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Jannes and Jambres
by Wayne Blank
Jannes and Jambres are mentioned only once in The Bible, by the apostle Paul in the second epistle to Timothy. Although they are not identified by name in the Old Testament, Rabbinic tradition holds that Jannes and Jambres were, or were among, the magicians who opposed Moses and Aaron at the time of the Exodus. The tradition would certainly be valid, otherwise Paul, while writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, would not have made it a part of the New Testament record.
Jannes and Jambres obviously had "miraculous" powers, but unlike Moses and Aaron who were empowered by God, the Pharaoh's magicians were fraudulent and/or Satanic.
"So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh [see Who Was The Exodus Pharaoh?] and did as The Lord [see Rock Of Ages] commanded; Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. For every man cast down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods." (Exodus 7:10-12 RSV)
"Moses and Aaron did as The Lord commanded; in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, he lifted up the rod and struck the water that was in the Nile [see The Nile River], and all the water that was in the Nile turned to blood [see The Ten Plagues]. And the fish in the Nile died; and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts; so Pharaoh's heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them; as The Lord had said." (Exodus 7:20-22 RSV)
"So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts, and brought frogs upon the land of Egypt." (Exodus 8:6-7 RSV)
Gnats - and the magicians admit defeat
"Then The Lord said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your rod and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.'" And they did so; Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and struck the dust of the earth, and there came gnats on man and beast; all the dust of the earth became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried by their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. And the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." (Exodus 8:16-19 RSV)
Fact Finder: What does the Holy Bible have to say about sorcery and witchcraft?