There is some uncertainty as to the particular insect designated by the original Hebrew word appearing in the Scriptures with reference to the fourth plague upon Egypt, the first from which the Israelites in Goshen were spared. (Ex. 8:21, 22, 24, 29, 31; Ps. 78:45; 105:31) ʽA·rovʹ has been variously rendered “gadfly” (JB, NW, Ro), “beetle” (Yg), “flies” (AS, AV, RS), “gnats” (AT; and “dog-fly” (LXX, Bagster).
The English designation “gadfly” includes the various kinds of horseflies and botflies. Female horseflies pierce the skin of animals as well as man and then suck their blood. In the larval stage botflies live as parasites in the bodies of animals and man, those infesting humans being found in the tropics. A plague of gadflies would, therefore, have brought great suffering to the Egyptians and their livestock and, in certain cases, even death. Untreated sheep, for example, often die as a result of being infested by botfly maggots.
Further illustrating the serious nature of this plague are instances in more recent years where swarms of flies were blown by the wind into a certain area in such great numbers as to place men and animals in jeopardy of being choked as the insects penetrated ears, noses and mouths, not to mention the swellings caused by their bites.
[Picture on page 613]