Notes for Exodus 8:1LEB

Beginning with 8:1, the verse numbers through 8:32 in English Bibles differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 8:1 ET = 7:26 HT, 8:2 ET = 7:27 HT, 8:3 ET = 7:28 HT, 8:4 ET = 7:29 HT, 8:5 ET = 8:1 HT, etc., through 8:32 ET = 8:28 HT. Thus in English Bibles chapter 8 has 32 verses, while in the Hebrew Bible it has 28 verses, with the four extra verses attached to chapter 7.


Notes for Exodus 8:2LEB

The construction here uses the deictic particle and the participle to convey the imminent future: "I am going to plague/about to plague." The verb נָגַף (nagaf) means "to strike, to smite," and its related noun means "a blow, a plague, pestilence" or the like. For Yahweh to say "I am about to plague you" could just as easily mean "I am about to strike you." That is why these "plagues" can be described as "blows" received from Yahweh.


"plague all your border with frogs." The expression "all your border" is figurative for all the territory of Egypt and the people and things that are within the borders (also used in Exodus 10:4LEB, 14, 19; Exodus 13:7LEB).


This word for frogs is mentioned in the OT only in conjunction with this plague (here and Ps 78:45LEB, PS 105:30LEB). R. A. Cole (Exodus [TOTC], 91) suggests that this word "frogs" (צְפַרְדְּעִים, tséfardéim) may be an onomatopoeic word, something like "croakers"; it is of Egyptian origin and could be a Hebrew attempt to write the Arabic dofda.


Notes for Exodus 8:3LEB

The choice of this verb שָׁרַץ (sharats) recalls its use in the creation account (Gen 1:20LEB). The water would be swarming with frogs in abundance. There is a hint here of this being a creative work of Yahweh as well.


This verse lists places the frogs will go. The first three are for Pharaoh personally – they are going to touch his private life. Then the text mentions the servants and the people. Mention of the ovens and kneading bowls (or troughs) of the people indicates that food would be contaminated and that it would be impossible even to eat a meal in peace.


Notes for Exodus 8:4LEB

Here again is the generic use of the article, designating the class – frogs.


The word order of the Hebrew text is important because it shows how the plague was pointedly directed at Pharaoh: "and against you, and against your people, and against all your servants frogs will go up."


Notes for Exodus 8:5LEB

After the instructions for Pharaoh (Exodus 7:25LEB Exodus 8:4LEB), the plague now is brought on by the staff in Aaron’s hand (Exodus 8:5–7LEB). This will lead to the confrontation (Exodus 8:8–11LEB) and the hardening (Exodus 8:12–15LEB).


Notes for Exodus 8:6LEB

The noun is singular, a collective. B. Jacob notes that this would be the more natural way to refer to the frogs (Exodus, 260).


Notes for Exodus 8:7LEB

"thus, so."


In these first two plagues the fact that the Egyptians could and did duplicate them is ironic. By duplicating the experience, they added to the misery of Egypt. One wonders why they did not use their skills to rid the land of the pests instead, and the implication of course is that they could not.


Notes for Exodus 8:8LEB

The verb קָרָא (qara’) followed by the lamed (ל) preposition has the meaning "to summon."


The verb הַעְתִּירוּ (hatiru) is the Hiphil imperative of the verb עָתַר (’atar). It means "to pray, supplicate," or "make supplication" – always addressed to Yahweh. It is often translated "entreat" to reflect that it is a more urgent praying.


This form is the jussive with a sequential vav that provides the purpose of the prayer: pray…that he may turn away the frogs.


This is the first time in the conflict that Pharaoh even acknowledged that Yahweh existed. Now he is asking for prayer to remove the frogs and is promising to release Israel. This result of the plague must have been an encouragement to Moses.


The form is the Piel cohortative וַאֲשַׁלְּחָה (vaashallékhah) with the vav (ו) continuing the sequence from the request and its purpose. The cohortative here stresses the resolve of the king: "and (then) I will release."


Here also the imperfect tense with the vav (ו) shows the purpose of the release: "that they may sacrifice."


Notes for Exodus 8:9LEB

The expression הִתְפָּאֵר עָלַי (hitpaer alay) is problematic. The verb would be simply translated "honor yourself" or "deck yourself with honor." It can be used in the bad sense of self-exaltation. But here it seems to mean "have the honor or advantage over me" in choosing when to remove the frogs. The LXX has "appoint for me." Moses is doing more than extending a courtesy to Pharaoh; he is giving him the upper hand in choosing the time. But it is also a test, for if Pharaoh picked the time it would appear less likely that Moses was manipulating things. As U. Cassuto puts it, Moses is saying "my trust in Yahweh is so strong you may have the honor of choosing the time" (Exodus, 103).


Or "destroyed"; "to cut off the frogs."


The phrase "so that" is implied.


Or "survive, remain."


Notes for Exodus 8:10LEB

"And he said"; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


"It will be" has been supplied.


"according to your word" (so NASB).


Notes for Exodus 8:12LEB

The verb צָעַק (tsaaq) is used for prayers in which people cry out of trouble or from danger. U. Cassuto observes that Moses would have been in real danger if Yahweh had not answered this prayer (Exodus, 103).


"over the matter of."


The verb is an unusual choice if it were just to mean "brought on." It is the verb שִׂים (sim, "place, put"). S. R. Driver thinks the thought is "appointed for Pharaoh" as a sign (Exodus, 64LEB). The idea of the sign might be too much, but certainly the frogs were positioned for the instruction of the stubborn king.


Notes for Exodus 8:13LEB

"according to the word of Moses" (so KJV, NASB). Just as Moses had told Pharaoh "according to your word" (v. 10), now the Yahweh does "according to the word" of Moses.


"and the frogs died."


Notes for Exodus 8:14LEB

"and they piled them." For clarity the translation supplies the referent "the Egyptians" as the ones who were piling the frogs.


The word "heaps" is repeated: חֳמָרִם הֳמָרִם (khomarim khomarim). The repetition serves to intensify the idea to the highest degree – "countless heaps" (see GKC 396 §123.e).


Notes for Exodus 8:15LEB

The word רְוָחָה (révakhah) means "respite, relief." BDB 926 relates it to the verb רָוַח (ravakh, "to be wide, spacious"). There would be relief when there was freedom to move about.


וְהַכְבֵּד(véhakhbed) is a Hiphil infinitive absolute, functioning as a finite verb. The meaning of the word is "to make heavy," and so stubborn, sluggish, indifferent. It summarizes his attitude and the outcome, that he refused to keep his promises.


The end of the plague revealed clearly Yahweh’s absolute control over Egypt’s life and deities – all at the power of the man who prayed to Yahweh. Yahweh had made life unpleasant for the people by sending the plague, but he was also the one who could remove it. The only recourse anyone has in such trouble is to pray to the sovereign Yahweh Yahweh. Everyone should know that there is no one like Yahweh.


Notes for Exodus 8:16LEB

The third plague is brief and unannounced. Moses and Aaron were simply to strike the dust so that it would become gnats. Not only was this plague unannounced, but also it was not duplicated by the Egyptians.


The verb is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive, meaning "and it will be." When הָיָה (hayah) is followed by the lamed (ל) proposition, it means "become."


The noun is כִּנִּים (kinnim). The insect has been variously identified as lice, gnats, ticks, flies, fleas, or mosquitoes. "Lice" follows the reading in the Peshitta and Targum (and so Josephus, Ant. 2.14.3 [2.300]). Greek and Latin had "gnats." By "gnats" many commentators mean "mosquitoes," which in and around the water of Egypt were abundant (and the translators of the Greek text were familiar with Egypt). Whatever they were they came from the dust and were troublesome to people and animals.


Notes for Exodus 8:17LEB

"man," but in the generic sense of "humans" or "people" (also in v. 18).


Notes for Exodus 8:18LEB

The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the main clause as a temporal clause.


"and the magicians did so."


The report of what the magicians did (or as it turns out, tried to do) begins with the same words as the report about the actions of Moses and Aaron – "and they did so" (vv. 17 and 18). The magicians copy the actions of Moses and Aaron, leading readers to think momentarily that the magicians are again successful, but at the end of the verse comes the news that "they could not." Compared with the first two plagues, this third plague has an important new feature, the failure of the magicians and their recognition of the source of the plague.


Notes for Exodus 8:19LEB

"and the magicians said."


The word "finger" is a bold anthropomorphism (a figure of speech in which Yahweh is described using human characteristics).


The point of the magicians’ words is clear enough. They knew they were beaten and by whom. The reason for their choice of the word "finger" has occasioned many theories, none of which is entirely satisfying. At the least their statement highlights that the plague was accomplished by Yahweh with majestic ease and effortlessness. Perhaps the reason that they could not do this was that it involved producing life – from the dust of the ground, as in Genesis 2:7LEB. The creative power of Yahweh confounded the magic of the Egyptians and brought on them a loathsome plague.


"and the heart of Pharaoh became hard." This phrase translates the Hebrew word חָזַק (khazaq; see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 53). In context this represents the continuation of a prior condition.


Notes for Exodus 8:20LEB

The announcement of the fourth plague parallels that of the first plague. Now there will be flies, likely dogflies. Egypt has always suffered from flies, more so in the summer than in the winter. But the flies the plague describes involve something greater than any normal season for flies. The main point that can be stressed in this plague comes by tracing the development of the plagues in their sequence. Now, with the flies, it becomes clear that Yahweh can inflict suffering on some people and preserve others – a preview of the coming judgment that will punish Egypt but set Israel free. Yahweh is fully able to keep the dog-fly in the land of the Egyptians and save his people from these judgments.


"And Yahweh said."


Notes for Exodus 8:21LEB

The construction uses the predicator of nonexistence – אֵין (’en, "there is not") – with a pronominal suffix prior to the Piel participle. The suffix becomes the subject of the clause. "but if there is not you releasing."


Here again is the futur instans use of the participle, now Qal with the meaning "send": הִנְנִי מַשְׁלִיחַ (hinni mashliakh, "here I am sending").


The word עָרֹב (’arov) means "a mix" or "swarm." It seems that some irritating kind of flying insect is involved. Ps 78:45LEB says that the Egyptians were eaten or devoured by them. Various suggestions have been made over the years: (1) it could refer to beasts or reptiles; (2) the Greek took it as the dog-fly, a vicious blood-sucking gadfly, more common in the spring than in the fall; (3) the ordinary house fly, which is a symbol of Egypt in Isa 7:18LEB (Hebrew זְבוּב, zévuv); and (4) the beetle, which gnaws and bites plants, animals, and materials. The fly probably fits the details of this passage best; the plague would have greatly intensified a problem with flies that already existed.


Or perhaps "the land where they are" (cf. NRSV "the land where they live").


Notes for Exodus 8:22LEB

Or "distinguish." וְהִפְלֵיתִי (véhifleti) is the Hiphil perfect of פָּלָה (palah). The verb in Hiphil means "to set apart, make separate, make distinct." Yahweh was going to keep the flies away from Goshen – he was setting that apart. The Greek text assumed that the word was from פָּלֵא (pale’), and translated it something like "I will marvelously glorify."


The relative clause modifies the land of Goshen as the place "in which my people are dwelling." But the normal word for "dwelling" is not used here. Instead, עֹמֵד (’omed) is used, which literally means "standing." The land on which Israel stood was spared the flies and the hail.


Or "of the earth" (KJV, ASV, NAB).


Notes for Exodus 8:23LEB

The word in the text is פְדֻת (pédut, "redemption"). This would give the sense of making a distinction by redeeming Israel. The editors wish to read פְלֻת (pélut) instead – "a separation, distinction" to match the verb in the preceding verse. For another view, see G. I. Davies, "The Hebrew Text of Exodus VIII 19 [English 23]: An Emendation," VT 24 (1974): 489-92.


"this sign will be tomorrow."


Notes for Exodus 8:24LEB

"and there came a…."


"heavy," or "severe."


Here, and in the next phrase, the word "house" has to be taken as an adverbial accusative of termination.


The Hebrew text has the singular here.


Concerning the connection of "the land was ruined" with the preceding, S. R. Driver (Exodus, 68) suggests reading with the LXX, Smr, and Peshitta; this would call for adding a conjunction before the last clause to make it read, "into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt; and the land was…"


The Hebrew word תִּשָּׁחֵת (tishakhet) is a strong word; it is the Niphal imperfect of שָׁחַת (shakhat) and is translated "ruined." If the classification as imperfect stands, then it would have to be something like a progressive imperfect (the land was being ruined); otherwise, it may simply be a preterite without the vav (ו) consecutive. The verb describes utter devastation. This is the verb that is used in Gen 13:10LEB to describe how Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Swarms of flies would disrupt life, contaminate everything, and bring disease.


Notes for Exodus 8:25LEB

After the plague is inflicted on the land, then Pharaoh makes an appeal. So there is the familiar confrontation (vv. 25–29). Pharaoh’s words to Moses are an advancement on his previous words. Now he uses imperatives: "Go, sacrifice to your Yahweh." But he restricts it to "in the [this] land." This is a subtle attempt to keep them as a subjugated people and prevent their absolute allegiance to their Yahweh. This offered compromise would destroy the point of the exodus – to leave Egypt and find a new allegiance under the Yahweh.


Notes for 8:26

The clause is a little unusual in its formation. The form נָכוֹן (nakhon) is the Niphal participle from כּוּן (kun), which usually means "firm, fixed, steadfast," but here it has a rare meaning of "right, fitting, appropriate." It functions in the sentence as the predicate adjective, because the infinitive לַעֲשּׂוֹת (laasot) is the subject – "to do so is not right."


This translation has been smoothed out to capture the sense. The text literally says, "for the abomination of Egypt we will sacrifice to Yahweh our Yahweh." In other words, the animals that Israel would sacrifice were sacred to Egypt, and sacrificing them would have been abhorrent to the Egyptians.


An "abomination" is something that is off-limits, something that is tabu. It could be translated "detestable" or "loathsome."


U. Cassuto (Exodus, 109) says there are two ways to understand "the abomination of the Egyptians." One is that the sacrifice of the sacred animals would appear an abominable thing in the eyes of the Egyptians, and the other is that the word "abomination" could be a derogatory term for idols – we sacrifice what is an Egyptian idol. So that is why he says if they did this the Egyptians would stone them.


"if we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians [or "of Egypt"] before their eyes."


The interrogative clause has no particle to indicate it is a question, but it is connected with the conjunction to the preceding clause, and the meaning of these clauses indicate it is a question (GKC 473 §150.a).


Notes for Exodus 8:27LEB

The verb נֵלֵךְ (nelekh) is a Qal imperfect of the verb הָלַךְ (halakh). Here it should be given the modal nuance of obligation: "we must go."


This clause is placed first in the sentence to stress the distance required. דֶּרֶךְ (derekh) is an adverbial accusative specifying how far they must go. It is in construct, so "three days" modifies it. It is a "journey of three days," or, "a three day journey."


The form is the perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive; it follows in the sequence: we must go…and then [must] sacrifice."


The form is the imperfect tense. It could be future: "as he will tell us," but it also could be the progressive imperfect if this is now what Yahweh is telling them to do: "as he is telling us."


Notes for Exodus 8:28LEB

By changing from "the people" to "you" (plural) the speech of Pharaoh was becoming more personal.


This form, a perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive, is equivalent to the imperfect tense that precedes it. However, it must be subordinate to the preceding verb to express the purpose. He is not saying "I will release…and you will sacrifice," but rather "I will release…that you may sacrifice" or even "to sacrifice."


The construction is very emphatic. First, it uses a verbal hendiadys with a Hiphil imperfect and the Qal infinitive construct: לֹא־תַרְחִיקוּ לָלֶכֶת (lo tarkhiqu lalekhet, "you will not make far to go"), meaning "you will not go far." But this prohibition is then emphasized with the additional infinitive absolute הַרְחֵק (harkheq) – "you will in no wise go too far." The point is very strong to safeguard the concession.


"Do" has been supplied here to convey that this somewhat unexpected command is tacked onto Pharaoh’s instructions as his ultimate concern, which Moses seems to understand as such, since he speaks about it immediately (v. 29).


Notes for Exodus 8:29LEB

The deictic particle with the participle usually indicates the futur instans nuance: "I am about to…," or "I am going to…." The clause could also be subordinated as a temporal clause.


The verb תָּלַל (talal) means "to mock, deceive, trifle with." The construction in this verse forms a verbal hendiadys. The Hiphil jussive אַל־יֹסֵף (’al-yosef, "let not [Pharaoh] add") is joined with the Hiphil infinitive הָתֵל (hatel, "to deceive"). It means: "Let not Pharaoh deceive again." Changing to the third person in this warning to Pharaoh is more decisive, more powerful.


The Piel infinitive construct after lamed (ל) and the negative functions epexegetically, explaining how Pharaoh would deal falsely – "by not releasing."


Notes for Exodus 8:31LEB

"according to the word of Moses" (so KJV, ASV).


Notes for Exodus 8:32LEB

This phrase translates the Hebrew word כָּבֵד (kaved); see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 53.