GOD later contacted an angry Moses to tell him to tell Aaron to strike the ground with the shepherd's rod. Even the Israelites, who realized God's power was limitless, were awed at what happened. The dust particles of the soil began to move about as though alive, which they had become, having turned into tiny lice-like insects that flew away to afflict the Egyptians and their animals with painful bites and stings! While many of the Egyptians were still occupied with getting rid of the frogs, they were attacked by this new plague of blood-sucking creatures. The air was so full of them that it was almost impossible to breathe without inhaling them. Human and animal hair became matted with the crawling masses. Servants tried almost vainly to protect the king and his family, while requests poured in to the palace begging Pharaoh to yield to the requests of Moses and Aaron. By now the Egyptians were becoming aware of what was going on. They were increasingly fearful of the power that was causing so much woe. "They are only tricks of the Israelites," Pharaoh kept saying hopefully. "My magicians have as much power through greater gods. Our patience will win." But this time the magicians utterly failed to produce the horrible little insects. The head magician could only grovel before the king and admit he considered the Israelites' God too powerful to admit of any competition. (Ex. 8:19) Pharaoh's anger was exceeded only by his desire to be free of the insects. He tried to do that by a dip in his Nile pool, where he was dismayed to find Moses and Aaron. He wanted to have the two arrested, but he feared what their God might do. "We have come to tell you that if you refuse to let our people go right away, tomorrow your country will be overrun by swarms of larger insects!" Aaron told him. "Only Goshen, where most of the Israelites live, will be spared." "Then I should simply move to Goshen!" Pharaoh sneered through his insect netting, and strode on toward the river. Next day the Egyptians noticed the insects were dying. They brushed the creatures from their hair and clothing as much as they could. Hoping the trouble was almost over, Pharaoh was scornfully jubilant. "I knew this pagan evil would end!" he boasted. "Only I had the wisdom of our gods to see how it would turn out!" There were moments of reverential silence in the royal court as the king disdainfully brushed some dead insects from his beard. The quiet was broken by servants rushing in to loudly announce that clouds of larger insects were settling over the city. (Verse 24.) Before long the Egyptians were victims of deep-biting flies giving more misery than the lice. Normal activities came to a halt in l he struggle to try to avoid this new plague. It brought such misery that Pharaoh's advisors entreated him to take any action to try to spare the people.
"Send for Moses and Aaron," Pharaoh finally said resignedly. When Moses and Aaron showed up, the king was quite fretful because of the course of matters. He became even more so when he noted the two Israelites showed no signs of insect bites. "Why does your God allow these cruel things to come on my people?" he demanded to know. "If He is an intelligent God, He should know I am willing to let your countrymen make their sacrifices to Him. I've never denied them that favor." "Our rites require that we get away from your people," Aaron pointed out. "They would be so offended by our ways of worship they would probably shower us with stones." "Then go!" Pharaoh snapped. "Just don't go too far or stay too long, or you could die in the hot, dry desert! But first ask your God to take away these flies!" "We'll do that," Moses said. "But remember your promise to let the Israelites go. Don't deceive us as you did before." (Verse 29.) Moses asked God to remove the flies. That night a strong wind scoured the land. By morning the insects had been swept away, but they had been so voracious they had brought much death, sickness and destruction. Pharaoh realized Egypt couldn't afford another such catastrophe, but he regretted having promised to let the Israelites go.
Pharaoh Breaks His Promise Again
As might be expected, he sent a message to Moses reminding him his promise to let the Israelites go was made during a time of great mental and physical stress, and shouldn't be considered binding. (Verse 32.) Moses was very upset by such perfidy, and therefore welcomed God's instructions to him and Aaron to warn the king of an even worse plague to come to Egypt the next day. (Ex. 9:1-3.) "You keep on relaying threats from your God," Pharaoh loftily observed. "He has yet to bring any woes unendurable to me!" The fifth plague struck before most of the Egyptians knew what was happening. Within hours the land was strewn with dead cattle, horses, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys. A sudden, fatal sickness to animals wiped out Egyptian livestock. Meanwhile, animals belonging to the Israelites were untouched. (Verse 6.) This was also a serious religious blow to the Egyptians, to whom many kinds of animals were sacred. It was difficult for them to understand why their idols would allow death to come to the animals from which the idols had been copied. Even through this tremendous loss to his people, Pharaoh remained stubbornly unbending. Perhaps he was less moved by this last plague because personal suffering wasn't as intense as it had been in former ones. Furthermore, he seemed even more intent on keeping the Israelites as a powerful working force to build Egypt up to the world's top nation in construction of public works and wonders. He had visions of a superglorious country, but if he could have foreseen what his stubbornness would bring, he would have had a much humbler attitude.