Bénédicte Lemmelijn, «The Phrase Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19», Vol. 80 (1999) 264-268
Offering the enumeration of all the places in which the water turns into blood, Exod 7,19 concludes with the formula Mynb)bw Myc(bw. Its meaning is dubious and difficult to understand. However, a meticulous comparison of the usage of this formula in Exod 7,19 with its functioning in other parts of the Old Testament demonstrates that Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19 refers to the Egyptian gods or idols.
4,28; 28,36.64; 29,16; 2 Kgs 19,18; Isa 37,19 and Ezek 20,32. In Jer 2,27 and 3,9, both words are used in the same context, but in the first pericope the two items (C( and Nb)) are slightly more remote from each other, while in the latter they are read in a reversed order.
On the basis of this observation, the interpretation of the expression Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19, as referring to foreign gods or idols, has already been defended in rabbinic literature9. Later on, this hypothesis has been followed by U. Cassuto10, but seems to have been forgotten in recent times. In my opinion, however, this proposal is worth reflection, especially for two reasons.
Firstly, when one studies the usage of the terms C( and Nb) in the two meanings referring to building materials and to idols it is remarkable that the expression is used much more strictly in the latter than in the former sense. When the two words evoke the idols, they are generally put in the same order and very close to each other. When C( and Nb) denote building materials, the words are often somewhat distanced from each other, as parts of an enumeration of other kinds of materials, and sometimes also placed in a reversed order. The expression Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19 is clearly formulated in the strict way, the two words next to each other and in the fixed order, i.e. first C( and consequently Nb), precisely as it is done in the instances referring to idols.
Secondly, when the formula Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19 is understood as referring to the idols, then the verse definitely ends in a climax. Everything in Egypt is polluted by the blood; even Egypts gods are subdued by YHWHs power. This meaning then would fit very well into the general tone and message of the "Plague Narrative", namely, the demonstration of YHWHs incomparable power as well as the recognition and acknowledgement of his might by both Israel and Egypt. In this respect, some scholars even hold the opinion that the narrative implies a mockery of the Egyptian pantheon11. Moreover, the climax described above is even strengthened grammatically in the text itself. The formula Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19 is presented with a double w-construction, of which the second one can obviously be considered as a common phrasal w as a conjunction, but the first one can clearly function as a beautiful example of the so-called