The Third Plague - RR171L22

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Third Plague
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 22
Length: 0:33:49
TapeCode: RR171L22
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Let us worship God. This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us. Having these promises, let us draw near to the throne of grace with true hearts in full assurance of faith. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, oh Lord, in the morning will I direct my prayer to thee and will look up. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, we give thanks unto thee, that day after day, thy mercies are new every morning. We thank thee that in thy sovereign wisdom, thou dost ordain all things in terms of thy holy purpose. Give us grace, therefore, to rejoice in thy ways, and to know that thy purpose is wholly good. That thou art He who dost make all things work together for them that love thee, for them that are the called according to thy purpose. Bless us now by thy word and by thy spirit, and strengthen us that we may serve thee with all our heart, mind, and being. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Our scripture is from the eighth chapter of Exodus, verses 16-19. Exodus 8:16-19. Our subject: The Third Plague. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.” [00:02:57]

The third plague, as we are told, was of some small...[edit]

The third plague, as we are told, was of some small insect, and the King James Version reads “lice,” which is possible, perhaps probable. The Hebrew word “cane” in its various forms means small insects that fasten themselves onto the body. It can mean gnats. In a book in the Apocrypha it means maggots, and some read it as ticks, or fleas, or mosquitoes. We cannot know its precise m3eaning, but we do know its impact. The Egyptians were a people in Antiquity who were very proud. They did not believe in intermarriage with foreigners. They regarded other peoples as dirty and inferior. For a proud and a clean people, it was a humiliating and revolting plague. Its essential damage was to the pride of the people. We have only to imagine a similar plague today to realize its impact. It struck all classes equally, and it was felt by all to be a polluting and degrading thing. From the poorest man to the palace, all were affected. Moreover, this was more than an ordinary infestation. On one occasion in the last century, Sir Samuel Baker observed of Egypt, and I quote, “It seemed as if the very dust were turned into lice.”

Now such infestations, however, tended to be local and regional. They were out in the desert areas, but this plague was national and total. In this plague, Pharaoh is not warned in advance, but apparently the wise men of Egypt were, because they attempted to duplicate the work of Moses and Aaron. The infestation was universal, if affected man and beast alike. Now, it is interesting that when Cecil B. Demille, had the story of the Ten Commandments written, with all kinds of liberties taken, he nonetheless had a number of scholars do some research and it is curious that we have not seen the results, for the most part, except for one book written by a professor, nor the films they took. Because they did take films which indicated that the sorcerers of Egypt could, at will, turn a snake into a rod, a stiff rod, so it could be picked up and it was totally stiff. They did not know how it could be done. It upset them to see it, but nonetheless it was filmed at the time. That and other things. So, there is a great deal in the world that we don’t understand and we prefer to put things like that, films like that, on universities’ shelves, in a back room. [00:07:01]

Grant said of this plague, and I quote, ...[edit]

Grant said of this plague, and I quote, “Dust is frequently connected in the scripture with death. The expression in the Psalms the dust of death. Dust unto dust was the original verdict which was put on the, on man, the stamp of vanity. The book of Ecclesiastes shows us death as the great tormenter of man, leveling him with all his wisdom and his pride to the beast.”

Now, since Egypt was in the process of being destroyed, this seems to be a valid comment. The land was no longer a hospitable place, nor was it the wealth of Egypt. It was a source of judgment. The first two plagues fell on the Nile, this one on the sacred land of Egypt. Its fertile soil, normally its wealth, was now producing problems. The dust or dirt swarmed with this blight, and all were affected. God was humiliating Egypt. He was shattering its pride also. Egypt was being defeated, humiliating, and broken. Not by great foreign armies, but by the invisible God using frogs and lice.

As a result, there was no consolation in defeat, only shame. Pharaoh’s magicians attempted to duplicate this plague, but they failed. They were unable to belittle the miraculous plague by duplicating it on the smallest scale with some act of theirs. They recognized then that they were confronted by a power which was beyond them. They told Pharaoh this is the “finger of God.” They recognized that they were faced by a supernatural power. However, apart from warning Pharaoh, what they faced, these men themselves made no attempt to submit to God, or Elohim as they called Him. This was not unusual. We see it in Balaam centuries later. And in men over the centuries to our day. In fact, most men will not even go as far as these men did to acknowledge that they were confronted by God. It is easier for them to deny that God exists, to insist that He is dead, than for them to admit His power and presence. Their goal, of course, is life without God, so that they can become their own gods. So that they can determined good and evil for themselves, and they will not acknowledge He with whom they have to do. Their pride, however, brought on humiliation. This repulsive infestation meant that their clean and carefully groomed bodies were overrun with lice, ticks, or some like bug. [00:10:43]

Pharaoh is the priest of all the gods, of all the many...[edit]

Pharaoh is the priest of all the gods, of all the many forces Egypt revered. Since he could not give himself to this priestly function and all its details, he delegated his authority to the priests who purified the kingdom for him. The priest declared, as he performed his duties, according to the ancient rituals that have survived, “Now I am verily a priest. It was the king who sent me to see the god.” The king or ruler was called Pharaoh, meaning The Great House. Just as centuries later the Turkish Sultans were referred to as the Sublime Port. Their significance was seen as more than personal. They represented, in their power, the Pharaohs did, the coalescence of all kinds of supernatural, or better, naturalistic supernormal forces. They represented the powers of nature, and they all came to focus at him, and he would delegate these powers to the priest, so he was more than a person. He was made king on the death of his father, that he was then called Pharaoh, The Great House. It was the link between heaven and earth. Heaven, in their conception, being the world beyond the visible world, but still a totally naturalistic world.

The Sultans, of course, the Sublime Port as they were called, likewise were the Caliphate and represented Allah. Thus, the Pharaohs represented a holy function in government. They were the source of the land’s fertility and power. For the Pharaoh himself to be infested with some degrading vermin was a humiliating fact. In some cultures indeed, we find some very curious customs. Because everything developed out of the king, and he was the source, the channel through which all the natural forces of nature came into focus and blessed the people, if he became sick or feeble, he had to die because it would be a curse upon the land. So, it was very important for these divine kings of antiquity to be healthy. In fact, one scholar maintained that this custom existed in England and led the death of one or two kings. Dr. Murray’s thesis was not accepted by everyone, but there was more than a little that was interesting and almost compelling evidence in her thesis. Thus, Pharaoh, although no such custom prevailed in Egypt, was facing the fact that his authority was being broken. The fact that the land was so infested, and that he himself was infested with some degrading vermin, was not only a humiliating fact, but it indicated that he was not the center of power, but this despised shepherd. [00:15:01]

The Egyptians regarded the shepherds as the lowest...[edit]

The Egyptians regarded the shepherds as the lowest of people, and it is interesting that that’s an attitude that has recurred over the centuries. In the American West, I know, at least into the fifties, sheep men and cattle men did not get along in the same area, and cowboys despised sheep men. A sheep herder was to them about the lowest person who existed. Of course, there was a remarkable difference between the two. The sheep men lived on the level of the sheep. They cared for them, they were the nurse maid, they lived alone month in and month out eleven months of the year. They would be out in the mountains with their sheep. Bottle feeding them if there were twins, or if the ewe died.

Whereas, cowboys just rode around on a horse feeling lordly, and cowboys uniformly almost, have been irresponsible people, and sheep men wind up, the sheep herders owning sizable sheep ranches themselves because they are responsible. But Egyptians, as a lordly people, despised sheep men.

So, here was Moses with his shepherd’s staff, humiliating Pharaoh, destroying his power and authority. The boundaries of power had been broken and violated by the God of Moses, and this supposedly non-existent God of Moses was reducing Pharaoh to humiliation, to degrading frustrations, and to impotence. We cannot, at this distance, visualize the full humiliation of the priests of Egypt, and especially of Pharaoh. Because of the divine character of the Great House, Pharaoh was an absolute monarch. He ruled Egypt with total authority and power. The sun, the great central natural force, was the symbol of Pharaoh, and the title of every Pharaoh was Son of the Sun. He was the focal point of all the powers of nature. Not until centuries later was a Pharaoh referred to in the Bible by his personal name, Shishak, in 1 Kings 11:40, which was about 926 B.C., quite a few centuries after Moses. This in itself was a startling fact, because he was more than a person in the eyes of Egypt, and Kings shows that they are outside of Egypt and can refer to him by his name. [00:18:29]

At times, the Egyptian religion has been called pantheism...[edit]

At times, the Egyptian religion has been called pantheism, and there is a germ of truth to this. But pantheism is too abstract a concept for Egypt’s very realistic religion. In pantheism, everything is reduced to an abstract oneness. In Egypt, the abstractness was replaced with a proliferation of very realistic things which all merged into one another. All men were interrelated and subordinated to Pharaoh, who was the divine human link between this world and the next.

Because Egyptian salvation was a matter of man’s works and man’s efforts, there was an inescapable continuity between heaven and earth, because what you did here determined what happened in the world to come. It is against this scripture declares there is a radical discontinuity between God and man, between uncreated being and created being. Hence, for us, salvation cannot be by works but it is by grace alone. What man does cannot control God, in other words, so that man’s works are the result of God’s grace. To shatter this doctrine of continuity was to destroy the Egyptian plan of salvation. The humiliation of Pharaoh, the fact that he, the divine human link between heaven and earth was covered with lice, meant the humiliation of the Egyptian faith and its life. To acknowledge this supernatural power was however, something that neither Pharaoh nor his associates were ready to do. But Egypt, as far as its faith was concerned, was shattered, at least for some time to come.

The Bible tells us that, as Israel was leaving Egypt and going towards Palestine, they were met and, for a time seriously threatened, and then deflected the power of a particularly ugly and vicious people, the Amalekites. The Amalekites then passed onto Egypt. Scholars have always discounted that, although Velikovsky created no small furor when he said, “Indeed, the chronology of the scholars is wrong and the Amalekites are the shepherd kings who took over Egypt when it was shattered by the plagues. There are reasons for believing that, at this point, Velikovsky was right. Egypt was shattered. Without face of where there is no vision no true faith, no prophetic word, that’s the meaning of the statement in Proverbs, “The people perish.” And Egypt perished when they would not deal with Moses. When they would not let him go, God shattered them. And Egypt collapsed when the Amalekites moved in. And it was generations later, only when the shepherd kings themselves declined in power, that Egypt was able to regain freedom, but never again to the same stature that it had before Moses. There are good reasons for believing that. So, when God judges a people, it behooves them to repent and to believe. Let us pray. [00:23:13]

Thy word, oh Lord, is truth...[edit]

Thy word, oh Lord, is truth. Thou art He who didst bring shame and humiliation upon Egypt, and when they did not repent, thou didst break them. Oh Lord, our God, we live again in a time of judgment, and thy plagues are upon the whole earth. Bring men and women to repentance and a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Make us again a covenant people, free in Christ and faithful to thy every word. Bless us to this purpose, we beseech thee. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Are there any questions now? Yes?

[Audience] Well, lice appeared in World Wars 1 and 2. In World War 2 we just barely avoided typhus and, I think probably influenza by DDT{?}

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] But now, of course, the United States has decided to save the birds instead of the people, so DDT is no longer in{?}

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] Pantheism?

[Rushdoony] It is very much akin to pantheism. The environmental movement is riddled with it. Some of their writings seem to indicate a background of pantheistic faith, and the lower the better. The closer you come to reason, the more recent and less important you are, that is the thinking of some of them. As a result, there are things reappearing that were unknown, and I have been told by doctors that there are infestations now that, when they began their practice, they knew nothing of. The Wall Street Journal, some few years ago, said that a good thing to invest in was the various kinds of powders and disinfectants to deal with lice, and they were certainly right. Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience] It’s curious to me if Pharaoh thought he was just fighting Moses as opposed to fighting God, why during all the times of these plagues, he just didn’t have Moses killed. I mean, that was the other Pharaoh’s solution to the Hebrews, to kill them, or was it that he really felt, that he was dealing, that Moses truly was a representative of another god? [00:26:40]

[Rushdoony] To understand how Pharaoh regarded Moses...[edit]

[Rushdoony] To understand how Pharaoh regarded Moses, you have to recognize that he did not believe in God, but he believed in various naturalistic powers, and very obviously, Moses was the focal point of some kind of power. He was therefore dangerous to deal with, and so he lied, he twisted, he turned, he did everything, but he did not dare strike out at Moses, because he was fearful of what might happen to him, so he very definitely was afraid of Moses. There was a power that had come into focus, in him, which should have been in Pharaoh and never was. That was his thinking. Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience] It was just an observation, but this was the last plague which the magicians attempted to duplicate, and they do, they stop after they acknowledge that this is the finger of God. The rest of the plagues are still mentioned {?} the magicians trying from that point on.

[Rushdoony] That’s right, and we’ll touch on that next Sunday, the significance of that. Plus, the division now between Goshen and Egypt. It is interesting how much there is here that modern man does not want to look at. At the time that the filming of the Ten Commandments took place, which was not a good film, but some interesting things happened. One, that Cecil B. DeMille had a heart attack at the very beginning. It was such a serious one that they said he was finished, and he would have to quit at the very least, it would be a year or two before he’d be able to function. And this was after they ran a series of tests in an Egyptian hospital, I believe it was. And he said, “Nothing doing, I’ve got my own money invested in this picture,” and he got up and went to work, and healed himself. The other was that he’d had a number of scholars who were very happy to have grants, go over there and investigate and report on their research and he provided film crews. So they were able to film all the settings, ancient temples, and also things like some of the Egyptian sorcerers at work. Now, at that time we didn’t hear anything in the press about the interesting things they turned up, and what upset them most was the Egyptian serpents being hypnotized or somehow frozen, so that, at command, they would become as stiff as a staff. Could be picked up, were no longer able to strike anyone, were just rigid, totally. Now, you know, that’s a very curious fact. I find it very interesting. But there isn’t a commentator that deals with that in the commentaries that have been written since then, nor has much been published about it except by one professor at USC who was director of the research, and that’s all. Any other questions? Yes? [00:31:05]

[Audience] You made a major point of people having...[edit]

[Audience] You made a major point of people having evidence of God’s power, making a compromise, so to speak. In other words, acknowledging God’s power as in Pharaoh eventually letting the Israelites, His people, God’s people, go.

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Audience] But then being destroyed. In other words, not repenting {?} and I’m wondering if you can think of any other historical examples of a people doing that?

[Rushdoony] Yes, I think the prophets, for example, in the Old Testament, from beginning to end, warned the people, told them what was going to happen and they paid no attention, and more than a few of the church fathers warned Rome that God was going to judge Rome if they did not repent, and they did not. So, we have some conspicuous examples there. Well, if there are no further questions, let us bow our heads in prayer.

Lord, we thank thee that thou art on the throne. That no Pharaohs in Washington, in Moscow, or anywhere else in the world control the future. Thou art the Lord. Teach us, therefore, to look unto thee, to be confident that it is thy will that shall be done and thy kingdom that shall come and prevail. Make us strong in thy word and in thy service, and bless us for thy namesake. And now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen.

End of tape.