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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Lice occurs in ( Heb.); . The name of the creature employed in the third plague upon Egypt, miraculously produced from the dust of the land. Its exact nature has been much disputed. Those who suppose the name to be derived from a Hebrew word which means tosfix, settle, or establish, infer lice is meant, from their fixing themselves on mankind, animals, etc. Dr. A. Clarke has further inferred from the words 'in man and in beast,' that it was the 'tick.' It is probable, however, that not lice, but some species of gnats is the proper rendering. It is not a valid objection, that if this plague were gnats, etc., the plague of flies would be anticipated, since the latter most likely consisted of one particular species having a different destination [FLY]; whereas this may have consisted of not only mosquitoes or gnats, but of some other species which also attack domestic cattle, as the æstrus, or tabanus, or zimb; on which supposition these two plagues would be sufficiently distinct.

But since mosquitoes, gnats, etc. have ever been one of the evils of Egypt, there must have been some peculiarity attending them on this occasion, which proved the plague to be 'the finger of God.' From , it appears that the flax and the barley were smitten by the hail; that the former was beginning to grow, and that the latter was in the ear—which, according to Shaw, takes place in Egypt in March. Hence these gnats would be sent about February, i.e. before the increase of the Nile, which takes place at the end of May, or beginning of June. Since, then, the innumerable swarms of mosquitoes, gnats, etc. which every year affect the Egyptians come, according to Hasselquist, at the increase of the Nile, the appearance of them in February would be as much a variation of the course of nature as the appearance of the gadfly in January would be in England. They were also probably numerous and fierce beyond example on this occasion; and as the Egyptians would be utterly unprepared for them (for it seems that this plague was not announced), the effects would be signally distressing. For a description of the evils inflicted by these insects upon man, see Kirby and Spence, Introduction to Entomology, London1828, i. 115, etc.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Lice'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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