Aaron and Moses were depending on the power of God, so how did Pharaoh's sorcerers do the same thing?
NASB - 12 For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.
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If you back up just one verse, the text tells us in Exodus 7:11 that the sorcerers used some type of magic or "secret arts" to turn their serpents into rods: "11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs." Now, we know that Satan has some degree of power, so demonic activity could have been involved here. However, Matthew Henry's Commentary offers a simple solution: "The magicians of Egypt in modern times have been long celebrated adepts in charming serpents, and particularly by pressing the nape of the neck, they throw them into a kind of catalepsy, which renders them stiff and immovable--thus seeming to change them into a rod. They conceal the serpent about their persons, and by acts of legerdemain produce it from their dress, stiff and straight as a rod." (Source: Matthew Henry's Commentary on Exodus 7) Whether the sorcerers accomplished this false miracle by demonic powers or by a simple trick, the superiority of God's power was clearly demonstrated in this passage: Although the sorcerers were able to imitate (via trickery or demonic power) what Aaron did (via God's power), Aaron's serpent dominated and devoured all of the sorcerers' snakes by itself, then Aaron turned it back into a rod. (Ex. 7:17)
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