Meditations in Exodus: 29. Second Plague – Frogs
Ex 8:1,2 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, `This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs
So Pharaoh refused the staff demonstration and then the water into blood; very well, let’s notch it up a step. Challenge Pharaoh again to let my people go and if he refuses, spell out the next plague so there will be absolutely no doubt about it: “If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials.’ ” (v.2-4)
Note first of all the comprehensiveness of this plague – the whole of the country – and if you think that excludes you, Pharaoh, think again. They will come into your palace and there will be so many of them they will even get into your bedrooms and they will be everywhere, even in the kitchens; nobody will miss out on this! Perhaps Pharaoh just had in mind a few frogs and hadn’t taken in the full extent of what was being said. We’re often like Pharaoh and only take in a part of what the Lord says. They will come out of the Nile, but not just the Nile: “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, `Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’ ” (v.5) Wherever there was water (and remember it had turned to blood) frogs will appear, all over the land. “So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.” (v.6) This is not just a few frogs, this will be thousands and thousands of frogs.
Now comes something slightly bizarre: “But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.” You’ve got to be joking! They just make it worse. I have no idea how they added to the plague across the land but obviously they were able to do something that just makes Pharaoh think it is still man-controlled power, but the magnitude of it is so great that he cannot escape frogs under his heel and so appears to relent: “Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.” (v.8) Wow! Can we believe this? Read on!
What follows is clever: “Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.” (v.9) Note this. Moses will pray but so that Pharaoh can’t make the excuse of coincidence, Pharaoh can choose the time when Moses prays. Not only that, Moses’ prayer will deal with all the frogs across the land except those in the Nile. Very specific! “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the LORD our God.” (v.10) Do you get what is going on? Pharaoh is being given no loopholes, there will be absolutely no room to say, I didn’t understand. To rub it in, Moses adds, “The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.” (v.11) So twice he’s heard it!
So Moses prays (v.12) and the frogs died: “The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them.” (v.13,14) Some might say the frogs were dying of dehydration but it is beyond coincidence that they start dying as Moses cries out to the Lord – AND the ones at the Nile remain alive presumably. How vile the land must have smelt with rotting frogs, thousands and thousands of them, in rotting heaps. What do you do with rotting frogs???? “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.” (v.15) As the Lord said; Pharaoh has back-pedaled.
Very well, so much for the facts of what happened, but what were the people of Egypt left feeling? Others have written, ‘To the Egyptians, the frog was a symbol of life and fertility, since millions of them were born after the annual inundation of the Nile, which brought fertility to the otherwise barren lands. Consequently, in Egyptian mythology, there began to be a frog-goddess, who represented fertility, referred to as Heqet. To the Egyptian the frog represented fruitfulness, blessing and the assurance of a harvest. The goddess Heqet, a frog, was the wife of the great god Khnum (the water god and potter god of creation). She was the symbol of resurrection and the emblem of fertility and assisted in childbirth.’
That’s what they believed before this happened. They had been blessed when they saw a frog, a constant reminder of these beliefs, that the goddess would bless them and enable the women to be fertile, and the farmers be fruitful. Now? Now the sight of a dead frog evokes a sense of loathing. One frog is all right, tens of thousands of dead frogs is revolting. It is almost as if the Lord had said, very well, frogs are important to you, have some more, and more and more – now at your Pharaoh’s request, dead frogs, stinking frogs, vile frogs. One can’t but help feel that all of this would undermine any previous ‘nice’ thoughts about this goddess. Is also proves that ‘someone’ is considerably more powerful that they had thought her.
A simple question to ponder. Do we place our reliance in modern science, modern medicine and modern technology and need a crisis to realize that God is supreme and all-powerful? Perhaps a deeper question: have you ever noticed that sometimes when we are being foolish in wanting something that is not healthy for our spiritual well-being and insist on it, the Lord gives more and more of it so we become fed up with it? That is just another measure of His grace as He gently deals with us.