Why were the magicians able to imitate Moses by creating snakes?

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“And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments” (Exodus 7:10, 11).

The word translated magicians is the Egyptian equivalent of the Hebrew word translated “sorcerers.” The “sorcerers” were charmers, who professed to be able to produce magic spells. Magicians performed their tricks by the power of evil spirits.

The rods of the magicians did not actually become serpents, as did the rod of Aaron. Neither the magicians nor Satan himself could create life. It was through the power of evil magic, their rods were made to “appear” as serpents. But to show God’s supremacy over the magicians’ trickery, Aaron’s serpent turned upon its rivals and devoured them all. “For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods” (Exodus 7: 12). This exhibited that the work of the magicians were powerless in comparison to the work of God.

The magicians’ inability to do real miracles is shown clearly in Exodus 8:18, “ Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had said.”  Many commentators suggest that the magicians gave up the unequal contest by their own choice, realizing that they were unable to compete with Moses and Aaron. They attempted to do what the messengers of the Hebrews’ God had done, but were only able to deceive rather than produce results that were of substance. God permitted them to carry forward their work of opposition to a certain point, and then called a halt by preventing further apparently successful imitation of His own miraculous power. “Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, this is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19).

In His service,

The BibleAsk Team

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