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In Exodus when God performed miracles through Moses and Aaron, the Egyptian magicians did the same things that God did, How is that possible ?

The first time:

Exodus 7:10-13

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

The second time:

Exodus 7:20-24

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. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.

The third time:

Exodus 8:5-7

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.'"

So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

But lastly they couldn't do like Moses:

Exodus 8:16-19

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,' and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats." They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.

Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.

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    Secret art could mean a trick, not magical or miraculous. But I have no evidence to back it up.
    – Mawia
    Feb 19, 2013 at 12:30
  • I heard of how even today snakes can be made stiff with some natural chemicals but when shaken hard wake up to their normal movements, but I can't remember the deatils. Interesting question but there would have to be some speculation about their secret juggling tricks.
    – Mike
    Feb 19, 2013 at 12:43
  • I'm not entirely sure this is on-topic. It is an interesting question, though... Feb 19, 2013 at 12:47
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    @David what should I change to make it better ?
    – Pierre
    Feb 19, 2013 at 15:53
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    Well, as an amateur magician, I can say that all of the effects described CAN be done with ordinary skill. Remember that all the magicians had to do was convince Pharaoh. David Copperfield was able to convince an audience that the Statue of Liberty disappeared, and Uri Geller was able to convince people he could bend spoons with his mind. Sep 8, 2021 at 14:07

4 Answers 4

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I don't have my notes on hand but the bible contains multiple examples of Satan performing God like signs to fool Gods people. The book of Revelations is the obvious example this, but there's more.

As far as men performing magic, you also had Bar Jesus.

Long story short, although it's not exactly a popular opinion, Satan is illustrated as a being with similar (although lesser) powers as God, and it has been written that he has and will use these powers through mankind to gather people to him.

Satan is illustrated as having powers on a similar level as the Angel Michael which makes sense as he was a great angel (even though Satan was/is dark on the whole), but in regards to the first answer these powers are not of earthly origins, nor can they be assumed to he bound by earthly restrictions (physics, etc).

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    Small quibble with "not exactly popular opinion." In fact, technically ascribing similar if lesser powers as God is the heresy (with a little "h") of Dualism, with one specific sect being Marcionism. I'd argue that Dualism is actually quite popular, even if techincally contraindicated by all Nicene denominations. Feb 23, 2013 at 21:44
  • Welcome to C.SE, btw - this is a good answer. Please don't read "Burn the witches" into heresy. Lots of people have heresies in their faith! Overall, I would argue this answer is indicative of many in the pews, even if technically it doesn't square with many promulgated theologies. Feb 23, 2013 at 21:45
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    @Affable Geek - Just to clarify, the relative similarities are only applicable when comparing Satan to humans, but not when comparing Satan to God. Satan is in fact an angel, thus a creation of God (in my beliefs) and is not truly similar to God in any way, including in power or nature.
    – Jason
    Feb 24, 2013 at 2:14
  • I share Jason's opinion that angels and humans were created by God without the full knowledge of his power, which is why the Egyptian magicians could only reproduce a part of the plagues.
    – user4021
    Feb 24, 2013 at 19:44
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My answer is from the perspective of stage magic, a performative tradition which does not invoke any supernatural sources of power. The ethics of stage magic forbid me from directly explaining how any particular technique or "trick" works, but I assure you that they are merely illusions.

The lore of stage magic includes the tradition that turning water into wine/blood/coffee/tea/milk was known all around the ancient Mediterranean. Water-to-wine kits are commercially available. Combine such a kit with fake stage blood, either liquid or dry, to obtain a water-to-blood trick.

Frogs are carnivorous and sensitive to small insects. Given a pond full of frogs, they can be summoned to the surface by releasing a cloud of insects too small for humans to easily see.

Turning a staff into a snake is a form of sleight of hand. Some snakes are very docile and will stay confined for a while, just like guinea pigs; in Mac King's famous guinea pig trick, I assure you that the guinea pig is unharmed.

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Turning water to blood and creating frogs and causing a staff(not a stiff snake)into a serpent is no illusion or trick.its power and all power had a source.ignoring it or calling it taboo makes Christians and Christianity seem very weak and unintelligent.God used this source to create the world Satan used the source to mimick God.Adam and Eve dabbled in the source and were thrown out of the garden.God has repeatedly prevented people from gaining knowledge of the source.more power to those who look passed the superstitions and ask the real questions.

.......don't get me wrong.I believe God is the soul Creator of this source.but I also believe its accessible to many.used for good or evil.this is not spoken from one who is young and ignorant.I am 40 yrs old and have spent most of my life working in the penticostal circles and churches.many of wich were more occultic and superstitious than that of pegans

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    Welcome to C.SE, I invite to read our FAQ about what we do here :) This has some potential to turn into a good answer, but as it stands is heavily on opinion and light on support. I'd encourage you to look to the four sources of theology to make this a more scholarly answer. Feb 23, 2013 at 21:49
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I read in a comic book.

There were indeed a snake that can turn into staffs. The snake have acupuncture points. Only a special species of snake can do that and they are small.

Hence, the fact that Aaron's snake is big and Aaron took the snake by the tail is actually significant. God wanted to show the magician that this is not the magic trick they're familiar with.

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