1. In this chapter plagues two, three, and four are given to us. Of these plagues mentioned it is the 3rd plague (gnats, lice) that Pharaoh is given no warning. On the second plague (frogs) Pharaoh receives no comfort from his magicians in their effort at duplicating the frogs. If they did anything at all they just made it worse. The king acquiesces to Moses, but as soon as Moses thinks of this as a positive, the Lord’s word hold true (8:9, 15).
2. The third plague (gnats, lice) is an abrupt occurrence (as far as the Record is concerned). Davis tells us that the word “lice” is the result of an opinion by men of learning, but has no foundation in the Hebrew text (p. 111). It is during the aggravation of this plague that the religious priests – people who were powerful politically, economically, and religiously – recognized something that the king of Egypt refused to at this point: “This is the finger of God.” Using the figurative expression a bit, if that is God’s “finger” what can be said about his hand!
3. The fourth plague (flies) not only has the recognition from the previous plague that God is doing this, but now they are being told that God is separating His people from Egypt (8:22). Jewish theologians interpret the Hebrew word that gives us “flies” to actually be “wild beasts,” while the Jewish Study Bible (JSB) has “swarm of insects.” In other words, there is some uncertainty about the Hebrew word and its meaning. In any case, the Egyptian king was truly worn out by this experience (8:25), but not to the point that he would let the Israelites go (8:32).
4. Application: One has to either admire Pharaoh or marvel at his stubbornness. Since a reasonable person can hardly admire stupidity, it must be that we marvel at the great lengths he will put his people through to save his pride. Here was a man who thought so much of himself and his position that whatever disaster would befall his subjects it was well worth it to save the throne. The word “marvel” does not fit in my mind; I think a better word is disgust. How much will we make others pay because we, too, are stubborn?