The Third Plague - Lice

The Fourth Miracle Before Pharaoh

Ex. 8:16-19


Verse 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.

I.   God continues to speak to Moses, who speaks to Aaron.

A.     This is not the arrangement God wanted, because Aaron wasn’t supposed to be included.

1.       God allowing Aaron into this arrangement doesn’t mean that He isn’t in control.

2.       It means that God will use Moses for His glory in spite of his rebellion against God.

3.       No man can sin a big enough sin that God can’t use him, even if he is a bad example.

B.     It is the arrangement Moses wanted, so God allowed it.

1.       At the beginning Moses didn’t trust God enough to go by himself.

2.       Before this whole ordeal is over, Aaron will be in the way.

3.       Moses will finally learn that he can speak and does an excellent job.


II.   The rod was to be stretched out as in previous miracles, and in addition, Aaron was to strike the dust of the ground with it.

A.     The previous plague of frogs came from the River Nile, and the plague of lice comes from the dust of the ground.

1.       This shows God’s total control over his creation.

2.       I Kings 20:28 - Benhadad, King of Syria, lost a battle to Ahab, King of Israel, because, as he said, God was a God of the hills and not a God of the valleys.  God defeated Benhadad in the valley, proving that He is God of His entire creation.

B.     Dust of the land.

1.       The Egyptians worship the earth as the “Father of the God’s”.

a.       The Egyptians called their black fertile land, Chemi, from which the ancient name of Egypt is derived.

b.       God is actually showing His control over ancient Egypt, for He controls the soil of present and past Egypt.

2.       God is again defeating their gods.

3.       This miracle would again show all the Egyptians that the God of Moses is greater than their God.

4.       This would be especially obvious when the magicians couldn’t produce more lice from the dust.

C.     The word lice indicates there was a swarm of tiny animals that attached themselves to men and animals.

1.       Some say these are gnats, mosquitoes, or some other swarming insect.

a.       The Hebrew word is used only 5 times in the entire Bible.

b.       Each time it is translated “lice” except in Isaiah 51:6 when it is translated “manner,” indicating that those that rebel against God shall perish in such numbers, it shall be liken to a swarm.

c.       Men may be confused about what these tiny animals are, but the Bible says they are lice.

d.       I am content to believe they are lice, which attach themselves to people and animals, embedding themselves into every crack and crevice of the skin.

2.       There is dust everywhere, thus these lice would be everywhere.

3.       I have no trouble imagining these insects filling the eyes, ears, and nose of the Egyptians in such vast numbers that it would be impossible to get rid of them.

a.       They would fill the eyes so it would be practically impossible to open the eyes without getting the eyes full of lice.

b.       They would fill the ears so it would be very difficult to keep them out.

c.       They would fill the nose so it would be very difficult to breath without sucking some of them down into the throat and lungs.

d.       If you have ever swallowed a bug, you know how miserable one bug can be.

e.       How miserable would this swarm of lice be?

D.     Why didn’t God give a warning?

1.       First of all, it is very presumptuous to think that God should give a warning.

a.       God is God and he will do as he desires.

b.       God doesn’t have to ask our opinion, or our permission to do anything.

c.       God doesn’t have to give us warning or advance notice about anything.

d.       He is perfectly able to do what he wants to do anytime he wants to do it, and he is not answerable to anybody about it.

2.       God had previously given warnings, but they weren’t heeded.

3.       So now God will bring his judgments without warning.

4.       This is the way it will be with lost people.

a.       Lost people may expect a final warning from God about their need for repentance and faith in Christ.

b.       Why should God continue to burden and warn lost people when they don’t heed any word he has given them?

5.       This is the way it will be in the end of this world.

a.       Men haven’t listened to the word of God, therefore would not listen if God sent them another warning.

1)      God would be just if he cast everybody into hell with no warning at all.

2)      God would be perfectly just and right if he gave a warning to a lost person in their youth, then never gave them another warning, letting them live to a ripe old age, then cast them into hell at the end of their lives.

3)      God is just and right in everything he does.

b.       The final judgment upon this world will come as a thief in the night.

1)      I Thessalonians 5:2 – “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”

2)      II Peter 3:10 – “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

c.       Even though men have been warned, they didn’t listen, now God will come as a thief in the night.


III.   This plague came upon the land of Egypt.

A.     There is no indication that it was in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived.

1.       Exodus 8:22 is the first scripture that gives some indication that the land of Goshen will not be included in that plague – the plague of flies.

2.       If we read Exodus 8:16 and put the land of Goshen in the land of Egypt, then it is reasonable to believe that the land of Goshen was inflicted with lice like the rest of the land of Egypt.

3.       If we read Exodus 8:2 and interpret the word “borders” to include not only the land of Egypt, but also the land of Goshen, then we would say the land of Goshen was inflicted with frogs, like the land of Egypt.

4.       It is true that Egypt, during the days when Joseph was alive, had control over the land of Goshen, because Pharaoh gave that land to the Israelites because they were shepherds, which was an abomination to the Egyptians.

5.       But the above statement does not mean that the land of Egypt is the same as the land of Goshen, therefore receives all the plagues they are not specifically excluded from by the word of God.

B.     There is no indication that any of the plagues came to the land of Goshen.

1.       If these plagues came upon Israel as well as Egypt, the Egyptians would think God was also against Israel.

2.       There are two judgments:  One of the saved and one of the lost.

3.       God doesn’t judge the world with the same judgment He judges His people with.

4.       The judgment of the saved is much tougher than the judgment of the lost.

C.     There is no record as to how long this plague lasted.

1.       Exodus 7:25 – The water was turned into blood for seven days.

2.       I assume most of the plagues didn’t last for very long, two or three days at the most.

a.       Ex. 8:10 – Pharaoh said he would spend one more night with the frogs. This was his choice.

b.       Ex. 8:29 – Moses told Pharaoh that tomorrow the swarms of flies would be removed.  This is very likely a direct reference to Pharaoh desiring to spend one more night with the frogs.


Verse 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.

I.   There was no warning that this plague was coming.

A.     This is also true with the sixth plague, boils, and the ninth plague, darkness.

B.     It should be noted that the ten plagues can be divided into two groups.

1.       The first 9 miracles, which would be considered plagues, are divided into three groups, with three plagues in each group.











Ex. 7:10

Rod Into A Serpent



Ex. 7:17

Water Becomes Blood



Ex. 8:2




Ex. 8:16, 17




Ex. 8:21




Ex. 9:2, 3

Murrian (Boils)



Ex. 9:22-25

Pestilence (hail, thunder, fire)



Ex. 10:4




Ex. 10:21-23




Ex. 11:9

Death of Firstborn



3.       The tenth plague, or the final plague, would be in a group by itself.

C.     There was a warning about every other plague so far.

1.       Exodus 7:10 - Aaron’s rod becomes a serpent because Pharaoh asked to see a miracle.

2.       Exodus 7:14-21 - Moses and Aaron warned Pharaoh they would turn the water of Egypt into blood if he refused to let Israel go.

3.       Exodus 8:1,2 - Moses and Aaron warned Pharaoh they would produce millions of frogs from the Nile River if he refused to let Israel go.

4.       The lice is the fourth plague.


Verse 18, 19, 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.

I.   The magicians of Egypt are at it again!

A.     They are still trying to prove they are as powerful as God.

B.     They will fail again, but this time in a little different way.

1.       This time they can’t bring forth lice at all.

2.       It would still be better to get rid of some of the lice instead of creating more of them.

C.     The phrase “…so there were lice upon man, and upon beast” might indicate that the magicians of Egypt tried to remove the lice God brought, but were unable to do so.


II.   The finger of God.

A.     This shows the power of God.

1.       He doesn’t use the greatness of His strength, but the very smallest part of His strength, which is very marvelous in our eyes.

2.       It is not Moses who says it is the finger of God – it is the magicians of Egypt!

3.       Not the “arm,” but the “finger” (strength).

4.       God has limited Satan.

5.       Satan’s men give testimony to God’s power.

B.     God works in two ways:  (every work of His is a work of His finger)

1.       Naturally.

a.       II Kings 9:33 - Jezebel killed naturally.

b.       Acts 9:25 - Paul let down in a basket.

2.       Super naturally.

a.       Num. 16:31-33 - Korah and company killed super naturally.

b.       Acts 12:7 - Peter got out of jail by an angel super naturally.

C.     Some of the works of God’s finger.

1.       Ex. 31:18 - Law of God (10 commandments) written by the finger of God.  (Therefore it never passes away.  Deut. 9:10)

2.       Ps. 8:3 - Creation is the work of the finger of God.

3.       Ps. 89:34, Ps. 119 - The Word of God is forever.

4.       Dan. 5:5 - The finger of God wrote on the wall.

a.       A lost man can’t interpret the Word of God.

b.       The word of God will come in judgment upon all disobedient regardless of where they are or what they are doing.  Many people today don’t believe in Christian living.  They seem to believe that God doesn’t care either.  But this is not so.  One of these days, God will come to them in Judgment.

c.       Belshazzar knew the things his dad had been through, but didn’t use these things for his learning about the judgment of God.  Today, be sure you look and see the judgment of God upon others so you won’t have to learn first hand about His terrible judgment.

5.       Mark 7:32-35 - Healed by the power of God (finger of God).

6.       Luke 11:14-20.  Verse 20, By the finger of God devils are cast out.

7.       John 8:6 - Jesus wrote in the ground with His finger.  Nobody knows what He wrote.  Evidently, that’s not important, or else He would have told us.

D.     Satan does miracles, but it isn’t the work of his finger.  He will use all his power to do the smallest miracle.

1.       Ex. 7:8-11 - Devil does miracles (making serpents).

2.       Ex. 7:19-22 - Devil does miracles (making blood).

3.       Ex. 8:6-7 - Devil does miracles (making frogs).

4.       Ex. 8:16-19 - Devil couldn’t make miracles, He was fighting the finger of God.

E.      A good comparison of what men think of their strength is found in I Kings 12:10, and II Chron. 10:10.

1.       Rehoboam said his little finger is thicker than Solomon’s thigh.

2.       He means that the strength in his little finger will be stronger than the greatest strength of Solomon.

3.       He surely doesn’t understand that all his power has been given to Him by God!

4.       How feeble our strength is compared to God’s strength!


III.   Pharaoh’s reaction.

A.     Wouldn’t listen to God.

1.       He wouldn’t listen to his friends and advisors, so it is no wonder he won’t listen to God.

2.       This is the reaction of a lost person.

B.     Compare Pharaoh’s reaction to the reaction of Belshazzar.

1.       Belshazzar trembled and promised great wealth and prestige to Daniel.

2.       Belshazzar recognized the power of God, but refused to believe in that power.

C.     Like God has said.

1.       Pharaoh’s reaction might be a surprise to us, but it isn’t to God.

2.       He knew beforehand what he would do.

3.       God raised Pharaoh up for this purpose.