of water, there was blood and
It was a judgment on
will be made an abomination and a horror to us.
It was the revelation of
God will be removed, but the horror of their abuse will abide.
CALAMITY. The magicians could increase the plague, and therefore it
was not from the hand of God! The same argument is used still to prevent
misfortune being considered as a chastisement and warning from God. Men
can see in it chance only, or man’s hand, not the Lord’s.
went into his house” (v. 23). This would prolong his punishment, but
could not conquer God. Instead of bowing to God’s word, we may shut
ourselves in with our sin, but we only bind judgment upon us, and tempt
God to inflict a heavier blow.
The First Plague: The Water Turned to Blood (vs. 14-25)
was not always to be put to it to find his entrance into the palace. God can
arrange things so that Pharaoh shall come to meet him. The instructions
given to Moses at once call to our minds how Pharaoh’s daughter, eighty
years before, had come down to the river to find and protect a helpless
babe, and how that same babe — having passed through many checkered
years, and many strange experiences at the hands both of God and men —
has to meet with another Pharaoh. We are not told why Pharaoh went
down to the water; it may have been to worship, for the Egyptians held the
better not assume it. It is sufficient to observe that Pharaoh was led down
to the stream, to see it, the great benefactor of his land, turned into a curse
(that is, if it was down to the
that the city of the Pharaohs was not on the
See Hunter’s ‘Life of Lord Mayo,’ vol. 1. p. 132).
ABOUT TO HAPPEN. This warning is not peculiar to the first plague.
Warning is mentioned as having been given along with most of the others,
and possibly it was given where it is not mentioned. But it is of course a
thing to be specially noted that God did not begin this succession of
disasters without due and solemn warning. Not that there was any formal
appeal to Pharaoh. It rather seems to be taken for granted that an appeal
will be of no use. But even though Pharaoh disregarded, it was a good
thing to say beforehand what was about to happen. Moses himself, and
Aaron, and all devout Israelites who had eyes to perceive, could thus see
God’s plan opening out more and more. All information is good that makes
us feel how God is working upon an ascertained and settled plan.
elements that belong to life are thus put in sharp contrast. Water is an
element scarcely less distributed than the air itself. It is one of those
common blessings which are so common that we take them with no
manner of doubt that we are perfectly sure of them, come what may. The
importance of water is seen by nothing more than by the frequent
references to it in Scripture as illustrative of spiritual blessings. There is
water to drink; water to cleanse; water to fertilize vegetation. This element
God takes, and all at once, over a wide stretch of territory, turns it to
blood. Thus we see how He can make mere natural things a blessing or a
curse according to his will. Water is a blessing, and blood a blessing,
according to circumstances of time and place. There is suffering when
blood is where water ought to be; and equally there is suffering if water is
where blood ought to be. Here there was great suffering because blood
was where water was meant to be. When the people came for water to
drink, to cook, to wash, to water plants, they found only blood; and yet
that very blood was the same in its composition with the liquid which
flowed incessantly through their own bodies. Their health depended on its
richness, its purity, and the regularity of its flow. On the other hand,
consider the poor man who came to Christ to be cured of the dropsy
(Luke 14:2). He had to complain, not that blood was where water
ought to be, but that water was where blood ought to be. And here we
claim that this miracle is not sufficiently explained by saying that the water
was turned into something like blood. We must take it that there was a
conversion of the water literally into blood. We are here just at the
beginning of a critical and sublime exhibition of signs and wonders. Why,
then, needlessly make admissions which will diminish the force of these?
Granting the supernatural at all, let us be ready to grant it to the full where
the statements of the text require it. The Being who changed a rod to a
serpent could change, if need were, THE WATERS OF THE WHOLE
GLOBE INTO BLOOD! (Reader, if there is a problem with this, I
recommend Genesis 17 – El Shaddai – Names of God by Nathan Stone –
this website – CY – 2017) We should be careful not to admit, without
sufficient reason, anything to diminish the horrors of this plague. What
a poor picture it presents to the imagination to think of streams stained with
red earth or microscopic infusoria! How much more impressive in every
way — how much more consistent with high conceptions of the anger of
Jehovah, and of the punitive aspect of His power — to think of blood, real
blood everywhere, “vast rolling streams, florid and high-colored,” and
becoming after a while, a stagnating, clotting, putrescent mass. Very fitly
does Matthew Henry remark on this plague: — “One of the first miracles
Moses wrought was turning water into blood, but one of the first miracles
our Lord Jesus wrought was turning water into wine; for the law was given
by Moses, and it was a dispensation of death and terror; but grace and truth,
which, like wine, make glad the heart, came by Jesus Christ.”
MAGICIANS. They also were able, or seemed to be able, to turn water
into blood. There are, indeed, some difficulties in understanding the nature
of their action here — whether it was mere trickery and deception, or
whether God did allow water, as it passed through their hands, to be
changed to blood. An understanding of these points is, however, of
secondary importance. The thing of moment is to mark how unimpressed
the magicians themselves seem to have been with the terrible spectacle
presented to them. It was not for Pharaoh only to take heed to this river of
blood; the intimation was for them also. But they clung, as privileged men
almost always do cling, to their position and influence. Not only was
Pharaoh’s kingdom in danger, but their standing as the professed agents of
supernatural powers. They went on, vainly contending against this new
manifestation of power, though surely in their hearts they must have felt it
was destined to prevail And their conduct was made worse by the fact that
they were pursuing it in the midst of general suffering.
for? Surely to give Pharaoh time — time to consider the miracle in all its
bearings, and get over the rashness and pride which prompted his first
thoughts of continued resistance. We know not if, during these seven days,
the river slowly returned to its natural state. Perhaps there was no sharp
dividing line between the plagues; one may have come on as another faded
away. Seven days, then, were given to Pharaoh to change his mind; but it is
very hard for a man, even in seven days, to say he has been utterly wrong.
And then there is the success of these magicians to keep him astray. Yet
what was there in them to give satisfaction? It seemed they could do the
same thing which Moses was doing, viz. change water into blood. If only
they could have changed blood into water again, then they might have
been of some use and comfort to Pharaoh.
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