Exodus 7:21

21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad the Egyptians could not drink water from it. There was blood throughout the land of Egypt.

Exodus 7:21 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 7:21

And the fish that was in the river died
Which was a full proof that the conversion of it into blood was real; for had it been only in appearance, or the water of the river had only the colour of blood, and looked like it, but was not really so, it would not have affected the fishes, they would have lived as well as before; and this plague was the greater affliction to the Egyptians, not as it affected their drink but their food, fish ( Numbers 11:5 ) being what the common people chiefly lived upon, (See Gill on Isaiah 19:8) and the river stunk; the blood into which it was turned being corrupted through the heat of the sun, and the dead fishes swimming upon it being putrefied;

and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river;
and they had no other water to drink of F11; for rain seldom fell in Egypt, though sometimes it did in some places, (See Gill on Zechariah 14:18). The water of the river Nile was not only their common drink, but it was exceeding pleasant, and therefore the loss of it was the greater; it was so remarkable for the sweetness and delicacy of its taste, that in the time of Pescennius Niger, when his soldiers murmured for want of wine, he is reported to have answered them,

``what! crave you wine, and have the water of the Nile to drink?''

which Mr. Maillett, who lived sixteen years consul for the French nation at Grand Cairo, confirms, and says, that it is grown to be a common proverb, that whoever has once tasted it will ever after pine for it F12; with this compare ( Jeremiah 2:18 ) :

and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt;
in the river, wherever it flowed, in all its streams and channels, and wherever any water was collected out of it, or fetched from it, let it be in what reservoir it would. This is the first plague executed on the Egyptians, and a very righteous one by the law of retaliation for shedding the blood of innocent babes, through casting them into this river; and this will be the second and third vials of God's wrath, which will be poured on antichrist, or mystical Egypt, who will have blood given to drink because worthy, see ( Revelation 16:3-6 ) . Artapanus F13, an Heathen writer, bears testimony to this miracle, though he does not so fully and clearly express it as it was; he says,

``a little after, that is, after the former miracle of the rod turned into a serpent, the Nile, that river whose swelling waves overflow all Egypt, was smitten with the rod; and the water being gathered and stagnated, boiled up, and not only the fishes were destroyed, but the people perished through thirst.''


F11 Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 29.
F12 See the Bishop of Clogher's Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 287.
F13 Apud Euseb Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 435.

Exodus 7:21 In-Context

19 So the Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron: Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt-over their rivers, canals, ponds, and all their water reservoirs-and they will become blood. There will be blood throughout the land of Egypt, even in wooden and stone [containers]."
20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded; in the sight of Pharaoh and his officials, he raised the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile was turned to blood.
21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad the Egyptians could not drink water from it. There was blood throughout the land of Egypt.
22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their occult practices. So Pharaoh's heart hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
23 Pharaoh turned around, went into his palace, and didn't even take this to heart.
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