The Egyptians Are Struck by Terror
Solomon continues praying:
1 Your decisions are difficult to explain, and people who have not been taught have followed the wrong path. 2 For example, those lawless Egyptians thought that your chosen people were under their power. But they themselves became prisoners in their very own homes for a long, dark night, because they were not under the protection of your eternal care. 3-4 Ws 18.14-19; 2 Macc 3.25-29; 3 Macc 6.18. They thought that you had forgotten and that their secret sins were hidden behind a curtain of darkness, when gruesome creatures seemed to appear. Nowhere in their homes were they safe from the fear of terrifying noises and the frightening faces of gloomy ghosts. 5 On that miserable night, the darkness was so thick that neither flaming lamps nor bright stars could be seen. 6 And when lightning flashed, the fearsome sight was worse than the darkness.17.6 darkness: One possible meaning for the difficult Greek text of verse 6.
7 The Egyptians had depended on their magical powers and had boasted about their great wisdom, but all of this proved useless. 8 There were some who said they could cure the fears and worries of sick minds, but they themselves became sick with foolish fear. 9 Even if nothing else frightened them, they were terrified by the sounds of wild animals outside and by hissing snakes. 10 They were so frightened that they refused to open their eyes. But keeping them closed did not relieve their fears, 11 because evil people are cowards condemned by their own consciences, and whatever they fear becomes even more frightening.17.11 evil people … frightening: One possible meaning for the difficult Greek text.
12 Fear takes over when people stop reasoning. 13 They no longer think straight, and their only hope is to deny the real source of their problems. 14 Night itself is powerless, since it comes from the powerless world of the dead. And yet the Egyptians slept restlessly on that night, 15 because of the horrible and unexpected nightmares brought on by the surrender of their souls to the forces of evil. 16-17 Every one of the Egyptians—including farmers and shepherds—fell prisoner to the fear of a darkness that was more difficult to escape than iron chains. 18-19 The slightest noise made them paralyzed with fear—the songs of birds in the trees, the rhythm of rushing water, the surprising crash of a rock, the hoofbeats of animals jumping about, the roar of lions, or even an echo in the mountains.
20 Everywhere else in the world, everyone went about their own business in broad daylight, 21 while these Egyptians were covered with a heavy blanket of darkness like the darkness of death that would soon capture them. But the trouble they brought upon themselves was an even heavier burden than the darkness.