Third plague – Gnats (lice) from dust of earth
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats in all the land of Egypt.'”
This plague was most likely against Geb, god of the earth.
To the ancient Egyptians, Geb was the god and personification of the earth. He was unusual because he was a male earth deity, while most ancient cultures regarded the earth as female.
Worship of Geb was widespread and various legends developed about him, this is why he is often depicted in Egyptian wall art.
Two other titles came from the fact that Geb fathered the Osirian gods: Chief of the gods, Father of the gods.
Geb played a role in weighing the heart during judgment in the afterlife.
Another of Geb’s roles comes from his position as the god of the earth. He had an important function in the path of an Egyptian soul to the afterlife. After the burial of the dead, the Egyptians believed that Geb played a part in the souls journey. He was present at the ceremony where the gods weighed the heart of a dead person. If the judges decided the person was righteous, Geb released the soul from the earth to continue his/her journey.
When a mortal’s heart is weighed in the halls of Ma’at, Geb sits among the Gods in judgment. Those burdened with guilt and regret are claimed by Geb and dragged through the earthen crust to the underworld. Hearts free of such heaviness are taught words of power and ascend to the sky.
The magicians were not able to replicate this plague.
Exod 8:18-19 (KJV)
18 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.
Fourth plague – Swarm of insects
Exod 8:21 (ESV)
Or else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses. And the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.
In the Hebrew, it does not have “flies”, but only “swarms”. So, it only implies some swarm of insects.
The word is used in Psalms twice and it is translated as “divers sorts of flies”.
Psa 78:45 (KJV)
He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.
In YLT, it is translated as beetle.
Exod 8:21 (YLT)
for, if thou art not sending My people away, lo, I am sending against thee, and against thy servants, and against thy people, and against thy houses, the beetle, and the houses of the Egyptians have been full of the beetle, and also the ground on which they are.
Beetle worship, particularly scarabs (dung beetle), was dominant in ancient Egypt.
Scarab, Latin scarabaeus, in ancient Egyptian religion, important symbol in the form of the dung beetle (Scarabaeus sacer), which lays its eggs in dung balls fashioned through rolling. This beetle was associated with the divine manifestation of the early morning sun, Khepri, whose name was written with the scarab hieroglyph and who was believed to roll the disk of the morning sun over the eastern horizon at daybreak. Since the scarab hieroglyph, Kheper, refers variously to the ideas of existence, manifestation, development, growth, and effectiveness, the beetle itself was a favourite form used for amulets in all periods of Egyptian history.
Scarabs were popular amulets and impression seals in ancient Egypt. They survive in large numbers and, through their inscriptions and typology, they are an important source of information for archaeologists and historians of the ancient world. They also represent a significant body of ancient art.
For reasons that are not clear (although likely connected to the religious significance of the Egyptian god Khepri), amulets in the form of scarab beetles had become enormously popular in Ancient Egypt by the early Middle Kingdom (approx. 2000 BCE) and remained popular for the rest of the pharaonic period and beyond.
“For the Egyptians, it’s scarabs, scarabs, scarabs,” says Michael Wall, curator of entomology and vice president of research for the San Diego Natural History Museum,
https://www.baltimoresun.com/sdut-museu … story.html
To Egyptians, at any rate, the similarities between dung beetles and the sun’s cycle were striking enough that the boy king Tutankhamun incorporated the scarab god into his throne name, Nebkheperure. Throughout the museum’s King Tut exhibit, the image of the scarab appears in hieroglyphics of Tut’s name, and as elaborately wrought ornamentation on a gilded throne, tomb and chariot.
Khepri (Egyptian: ḫprj, also transliterated Khepera, Kheper, Khepra, Chepri) is a scarab-faced god in ancient Egyptian religion who represents the rising or morning sun. By extension, he can also represent creation and the renewal of life.
Khepri played a role in weighing the heart in the afterlife and a scarab amulet was placed on top of the mummified person’s heart to prepare for the day of judgment.
A Heart Scarab Amulet was placed upon the chest inscribed with Khepri’s name, and during the mummification process, it was believed that the amulet would be infused with the weight of the deceased’s choices in life.
Upon facing judgment, the deceased’s Heart Scarab Amulet would be weighed against the feather of Maat. If the amulet weighed less than the feather, then the deceased’s soul would be allowed to make its way into the afterlife.
Scarab amulets’ powers of rebirth and renewal were utilized to aid the dead and they could either be placed in the tomb or within the deceased’s mummy wrappings, particularly atop the heart. The heart was very significant for the ancient Egyptians, as they believed it to be the seat of the mind. When an ancient Egyptian died, it was thought that their heart would be weighed against a feather by the funerary jackal god Anubis before a panel of forty-two judging deities at the threshold of the netherworld. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the deceased would pass to the next life successfully. If it was not, he or she would then be devoured on site by a hybrid hippopotamus monster and cease to exist for eternity.
Pharoah’s heart was heavy as this time too.
31 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms [of flies] from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one.
32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.
The dung beetle actually has interesting scientific ties with the heavenly bodies. It uses the sun, moon, and stars to find its way around.
Dung beetles like the scarab are incredible navigators that actually use the sun as guidance when moving their quarries. Rolling the dung ball along, the beetle will periodically stop, climb atop its prize, look around to orient itself, and climb back down and start pushing the ball once more.
When the sun goes down, the dung beetles can use the moon to navigate. But what if there’s no moon? In 2013 scientists went out on a moonless night and put little hats on some beetles to obscure their vision and discovered, rather incredibly, that the critters are using the Milky Way to orient themselves, the only known instance in the animal kingdom. Without the hats, individuals navigated perfectly fine. Strap an adorable little hat on a dung beetle, though, and it stumbles around like a drunkard.