@ Ernest Abinokhauno. It seems to me Ozzie Nicolas has correctly defined the meaning of the expression ‘finger of God’, inside the Exo 8:19's context, as equivalent to ‘the spirit [רוח] of God’. The comparisons he presented, based on Mat 12:28 & Luk 11:20, is a convincing matter, really. Also the mention of this expression (‘finger of God’) related to the drawing (carving?) of the ’10 commandments’ on the two stone tablets, from God’s part, is a further confirmation that this conclusion is correct.
On the other part, reading the comments made by Ernest Abinokhauno to the Ozzie Nicolas’ answer I think the latter has - this time – presented a less convincing answer to the legitimate Ernest’s perplexity (“How is it that it was only when the magicians could not turn dust to gnats that they acknowledged that particular miracle as being performed by the finger of God or the Spirit of God as in your own words?”).
Now I try to explain why I think so.
As I explained in my answer #21313, “[…] the inner mind-set of Pharaoh was a sheer refusal to accept the supremacy of IEUE (יהוה) over the universe. Pharaoh did let his mind to be clouded by the convincement he himself was a god, as we well know. He was so persuaded of his divinity/ascendancy over Egypt – and over Israel, particularly. […] From His part, Lord IEUE (יהוה) seeing clearly in the ‘heart’ of Pharaoh, judged he was a ‘(God’s) wrath vessel’ (compare Rom 9:22). The reading of the Pharaoh’s heart revealed to God that the king was – simultaneously – determined to clutch (חזק) with him the Israel’s people, heavily obligating (כבד) them to very hard labours. As regards Pharaoh itself, he would been inflexible (קשׁה) in these decisions of him, never withdrawing from his stance. We well remember the forceful words of Lord IEUE (יהוה): ‘For by now I could have sent forth My hand and I could have struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been wiped off the face of the earth. And yet, for this I have let you stand (עםד) – so as to show you My power, and so that My name will be told through all the earth.’ (Exo 9:15-16, Alter).” And, “Realistically, if Lord IEUE (יהוה) had strike Egyptians starting with the death of all their firstborns, it could be enough – probably - this unique plague to bend the unbending Pharaoh. But the revealed purpose of God was to unleash all the 10 plagues (we remember that ‘10’, in a symbolic way, in the Bible means ‘a full stock of something’) He had ideated […].”
A factor we have to take into consideration is that all people involved in that epochal event did must be able to take a decision about the following controversy: “The Supreme God is really IEUE (יהוה), the God of Israel, or he is one belonging to the large group of the Egypt’s pantheon gods?” The mixed crowd mentioned in the Bible account – for an example - that did leave Egypt with Israel did take a decision based on the answer to this question, evidently.
The Egypt’s magicians weren’t stupid, they were only guided in their works by the adversary of God. They were able to replicate the first two plagues because these miracles were inside the capabilities of Satan (Adversary). Differently, the issued challenge of the 3rd plague was beyond the capabilities of Satan.
Perhaps this did depend on the particular nature of the miracle to perform. Many Bible translation – from my viewpoint - are lacking in precision to this point. In fact, they translate the expression
עפר הארץ ותהי הכנם
usually as “… the dust of the earth, and there were lice…”, or the like (see, for some examples, ASV, BBE, Brenton, CEV, ISV, and other). NET2 translation, in this instance, translates better (bold is mine): “All the dust of the ground became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt” (Exo 8:17 [NET 2]).
Rightly, the verbal form utilized here isn’t a simple ‘there were’ but ‘became’, since the MT verbal root is היה/הוה , ‘to become’.
This seems to indicate that the miracle behind the 3rd plague was a miracle of creation. Surely, the Adversary of God holds a lot of capabilities, included that of the “power of death” (Heb 2:14, NJB). But he is lacking the prerogative of a Supreme God, to create.
Moreover, the 4th plague added further difficulty to the magicians. Why? According the Bible account, just from this plague (4th) the people of Israel starting to be unaffected by the plagues. In fact, we read (bold is mine): “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD [lit. IEUE (יהוה)] in the midst of the earth [literally, “you will know that I – IEUE – am to the proximity of the land (of Egypt)”]. Thus I will put a division between my people and your people […].” (Exo 8:22-23, ESV [MT have different verses numbering: 18-19]; see also 9:4; 11:7 for further information).
So, starting with the 4th ‘plague’, it wasn’t enough – for the magicians of Egypt - to replicate the miracle. They have to direct these plague against the unharmed people of Israel, because if they limited themselves to replicate the subsequent plagues (flies/mosquito [4th], livestock pestilence [5th], boils [6th], hail [7th], locusts [8th], darkness [9th], and death of firstborn [10th]) without directing them against the Israelites settled in Goshen, leaving unharmed the people of Egypt, this would build a surreal situation like the following I will present.
Imagine a scene where two persons are struggling together. One of them said to the other, ‘I am stronger than you’, striking the other man with a club in his head. The second, willing to prove now his power to the first, says, “I also are powerful like you”, striking his club in his own head, instead to strike the head of his enemy. Granted, the second person has proved his capability to strike with a club the head of somebody, but he did must strike the head of his enemy, not his own head! You know this would be a vignette fit for a Brothers Marx movie…
We may read an interesting comment at this regard in the ESV (Study Bible) translation (on Exo 8:18-19, bold is mine): “‘This is the finger of God’ (vs. 19). The narrative of the plagues highlights the way that some of Pharaoh’s servants (see also 10:7) begin to recognize what he [Pharaoh] fails to see; the God who sent Moses and Aaron has shown that he has power over Egypt and the Pharaoh’s persistent defiance is harming his own people.”
@Ernest Abinokhauno: I hope these information answer your questions and perplexities.