The Plague Of Flies


In Exodus 7-12, Moses through the power of God releases 10 plagues of different sorts on the land of Egypt which included, turning all the water to blood, plagues of insects, boils, and hail. Finally, the death of every first-born son included the death of Pharaoh’s eldest who would someday inherit the kingdom of Egypt.

We will see that they were delivered not just to let Pharaoh know who God was but also to let the Israelites know who God was. Because they have been enslaved for 430 years, they didn’t know God, they have become used to being enslaved and used to being around the idol gods of Egypt. And so not only did God have to convince Pharaoh who He was, but He also had to convince the Israelites who He was.


Some people question if the miracles recorded were actually miracles, note the following thoughts.

1. In each case they were accurately foretold, as to the time and place of occurrence.

2. The intensity of such things as the frogs and lice was beyond all possibility of what could have been expected naturally.

3. Both their occurrence and their ending were demonstrated to be under the control and subject to the Word of God through Moses.

4. There was discrimination, some of the plagues afflicting the Egyptians and yet at the same time sparing the Israelites.

5. There was orderliness in their appearance, each event more severe than the one that preceded it, concluding with the most devastating of all, the death of the firstborn.

6. Also, there was progression in relation to the reaction of Pharaoh’s servants. At first, they could do anything that Moses did, but at last, admitted their failure and affirmed that ‘This is the finger of God!’

7. Over and beyond all this, there was a moral purpose in the plagues, they were not mere freaks of nature.

Now, remember that the ten plagues were actually ten disasters sent upon Egypt by God to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelite slaves from the bondage and oppression they had endured in Egypt for 430 years.

When God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, He promised to show His wonders as confirmation of Moses’ authority, Exodus 3:20.

This confirmation was to serve at least two purposes, firstly, to show the Israelites that the God of their fathers was alive and worthy of their worship and secondly, to show the Egyptians that their gods were nothing.

The Egyptians worshipped a wide variety of nature gods and attributed to their powers the natural phenomena they saw in the world around them. There was a god of the sun, of the river, of childbirth, of crops, etc.

Events like the annual flooding of the Nile, which fertilized their croplands, were evidence of their god’s powers and goodwill. When Moses approached Pharaoh, demanding that he let the people go, Pharaoh responded by saying “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2. And so from that point onwards, the challenge was on to show whose God was more powerful.


‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them. “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’” And the LORD did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.” But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the LORD our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, as he commands us.” Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.” Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the LORD, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.” Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD, and the LORD did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.’ Exodus 8:20-32

Unlike the plague of gnats, God now gives Pharaoh another warning with this plague and gives his notice about what He is about to do. Notice also that this will also affect Pharaoh at the river again, where he would go for his daily walk to worship, Exodus 7:14.

Once again, it’s difficult to know what kind of flies these were, some translations have the word, ‘gnats’ others have the word, ‘beetles’ and others have the word, ‘gadflies’. Whatever they were, they were some kind of flying insect, Psalm 78:45, which totally destroyed the land.

This fourth plague was a judgment on either ‘Re’ or ‘Uatchit’, who were both Egyptian gods depicted as flies. In this plague, God clearly distinguished between the Israelites and the Egyptians, Goshen where the Israelites lived would have no flies but where the Egyptians lived, they would have swarms of them.

Pause for a moment and think about this and imagine what the Israelites were thinking about during this miracle. You’ve got all these flies swarming around in Egypt but yet, in Goshen where God’s people were, there were none. I would imagine the Israelites were thinking to themselves, ‘who is this God, who not only created billions of flies but controls them?’

I don’t know about you but when we get one single fly in our home, it’s almost impossible to catch it, never mind control it. But God, who is the creator of all things, can demand obedience even from the animal world. God is not only the all-powerful one, but He is also the one who protects.

There’s no way the Egyptians could misunderstand the point God was making. The point was that Israel was God’s people, and He wanted Pharaoh to let them go. Pharaoh appears to soften his heart and comes up with a compromise, they can go and worship in the land, that is Egypt.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Here is the first of four compromises suggested by Pharaoh as a means of hindering the will of God. The second is in Exodus 8:28, ‘Ye shall not go very far away’. The third is in Exodus 10:11, ‘only the men must go’. The fourth is in Exodus 10:24, ‘the flocks and the herds must be left behind’. Moses’ ultimate answer to these was the stern declaration, ‘there shall not a hoof be left behind!’ Exodus 10:26.’

The Israelites couldn’t sacrifice and worship in Egypt because the sacrifice involved the killing of sheep, and as we know shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians, Genesis 46:34. The Egyptians would have turned on the Israelites and killed them if they sacrificed sheep.

Pharaoh, once again, under the pressure of the plagues agrees to let God’s people go and worship Him in the wilderness. Notice that Pharaoh asks Moses to intercede for him, it appears that Pharaoh is absolutely aware of the One who sent the plagues and he knows that God is the only one who can stop the plague. Exodus 8:28-33 / Exodus 9:27-33 / Exodus 10:15-19 / Exodus 8:30-31 / Exodus 9:5-6 / Exodus 10:13 / Exodus 10:33.

Once again, Pharaoh lied through his teeth to Moses when the pressure was taken off, or he may have simply changed his mind, this is seen in the fact that his heart became hard again.