DIG: How did God combat the gods of Egypt with the plague of frogs? What new pressure was applied to Pharaoh through this plague? Why did Pharaoh appeal to Moses and Aaron if his magicians were able to do the same things by their secret arts? Given a most timely answer to Moses’ and Aaron’s prayer, why did Pharaoh react as he did?
REFLECT: When have you taken answered prayer for granted? Do you pray more when things are going your way? Or when all seems lost? By now, Moses or Aaron may have been feeling used or manipulated by this unrepentant Pharaoh. When have you felt conned by a non-believer who strung you along? How do you respond to this type of a person?
At some point following the pollution and cleansing the Nile of blood, Moses once again went fully armed with God’s power before Pharaoh with the demand that the people of Israel be freed in order that they might worship God. Therefore, ADONAI said to Moses, “You are to go to Pharaoh and say to him: This is what God says, ‘Let My people go, so that they may worship Me’ (8:1).” The central question was this, who would the Hebrews serve? Who was their true God? ADONAI, or Pharaoh?
The second plague, like the former, was directed by the LORD against the idolatry of Egypt. The Nile River was sacred in their eyes; therefore, God turned its waters into blood. The frog was also an object of worship among them, so Aaron was to say to the king: If you refuse to let them go, God will plague your whole country with frogs (8:2). As the waters of the Nile recede each year, frogs begin to appear. The frogs were viewed as a positive sign because the Nile was receding and the time of planting could begin. That was why the Egyptians worshiped them. Therefore, the sound of frogs was normally a cause of rejoicing because it meant that the land was once again fertile and ready for planting. The plague of frogs is repeated and intensified in the end times (see my commentary on Revelation Eg – Then I Saw Three Evil Spirits That Looked Like Frogs). In a reversal of the Exodus account, the frogs in the end times are evil spirits.118
The Nile teemed with frogs, their number was countless. As stated previously, the first three plagues have to do with the Nile, its pools and streams. Aaron prophesied that they would come up into Pharaoh’s palace, into his bedroom and onto his very bed. Since the frog was deified as the Egyptian goddess Heqt, who was believed to assist women in childbirth, there may be a touch of irony in the statement that large numbers of frogs would invade Pharaoh’s bedroom and even jump onto his bed.119 They would also come into the houses of his officials, his people and into their ovens and kneading troughs (8:3). The frogs would affect everyone in Egypt, the King himself, his people and all his officials (8:4). Frogs were everywhere – in their bedrooms, their kitchens, in every room of their houses. When they walked, they walked on frogs; when they sat, they sat on frogs. One could only imagine the frustration brought by the multiplication of those frogs. And because the frogs were sacred to the Egyptians, they were not supposed to be killed. But they became a blanket of filth. Slimy and wet, they crunched under their feet. If they happened to slip, they fell into a mass of decomposing uncleanness. And if they went to the Nile to cleanse themselves, it was also full of frogs. There was no escape. Once again the Nile had become a source of pollution. One can only imagine the cries of the people because of the multiplication of those frogs.120
Then ADONAI said to Moses His servant: You are to tell Aaron, "Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt" (8:5). The plague affected both Egyptians and Hebrews alike. All natural water sources were struck by the plague. So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land (8:6). According to the rabbinical account, the swarming of the frogs occurred over a seven-day period like the first plague. It was as if the LORD was saying, “You want to worship frogs. I’ll give you frogs.”
There is an interesting introversion here with the ninth plague. The second plague had to do with frogs, which are creatures of the night, that is, of darkness; while the ninth plague had to do with the actual darkness itself.
But Pharaoh’s magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they seemingly made frogs come up on the land of Egypt (8:7). I say seemingly, because only God can create something out of nothing (Genesis 1:1). What is clear is that the magicians were incapable of removing the plague, only adding to it. Egypt certainly didn’t need any more frogs. This was only the second plague, but it is the last one that Pharaoh’s magicians were able to imitate. Three times the magicians displayed their satanic slight of hand. First, they seemingly changed their staffs into snakes (7:12), then they imitated turning water into blood (7:22), and thirdly they created the illusion of creating more frogs (8:7), but beyond that they could not go. The power of Satan can never remove that which God has created. Since the plague of frogs was created by God’s power, the magicians were powerless to remove them. So it is with the prince of this world (John 16:11). He is unable to get rid of the evil that he has brought to God’s creation, and he cannot check its progress. All he can do is multiply evil.121
Yet, because they were able to imitate creating more frogs, Pharaoh once again refused to let the Israelites go. He saw that Israel’s God, despite his magicians’ ability to mimic the plague, was a power to be reckoned with. Therefore, he summoned Moses and Aaron. For the first time he acknowledged God when he said: Pray to ADONAI to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to Him (8:8). Back in 5:2 he had said: I do not know ADONAI, but now he was asking Moses and Aaron to serve as intercessors on his behalf. Pharaoh was slowly starting to realize that although his magicians could mimic certain plagues, they were not be able to get rid of them. The king then lied when he said that he would let the Israelites go. He had no intention of doing any such thing.122
Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile” (8:9). Moses probably reasoned that if Amenhotep II was able to pick the time that the frogs would be removed, and if it really came to pass at that time, there would be no more doubting God’s power.
The answer of Pharaoh was somewhat perplexing at first, for he did not request an immediate end to the plague, but suggested that the frogs should be removed on the next day (8:10). Why not immediately? He was probably hoping against hope that they would go away by themselves, and then he would not be obligated to either Moses or God.123 Nevertheless, Moses replied: It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like ADONAI your God, the frogs will leave you and your homes, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile (8:11). Moses promised that the frogs would depart from Egypt. However, he does not tell Pharaoh how they will leave. The frogs will remain in the Nile only. In other words, the LORD caused them to return to their natural habitat. He caused His creation to operate according to its normal laws that He had set in motion from the beginning.124
After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses was true to his word and cried out to God about the frogs He had brought on Pharaoh (8:12). And ADONAI did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields (8:13). The fact that Moses predicted the moment of the arrival and departure of the frogs sets it apart from a purely natural occurrence. Ordinarily the frogs would not die all at once, but would gradually disappear. However, on Pharaoh’s command, they died and were piled into heaps. So even though the plague was over, its consequences remained. They had to bury or burn all the dead frogs, and as a result, the land reeked of them (8:14).
Once the plague was over, Pharaoh’s true character was once again revealed. The confidence he had earlier in his own power started to erode, but as soon as the plague was out of sight, it was also out of mind.125 It was still too much for the arrogant king to admit that the God of the Hebrews had surpassed the gods of Egypt in a demonstration of power. Of course, there was no way that he could admit that as ruler and god of Egypt, that he also had been outdone.126 Therefore, when Amenhotep II saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as ADONAI had said (8:15). This gives us a more comprehensive picture of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. We are told that he hardened his own heart. God’s part in this was to bring to the surface that which was already there.127
Hopi, the god of the Nile supposedly controlled the soil deposits to make Egypt fertile. He was depicted as holding a frog, out of whose mouth flowed a stream of nourishment. This indicated the close relationship between the god of the Nile and the frog goddess Heqt. She was the goddess of birth who had the body of a woman, but the head of a frog. She was considered to be the wife of the creator god Khnum, who was thought to fashion human bodies on his potter’s wheel. Then she would blow the breath of life into them. Therefore, she was a symbol of resurrection, the emblem of fertility, and the patroness of midwives. One Egyptian picture shows Heqt reciting spells to bring about the resurrection of Osiris. Another carving shows her kneeling before the queen and overseeing the birth of Hatshepsut.128
Heqt was supposed to control the multiplication of frogs in ancient Egypt by protecting their enemy, the frog eating crocodiles. But God overwhelmed Heqt and caused her to be impotent in her task. She was powerless to repel or resist God’s overpowering regeneration of frogs. It is ADONAI who grants fertility; He produced frogs so fast that they became a curse upon Egypt. Just like the first plague, the LORD was sovereign over fertility, over Egypt and over the Egyptian gods.129 Oh yes, He is also sovereign over you and me.
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017