Exodus 11

CHAPTER XI

God purposes to bring another plague upon Pharaoh, after

which he should let the Israelites go, 1.

They are commanded to ask gold and silver from the Egyptians, 2.

The estimation in which Moses was held among the Egyptians, 3.

Moses predicts the destruction of the first-born of the

Egyptians, 4-6,

and Israel's protection, 7.

On seeing which, Pharaoh and his servants should entreat

the Hebrews to depart, 8.

The prediction of his previous obstinacy, 9, 10.

NOTES ON CHAP. XI

Verse 1. The Lord said unto Moses] Calmet contends that this

should be read in the preterpluperfect tense, for the Lord HAD

said to Moses, as the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth

verses appear to have been spoken when Moses had the interview

with Pharaoh mentioned in the preceding chapter;

See Clarke on Ex 10:29.

If therefore this chapter be connected with the preceding, as it

should be, and the first three verses not only read in the past

tense but also in a parenthesis, the sense will be much more

distinct and clear than it now appears.

Verse 2. Let every man borrow] For a proper correction of the

strange mistranslation of the word shaal in this verse,

See Clarke on Ex 3:22.

Verse 3. The man Moses was very great] The miracles which

Pharaoh and his servants had already seen him work had doubtless

impressed them with a high opinion of his wisdom and power. Had he

not appeared in their sight as a very extraordinary person, whom

it would have been very dangerous to molest, we may naturally

conclude that some violence would long ere this have been offered

to his person.

Verse 4. About midnight will I go out] Whether God did this by

the ministry of a good or of an evil angel is a matter of little

importance, though some commentators have greatly magnified it.

Both kinds of angels are under his power and jurisdiction, and he

may employ them as he pleases. Such a work of destruction as the

slaying of the first-born is supposed to be more proper for a bad

than for a good angel. But the works of God's justice are not

less holy and pure than the works of his mercy; and the highest

archangel may, with the utmost propriety, be employed in either.

Verse 5. The first-born of Pharaoh, &c.] From the heir to the

Egyptian throne to the son of the most abject slave, or the

principal person in each family. See Clarke on Ex 12:29.

The maid-servant that is behind the mill] The meanest slaves

were employed in this work. In many parts of the east they still

grind all their corn with a kind of portable mill-stones, the

upper one of which is turned round by a sort of lever fixed in the

rim. A drawing of one of these machines as used in China is now

before me, and the person who grinds is represented as pushing the

lever before him, and thus running round with the stone. Perhaps

something like this is intended by the expression BEHIND the mill

in the text. On this passage Dr. Shaw has the following

observation:-"Most families grind their wheat and barley at home,

having two portable mill-stones for that purpose, the uppermost of

which is turned round by a small handle of wood or iron that is

placed in the rim. When this stone is large, or expedition

required, a second person is called in to assist; and as it is

usual for women alone to be concerned in this employment, who seat

themselves over against each other with the mill-stone between

them, we may see, not only the propriety of the expression

(Ex 11:5) of

sitting behind the mill, but the force of another, (Mt 24:41,)

that two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be

taken, and the other left."-Travels, p. 231, 4to edit. These

portable mills, under the name of querns, were used among our

ancestors in this and the sister kingdoms, and some of them are in

use to the present day. Both the instrument and its name our

forefathers seem to have borrowed from the continent. They have

long existed among the inhabitants of Shetland, Iceland, Norway,

Denmark, &c.

Verse 6. There shall be a great cry] Of the dying and for the

dead. See more on this subject, Ex 12:30.

Verse 7. Not a dog move his tongue] This passage has been

generally understood as a proverbial expression, intimating that

the Israelites should not only be free from this death, but that

they should depart without any kind of molestation. For though

there must be much bustle and comparative confusion in the sudden

removal of six hundred thousand persons with their wives,

children, goods, cattle, &c., yet this should produce so little

alarm that even the dogs should not bark at them, which it would

be natural to expect, as the principal stir was to be about

midnight.

After giving this general explanation from others, I may be

permitted to hazard a conjecture of my own. And, 1. Is it not

probable that the allusion is here made to a well-known custom of

dogs howling when any mortality is in a village, street, or even

house, where such animals are? There are innumerable instances of

the faithful house-dog howling when a death happens in a family,

as if distressed on the account, feeling for the loss of his

benefactor; but their apparent presaging such an event by their

cries, as some will have it, may be attributed, not to any

prescience, but to the exquisite keenness of their scent. If the

words may be understood in this way, then the great cry through

the whole land of Egypt may refer to this very circumstance: as

dogs were sacred among them, and consequently religiously

preserved, they must have existed in great multitudes. 2. We know

that one of their principal deities was Osiris, whose son,

worshipped under the form of a dog, or a man with a dog's head,

was called Anubis latrator, the barking Anubis. May he not be

represented as deploring a calamity which he had no power to

prevent among his worshippers, nor influence to inflict punishment

upon those who set his deity at naught? Hence while there was a

great cry, tseakah gedolah, throughout all the land of

Egypt, because of the mortality in every house, yet among the

Israelites there was no death, consequently no dog moved his

tongue to howl for their calamity; nor could the object of the

Egyptians' worship inflict any similar punishment on the

worshippers of Jehovah.

In honour of this dog-god there was a city called Anubis in

Egypt, by the Greeks called Cynopolis, the city of the dog, the

same that is now called Menich; in this he had a temple, and dogs,

which were sacred to him, were here fed with consecrated victuals.

Thus, as in the first plagues their magicians were confounded,

so in this last their gods were put to flight. And may not this

be referred to in Ex 12:12, when Jehovah says:

Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment? Should

it be objected, that to consider the passage in this light would

be to acknowledge the being and deity of the fictitious Anubis, it

may be answered, that in the sacred writings it is not an uncommon

thing to see the idol acknowledged in order to show its nullity,

and the more forcibly to express contempt for it, for its

worshippers, and for its worship. Thus Isaiah represents the

Babylonish idols as being endued with sense, bowing down under the

judgments of God, utterly unable to help themselves or their

worshippers, and being a burden to the beasts that carried them:

BEL boweth down, NEBO stoopeth; their idols were upon the beasts

and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy laden; they are a

burden to the weary beast. THEY stoop, they bow down together;

they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into

captivity; Isa 46:1, 2. The case of Elijah and the prophets of

Baal should not be forgotten here; this prophet, by seeming to

acknowledge the reality of Baal's being, though by a strong irony,

poured the most sovereign contempt upon him, his worshippers, and

his worship: And Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud; FOR HE

IS A GOD: either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a

journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked;

1Ki 18:27. See the observations at the end of chap. xii.

See Clarke on Ex 12:51.

The Lord doth put a difference] See on Ex 8:22.

See Clarke on Ex 8:22. And for the variations between the

Hebrew and Samaritan Pentateuch in this place, see at the end of

the chapter. See Clarke on Ex 11:9.

Verse 8. And all these thy servants shall come] A prediction of

what actually took place. See Ex 12:31-33.

Verse 9. Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you] Though shall and

will are both reputed signs of the future tense, and by many

indiscriminately used, yet they make a most essential difference

in composition in a variety of cases. For instance, if we

translate lo yishma, Pharaoh SHALL not hearken, as in

our text, the word shall strongly intimates that it was impossible

for Pharaoh to hearken, and that God had placed him under that

impossibility: but if we translate as we should do, Pharaoh WILL

not hearken, it alters the case most essentially, and agrees

with the many passages in the preceding chapters, where he is said

to have hardened his own heart; as this proves that he, without

any impulsive necessity, obstinately refused to attend to what

Moses said or threatened; and that God took the advantage of this

obstinacy to work another miracle, and thus multiply his wonders

in the land.

Pharaoh WILL not hearken unto you; and because he would not

God hardened his heart-left him to his own obstinacy.

To most critics it is well known that there are in several parts

of the Pentateuch considerable differences between the Hebrew and

Samaritan copies of this work. In this chapter the variations are

of considerable importance, and competent critics have allowed

that the Samaritan text, especially in this chapter, is fuller and

better connected than that of the Hebrew. 1. It is evident that

the eighth verse in the present Hebrew text has no natural

connection with the seventh. For in the seventh verse Moses

delivers to the Israelites what God had commanded him to say: and

in the eighth he appears to continue a direct discourse unto

Pharaoh, though it does not appear when this discourse was begun.

This is quite contrary to the custom of Moses, Who always

particularly notes the commencement of his discourses.

2. It is not likely that the Samaritans have added these

portions, as they could have no private interest to serve by so

doing; and therefore it is likely that these additions were

originally parts of the sacred text, and might have been omitted,

because an ancient copyist found the substance of them in other

places. It must however be granted, that the principal additions

in the Samaritan are repetitions of speeches which exist in the

Hebrew text.

3. The principal part of these additions do not appear to have

been borrowed from any other quarter. Interpolations in general

are easily discerned from the confusion they introduce; but

instead of deranging the sense, the additions here made it much

more apparent; for should these not be admitted it is evident that

something is wanting, without which the connection is

incomplete.-See Calmet. But the reader is still requested to

observe, that the supplementary matter in the Samaritan is

collected from other parts of the Hebrew text; and that the

principal merit of the Samaritan is, that it preserves the words

in a better arrangement.

Dr. Kennicott has entered into this subject at large, and by

printing the two texts in parallel columns, the supplementary

matter in the Samaritan and the hiatus in the Hebrew text will be

at once perceived. It is well known that he preferred the

Samaritan to the Hebrew Pentateuch; and his reasons for that

preference in this case I shall subjoin. As the work is extremely

scarce from which I select them, one class of readers especially

will be glad to meet with them in this place.

"Within these five chapters. vii., viii., ix., x., and xi., are

seven very great differences between the Hebrew and Samaritan

Pentateuchs, relating to the speeches which denounced seven out of

the ten judgments upon the Egyptians, viz., waters into blood,

frogs, flies, murrain, hail, locusts and destruction of the

first-born. The Hebrew text gives the speeches concerning these

judgments only once at each; but the Samaritan gives each speech

TWICE. In the Hebrew we have the speeches concerning the five

first as in command from GOD to Moses, without reading that Moses

delivered them; and concerning the two last, as delivered by Moses

to Pharaoh, without reading that GOD had commanded them. Whereas

in the Samaritan we find every speech TWICE: GOD commands Moses to

go and speak thus or thus before Pharaoh; Moses goes and denounces

the judgment; Pharaoh disobeys, and the judgment takes place. All

this is perfectly regular, and exactly agreeable to the double

speeches of Homer in very ancient times. I have not the least

doubt that the Hebrew text now wants many words in each of the

seven following places: chap. vii., between verses 18 and 19;

Ex 7:18-19 end of chap. vii.; Ex 7:25 chap. viii., between

19 and 20; Ex 8:19-20 chap. x., between 2 and 3; Ex 10:2-3

chap. xi., at verses 3 and 4. Ex 11:3-4 The reader will permit

me to refer him (for all the words thus omitted) to my own edition

of the Hebrew Bible, (Oxford 1780, 2 vols. fol.,) where the whole

differences are most clearly described. As this is a matter of

very extensive consequence, I cannot but observe here, that the

present Hebrew text of Exod. xi. did formerly, and does still

appear to me to furnish a demonstration against itself, in proof

of the double speech being formerly recorded there, as it is now

in the Samaritan. And some very learned men have confessed the

impossibility of explaining this chapter without the assistance of

the Samaritan Pentateuch. I shall now give this important chapter

as I presume it stood originally, distinguishing by italics all

such words as are added to or differ from our present translation.

And before this chapter must be placed the two last verses of the

chapter preceding, Ex 10:28-29:

And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to

thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face

thou shalt die. And Moses said, Thou hast well spoken, I will see

thy face again no more.

EXODUS XI

HEBREW TEXT AND PRESENT � SAMARITAN TEXT AND

VERSION � NEW VERSION

1. And the Lord said � 1. Then Jehovah said

unto Moses, Yet will I �unto Moses, Yet will I

bring one plague more �bring one plague more

upon Pharaoh and upon �upon Pharaoh and upon

Egypt, afterwards he �Egypt, and afterwards he

will let you go hence: �will send you out hence:

when he shall let you go,�when he will send you

he shall surely thrust �away, he will surely

you out hence altogether.�drive you hence

�altogether.

2. Speak now in the � 2. Speak now in the

ears of the people; and �ears of the people; and

let every man BORROW of �let every man ASK of his

his neighbour, and every �neighbour, and every

woman of her neighbour, �woman of her neighbour,

jewels of silver, and �vessels of silver, and

jewels of gold. �vessels of gold and

raiment.

3. And the LORD GAVE � 3. And I will give

the people favour in the �this people favour in

sight of the Egyptians. �the sight of the

�Egyptians, so that they

shall give them what

they ask.

� 4. For about midnight

I wilt go forth into the

midst of the land of

Egypt.

� 5. And every first-born

in the land of Egypt

shalt die, from the

first-born of Pharaoh who

sitteth upon his throne,

unto the first-born of

the maid-servant that is

behind the mill; and even

unto the first-born of

every beast.

� 6. And there shall be a

great cry through all the

land of Egypt, such as

there was none like it,

nor shall be like it any

more.

� 7. But against any of

the children of Israel

shall not a dog move his

tongue, against man or

even against beast; that

thou mayest know that

Jehovah doth put a

difference between the

Egyptians and Israel.

Moreover the man Moses � 8. And thou also shalt

was very great in the �be greatly honoured in

land of Egypt, in the �the land of Egypt, in

sight of Pharaoh's �the sight of Pharaoh's

servants, and in the �servants, and in the

sight of the people. �sight of the people.

� 9. THEN Moses said unto

Pharaoh, Thus saith

Jehovah, Israel is my

son, my first-born; and

I said unto thee, Let my

son go that he may serve

me.

� 10. But thou hast

refused to let him go;

behold, Jehovah slayeth

thy son, thy first-born.

4. And Moses said, Thus� 11. And Moses said,

saith the Lord, About �Thus saith Jehovah,

midnight will I go out �About midnight will I go

into the midst of Egypt. �forth into the midst of

the land of Egypt.

5. And all the � 12. And every first-

first-born in the land �born in the land of Egypt

of Egypt shall die, from �shall die, from the

the first-born of Pharaoh�first-born of Pharaoh

that sitteth upon his �that sitteth upon his

throne, even unto the �throne, unto the first-

first-born of the �born of the maid-servant

maid-servant that is �that is behind the mill;

behind the mill-and all �and even unto the first-

the first-born of beasts.�born of every beast.

6. And there shall be � 13. And there shall be

a great cry through all �a great cry through all

the land of Egypt, such �the land of Egypt, such

as there was none like �as there was none like

it, nor shall be like it �it, nor shall be like it

any more. �any more.

7. But against any of � 14. But against any of

the children of Israel �the children of Israel

shall not a dog move his �shall not a dog move his

tongue, against man or �tongue, against man or

beast; that ye may know �even against beast: that

how that the Lord doth �thou mayest know that

put a difference between �the Lord doth put a

the Egyptians and Israel.�difference between the

�Egyptians and Israel.

8. And all these thy � 15. And all these thy

servants shall come down �servants shall come down

unto me, and bow down �to me, and bow down

themselves unto me, �themselves to me, saying,

saying, Get thee out �Go forth, thou and all

and all the people that �the people that follow

follow thee; and after �thee; and then I will go

that I will go out. And �forth.

he went out from Pharaoh � 16. Then went he forth

in great anger. �from before Pharaoh in

�great indignation.

9. And the Lord said � 17. And Jehovah said

unto Moses, Pharaoh shall�unto Moses, Pharaoh

not hearken unto you, �doth not hearken unto

that my wonders may be �you, that my wonders

multiplied in the land of�may be multiplied in the

Egypt. �land of Egypt.

10. And Moses and Aaron� 18. And Moses and Aaron

did all these wonders �performed all these

before Pharaoh: and the �wonders before Pharaoh:

Lord hardened Pharoah's �but Jehovah hardened

heart, so that he would �Pharaoh's heart, so that

not let the children of �he would not let the

Israel go out of his �children of Israel go out

land. �of his land.

"The reader has now the whole of this chapter before him. When,

therefore, he has first read the 28th and 29th verses of the

preceding chapter, and has then observed with due surprise the

confusion of the Hebrew text in chap. xi., he will be prepared to

acknowledge with due gratitude the regularity and truth of the

Samaritan text, through these many and very considerable

differences."-REMARKS on select passages in the Old Testament,

8vo., Oxford, 1787.

The reader will pass his own judgment on the weight of this

reasoning, and the importance of the additions preserved in the

Samaritan text; a conviction of their utility has induced me to

insert them.

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