All the Bloody Water - Exodus 7:20
Exodus 7:19-20 The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt-over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs-and they will turn to blood.' Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone." Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood.First, Moses and Aaron had instructions concerning specific bodies of waters in Egypt. Only the waters in the streams, canals, ponds, reservoirs, and in vessels of wood and stone, were to be affected. Some waters were not included; wells, channeled or stored water, the sources of which were not specified. Second, the word "all" does not always mean "all inclusive" or "each and every." In Scripture words such as "all," "every," "world," etc. need not always be taken in an absolute sense; they can used in a narrow or limited sense. Context determines their usage. Consider:
Exodus 7:22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts
Mark 1:5, "The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River." Does this mean that every single person in Jerusalem and Judea went to the Jordan to get baptized by John the Baptist, including Herod and Pilate? Of course not. It simply means a great many people were baptized.
Luke 2:1, "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered" (KJV; ESV; NASB95). Did Caesar send a decree to every single part of the entire earth? No, the context compels us to understand this as the Roman Empire (NIV).
John 12:19, "Look how the whole world has gone after him," meaning very large crowds in Israel followed Christ. Clearly, the ones complaining (Pharisees) did not! (See Is Strong's Concordance a good Bible dictionary?)
We use terms with such limitations even today. At Thanksgiving one might say, "everyone came over," meaning every one of their friends and family came over (cg. everyone was at the game, meaning it was very crowded; all of them said the same thing, meaning everyone in the group said the same thing, etc.). In our text, the context demands that "all" means great masses of specific bodies of water - as the text even specifies.
Last, Forest Gump speaks wisely when he said, "stupid is as stupid does" (1994 movie, Forrest Gump). The magicians of Egypt decided that the water was not now in short enough supply and thus decided to attempt something similar! In their excitement to one-up God, they downgraded their water supply even further. Their actions even contributed further to the hardening of Pharaoh's heart (Ex. 7:22). Dah! (Prov. 1:26). However, they did not create the exact same miracle as God did through Moses and Aaron. It may have been similar, but not the same and it may have been a trick/illusion. While I cannot speculate on exactly what they did, theirs was associated with evil, but God's with righteousness. Theirs was connected with error (by their secret arts; Ex. 7:22), where God's was associated with truth (Rom. 2:2).
Theological Editor of Third Millennium Ministries, (IIIM)