Chapter 8 continues description of the plagues upon Egypt. Specifically, it covers plagues two (frogs), three (gnats), and four (flies). The pattern also continues of the plague being imposed on Egypt, Pharaoh asking Moses to stop it, then Pharaoh hardening his heart. Each plague teaches both the Egyptians and the Israelites of the powerless of Egypt’s pagan deities and the overwhelming superiority of the God of the Hebrews.
Chapter 8 can be outlined as follows:
The second plague involves an overwhelming infestation of frogs. There was to be no place in Egypt where the frogs were not present in large numbers. This plague would affect everyone from Pharaoh to servants. It was, as was the case in all the plagues, the result of Pharaoh’s refusal to let the people of Israel go. Pharaoh’s magicians reproduced the frog infestation, but they could not stop it. So, Pharaoh had to ask Moses and Aaron to ask their LORD to stop the plague. Moses allowed Pharaoh to choose when he wanted the plague to end. The LORD did so, leaving piles of dead, stinking frogs all over Egypt.
The third plague is unannounced. It simply happens. There is no conversation between Moses and Pharaoh, nor is there any warning of its coming. This plague involves an intense swarm of gnats that caused misery to both human and animal alike. The plague begins when Aaron strikes the dust on the ground. The dust particles are immediately turned into gnats. The Egyptian magicians were not able to duplicate this plague. In spite of this, Pharaoh’s heart continued to be hardened, just as the LORD predicted.
Starting in 8:20, the second cycle of plagues begins. The first in this cycle, the fourth plague (8:20-32) involves an infestation of flies. As in the first plague, Moses and Aaron confronted Pharaoh as he was going to bathe in the Nile. The LORD commanded Pharaoh to release the Israelites and then threatened him with another plague if he does not comply. The Israelites were not affected by this plague, but the rest of Egypt was devastated by it. Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and told them to go offer sacrifices to the LORD. Moses declined the offer due to the fact that the nature of Israelite sacrifice would offend the Egyptians and hence would endanger the lives the Israelites. Moses also told Pharaoh that he would entreat the LORD to remove the swarm of flies from the land. He also warned Pharaoh not to go back on his word like he did in the previous plague. The LORD then removed every one of the flies, but Pharaoh hardened his heart again and did not set the Israelites free.