Psalm 78:45

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 45. He sent diverse sorts of flies among them, which devoured them. Small creatures become great tormentors. When they swarm they can sting a man till they threaten to eat him up. In this case, various orders of insects fought under the same banner; lice and beetles, gnats and hornets, wasps and gadflies dashed forward in fierce battalions, and worried the sinners of Egypt without mercy. The tiniest plagues are the greatest. What sword or spear could fight with these innumerable bands? Vain were the monarch's armour and robes of majesty, the little cannibals were no more lenient towards royal flesh than any other; it had the same blood in it, and the same sin upon it. How great is that God who thus by the minute can crush the magnificent.

And frogs, which destroyed them. These creatures swarmed everywhere when they were alive, until the people felt ready to die at the sight; and when the reptiles died, the heaps of their bodies made the land to stink so foully, that a pestilence was imminent. Thus not only did earth and air send forth armies of horrible life, but the water also added its legions of loathsomeness. It seemed as if the Nile was first made nauseous and then caused to leave its bed altogether, crawling and leaping in the form of frogs. Those who contend with the Almighty, little know what arrows are in his quiver; surprising sin shall be visited with surprising punishment.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 45. Flies. Exodus 8:13-14 , (~nk) or (~ynk). It is a matter of difficulty precisely to determine the species or kind of animals denoted by that expression; but so mush is certain:

  1. That they must be a very small kind of insects, as they are represented to arise from the grains of dust;
  2. That they are noxious both to man and beasts Psalms 78:13 , and in a still higher degree than the frogs. The singular ($k), is used in Isaiah 51:6 , where it represents something very frail, weak, and perishable. The etymology leads to the Greek root knaw, to gnaw or pinch -- and this coincides with the English noun gnats, with which, indeed, all the qualities just mentioned perfectly agree. And the Septuagint, which is naturally of great authority in all matters concerning the natural phenomena of Egypt, translates also sknifej (mosquito gnats); which Philo, likewise an Egyptian, describes thus: "It is an insect although of very small size, yet of a most troublesome nature; for it hurts not only the surface, causing intolerable and protracted itching, but penetrates also into the interior through the ears and noses. It flies even into the eyes of those who do not guard themselves, and produces pain." All which qualities are perfectly applicable to gnats. M. M. Kalisch.

Verse 45. He sent diverse sorts of flies. "I will send swarms of flies upon thee," etc. Exodus 8:21 . Hebrew (br[), arob, a mixture, or mixed swarm, i.e., probably of flies, wasps, hornets, and other vexatious and stinging insects. It will be observed that "flies" in our version, being printed in italics, is not in the original ... the Septuagint renders (br[), arob, by kunomuian, dog fly, from its biting, an insect that fastens its teeth so deep in the flesh, and sticks so very close, that it oftentimes makes cattle run mad ... He sent (br[,) arob, divers sorts of flies among them which devoured them. The arob is described as devouring the Egyptians, which is an act which seems inapplicable to a fly. Upon the whole we strongly incline to the opinion which has found some able supporters of late years, that the Egyptian beetle (blatta Agyptiaca) is denoted in this place. The beetle, which is almost everywhere a nuisance, is particularly abundant and offensive in Egypt, and all the circumstances which the Scriptures in different places intimates concerning the arob, applies with much accuracy to this species. It devours everything that comes in its way, even clothes, books, and plants, and does not hesitate to inflict severe bites on men. If also we conceive that one object of these plagues was to chasten the Egyptians through their own idols, there is no creature of its class which could be more fitly employed than this insect. What precise place is filled in the religious system of that remarkable people has never, we believe, been exactly determined; but that it occupied a conspicuous place among their sacred creatures seems to be evinced by the fact, that there is scarcely any figure which occurs more frequently in Egyptian sculpture and painting. George Bush.

Verse 45. Flies, which devoured them. (See Exodus 8:24 .) "The land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies." Bochart understands by land, the inhabitants, whose blood these flies sucked, and left such a poison in it, that their bodies swelled, and many of them died. Le Clerc understands it of the flesh and other eatables, which these vermin having preyed upon, and fly blown, bred maggots, stench and putrefaction throughout the land, Jameson's Critical and Practical Exposition of the Pentateuch. 1748.

Verse 45. And frogs, which destroyed them. Galerius observes, that the Egyptians were punished in this plague upon all the five senses. The sight was punished, that was offended with the multitude, with the greatness, with the hideous form and colour of these frogs. Their hearing was offended with the croaking of them; for it was but harsh music to dainty ears. Their smell was offended with the stench of them. Their taste was offended that they came into their troughs, the places of their dough, and so hindered them of the food that was provided for their nourishment ... "The frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants," Exodus 8:4 . So that thou shalt not rid thyself of this annoyance. What! in their meat, and drink; and upon their bodies! Then observe with me, beloved, God can lay judgments upon people, that shall be more painful, and troublesome, than odious, loathsome and noisome. Josiah Shute, in "Judgment and Mercy: or the Plague of Frogs" (inflicted, removed). 1645.

Verse 45. Frogs. The Egyptians suffered most keenly from the infliction. They were a singularly fastidious people, and abhorred the contact of anything that they held to be unclean. We may well realise, therefore, the effect of a visitation of frogs, which rendered their houses unclean by entering them, and themselves unclean by leaping upon them; which deprived them of rest by getting on their beds, and of food by crawling into their ovens and upon the dough in the kneading troughs. And, as if to make the visitation still worse, when the plague was removed, the frogs died in the places into which they had intruded, so that the Egyptians were obliged to clear their houses of the dead carcases, and to pile them up in heaps, to be dried by the sun, or eaten by birds and other scavengers of the East. As to the species of frog which thus invaded the houses of the Egyptians, there is no doubt whatever. It can be but the green, or edible frog (Rana esculenta), which is so well known for the delicacy of its flesh. This is believed to be the only aquatic frog of Egypt, and therefore must be the species which came out of the river into the houses. Both in Egypt and Palestine it exists in very great numbers, swarming in every marshy place, and inhabiting the pools in such numbers that the water can scarcely be seen for the frogs. Thus the multitudes of the frogs which invaded the Egyptians was no matter of wonder, the only miraculous element being that the reptiles were simultaneously directed to the houses, and their simultaneous death when the plague was taken away. J. G. Wood.

Verse 45. Frogs. The rod is lifted up again. Behold, the Nilus, which they had before adored, was never so beneficial as it is now troublesome; yielding them not only a dead, but a living annoyance: it never did so store them with fish as it now plagued them with frogs. Whatsoever any man makes his god, besides the true one, shall be one day his tormentor. These loathsome creatures leave their own element to punish them which rebelliously detained Israel from their own. No bed, no table, can be free from them: their dainty ladies cannot keep them out of their bosoms; neither can the Egyptians sooner open their mouths than they are ready to creep into their throats, as if they would tell them, that they came on purpose to revenge the wrongs of their Maker. Joseph Hall.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 45. The power of little things when commissioned to plague us.