9.2. The Second Plague: Frogs (7:25-8:11)

A brief respite:

(25) When seven days had passed after the Lord struck the Nile,

The setup:

(26) the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Let My people go that they may worship Me.

(27) If you refuse to let them go, then I will plague your whole country with frogs.

(28) The Nile shall swarm with frogs, and they shall come up and enter your palace, your bedchamber and your bed, the houses of your courtiers and your people, and your ovens and your kneading bowls.

(29) The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your courtiers.’ ”

The plague itself:

(8:1) And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: Hold out your arm with the rod over the rivers, the canals, and the ponds, and bring up the frogs on the land of Egypt.”

(2) Aaron held out his arm over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

The magicians respond:

(3) But the magicians did the same with their spells, and brought frogs upon the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh’s reaction:

(4) Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord to remove the frogs from me and my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”

(5) And Moses said to Pharaoh, “You may have this triumph over me: for what time shall I plead in behalf of you and your courtiers and your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses, to remain only in the Nile?”

(6) “For tomorrow,” he replied. And [Moses] said, “As you say — that you may know that there is none like the Lord our God;

(7) the frogs shall retreat from you and your courtiers and your people; they shall remain only in the Nile.”

(8) Then Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh’s presence, and Moses cried out to the Lord in the matter of the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh.

(9) And the Lord did as Moses asked; the frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields.

(10) And they piled them up in heaps, till the land stank.

(11) But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he became stubborn and would not heed them, as the Lord had spoken.

(25) When seven days had passed after the Lord struck the Nile: Each of the Ten Plagues took about a month, including the lulls between them. The entire period of plagues thus lasted about a year, a period of reeducation for both the Egyptians and the Jews alike.

(28) The Nile shall swarm with frogs, and they shall come up and enter your palace, your bedchamber and your bed, the houses of your courtiers and your people, and your ovens and your kneading bowls: As with the first plague, which turned the Nile waters into blood, here too the frogs arise out of the Nile, and eventually fill every square inch of the Egyptians’ living space.

(8:3) But the magicians did the same with their spells, and brought frogs upon the land of Egypt: Although the magicians have the necessary skill to create frogs, they are not able to rid Egypt of them. Even frogs, diminutive and harmless creatures, overpower the Egyptian magicians, which is symbolic of the Egyptians’ utter helplessness.

(4) Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord to remove the frogs from me and my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord”: During the first plague the Egyptians got access to water by digging new wells. But now they cannot rid themselves of the frogs, so Pharaoh capitulates to Moses’ demands.

(5) And Moses said to Pharaoh, “You may have this triumph over me: for what time shall I plead in behalf of you and your courtiers and your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses, to remain only in the Nile?”: Moses wants to show Pharaoh that he, Moses, neither initiates the plagues nor halts them. Everything is in the hands of the Almighty, and all Moses can do is to relay Pharaoh’s petitions to Him.

(6) “For tomorrow,” he replied: Tomorrow, not today. Pharaoh is very strong-willed. He is willing to endure an oppressive situation simply to test Moses and verify the accuracy of his prognostications.

And [Moses] said, “As you say — that you may know that there is none like the Lord our God”: That is, in order to convince you that these plagues are not magic.

(8) Then Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh’s presence, and Moses cried out to the Lord in the matter of the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh: Moses “cried out” – he prayed fervently – because it was now important that the plague would end at the exact time indicated.

(9) And the Lord did as Moses asked; the frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields: The Almighty fulfills Moses’ request with great precision.

(10) And they piled them up in heaps, till the land stank: The symbolism here is that notwithstanding all the external brilliance of Egyptian civilization, it is decaying from the inside out.

(11) But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he became stubborn and would not heed them, as the Lord had spoken: From this point on Pharaoh fails time and again to make good on his promises given openly and publicly. The effect is to destroy the last remnants of Jewish trust in the Egyptian system (and Egyptian trust as well).

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Bible Dynamics, VOL. 2. EXODUS Copyright © by Orot Yerushalaim / P. Polonsky / English translation of the Torah by the Jewish Publication Society, New JPS Translation, 1985. With sincere gratitude for the permission to use. All Rights Reserved.

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