#2 Frogs (8:1-15)
We have not seen the last of the Nile and its canals and pools. They appear in the second sign and wonder episode as the source of the frogs that penetrate every corner of the land. The verbal form of “plague” appears here (v.2) uniquely, among the nine signs-and-wonders. Usually reserved for deadly afflictions, it is not quite appropriate for the infestation of frogs. Perhaps it is here to give the frogs the status of a warning, anticipating the truly mortal affliction- the slaying of the first born, where, as already noted, “plague” appears several times. Otherwise, the vivid language reveals how intimately the frogs will affect everyone: they will be in the homes of all, even in their beds and food. The narrative indicates the totality of Egyptians involved by listing three elements of the population-pharaoh, the officials, and the people. This list, which reflects the hierarchical structure of Egyptian society, will recur frequently-nine times in all-in the narrative of nine signs-and-wonders.
As they do with bloody waters, the Egyptian magicians replicate this feat. Yet the pharaoh, whose voice we finally hear, offers conditional release-if the scourge of frogs be lifted. The request goes not to his own magicians but to Moses and Aaron, who are asked to pray (Hebrew “plead”) to Yahweh to remove the frogs. For the first time the pharaoh seems to acknowledge the existence of Yahweh. Could it be that he is becoming aware of the greater power of the Israelite god and that he is beginning to understand that there is “no one like the Lord our God” (8:10)? Or is his request a subterfuge, meant simply to rid Egypt of this affliction? These tantalizing possibilities emerge but are unanswered. In any case, the disappearance of the frogs, like their arrival, fails to bring the desired result.
by: Carol Meyers