9.3. The Third Plague: Lice (8:12-15)

The setup:

(12) Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: Hold out your rod and strike the dust of the earth, and it shall turn to lice throughout the land of Egypt.”

The actual plague:

(13) And they did so. Aaron held out his arm with the rod and struck the dust of the earth, and vermin came upon man and beast; all the dust of the earth turned to lice throughout the land of Egypt.

  The magicians respond:

(14) The magicians did the like with their spells to produce lice, but they could not. The vermin remained upon man and beast;

(15) and the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God!”

Pharaoh’s reaction:

But Pharaoh’s heart stiffened and he would not heed them, as the Lord had spoken.

(12) Then the Lord said to Moses: The purpose of the third plague is to utterly demolish the reputation of Pharaoh’s magicians.

(13) Aaron held out his arm with the rod: Aaron executes the first three plagues.

And struck the dust of the earth, and vermin came upon man and beast; all the dust of the earth turned to lice throughout the land of Egypt: The earth (i.e., soil) itself turned into lice.

(14) The magicians did the like with their spells to produce lice, but they could not: Humiliating the magicians is an important step toward destroying the Egyptian ideology.

The vermin remained upon man and beast: The magicians could neither produce lice, nor protect themselves from them.

(15) And the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God!”: The magicians acknowledge that they cannot reproduce this plague through witchcraft, which means that it comes from the Almighty.

But Pharaoh’s heart stiffened and he would not heed them, as the Lord had spoken: Pharaoh no longer gives ear to the magicians, and this proves yet more detrimental to the Egyptian value system.

License

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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