Christian Platonism

Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom

Philo – Third Plague: Lice

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Plague of Lice (Exodus 8:15–19)

[15] But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
[16] 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.
[17] 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.
[18] 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.
[19] 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.

Philo, Life of Moses (De Vita Moses) 1.106–1.108

XIX. (106) And when they had a little recovered from this punishment, then, like wrestlers at the games, who have recovered fresh strength after a struggle, that so they may contend again with renewed vigour, they again returned to their original wickedness, forgetting the evils which they had already experienced. (107) And when God had put an end to the punishments which were to proceed out of the water, he brought up others out of the land, still employing the same minister of punishment; and he now, in obedience to the command which he received, smote the ground with his rod, and an abundance of lice was poured out everywhere, and it extended like a cloud, and covered the whole of Egypt. (108) And that little animal, even though it is very small, is exceedingly annoying; for not only does it spoil the appearance, creating unseemly and injurious itchings, but it also penetrates into the inmost parts, entering in at the nostrils and ears? And it flies into the eyes and injures the pupils, unless one takes great care; and what care could be taken against so extensive a plague, especially when it was God who was inflicting the punishment?

Source: Yonge, Charles Duke.  The Works of Philo. Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. David M. Scholer, editor. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0943575931.

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Written by John Uebersax

March 29, 2012 at 8:50 pm

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