Exodus 10

CHAPTER X

Moses is again sent to Pharaoh, and expostulates with him on

his refusal to let the Hebrews go, 1-3.

The eighth plague, viz., of locusts, is threatened, 4.

The extent and oppressive nature of this plague, 5, 6.

Pharaoh's servants counsel him to dismiss the Hebrews, 7.

He calls for Moses and Aaron, and inquires who they are of

the Hebrews who wish to go, 8.

Moses having answered that the whole people, with their flocks

and herds must go and hold a feast to the Lord, 9,

Pharaoh is enraged, and having granted permission only to the

men, drives Moses and Aaron from his presence, 10, 11.

Moses is commanded to stretch out his hand and bring the

locusts, 12.

He does so, and an east wind is sent, which, blowing all that

day and night, brings the locusts the next morning, 13.

The devastation occasioned by these insects, 14, 15.

Pharaoh is humbled, acknowledges his sin, and begs Moses to

intercede with Jehovah for him, 16, 17.

Moses does so, and at his request a strong west wind is sent,

which carries all the locusts to the Red Sea, 18, 19.

Pharaoh's heart is again hardened, 20.

Moses is commanded to bring the ninth plague of extraordinary

darkness over all the land of Egypt, 21.

The nature, duration, and effects of this, 22, 23.

Pharaoh, again humbled, consents to let the people go, provided

they leave their cattle behind, 24.

Moses insists on having all their cattle, because of the

sacrifices which they must make to the Lord, 25, 26.

Pharaoh, again hardened, refuses, 27.

Orders Moses from his presence, and threatens him with death

should he ever return, 28.

Moses departs with the promise of returning no more, 29.

NOTES ON CHAP. X

Verse 1. Hardened his heart] God suffered his natural

obstinacy to prevail, that he might have farther opportunities of

showing forth his eternal power and Godhead.

Verse 2. That thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son] That the

miracles wrought at this time might be a record for the

instruction of the latest posterity, that Jehovah alone, the God

of the Hebrews, was the sole Maker, Governor, and Supporter of the

heavens and the earth. Thus we find God so did his marvellous

works, that they might be had in everlasting remembrance. It was

not to crush the poor worm, Pharaoh, that he wrought such mighty

wonders, but to convince his enemies, to the end of the world,

that no cunning or power can prevail against him; and to show his

followers that whosoever trusted in him should never be

confounded.

Verse 3. How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself] Had it

been impossible for Pharaoh, in all the preceding plagues, to have

humbled himself and repented can we suppose that God could have

addressed him in such language as the preceding? We may rest

assured that there was always a time in which he might have

relented, and that it was because he hardened his heart at such

times that God is said to harden him, i.e., to give him up to his

own stubborn and obstinate heart; in consequence of which he

refused to let the people go, so that God had a fresh opportunity

to work another miracle, for the very gracious purposes mentioned

in Ex 10:2. Had Pharaoh relented

before, the same gracious ends would have been accomplished by

other means.

The EIGHTH plague-the LOCUSTS

Verse 4. To-morrow will I bring the locusts] The word

arbeh, a locust, is probably from the root rabah, he

multiplied, became great, mighty, &c.; because of the immense

swarms of these animals by which different countries, especially

the east, are infested. The locust, in entomology, belongs to a

genus of insects known among naturalists by the term GRYLLI; and

includes three species, crickets, grasshoppers, and those commonly

called locusts; and as they multiply faster than any other animal

in creation, they are properly entitled to the name arbeh,

which might be translated the numerous or multiplied insect. See

this circumstance referred to,

Jud 6:5; 7:12; Ps 105:34; Jer 46:23; 51:14; Joe 1:6; Na 3:15;

Judith 2:19, 20; where the most numerous armies are compared to

the arbeh or locust. The locust has a large open mouth; and in

its two jaws it has four incisive teeth, which traverse each other

like scissors, being calculated, from their mechanism, to grip or

cut. Mr. Volney, in his Travels in Syria, gives a striking account

of this most awful scourge of God:-

"Syria partakes together with Egypt and Persia, and almost all

the whole middle part of Asia, in the terrible scourge, I mean

those clouds of locusts of which travellers have spoken; the

quantity of which is incredible to any person who has not himself

seen them, the earth being covered by them for several leagues

round. The noise they make in browsing the plants and trees may

be heard at a distance, like an army plundering in secret. Fire

seems to follow their tracks. Wherever their legions march the

verdure disappears from the country, like a curtain drawn aside;

the trees and plants, despoiled of their leaves, make the hideous

appearance of winter instantly succeed to the bright scenes of

spring. When these clouds of locusts take their flight, in order

to surmount some obstacle, or the more rapidly to cross some

desert, one may literally say that the sun is darkened by them."

Baron de Tott gives a similar account: "Clouds of locusts

frequently alight on the plains of the Noguais, (the Tartars,) and

giving preference to their fields of millet, ravage them in an

instant. Their approach darkens the horizon, and so enormous is

their multitude, it hides the light of the sun. They alight on the

fields, and there form a bed of six or seven inches thick. To the

noise of their flight succeeds that of their devouring actively,

which resembles the rattling of hail-stones; but its consequences

are infinitely more destructive. Fire itself eats not so fast; nor

is there any appearance of vegetation to be found when they again

take their flight, and go elsewhere to produce new disasters."

Dr. Shaw, who witnessed most formidable swarms of these in

Barbary in the years 1724 and 1725, gives the following account of

them: "They were much larger than our grasshoppers, and had

brown-spotted wings, with legs and bodies of a bright yellow.

Their first appearance was towards the latter end of March. In

the middle of April their numerous swarms, like a succession of

clouds, darkened the sun. In the month of May they retired to the

adjacent plains to deposit their eggs: these were no sooner

hatched in June than the young brood first produced, while in

their caterpillar or worm-like state, formed themselves into a

compact body of more than a furlong square, and, marching directly

forward, climbed over trees, walls, and houses, devouring every

plant in their way. Within a day or two another brood was

hatched, and advancing in the same manner, gnawed off the young

branches and bark of the trees left by the former, making a

complete desolation. The inhabitants, to stop their progress,

made a variety of pits and trenches all over their fields and

gardens, which they filled with water, or else heaped up therein

heath, stubble, &c., which they set on fire; but to no purpose:

for the trenches were quickly filled up and the fires

extinguished, by infinite swarms succeeding one another; while the

front seemed regardless of danger, and the rear pressed on so

close that retreat was altogether impossible. In a month's time

they threw off their worm-like state; and in a new form, with

wings and legs, and additional powers, returned to their former

voracity."-Shaw's Travels, 187. 188, 4to edition.

The descriptions given by these travellers show that God's army,

described by the Prophet Joel, Joe 2:1-11, was innumerable swarms

of locusts, to which the accounts given by Dr. Shaw and others

exactly agree.

Verse 5. They shall cover the face of the earth] They sometimes

cover the whole ground to the depth of six or eight inches. See

the preceding accounts.

Verse 6. They shall fill thy houses] Dr. Shaw mentions this

circumstance; "they entered," says he, "Into our very houses and

bed-chambers, like so many thieves."-Ibid. p. 187.

Verse 7. How long shall this man be a snare unto us?] As there

is no noun in the text, the pronoun zeh may either refer to the

Israelites, to the plague by which they were then afflicted, or to

Moses and Aaron, the instruments used by the Most High in their

chastisement. The Vulgate translates, Usquequo patiemur hoc

scandalum? "How long shall we suffer this scandal or reproach?"

Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God] Much of

the energy of several passages is lost in translating Yehovah

by the term Lord. The Egyptians had their gods, and they supposed

that the Hebrews had a god like unto their own; that this Jehovah

required their services, and would continue to afflict Egypt till

his people were permitted to worship him in his own way.

Egypt is destroyed?] This last plague had nearly ruined the

whole land.

Verse 8. Who are they that shall go?] Though the Egyptians,

about fourscore years before, wished to destroy the Hebrews, yet

they found them now so profitable to the state that they were

unwilling to part with them.

Verse 9. We will go with our young and with our old, &c.] As a

feast was to be celebrated to the honour of Jehovah, all who were

partakers of his bounty and providential kindness must go and

perform their part in the solemnity. The men and the women must

make the feast, the children must witness it, and the cattle must

be taken along with them to furnish the sacrifices necessary on

this occasion. This must have appeared reasonable to the

Egyptians, because it was their own custom in their religious

assemblies. Men, women, and children attended them, often to the

amount of several hundred thousand. Herodotus informs us, in

speaking of the six annual feasts celebrated by the Egyptians in

honour of their deities, that they hold their chief one at the

city of Bubastis in honour of Neith or Diana; that they go thither

by water in boats-men, women, and children; that during their

voyage some of the women play on castanets, and some of the men

upon flutes, while the rest are employed in singing and clapping

their hands; and that, when they arrive at Bubastis, they

sacrifice a vast number of victims, and drink much wine; and that

at one such festival, the inhabitants assured him, that there were

not assembled fewer than 700,000 men and women, without reckoning

the children.-Euterpe, chap. lix., lx. I find that the ancient

Egyptians called Diana Neith; this comes as near as possible to

the Gaile of the Isle of Man. The moon is called yn neith or

neath; and also ke-sollus, from ke, smooth or even, and

sollus, light, the SMOOTH LIGHT; perhaps to distinguish her from

the sun, grian, from gri-tien or cri-tien, i.e., TREMBLING FIRE;

yn neith-easya, as Macpherson has it, signifies wan complexion.

I should rather incline to think it may come from aise. The

Celtic nations thought that the heavenly luminaries were the

residences of spirits which they distinguished by the name of

aise, thus grian-ais signifies the spirit of the sun.

Moses and Aaron, requesting liberty for the Hebrews to go three

days' journey into the wilderness, and with them all their wives,

little ones, and cattle, in order to hold a feast unto Jehovah

their God, must have at least appeared as reasonable to the

Egyptians as their going to the city of Bubastis with their wives,

little ones, and cattle, to hold a feast to Neith or Diana, who

was there worshipped. The parallel in these two cases is too

striking to pass unnoticed.

Verse 10. Let the Lord be so with you] This is an obscure

sentence. Some suppose that Pharaoh meant it as a curse, as if he

had said, "May your God be as surely with you, as I shall let you

go!" For as he purposed not to permit them to go, so he wished

them as much of the Divine help as they should have of his

permission.

Look-for evil is before you.] reu ki

raah neged peneychem, See ye that evil is before your faces-if you

attempt to go, ye shall meet with the punishment ye deserve.

Probably Pharaoh intended to insinuate that they had some sinister

designs, and that they wished to go in a body that they might the

better accomplish their purpose; but if they had no such designs

they would be contented for the males to go, and leave their wives

and children behind: for he well knew if the men went and left

their families they would infallibly return, but that if he

permitted them to take their families with them, they would

undoubtedly make their escape; therefore he says, Ex 10:11,

Go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord.

Verse 13. The Lord brought an east wind] As locusts abounded in

those countries, and particularly in AEthiopia, and more

especially at this time of the year, God had no need to create new

swarms for this purpose; all that was requisite was to cause such

a wind to blow as would bring those which already existed over the

land of Egypt. The miracle in this business was the bringing the

locusts at the appointed time, and causing the proper wind to blow

for that purpose; and then taking them away after a similar

manner.

Verse 14. Before them there were no such locusts, &c.] They

exceeded all that went before, or were since, in number, and in

the devastations they produced. Probably both these things are

intended in the passage. See Ex 10:15.

Verse 15. There remained not any green thing]

See Clarke on Ex 10:4.

Verse 17. Forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once] What a

strange case! And what a series of softening and hardening, of

sinning and repenting! Had he not now another opportunity of

returning to God? But the love of gain, and the gratification of

his own self-will and obstinacy, finally prevailed.

Verse 19. A mighty strong west wind] ruach yam,

literally the wind of the sea; the wind that blew from the

Mediterranean Sea, which lay north-west of Egypt, which had the

Red Sea on the east. Here again God works by natural means; he

brought the locusts by the east wind, and took them away by the

west or north-west wind, which carried them to the Red Sea where

they were drowned.

The Red Sea] yam suph, the weedy sea; so called,

as some suppose, from the great quantity of alga or sea-weed which

grows in it and about its shores. But Mr. Bruce, who has sailed

the whole extent of it, declares that he never saw in it a weed of

any kind; and supposes it has its name suph from the vast quantity

of coral which grows in it, as trees and plants do on land. "One

of these," he observes, "from a root nearly central, threw out

ramifications in a nearly circular form measuring twenty-six feet

diameter every way."-Travels, vol. ii., p. 138. In the Septuagint

it is called θαλασσαερυθρα, the Red Sea, from which version we

have borrowed the name; and Mr. Bruce supposes that it had this

name from Edom or Esau, whose territories extended to its coasts;

for it is well known that the word Edom in Hebrew signifies

red or ruddy. The Red Sea, called also the Arabic Gulf,

separates Arabia from Upper AEthiopia and part of Egypt. It is

computed to be three hundred and fifty leagues in length from Suez

to the Straits of Babelmandel, and is about forty leagues in

breadth. It is not very tempestuous, and the winds usually blow

from north to south, and from south to north, six months in the

year; and, like the monsoons of India, invariably determine the

seasons of sailing into or out of this sea. It is divided into

two gulfs: that to the east called the Elanitic Gulf, from the

city of Elana to the north end of it; and that to the west called

the Heroopolitan Gulf, from the city of Heroopolis; the former of

which belongs to Arabia, the latter to Egypt. The Heroopolitan

Gulf is called by the Arabians Bahr el Kolzum, the sea of

destruction, or of Clysmae, an ancient town in that quarter; and

the Elanitic Gulf Bahr el Akaba, the sea of Akaba, a town situated

on its most inland point.

The NINTH plague-THICK DARKNESS

Verse 21. Darkness which may be felt.] Probably this was

occasioned by a superabundance of aqueous vapours floating in the

atmosphere, which were so thick as to prevent the rays of the sun

from penetrating through them; an extraordinarily thick mist

supernaturally, i.e., miraculously, brought on. An awful emblem

of the darkened state of the Egyptians and their king.

Verse 23. They saw not one another] So deep was the obscurity,

and probably such was its nature, that no artificial light could

be procured; as the thick clammy vapours would prevent lamps, &c.,

from burning, or if they even could be ignited, the light through

the palpable obscurity, could diffuse itself to no distance from

the burning body. The author of the book of Wisdom, chap. xvii.

2-19, gives a fearful description of this plague. He says, "The

Egyptians were shut up in their houses, the prisoners of darkness:

and were fettered with the bonds of a long night. They were

scattered under a dark veil of forgetfulness, being horribly

astonished and troubled with strange apparitions; for neither

might the corner that held them keep them from fear; but noises as

of waters falling down sounded about them; and sad visions

appeared unto them with heavy countenances. No power of the fire

could give them light-only there appeared unto them a fire kindled

of itself very dreadful; for being much terrified, they thought

the things which they saw to be worse than the sight they saw not.

For though no terrible thing did scare them, yet being scared

with beasts that passed by, and hissing of serpents, they died for

fear: for whether he were husbandman, or shepherd, or a labourer

in the field, he was overtaken; for they were all bound with one

chain of darkness. Whether it were a whistling wind, or a

terrible sound of stones cast down, or a running that could not be

seen of tripping beasts, or a roaring voice of most savage wild

beasts, or a rebounding echo from the hollow mountains, these

things made them to swoon for fear." See Ps 78:49.

To this description nothing need be added except this

circumstance, that the darkness, with its attendant horrors,

lasted for three days.

All the children of Israel had light] By thus distinguishing

the Israelites, God showed the Egyptians that the darkness was

produced by his power; that he sent it in judgment against them

for their cruelty to his people; that because they trusted in him

they were exempted from these plagues; that in the displeasure of

such a Being his enemies had every thing to fear, and in his

approbation his followers had every thing to hope.

Verse 24. Only let your flocks and your herds be stayed]

Pharaoh cannot get all he wishes; and as he sees it impossible to

contend with Jehovah, he now consents to give up the Israelites,

their wives and their children, provided he may keep their flocks

and their herds. The cruelty of this demand is not more evident

than its avarice. Had six hundred thousand men, besides women and

children, gone three days' journey into the wilderness without

their cattle, they must have inevitably perished, being without

milk for their little ones, and animal food for their own

sustenance, in a place where little as a substitute could possibly

be found. It is evident from this that Pharaoh intended the total

destruction of the whole Israelitish host.

Verse 26. We know not with what we must serve the Lord, &c.]

The law was not yet given; the ordinances concerning the different

kinds of sacrifices and offerings not known. What kind and what

number of animals God should require to be sacrificed, even

Moses himself could not as yet tell. He therefore very properly

insists on taking the whole of their herds with them, and not

leaving even one hoof behind.

Verse 27. The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart] He had yet another

miracle to work for the complete conviction of the Egyptians and

triumph of his people; and till that was wrought he permitted the

natural obstinacy of Pharaoh's haughty heart to have its full

sway, after each resistance of the gracious influence which was

intended to soften and bring him to repentance.

Verse 28. See my face no more] Hitherto Pharaoh had left the

way open for negotiation; but now, in wrath against Jehovah, he

dismisses his ambassador, and threatens him with death if he

should attempt any more to come into his presence.

Verse 29. I will see thy face again no more.] It is very likely

that this was the last interview that Moses had with Pharaoh, for

what is related, Ex 11:4-8, might have been spoken on this very

occasion, as it is very possible that God gave Moses to understand

his purpose to slay the first-born, while before Pharaoh at this

time; so, in all probability, the interview mentioned here was the

last which Moses had with the Egyptian king. It is true that in

Ex 12:31 it is stated that Pharaoh

called for Moses and Aaron by night, and ordered them to leave

Egypt, and to take all their substance with them, which seems to

imply that there was another interview, but the words may imply no

more than that Moses and Aaron received such a message from

Pharaoh. If, however, this mode of interpreting these passages

should not seem satisfactory to any, he may understand the words

of Moses thus: I will see thy face-seek thy favour, no more in

behalf of my people, which was literally true; for if Moses did

appear any more before Pharaoh, it was not as a supplicant, but

merely as the ambassador of God, to denounce his judgments by

giving him the final determination of Jehovah relative to the

destruction of the first-born.

1. To the observations at the conclusion of the preceding

chapter, we may add that at first view it seems exceedingly

strange that, after all the proofs Pharaoh had of the power of

God, he should have acted in the manner related in this and the

preceding chapters, alternately sinning and repenting; but it is

really a common case, and multitudes who condemn the conduct of

this miserable Egyptian king, act in a similar manner. They relent

when smarting under God's judgments, but harden their hearts when

these judgments are removed. Of this kind I have witnessed

numerous cases. To such God says by his prophet, Why should ye be

stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more. Reader, are not

the vows of God upon thee? Often when afflicted in thyself or

family hast thou not said like Pharaoh, (Ex 10:17,)

Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only THIS ONCE, and

take away from me this death ONLY? And yet when thou hadst

respite, didst thou not harden thy heart, and with returning

health and strength didst thou not return unto iniquity? And art

thou not still in the broad road of transgression? Be not

deceived; God is not mocked; he warns thee, but he will not be

mocked by thee. What thou sowest, that thou must reap. Think

then what a most dreadful harvest thou mayest expect from the

seeds of vice which thou hast already sown!

2. Even in the face of God's judgments the spirit of avarice

will make its requisitions. Only let your flocks and your herds be

stayed, says Pharaoh. The love of gain was the ruling principle

of this man's soul, and he chooses desperately to contend with the

justice of his Maker, rather than give up his bosom sin! Reader,

is this not thy own case? And art thou not ready, with Pharaoh,

to say to the messenger of God, who rebukes thee for thy worldly

mindedness, &c., Get thee gone from me. Take heed to thyself, and

see my face no more. Esau and Pharaoh have both got a very bad

name, and many persons who are repeating their crimes are the

foremost to cover them with obloquy! When shall we learn to look

at home? to take warning by the miscarriages of others, and thus

shun the pit into which we have seen so many fall? If God were to

give the history of every man who hardens himself from his fear,

how many Pharaoh-like cases should we have on record! But a day

is coming in which the secrets of every heart shall be revealed,

and the history of every man's life laid open to an assembled

world.

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