Exodus 8:20-23

20 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. 21 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.

22 “‘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. 23 I will make a distinction a between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”

Before the swarms of flies, God sent the plague of gnats. Did the gnats come on the Hebrews in Goshen? What about the frogs?

  • “The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not.” ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭8:18‬ ‭ Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 15:20
  • :) I added. Thanks.
    – user35953
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 15:32

2 Answers 2


Exodus 7:3 says

I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment

This could be interpreted to mean that the people of Egypt i.e. excluding the Israelites would only receive the plagues or it could mean that the land of Egypt physically would receive them including the Israelites.

Where the plague accounts don't mention Israel, it could therefore indicate that they suffered from them and that passages such as the following are referring to them being co-victims of these plagues:

Deut 7:15 The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.

Deut 28:60 He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded

We know specifically from Exodus 8:22, which you quoted, that flies did not trouble the Israelites. This may lend further support to the idea that other plagues did trouble them. Otherwise, why mention it?

However, within the book of Exodus as a whole, there is a greater overarching theme of judgement on Egypt and liberation for Israel which makes it unlikely that Israel was subject to any of the plagues that tormented the Egyptians. The purpose of the plagues was to demonstrate to Egypt that Yahweh was Lord and to cause Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Including Israel within the plagues would therefore be pointless.


If the goal of our hermeneutic is to understand what the biblical author said (exegesis) then when the biblical author (or in this case a passage) is silent on a particular question it is best to acknowledge that the silence and say that we do not know the answer.

Did the gnats come on the Hebrews in Goshen? What about the frogs?

Another way of asking this might be:

  • Do God's people suffer when God punishes the ungodly?

The answer to this question is sometimes they do and sometimes they don't according to God's providence, and we have specific examples that speak to this question.

  • One example of the faithful suffering is Daniel 1:1-8 tells us of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. One of the larger themes of the book of Daniel is - how should the people of God behave in an ungodly culture?
  • Jesus on the cross is the ultimate example of a righteous person suffering God's judgement.
  • An example of the God's people being preserved from suffering is Exodus 8:22 listed in the question. Noah was saved from the flood Genesis 6-8.

Hermeneutics - Biblical hermeneutics is the branch of knowledge that deals with methods interpretation.
Exegesis - The process of discovering the original and intended meaning of a passage of scripture.

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