Exodus 8:1-4 The Lord commands Pharaoh to let His people serve Him which is an escalation of God’s demand. Initially God said in 5:1, “Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness”. and in 7:16, “Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert.” God is now demanding His servants to cease from being Pharaoh’s. Similarly, New Covenant believers are called Bondservants (1 Cor. 7:21-22; Luke 1:38,48). Pharaoh is warned about of the consequences of his disobedience which would be more offensive than dangerous; slimy, unclean and unpleasant frogs everywhere. They would be in their homes, beds, floors, kitchens and food lockers. This plague would affect Pharaoh as well unlike the first plague when his servants brought him water, avoiding the hardship that his people experienced.
Exodus 8:5–7 In response to Pharaoh’s refusal the Lord’s command Aaron is instructed to take his staff in his hand and place it over the waters of Egypt so that the land will teem with frogs. This plague was more than the pollution of the Nile described in the first plague which could be passed off as once in a lifetime natural disaster. The number of frogs now were beyond explanation, they covered the entire land. Pharaoh in v. 8 begs for relief. The Egyptian magicians again replicate what God had done (v. 7). They duplicate on a small scale, what God did nationwide. Once again, the magicians provided Pharaoh an opportunity to doubt that this was the work of the God of Israel.
Exodus 8:8–11 Pharaoh’s is given the opportunity to choose the time of the frogs’ removal. This would let the king know that the timing of relief was from the hand of God and not chance. His unbelief is a model for all who deny God’s power when confronted with God’s Word and empirical evidence. His request to Moses to “pray to the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people” implies that Pharaoh is beginning to acknowledge that the God of Israel exists and had the power to remove the frogs. Pharaoh proposes that Israel may go and offer sacrifices to the Lord, but the Lord now is requiring full freedom from Egypt for His servant Israel. Why did Pharaoh say “Tomorrow” instead of “Today?” maybe both Moses and Pharaoh believed that the prayer would not be immediately answered. His prayer was one of intercession that Pharaoh might come to faith and obedience to the Lord. That some frogs could return to the Nile demonstrates that the deadly blood of the river had fully subsided and could now sustain life.
Exodus 8:12–15 God of course responded to Moses’ prayer proving that all had happened by Him. As God predicted Pharaoh hardened his heart even though His timing was fulfilled exactly as he requested. We see here the power of prayer. The frogs died off immediately and were gathered in heaps to decompose and smell. This now is the second plague to come upon Egypt and Pharaoh. Once again, the people had to deal with the consequences but not Pharaoh.
Exodus 8:16–19 The term “gnats” in Hebrew is kinnim. These could have been mosquitoes; the word includes any tiny biting insects. Like the frogs, it involved a supernatural increase of an insect that already was present in Egypt. This plague also was precipitated by the rod of Moses. Again, the magicians attempt to duplicate this plague, but fail. They acknowledge their inability and confess that this is not a slight of hand on Moses’ part but the “finger of God”. They were not acknowledging faith in God but that this was something supernatural and not from the hands of man.
Exodus 8:20 The wording of this verse is essentially the same as the first plague account. Moses was now experienced in how to confront Pharaoh. The instructions were limited to the demand, “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” The initial qualifier “in the desert” is no longer used as in 7:16, and Moses referred to God simply as “the LORD”, the God of the Hebrews.” The first plague encounter with Pharaoh was at the Nile and involved turning the Nile’s water into blood. Pharaoh was once again in the place where the plagues began. The location was intended to have the effect on Pharaoh that judgment is coming once again.
Exodus 8:21 The account of the third plague is brief. The Egyptians would receive an infestation of swarming insects that would be everywhere, indoors and out, and on everyone, including Pharaoh and his officials. The description “and even the ground where they are” literally refers to the ground where the houses were located, essentially saying “you won’t even be able to put a foot down without stepping on them.” The Hebrew word “Arov” means insects in swarms. These describe various kinds of annoying biting and nonbiting insects.
Exodus 8:22–23 Especially significant in this fourth plague, is that God would not do to Israel what he would going to do to the Egyptians. All the plagues led to the final judgment – the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn. Emphasis is placed on the distinction made between Egypt and Israel, a distinction that flows from the obedience of God’s people to mark their homes with the sign of the blood of the lamb. Here the distinction between them is displayed by God’s control over nature. Flies cannot naturally discern national boundaries in deciding where they land and whose skin they bite. We see the plagues were designed by God to frighten the Egyptians and reassure Israel. God is showing both Israel and Egypt He oversees all circumstances.
Exodus 8:24-25 There were no window screens and any fabric covering would have prevented air from flowing. The result was that swarming insects had unobstructed access to all in Egypt. Flies were nothing new to the Egyptians and were a regular annoyance to them. But this plague was flies multiplied thousands of times over. What was ruined was their quality of life. They couldn’t eat or sleep without flies being in and on everything and everyone. They were likely experiencing torment not only from the presence of the flies but their bites as well. To make it go away Pharaoh offers the Jewish people a religious holiday but only in Egypt. Pharaoh intended to keep Israel under his thumb and prevent them from any alliances with other nations that could threaten Egypt (1:10).
Exodus 8:26–27 – Moses replies that such sacrifices offered to the Lord would be odious to the Egyptians and would provoke stoning by the people (Gen. 46:34). Moses counters with “a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, as he commands us.” Moses knew that God’s intent was to deliver them from Egypt and bring them to the Promised Land (3:8, 10). It is likely that this was the way of diplomacy in those days. Rather than a “take or leave approach” He tactfully negotiates with Pharaoh. His approach is as non-demanding and non-threatening as possible. “Three-day journey” was understood as being very far (Gen 30:3).
Exodus 8:28-32 – Pharaoh offered to let Israel leave Egypt, but placed restrictions; they could only go nearby to offer sacrifices. Moses was wary of this offer and warned Pharaoh not to act deceitfully again. Moses may have thought that Israel had won their battle against Pharaoh, and that they would be leaving. Moses had not been told how many plagues there would be and could have thought that God was now going to bring Israel to the Promised Land. Pharaoh’s request for prayer suggests that this plague may have affected him in a way the first three had not. Moses’ promised to pray for him after he left his presence. Moses promised Pharaoh a quick deliverance from the flies. Once again God provided relief, but the Lord caused Pharaoh’s heart to harden once again.