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Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had die, and the river shall stink; and the commanded : and Aaron cast down his rod Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and of the river. it became a serpent.
19 4 And the LORD spake unto Moses, 11 Tlien Pharaoh also called the wise men Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch and the sorcerers: now the magicians of out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, Egypt, they also did in like manner with their upon their streams, upon their rivers, and enchantments.
upon their ponds, and upon all their 'pools 12 For they cast down every man his rod, of water, that they may become blood; and and they became serpents : but Aaron's rod that there may be blood throughout all the swallowed up their rods.
land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and 13 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, in vessels of stone. that he hearkened not unto them; as the 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD had said.
LORD commanded; and he ?lifted up the 14 | And the LORD said unto Moses, rod, and smote the waters that were in the Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the let the people go.
sight of his servants; and all the waters that 15 Get thee unto Pharach in the morn were in the river were turned to blood. ing; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and 21 And the fish that was in the river died ; thou shalt stand by the river's brink against and the river stank, and the Egyptians could he come; and the rod which was turned to a not drink of the water of the river; and serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.
there was blood throughout all the land of 16 And thou shalt say unto him, The Egypt. LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me 22 *And the magicians of Egypt did so unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's they may serve me in the wilderness : heart was hardened, neither did he hearken and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not unto them; as the LORD had said. bear.
23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his 17 Thus saith the LORD, In this thou house, neither did he set his heart to this also. shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I 24 And all the Egyptians digged round will smite with the rod that is in mine hand about the river for water to drink; for they upon the waters which are in the river, and could not drink of the water of the river. they shall be turned to blood.
25 And seven days were fulfilled, after 18 And the fish that is in the river shall that the LORD had smitten the river. 1 Heb. gathering of their waters. 9 Chap. 17. 5.
8 Psal. 78. 44.
* Wisd. 17.7.
Verse 12. • They cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents.'-A new and very interesting explanation of this difficult circumstance has been given by Col. C. H. Smith, affording a remarkable example of the illustration which many passages of Scripture may receive from natural science. Col. Smith conceives that the species of serpent in question was the Naja Haje, the undoubted Ihhnaphi, cneph, or agathodæmon of ancient Egypt, on whose monuments it is frequently represented. This serpent inflates the skin of the neck into an intumefaction of that part: and the Psylli or serpent-charmers, by a particular pressure on the neck, can render the inflation of the animal so intense that the serpent becomes rigid, and can be held out horizontally, as if it were a staff. We may therefore infer that the magicians of Pharaoh used a real serpent for a rod—namely this species, now called Naja haje-for their imposture ; since they no doubt did what the present serpent-charmers perform with the same species, by means of a temporary asphyxiation, or suspension of vitality; and producing restoration to active life by liberating or throwing down. Thus we have the miraculous character of the prophet's mission shewn by his real rod becoming a serpent, and the magicians' real serpents merely assuming the form of rods; and when both were opposed in a state of animated existence, by the rod devouring the living animals, conquering the great typical personification of the protecting divinity of Egypt. See the article ‘ADDER,' in the Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature.
15. Stand by the river's brink.' – This is the Nile. 1 others make the elevation of the soil to exceed that of the This indefinite indication the river,' always sufficiently river's bottom. Dr. Shaw, who estimates the increase in denotes the Nile in speaking of Egypt, because in fact the depth of the soil at rather more than a foot in a centhat country does not possess any other river. In a tury, observes that Egypt must have gained 41 feet S distance of 1350 nautical miles, from the mouth of the inches of soil in 4072 years; and as he does not sufficiently Tacazze to the Delta, the Nile does not receive a single advert to the corresponding elevation of the river's bed, tributary stream from either the east or west, which, as he sees cause to fear that, in process of time, the river remarked by Humboldt, is a solitary instance in the hy will not be able to overflow its banks, ard Egypt, from drographic history of the globe. It is to this noble river being the most fertile, will become, from the want of the that Egypt owes its fertility and even its existence. The annual inundation, one of the most barren countries in soil of Egypt was no doubt originally formed by the earth the universe, brought down by the river from Abyssinia and the inte The swell of the river varies in different parts of its rior of Africa, and deposited during the annual inunda channel. In Upper Egypt it is from 30 to 35 feet; at tion; and that it has been progressively elevated in the Cairo it is about 23 feet, whilst in the northern part of course of ages from the same cause, is demonstrated by a the Delta it does not exceed four feet, which is owing to considerable number of distinct facts. Thus towns and the artificial channels, and the breadth of the inundation. buildings which are known from history to have been Yet the four feet of increase is as necessary to the fertility originally built on mounds, to secure them from the effects of the Delta as the twenty-three or thirty feet elsewhere. of the inundation, now lie so low on the plain as to be in The river begins to swell in June, but the rise is not rapid updated every year: and it also appears that a greater or remarkable until early in July; the greatest height is rise in the river seems now necessary to prevent a dearth, attained about the autumnal equinox, and the waters rethan was required in the age of Herodotus. Thus, in main nearly at the same level until the middle of October. time, the land of Egypt would become desolate, from the After this the subsidence is very sensible, and the lowest failure of the inundation which is essential to its fertility, point is reached in April. These phenomena, however were not an equilibrium preserved by a nearly correspond striking, are by no means peculiar to the Nile: they are ing elevation of the river's bed, so that the point of over more or less common to all rivers whose volume is annuflow is maintained nearly in the same ratio with the eleva ally augmented by periodical rains; but there is no river tion of the soil. Among other facts, this is demonstrated the annual swelling of which is so replete with important by the ancient Nilometer near Elephantine, mentioned by consequences, or so essential to the existence of a nation. Strabo, which is still in existence. The highest measure This is because Egypt depends wholly upon the river for marked upon it is twenty-four cubits : but the water now its fertility; and wherever the influence of its inundation rises, when at its greatest elevation, nearly eight feet above does not extend, there the soil is desert. Very little rain this mark; while it appears from an inscription on the ever falls in Egypt. At Thebes, not more than four or wall, made in the third century A.D., that the water then five showers fall, on an average, in one year: and although rose only a foot above that level. This gives an elevation in Lower Egypt, and particularly on the coast, rains are of about five inches in a century; and it has been collected, more frequent, they are confined to the winter season, from quite independent data, that the rise in the circum and are short in their duration. Therefore the irrigation jacent soil has been nearly in the same proportion. It is which the land receives through the direct overflow of the true that there are isolated facts which seem to militate Nile, and by means of the canals which convey its waters against this general conclusion; but they may be accounted where the inundation does not directly extend, is quite for by supposing certain irregularities, in themselves very essential to that fertility for which Egypt has in all times probable, which in some places make the rise in the bed been proverbial. The inhabitants of Egypt have with of the river exceed that in the neighbouring soil, and in 1 great labour cut a vast number of canals and trenches through the whole extent of the land. These canals are for it is preceded by a greenish discoloration, during which not opened till the river has attained a certain height, nor the water is so corrupt, tasteless, and unwholesome, that yet all at the same time, as then the distribution of the the natives confine themselves to the water which they water would be unequal. The sluices are closed when preserve in cisterns. Another objection to this hypothesis the water begins to subside, and are gradually opened is, that the transactions recorded here could not have again in the autumn, allowing the waters to pass on to happened later than February, as we are enabled to percontribute to the irrigation of the Delta. The distribu ceive by the condition of the agricultural produce, as spetion of the Nile water has always been subject to distinct cified in chap. ix. 31. But the rise of the river, which is and minute regulations, the necessity for which may be attended by the red discoloration, does not take place till estimated from the common statement, that scarcely a several months later; if, therefore, the discoloration was tenth part of the water of the Nile reaches the sea in the natural, the river must have risen at a very unusual first three months of the inundation. Minute regulations season of the year; and this considering the astonishing are necessary in our own land for the equal distribution punctuality, even to a day, of the periods of increase and of streams which afford power to mills. In a country subsidence--would be no less a miracle than the supernawhose fertility essentially depends upon one great ferti tural discoloration of the river. Michaelis and others, lizing power, such regulations must have been amongst however, rather than admit the latter alternative, allow the first steps in the laws of civilization. Lower Mesopo that the miracle consisted in an anticipatory rise of the tamia, which in the time of Herodotus competed with river being produced at the command of Moses. We do Egypt the palm of exuberant production, is now a desert, not see what is gained by this hypothesis, or that the in consequence of the abandonment of a system of irriga miracle would be in this case less striking than in the tion, which, from actual inspection, we should judge to other. have been nearly analogous to that which continues to 18. • The Egyptians shall loath to drink of the water of fertilize the land of the Nile. During the inundation, I the river.'—There is an intensity in this which should not the whole level country appears like a series of ponds and escape notice; it is as much as to say that the Egyptians reservoirs; and it is not merely the saturation of the should hate that which was dearest to them, and which ground, but the deposit of mould or soil which takes place they most admired and worshipped. To the adoration of during the overflow, that is so favourable to the agricul the Nile we have alluded in the note on verse 15. We ture of Egypt. This mud contains principles so friendly have now to add, that the admirable quality of its water to vegetation, that it is used as manure for those places has been the theme of praise among both natives and which have not been adequately benefited by the inunda foreigners, in ancient and modern times. Very ancient tion; and, on the other hand, where the deposit has been writers inform us that the water was considered so nourishcomplete, the people are said to mingle sand with it to ing that the priests abstained from giving it to their sacred abate its strength. The cultivation of the ground com bull Apis, lest he should become too fat; and others state, mences as soon as the waters have retired, and where the that it never became impure, whether preserved at home soil has been sufficiently saturated the labours of agricul. or exported abroad. The Egyptians were even said to ture are exceedingly light. The seed is sown in the mois put it in jars, and to keep it three, four, or more years, tened soil, and vegetation and harvest follow with such under the impression that, like wine, the longer it was rapidity, as to allow a succession of crops, wherever kept the better it became. Benjamin of Tudela describes water can be commanded. The influence of the river the water as both drink and medicine; and our countryupon the condition and appearance of the country can man, John Sanderson, who was in Egypt in 1586-7, says only be estimated by comparing its aspect in the season (in Purchas), Nilus water I thinke to be the profitablest which immediately precedes, with that which follows the and wholesomest in the world, by being both bread and inundation. Volney has illustrated this, by observing drinke to them; for bread there could be none without it. that the surface of the land successively assumes the ap It breedeth no manner of disease in the body, as divers pearance of an ocean of fresh water, of a miry morass, other waters doe: it hurteth not to drinke thereof either of a green level plain, and of a parched desert of sand and troubled or cleere ; for being brought to our houses, one dust.
mile and a haife or two miles off, it cometh in warmer It was the feeling generally entertained of their entire than blood, and troubled, seeming sandy; but standing all dependence upon the river, co-operating with the natural night in our jars of earth, it is very clear and cool in the dis position of man to look rather to the secondary causes, morning, and so continueth in the house be the weather than to the infinitely great and good God from whom all never so hot. Subsequent travellers confirm this account. blessings come, which led the Egyptians to deify their It is said that the natives excite thirst artificially that Nile, which had its appointed priests, festivals, and sacri they may drink the more of this delicious water; and fices : and even now, under the sterner system of the Mos it is a saying among them, that had Mohammed himself lem religion, the reverence entertained for this stream, drunk of it, he would have desired to live for ever, that still called the Most Holy River,' and the rites with he might always enjoy it. Those who go on pilgrimages which its benefits are celebrated, seem to exhibit a ten and journies, seem to have all other regrets absorbed in dency towards the same form of acknowledgment and that of wanting the Nile water, and talk of little else but gratitude.
the pleasure they anticipate in drinking it when they re17. · The waters which are in the river . . . shall be turn. Nor is this merely the natural partiality of the turned to blood.”—This probably means no more than that thirsty Africans for their own river : Europeans in general the water became red like blood, it being a common He allow that they have not found such water in any other brew form of speech, of which we have already had seve place. Maillet, who expatiates with much satisfaction on ral instances, to describe similarity by identity. The class the subject, says, that when a stranger drinks it for the of commentators who are anxious to explain the Scripture first time it seems like a drink prepared by art: he conmiracles on natural principles have been very unfortunate fesses that it had rather too much sweetness for his taste; with this one. It is attested by various travellers that the but says that it is among waters what champague is among waters of the Nile, at one period during the time of in wines. Perhaps this account is highly coloured; but crease, become of a brownish red colour; owing probably there is no doubt, from the united testimony of various to the earth which the river brings down from Abyssinia. travellers, that the Nile water has some peculiarly agreeSome are inclined to consider this as the discoloration able qualities, which are doubtless the more strongly apalluded to in the text. To this there are the strongest preciated in consequence of the unpleasant character of objections. One is, that if it had been a common occur the only other water which can be obtained in Egyptrence, the Egyptians could not have been surprised or that from the wells. intimidated. Another is, that the water, while subject to 19. · Upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon this red discoloration, is so far from being unwholesome, their rivers, upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water. that its turning red is a sign that it has become fit for use : 1 – This enumeration, rightly understood, is one of the numerous instances of the author's intimate knowledge of digged by that prince. Diodorus also describes the Nile as Egypt, and may therefore be quoted in proof of the truth and abounding in fish, not only sufficient to supply the people authority of the book. The waters of Egyptare such as here with fresh fish, but to enable them to salt large quantities described, and almost peculiar to that country. The 7777
for exportation. He adds, with truth, that there was not
in the world a river more serviceable to mankind than the neharoth, rendered • streams,' appear to be the arms of the Nile. The Egyptians are the first people whom history Nile; the D ay yeorim, translated rivers,' are the ar mentions as curing any kind of meat with salt for presertificial canals, which abounded in that country; the D'OR vation. They used fossil salt, which they got from the aggamim, are, as rendered, the stagnant ponds' made by African deserts : sea salt, and everything belonging to the the Nile, called in Egypt birkeh, of which there are many;
sea, being abhorred by them. The priests abstained from and the Dead mikveh mayim, pools of water,' means
the fish even of the Nile; but whether because they con
sidered the natives of the river too sacred to be eaten by all the other standing water, or that which is left behind
them, or too impure from their possible communication by the Nile, the lakes and puddles, from which the pea
with the sea, authors are not agreed. Clement of Alexsants who live at a distance from the Nile, at this day
andria gives the former reason, and Plutarch the latter. water their lands. Indeed the inhabitants of Cairo are
These facts will explain the force of this plague, not only said to drink much of this water, which is brought to them by the water-carriers instead of the Nile water, which is
in spoiling the delicious water of the idolized river, but further off. Thevenot, Voyage, 'i. 173. Faber, in the
as touching at the same time their principal means of subGerman edit. of Harmer's Observations, pp. 326, 327.
sistence. Le Bruyn hastily affirmed that there are few _
fish in the Nile; and Harmer has thought it worth while Both in vessels of wood and vessels of stone.'— These words have at the first view a singular appearance, and
to give a whole chapter to disprove this statement. He require the explanation afforded by the peculiar usages of
brings the authority of Sandys, Norden, Egmont and Egypt. Under ordinary circumstances, the Egyptians are
Heyman, and Maillet, to bear against that of Le Bruyn.
Sandys, in going up the Nile, often bought as many fish accustomed to purify the turbid water of the Nile in vessels
for sixpence as would satisfy twenty people. There is in of wood or stone, usually the latter. When it is desirable
fact no doubt on the subject. Harmer well observes, that to purify it quickly, a ball of crushed almonds is thrown
fish might have been very plentiful in Egypt even if they in; but when there is time for the purification, it is done without them.
had been scarce in the Nile. Fish were very abundant The process of purification by almonds is particularly described by Prosper Alpinus, Pococke, and
in the lakes and canals: they also abound in the Red Sea
and on the shores of Lower Egypt; but we are inclined Savary. By the ordinary process, the water in large vessels of wood, earth, and even unburned clay, settles
to believe that the ancient Egyptians did not eat fish de
rived directly from the sea. in the course of a day or two. There is also another
22. · The magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantprocess by which river water intended for drinking is ren
ments.'-It has been objected, · How could the magicians dered not only clear as crystal, but most refreshingly cool, It is placed in large vessels of a kind of earth or white
turn water into blood, when all the water is said, in verse
19, to have been changed ? The answer is, that the clay, which are propped upon wooden frames, under which is placed another vessel to receive the droppings of the
Egyptians, by digging, found water unaffected by the water which percolates steadily through them. These are
plague, and on this water the magicians might operate. also used in the towns of the Tigris and Euphrates, and
24. · The Egyptians digged round about the river for afford the inhabitants the inestimable luxury of cold and
water to drink.-A similar operation of digging for water, clear water in the hottest seasons. They are frequently
in a less likely situation than the banks of the Nile—that represented in the Egyptian sculptures and paintings, both
is, in the desert between Egypt and Palestine-is thus dein the domestic and harvest scenes, in the latter of which
scribed by Dr. Richardson: On our arrival at Gatsallakh the vessel, supported on the usual frame, stands in the
we stopt in a low, wind-swept valley, beside a precipitous harvest field, to furnish refreshment to the thirsty and
sand-bank that towered above our heads to the height of heated labourers. It is with reference to these facts-to
100 feet. Here, however, we were told there was water, the knowledge that the Egyptians kept large quantities of
though to our longing and inexperienced eyes every inch water in vessels to purify and cool for use that we are
of surface was covered with dry sand, without the slightenabled to understand this part of the infliction which was
est indication of the fluid below. Our flasks were all brought upon them, and which they must have felt very
drained, and we alighted, and laid ourselves down on the severely; for not only were their great and customary
sand, wishing for the arrival of our camels to bring us a sources of supply contaminated, but the water which they
fresh supply. Meanwhile, as we were admiring the opehad in their houses for immediate purposes was rendered
rations of the industrious beetle, rolling his ball over the unfit for use.
smooth surface of the desert, the sheikh of the caravan
began to clear away the arenaceous accumulation from a 21. “ The fish that was in the river died.'-As we touch
very unlikely spot, which, however, soon discovered signs here and there on the condition and usages of ancient of water beneath. He then proceeded to deepen the excaEgypt, as illustrating the effect of these plagues, our con vation by basketing out the sand, singing at the same time viction increases that those who would fully appreciate
an appropriate Arab tune. They continued digging and this series of wonderful transactions would do well to ac singing for about ten minutes, when abundance of the quaint themselves with the current accounts of that re wished-for fluid flowed amain. At the joyful sight, men, markable country in which they took place. Every line | women, dogs, and asses, all crowded around, eager to dip in the history of the plagues, seems to have a point and their lips in the wave. We all drank of it, and, though force which, without some knowledge of Egypt, cannot it is muddy and brackish in the extreme, our first sentibe properly appreciated. The text before us will then ment was that of universal approbation. “It is extremely appear to have a most forcible meaning, which might else good," flowed from every tongue after it had tasted the be overlooked. It is repeatedly stated by Herodotus that water. We tried it a second time, but the voice of apfish formed the principal subsistence of the Egyptian | plause stuck in our throats.' (Travels, vol. ii. p. 182-83.) people. They ate them either salted or dried in the sun, This again leads us to mention that the well water of without any other preparation. Diodorus says that, from Egypt is detestable; a circumstance which no doubt greatly the time of the king Mæris, a great body of men found continual occupation in salting the fish caught in the lake | held, as described in a former note.
enhances the estimation in which the water of the Nile is
word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the i Frogs are sent. 8 Pharaoh sueth to Moses, 12 and
houses, out of the villages, and out of the Moses by prayer removeth them away. 16 The dust
e dust fields. is turned into lice, which the magicians could not do. 14 And they gathered them together upon 20 The swarms of flies. 25 Pharaoh inclineth to heaps : and the land stank. let the people go, 32 but yet is hardened.
15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto | respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkPharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the ened not unto them ; as the Lord had said. LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve 16 | And the LORD said unto Moses, Say me.
unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, the dust of the land, that it may become lice I will smite all thy borders with frogs: throughout all the land of Egypt.
3 And the river shall bring forth frogs 17 And they did so; for Aaron stretched abundantly, which shall go up and come into out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and of the earth, and it became lice in man, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy ser in beast; all the dust of the land became lice vants, and upon thy people, and into thine throughout all the land of Egypt. ovens, and into thy 'kneading-troughs :
18 And the magicians did so with their 4 And the frogs shall come up both on enchantments to bring forth lice, but they thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy could not: so there were lice upon man, and servants.
upon beast. 5 T And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say 19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's rod over the streams, over the rivers, and | heart was hardened, and he hearkened not over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up unto them; as the Lord had said. upon the land of Egypt.
20 | And the LORD said unto Moses, 6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over Rise up early in the morning, and stand bethe waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, fore Pharaoh ; lo, he cometh forth to the and covered the land of Egypt.
water; and say unto him, Thus saith the 7 And the magicians did so with their en LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve chantments, and brought up frogs upon the me. land of Egypt.
21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, 8 | Then Pharaoh called for Moses and behold, I will send 'swarms of flies upon thee, Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, may take away the frogs from me, and from and into thy houses : and the houses of the my people; and I will let the people go, that Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and they may do sacrifice unto the Lord.
also the ground whereon they are. 9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, 'Glory 22 And I will sever in that day the land over me: 'when shall I intreat for thee, and of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no for thy servants, and for thy people, 'to de swarms of flies shall be there; to the end stroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the they may remain in the river only ?
midst of the earth. 10 And he said, "To morrow. And he | 23 And I will put la division between my said, Be it according to thy word : that thou people and thy people : 'to morrow shall this mayest know that there is none like unto the sign be. LORD our God.
24 And the LORD did so; and there 11 And the frogs shall depart from thee, came a grievous swarm of flies into the house and from thy houses, and from thy servants, of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses, and and from thy people; they shall remain in into all the land of Egypt: the land was "corthe river only.
rupted by reason of the swarm of flies. 12 And Moses and Aaron went out from 25 And Pharaoh called for Moses and Pharaoh : and Moses cried unto the LORD for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your because of the frogs which he had brought | God in the land. against Pharaoh.
26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to 13 And the LORD did according to the do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of 3 Or, Have this honour over me, &c.
4 Or, against when. 5 Heb. to cut off: Or, by to-morrow.
11 Or, destroyed. .
2 Wisd. 17. 7. inst to-morrow.
8 Heb, a redemption.
7 Or, a mixture of noisome beasts, &c.
10 Wisd. 16, 9.