The Second Plague A week after the waters were made to be blood or like blood, killing all the fish, the Lord told Moses to warn Pharaoh that if Pharaoh did not allow the Israelites to go to the desert to worship God, the entire countryside would be inundated with frogs. Let's look at the natural side of this first. I spent some time on the net looking at frog life cycles and timing and what affects them. This is not a science paper so I am not going to reference what I say here, but if you plug in words like "life cycle" "development timing" and such with the word "frog" or "frogs" on a search engine you will find plenty about this. Generally, only about 3% of the eggs a frog lays complete metamorphosis and emerge as adults. The rest are eaten by predators, including other frogs. The development of tadpoles into mature frogs is also temperature dependant -- the warmer the temperature, the speedier the development. Now look at the conditions in Egypt after the first plague. No predators for the tadpoles, who live off of vegetation and rotting material. There was PLENTY of rotting material. If the waters had indeed turned to blood, then they were warm and nutrient-filled. If they had turned blood-like due to volcanic activity or some other natural phenomenon, then that would also produce warmth in the waters. Either way the tadpoles from the moment of the first plague on were in tadpole heaven and their development would not only have been rapid, but unhindered by predators. Thus, one week later, Egypt was indeed inundated by frogs. But let's also take a look at the symbolic effect of this. After the inundation of the Nile every year millions of frogs would spawn. The presence of frogs was considered a good omen: there was plenty of water and the crops would be good. And so there was a frog goddess: Heqt, Heqet, or Heket. Her statue bore the head of a frog. Women in ancient Egypt believed that frogs embodied rebirth and renewal. They often wore charms in the shape of frogs, hoping it would help them conceive and bear many children. Heket was thus also the Egyptian goddess of childbirth and also, interestingly, the protector of the dead. She was the daughter of the sun god and was considered the "Mother of the gods." The Egyptians wanted frogs. They got frogs. Heket supposedly controlled the frog population. Did she now hate the Egyptians? Was she out of control? Nothing they did to honor her would have worked at this time. Again, we can almost always find 'natural' causes for the various catastrophes which are spoken of in the Bible. The miracle is in deliverance through and/or from them, along with their timing. We can explain the frogs. We CANNOT explain how Moses was able to tell Pharaoh to determine for himself the time the frogs were to be destroyed and then follow through. THIS is the miracle. Pharaoh says "tomorrow" (why didn't he say "now!"?), and so at that time the frogs died. All of them except those in the Nile. The fact that frogs remained in the Nile might say something about the waters clarifying. I don't know. But on land they died. En masse. Millions of dead frogs, piled in heaps, rotting in the sun. The bible says the land "reeked of them." And Pharaoh? The way the NIV puts it, "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." This is the king who walked away when the waters turned to blood, leaving his people to suffer. And now, with rotting frog corpses from one end of Egypt to another, he basically walks away again, into his own little world of power and privilege. It appears he was interested only in relief to himself and his own household, and did not care about the people in his domain. The Third Plague The King James says it was lice. The NIV says gnats. The Hebrew word is "ken" or "keno". It means a very tiny insect, probably a gnat, but its root has to do with fastening on, and so the King James translators, with that root in mind, chose 'lice' over 'gnats.' What we read with this plague was that the 'dust' of the ground would become 'gnats'. We are not told about the timing between the second and third plagues, as we were between the first and second. However, if those tiny insects, whatever they were, were breeding in the rotting frog corpses, this would explain why they seemed to be from the dust of the ground from one end of Egypt to the other. It only takes a day or two for small insects to lay eggs and those eggs to pass through a larval stage and into adulthood as gnats or whatever. Billions of them, all over Egypt. One commentator thought that the insects might have been mosquitoes. This is a possibility. Again there were no predators to eat the larvae, for the fish had died, the life cycle is very fast, and mosquitoes do fasten themselves onto both men and beasts, thus fulfilling the meaning of the root of the word used. With the fact that diseases followed, the idea that these might have been mosquitoes emerges as a possibility that can be seriously considered here. And with this plague, as with the waters turning, we do not read that it was stopped miraculously. All we know about it is that when the court magicians told Pharaoh that this must be the "finger of God", Pharaoh refused to listen to them; his heart was hard. It is with this plague that I think some commentators get a little enthusiastic regarding each plague being a 'confrontation' with an Egyptian god or goddess. The closest I could find that the Egyptians came to an insect god was Kheper, the deity represented by the scarab beetle. If Kheper was supposed to control all insects and beetles, then the symbolism is in the clear, but I don't know what this deity was supposed to be in control of on an inclusive basis. The Fourth Plague Flies. Swarming everywhere. Except Goshen. No flies there. God has said He would make a distinction between His people and the rest. There were no flies in Goshen. But as for the rest of Egypt? Verse 24 says, "Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh's palace and into the houses of his officials, and throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies." Flies have a slightly longer generation time than gnats or mosquitoes do. And those rotting frog bodies were excellent breeding grounds for both. It may have been a miracle that they flies were not in Goshen. It may also have been due in part to a cleaner way of living on the part of the Israelites! Clearing out the dead frogs and burying them or disposing of them altogether some other way would have prevented the flies from hatching. The gnats or mosquitoes were faster and may have beat the cleanup efforts. But they didn't get the flies. Yes, it could have been a direct miracle. But either way, this was a people different from the Egyptians, and God was making His point. Is there a god of the flies? Most assuredly yes. On the other side of the fertile crescent, he was known as Baal, the Lord of the flies. Trade had gone on for centuries between the various civilizations and the worship of Baal was very evident in Egypt at this time. And now, like the other deities, the lord of the flies was out of control. All control lay in the hands of the Israelite God. And so Pharaoh hollers at Moses to sacrifice there in the land and Moses says no, their sacrifices would be detestable to the Egyptians. This is a reference to the blood sacrifices -- the slaughtered animals -- which were involved in Israelite sacrifices. Please note that this is before Moses was given the law. This is one more evidence that the law was already known by men; but it was not yet in a written form -- on objective form which could be referenced by anyone. So Moses says no and Pharaoh finally says "OK" take the people and GO worship your God! And Moses warms him that he had better not be deceitful again... And so Moses prays, and the flies are gone. Just gone. No dying heaps all over the place are written about, just the comment, "not a fly remained." And Pharaoh? As soon as he had relief, "this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and he would not let the people go."