I had on that occasion stated a comparison "as the Pharao's magicians could not really turn their staffs into snakes, but only make it seem so to eyes, whereas when Moses dropped the staff it was really turned into a snake and their staffs were really turned into snakes, so that the snake of Moses could swallow it."
I seem to have been perhaps wrong on this one:
It is to be noted, however, that although these works of demons which appear marvelous to us are not real miracles, they are sometimes nevertheless something real. Thus the magicians of Pharaoh by the demons' power produced real serpents and frogs. And "when fire came down from heaven and at one blow consumed Job's servants and sheep; when the storm struck down his house and with it his children--these were the work of Satan, not phantoms"; as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 19).*
That destructions could be really worked by demons, I had no doubt.
But if the word "produced" is here used in the fullest sense, I would have been wrong about the power of the demons.
On the other hand, if produced here only means a quick replacement of a staff taken away and a snake brought where it had been, that would certainly have been within my estimate of the power of demons too.
I am not sure, but it would seem a bit hard to think that snakes can really be created by demons, even if it were out of preexisting wood.
That they can create an illusion of snakes, no doubt. That God can turn an object into a real snake (like that of Moses), no doubt. That demons can carry snakes very quickly, make them calm and invisible when meaning the staff to show and visible and moving when they make the staff invisible, no doubt.
Will have to read up in Haydock on the snakes of the Pharao's magicians.
Ver. 11. Magicians. Jannes and Mambres, or Jambres, 2 Timothy iii. 8. (Challoner)
The pagans represented Moses as the greatest of magicians. (Pliny, Natural History xxx. 1; Justin xxxvi.)
They also, &c. Hebrew has three terms: "wise men, diviners, and magicians;" but the two last seem to be of the same import. "The enchanters did the like by their secret practices," either by words or by actions. Some say these operations were real; others affirm they were only apparent, and mere delusions. (Calmet)
"Whoever believes that any thing can be made, or any creature changed or transmuted into another species or appearance, except by the Creator himself, is undoubtedly an infidel, and worse than a pagan." (Council of Orange.) See St. Augustine, q. 21, de Trin. iii. 7; St. Thomas Aquinas, 2, 2, 9, 17, a 2.
The devil deceived the senses of the beholders; or brought real serpents, &c., thither. (Menochius)
Ver. 12. Devoured. Thus the superiority remained with Aaron. The rod was then restored to its pristine form, ver. 15. (Haydock)**
Seems I was right, after all. At least can be right.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
Ember Wednesday of Pentecost
11 / VI / 2014
* I Pars, Question 114. The assaults of the demons
Article 4. Whether demons can lead men astray by means of real miracles?
** Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.
EXODUS - Chapter 7