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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

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Commentary on Exodus

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

7.14–8.15 :

The first three plagues. In this triad, the Egyptians will begin to experience the LORD's power.

7.14–24 :

The first plague: blood.

17 :

Like Israel in 6.7 and Moses in 7.5 , Pharaoh is now told what the coming events will show, though he will grasp the lesson by fits and starts and more slowly than his courtiers will.

17–18 :

This plague is far more ominous than the sign in 4.9 because here the river itself—the deified source of Egypt's life—is affected.

22 :

The magicians' ability to duplicate the plague can only make matters worse for the Egyptians, but it again (see 7.11–13 ) convinces Pharaoh that nothing but magic is involved, so he remains unmoved.

7.25–8.11 :

The second plague: frogs.

8.4 :

Despite the magicians' duplication of the plague (which, again, makes matters worse), this time Pharaoh apparently realizes that his magicians cannot end the plague, and therefore that the LORD is behind it. This is the first of several partial or temporary concessions by Pharaoh, each of which is soon withdrawn (see also vv. 21, 24; 9.27–28; 10.8‐11, 16–17, 24–28 ).

6 :

Allowing Pharaoh to specify the time for removing the frogs should reinforce the lesson of the LORD's unique power: He can end a plague at the very moment specified.

8.12–15 :

The third plague: vermin. The Heb term refers to some small insect, such as mosquitoes or lice.

14–15 :

The magicians' inability to duplicate this plague with their spells leads them to explicitly recognize that this is not magic but divine power.

8.16–9.12 :

The second three plagues. In this triad God applies the punishments only to the Egyptians and not to the Israelites ( 8.18–19; 9.4, 6–7; cf. 9.11 ), showing that He is “in the midst of the land,” directing events closely and discriminatingly.

8.16–28 :

The fourth plague.

17 :

Swarms of insects, the meaning of Heb “‘arov” is uncertain.

18 :

The region of Goshen, the area in the eastern part of the Nile delta (near the Sinai peninsula), where Joseph had settled his family (Gen. 46.29, 34; 47.6; 50.8; see map, p. 130 .

21–24 :

Pharaoh weakens further and begins to recognize God, saying Plead, then, for me. He makes partial concessions but will not grant all that is asked.

22 :

Untouchable to the Egyptians: This may be related to the Egyptian aversion mentioned in Gen. 43.32 , but whether Moses means what he says or is being evasive is unclear.

24 :

Do not go very far, less than a distance of three days (v. 23 ).

9.1–7 :

The fifth plague: pestilence. Some type of deadly epidemic affecting livestock, perhaps anthrax.

9.8–12 :

The sixth plague: boils. A severe skin inflammation (cf. Deut. 28.27 ).

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