04 February 2015

Powerful but impractical

One of my favourite reasons for reading the Bible (again and again) is the numerous times it makes me pause to ask whether I really did just read what I thought I read.

For example, Exodus 8:6-7 reads "So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt."

The text clearly points out that the Egyptian magicians showed their power by doing the same miracle as Aaron. Aaron (and by implication, his God) was thus no stronger than the magicians. 
At the same time, my immediate reaction was: Really?!? What were those magicians thinking? Why would they want to use magic to raise more frogs? Did Egypt somehow not yet have enough frogs crawling over everything? 

The telling of the story is pointing to the might of God and his working to let his people go, while at the same time narrating the Egyptians' (and Pharaoh's) defiant resistance to God's power and his claim on the Israelites. The magicians re-doing Aaron's miracles is part of that re-telling. Their actions here create suspense, raising the question of whether God really is the most powerful and what the final response of Pharaoh will be to Moses and Aaron.

On the practical side, however, the magicians come across as being rather incompetent. There was obviously no need to exasperate and increase the frog problem in the land. True power would have come in stopping the frogs from coming up from the earth or, better yet, causing something else to come up from the ground (or from the sky) that would eat the frogs and thus eliminate the problem.

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