Exodus 8 – What’s Your Favorite Plague

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Today’s PassageExodus 8

What’s your favorite plague of Egypt? I remember in third grade, mine was the frogs. All the other plagues seemed utterly undesirable, but the prospect of having multitudes of frogs absolutely everywhere all the time sounded awesome, because I was an eight-year-old boy.

But from an objective standpoint, it is only awesome in the literal sense of being awe-inspiring. In no other way is it awesome. It is not cool, it is not rad, it is not dope. God promises Pharaoh: “The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls” (3). They can’t cook their food without cooking frogs too. They can’t make bread for all the frogs in the mixing bowls. And when they go home, they have to share their bed with frogs.

The frogs are a dig at the Egyptian deities Hapi and Heket. Hapi, often depicted as attended by frogs, was associated with the good harvests that the Nile’s flooding made possible. Heket, who had the head of a frog, was a deity of fertility, water, and renewal. With the plague of frogs, God shows his command over all the things Hapi and Heket stand for. And in fact, all the plagues are a dig at major Egyptian gods. God controls the frogs: he decides when they come and when they go. No other god has any power over them.

animated God of the Bible using a light switch to control the plague of frogs

Sure, Pharaoh’s magicians can bring more frogs. The text tells us, “The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt” (7). They’re fully capable of exacerbating the problem! But they can’t get rid of the plague of frogs; Pharaoh has to beg Aaron and Moses to ask God to eliminate the croaking green menace. When it comes to the gnats and the swarms, although the soothsayers and sorcerers try their damnedest (quite literally, if their “secret arts” involve the invocation of demonic powers), they’re unable even to summon the critters with which God strikes the land of Egypt. Pharaoh’s magicians have hit the wall.

Anyway, so much for the frogs and gnats and swarms. Despite all this misery, every time God alleviates Egypt’s afflictions, Pharaoh keeps changing his mind and retaining the Israelites in captivity. More plagues are on the horizon; this show ain’t over yet by a long shot.

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