Exodus 12

CHAPTER XII

The month Abib is to be considered as the commencement of

the year, 1, 2.

The PASSOVER instituted; the lamb or kid to be used on the

occasion to be taken from the flock the tenth day of the

month, and each family to provide one, 3, 4.

The lamb or kid to be a male of the first year without

blemish, 5.

To be killed on the fourteenth day, 6,

and the blood to be sprinkled on the side posts and lintels

of the doors, 7.

The flesh to be prepared by roasting, and not to be eaten

either sodden or raw, 8, 9;

and no part of it to be left till the morning, 10.

The people to eat it with their loins girded, &c., as persons

prepared for a journey, 11.

Why called the PASSOVER, 12.

The blood sprinkled on the door posts, &c., to be a token to

them of preservation from the destroying angel, 13.

The fourteenth day of the month Abib to be a feast for ever,

14.

Unleavened bread to be eaten seven days, 15.

This also to be observed in all their generations for ever, 17-20.

Moses instructs the elders of Israel how they are to offer

the lamb and sprinkle his blood, and for what purpose, 21-23.

He binds them to instruct their children in the nature of

this rite, 24-27.

The children of Israel act as commanded, 28.

All the first-born of Egypt slain, 29, 30.

Pharaoh and the Egyptians urge Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites

to depart, 31-33.

They prepare for their departure, and get gold, silver, and

raiment from the Egyptians, 34-36.

They journey from Rameses to Succoth, in number six hundred

thousand men, besides women and children, and a mixed multitude,

37, 38.

They bake unleavened cakes of the dough they brought with them

out of Egypt, 39.

The time in which they sojourned in Egypt, 40-42.

Different ordinances concerning the PASSOVER, 43-49;

which are all punctually observed by the people, who are brought

out of Egypt the same day, 50, 51.

NOTES ON CHAP. XII

Verse 2. This month shall be unto you the beginning of months]

It is supposed that God now changed the commencement of the

Jewish year. The month to which this verse refers, the month

Abib, answers to a part of our March and April; whereas it is

supposed that previously to this the year began with Tisri, which

answers to a part of our September; for in this month the Jews

suppose God created the world, when the earth appeared at once

with all its fruits in perfection. From this circumstance the

Jews have formed a twofold commencement of the year, which has

given rise to a twofold denomination of the year itself, to which

they afterwards attended in all their reckonings: that which began

with Tisri or September was called their civil year; that which

began with Abib or March was called the sacred or

ecclesiastical year.

As the exodus of the Israelites formed a particular era, which

is referred to in Jewish reckonings down to the building of the

temple, I have marked it as such in the chronology in the margin;

and shall carry it down to the time in which it ceased to be

acknowledged.

Some very eminently learned men dispute this; and especially

Houbigant, who contends with great plausibility of argument that

no new commencement of the year is noted in this place; for that

the year had always begun in this month, and that the words shall

be, which are inserted by different versions, have nothing

answering to them in the Hebrew, which he renders literally thus.

Hic mensis vobis est caput mensium; hic vobis primus est anni

mensis. "This month is to you the head or chief of the months; it

is to you the first month of the year." And he observes farther

that God only marks it thus, as is evident from the context, to

show the people that this month, which was the beginning of their

year, should be so designated as to point out to their posterity

on what month and on what day of the month they were to celebrate

the passover and the fast of unleavened bread. Hi words are these:

"Ergo superest, et Hebr. ipso ex contextu efficitur, non hic novi

ordinis annum constitui, sed eum anni mensem, qui esset primus,

ideo commemorari, ut posteris constaret, quo mense, et quo die

mensis paseha et azyma celebranda essent."

Verse 3. In the tenth day of this month] In after times they

began their preparation on the thirteenth day or day before the

PASSOVER, which was not celebrated till the fourteenth day, see

Ex 12:6: but on the present occasion, as this was their first

passover, they probably required more time to get ready in; as a

state of very great confusion must have prevailed at this time.

Mr. Ainsworth remarks that on this day the Israelites did

afterwards go through Jordan into the land of Canaan; Jos 4:19.

And Christ, our Paschal Lamb, on this day entered Jerusalem,

riding on an ass; the people bearing palm branches, and crying,

Hosanna, Joh 12:1, 12, 13, &c.: and in him this type was truly

fulfilled.

A lamb] The original word seh signifies the young of sheep

and of goats, and may be indifferently translated either lamb or

kid. See Ex 12:5.

A lamb for a house] The whole host of Israel was divided into

twelve tribes, these tribes into families, the families into

houses, and the houses into particular persons; Num. i.,

Jos 7:14.

-Ainsworth.

Verse 4. If the household be too little] That is, if there be

not persons enough in one family to eat a whole lamb, then two

families must join together. The rabbins allow that there should

be at least ten persons to one paschal lamb, and not more than

twenty.

Take it, according to the number of the souls] The persons who

were to eat of it were to be first ascertained, and then the lamb

was to be slain and dressed for that number.

Verse 5. Without blemish] Having no natural imperfection, no

disease, no deficiency or redundancy of parts. On this point the

rabbins have trifled most egregiously, reckoning fifty blemishes

that render a lamb or kid, or any animal, improper to be

sacrificed: five in the ear, three in the eyelid, eight in the

eye, three in the nose, six in the mouth, &c., &c.

A male of the first year] That is, any age in the first year

between eight days and twelve months.

From the sheep, or from the goats] The seh means either;

and either was equally proper if without blemish. The Hebrews

however in general preferred the lamb to the kid.

Verse 6. Ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day] The lamb

or kid was to be taken from the flock on the tenth day, and kept

up and fed by itself till the fourteenth day, when it was to be

sacrificed. This was never commanded nor practised afterwards.

The rabbins mark four things that were required in the first

passover that were never required afterwards: 1. The eating of the

lamb in their houses dispersed through Goshen. 2. The taking the

lamb on the tenth day. 3. The striking of its blood on the door

posts and lintels of their houses. And, 4. Their eating it in

haste. These things were not required of the succeeding

generations.

The whole assembly-shall kill it] Any person might kill it, the

sacrificial act in this case not being confined to the priests.

In the evening] beyn haarbayim, "between the two

evenings." The Jews divided the day into morning and evening:

till the sun passed the meridian all was morning or fore-noon;

after that, all was afternoon or evening. Their first evening

began just after twelve o'clock, and continued till sunset; their

second evening began at sunset and continued till night, i.e.,

during the whole time of twilight; between twelve o'clock,

therefore, and the termination of twilight, the passover was to be

offered.

"The day among the Jews had twelve hours, Joh 11:9. Their

first hour was about six o'clock in the morning with us. Their

sixth hour was our noon. Their ninth hour answered to our three

o'clock in the afternoon. By this we may understand that the time

in which Christ was crucified began at the third hour, that is, at

nine o'clock in the morning, the ordinary time for the daily

morning sacrifice, and ended at the ninth hour, that is, three

o'clock in the afternoon, the time of the evening sacrifice,

Mr 15:25, 33, 34, 37. Wherefore their

ninth hour was their hour of prayer, when they used to go into

the temple at the daily evening sacrifice, Ac 3:1; and this was

the ordinary time for the passover. It is worthy of remark that

God sets no particular hour for the killing of the passover: any

time between the two evenings, i.e., between twelve o'clock in the

day and the termination of twilight, was lawful. The daily

sacrifice (see Ex 29:38, 39) was killed at

half past the eighth hour, that is, half an hour BEFORE three in

the afternoon; and it was offered up at half past the ninth hour,

that is, half an hour AFTER three. In the evening of the

passover it was killed at half past the seventh hour, and offered

at half past the eighth, that is, half an hour BEFORE three:

and if the evening of the passover fell on the evening of the

Sabbath, it was killed at half past the SIXTH hour, and offered at

half past the SEVENTH, that is, half an hour BEFORE two in the

afternoon. The reason of this was, they were first obliged to

kill the daily sacrifice, and then to kill and roast the paschal

lamb, and also to rest the evening before the passover. Agreeably

to this Maimonides says 'the killing of the passover is after

mid-day, and if they kill it before it is not lawful; and they do

not kill it till after the daily evening sacrifice, and burning of

incense: and after they have trimmed the lamps they begin to kill

the paschal lambs until the end of the day.' By this time of the

day God foreshowed the sufferings of Christ in the evening of

times or in the last days, Heb 1:2; 1Pe 1:19,20: and about the

same time of the day, when the paschal lamb ordinarily died, HE

died also, viz., at the ninth hour; Mt 27:46-50." See

Ainsworth.

Verse 7. Take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts]

This was to be done by dipping a bunch of hyssop into the blood,

and thus sprinkling it upon the posts, &c.; see Ex 12:22. That

this sprinkling of the blood of the paschal lamb was an emblem of

the sacrifice and atonement made by the death of Jesus Christ, is

most clearly intimated in the sacred writings, 1Pe 1:2;

Heb 9:13, 14; 8:10. It is remarkable that no blood was to be

sprinkled on the threshold, to teach, as Mr. Ainsworth properly

observes, a reverent regard for the blood of Christ, that men

should not tread under foot the Son of GOD, nor count the blood of

the covenant wherewith they were sanctified an unholy thing;

Heb 10:29.

Verse 8. They shall eat the flesh-roast with fire] As it was

the ordinary custom of the Jews to boil their flesh, some think

that the command given here was in opposition to the custom of the

Egyptians, who ate raw flesh in honour of Osiris. The AEthiopians

are to this day remarkable for eating raw flesh, as is the case

with most savage nations.

Unleavened bread] matstsoth, from matsah, to

squeeze or compress, because the bread prepared without leaven

or yeast was generally compressed, sad or heavy, as we term it.

The word here properly signifies unleavened cakes; the word for

leaven in Hebrew is chamets, which simply signifies to

ferment. It is supposed that leaven was forbidden on this and

other occasions, that the bread being less agreeable to the taste,

it might be emblematical of their bondage and bitter servitude, as

this seems to have been one design of the bitter herbs which were

commanded to be used on this occasion; but this certainly was not

the sole design of the prohibition: leaven itself is a species of

corruption, being produced by fermentation, which in such cases

tends to putrefaction. In this very light St. Paul considers the

subject in this place; hence, alluding to the passover as a type

of Christ, he says: Purge out therefore the old leaven-for Christ

our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the

feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and

wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and

truth; 1Co 5:6-8.

Bitter herbs] What kind of herbs or salad is intended by the

word merorim, which literally signifies bitters, is not

well known. The Jews think chicory, wild lettuce, horehound, and

the like are intended. Whatever may be implied under the term,

whether bitter herbs or bitter ingredients in general, it was

designed to put them in mind of their bitter and severe bondage in

the land of Egypt, from which God was now about to deliver them.

Verse 9. With the purtenance thereof.] All the intestines, for

these were abused by the heathens to purposes of divination; and

when roasted in the manner here directed they could not be thus

used. The command also implies that the lamb was to be roasted

whole; neither the head or legs were to be separated, nor the

intestines removed. I suppose that these last simply included the

heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, &c., and not the intestinal canal.

Verse 10. Ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning]

Merely to prevent putrefaction; for it was not meet that a thing

offered to God should be subjected to corruption, which in such

hot countries it must speedily undergo. Thus the body of our

blessed Lord saw no corruption, Ps 16:10; Ac 2:27, because, like

the paschal lamb, it was a sacrifice offered to God.

It appears that from the Jewish passover the heathens borrowed

their sacrifice termed PROPTER VIAM. It was their custom

previously to their undertaking a journey, to offer a sacrifice to

their gods, and to eat the whole if possible, but if any part was

left they burned it with fire; and this was called propter viam,

because it was made to procure a prosperous journey. It was in

reference to this that Cato is said to have rallied a person

called Q. Albidius, who, having eaten up all his goods, set fire

to his house, his only remaining property. "He has offered his

sacrifice propter viam," says Cato, "because he has burned what he

could not eat." This account is given by Macrobius, Saturn., lib.

ii., 2, edit. Bipont., vol. 1., p. 333; and is a remarkable

instance how closely some of the religious observances of the

people of God have been copied by the heathen nations.

Verse 11. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded]

As in the eastern countries they wear long loose garments,

whenever they travel they tuck up the fore parts of their garments

in the girdle which they wear round their loins.

Your shoes on your feet] This seems particularly mentioned

because not customary. "The easterns throw off their shoes when

they eat, because it would be troublesome," says Sir J. Chardin,

"to keep their shoes upon their feet, they sitting cross-legged on

the floor, and having no hinder quarters to their shoes, which are

made like slippers; and as they do not use tables and chairs as

we do in Europe, but have their floors covered with carpets, they

throw off their shoes when they enter their apartments, lest they

should soil those beautiful pieces of furniture." On the contrary

the Israelites were to have their shoes on, because now about to

commence their journey. It was customary among the Romans to lay

aside their shoes when they went to a banquet. The servants took

them off them when they entered the house, and returned them when

they departed to their own habitations.

Your staff in your hand] The same writer observes that the

eastern people universally make use of a staff when they travel on

foot.

Ye shall eat it in haste] Because they were suddenly to take

their departure: the destroying angel was at hand, their enemies

were coming against them, and they had not a moment to lose.

It is the Lord's passover.] That is, Jehovah is now about to

pass over the land, and the houses only where the blood is

sprinkled shall be safe from the stroke of death. The Hebrew word

pesach, which we very properly translate PASSOVER, and which

should always be pronounced as two words, has its name from the

angel of God passing by or over the houses of the Israelites, on

the posts and lintels of which the blood of the lamb was

sprinkled, while he stopped at the houses of the Egyptians to slay

their first-born.

Verse 12. Against all the gods of Egypt, &c.] As different

animals were sacred among the Egyptians, the slaying of the

first-born of all the beasts might be called executing judgment

upon the gods of Egypt. As this however does not appear very

clear and satisfactory, some have imagined that the word

elohey should be translated princes, which is the rendering in

our margin; for as these princes, who were rulers of the kingdom

under Pharaoh, were equally hostile to the Hebrews with Pharaoh

himself, therefore these judgments fell equally heavy on them

also. But we may ask, Did not these judgments fall equally on all

the families of Egypt, though multitudes of them had no particular

part either in the evil counsel against the Israelites or in their

oppression? Why then distinguish those in calamities in which all

equally shared? None of these interpretations therefore appear

satisfactory. Houbigant, by a very simple and natural emendation,

has, he thinks, restored the whole passage to sense and reason.

He supposes that elohey, GODS, is a mistake for

ahley, TENTS or habitations, the he and the lamed

being merely interchanged. This certainly gives a very consistent

sense, and points out the universality of the desolation to which

the whole context continually refers. He therefore contends that

the text should be read thus: And on all the TENTS (or

HABITATIONS) of Egypt I will execute judgment; by which words the

Lord signified that not one dwelling in the whole land of Egypt

should be exempted from the judgment here threatened. It is but

justice to say that however probable this criticism may appear, it

is not supported by any of the ancient versions, nor by any of the

MSS. collated by Kennicott and De Rossi. The parallel place also,

Nu 33:4, is rather against Houbigant's interpretation:

For the Egyptians buried all their first-born, which the Lord

had smitten among them: upon their gods also [

ubeloheyhem] the Lord executed judgments. But Houbigant

amends the word in this place in the same way as he does that in

Exodus. There appears also to be an allusion to this former

judgment in Isa 19:1:

Behold, the Lord-shall come into Egypt, and the idols [

eliley] of Egypt shall be moved at his presence. And in

Jer 43:13:

The houses of the gods [ bottey elohey] of the

Egyptians shall he burn with fire. The rabbins say that "when

Israel came out of Egypt, the holy blessed God threw down all the

images of their abominations, and they were broken to pieces."

When a nation was conquered, it was always supposed that their

gods had either abandoned them or were overcome. Thus Egypt was

ruined, and their gods confounded and destroyed by Jehovah.

See Clarke on Ex 11:7.

Verse 13. The blood shall be to you for a token] It shall be

the sign to the destroying angel, that the house on which he sees

this blood sprinkled is under the protection of God, and that no

person in it is to be injured. See Clarke on Ex 12:11.

Verse 14. A memorial] To keep up a remembrance of the severity

and goodness, or justice and mercy, of God. Ye shall keep it a

feast-it shall be annually observed, and shall be celebrated with

solemn religious joy, throughout your generations- as long as ye

continue to be a distinct people; an ordinance-a Divine

appointment, an institution of God himself, neither to be altered

nor set aside by any human authority.

For ever] chukkath olam, an everlasting or endless

statute, because representative of the Lamb of God who taketh away

the sin of the world; whose mediation, in consequence of his

sacrifice, shall endure while time itself lasts; and to whose

merits and efficacy the salvation of the soul shall be ascribable

throughout eternity. This, therefore, is a statute and ordinance

that can have no end, either in this world or in the world to

come. It is remarkable that though the Jews have ceased from the

whole of their sacrificial system, so that sacrifices are no

longer offered by them in any part of the world, yet they all, in

all their generations and in all countries, keep up the

remembrance of the passover, and observe the feast of unleavened

bread. But no lamb is sacrificed. Their sacrifices have all

totally ceased, ever since the destruction of Jerusalem by the

Romans. Even the flesh that is used on this occasion is partly

roasted and partly boiled, that it may not even resemble the

primitive sacrifice; for they deem it unlawful to sacrifice out of

Jerusalem. The truth is, the true Lamb of God that taketh away the

sin of the world has been offered, and they have no power to

restore the ancient type. See Clarke on Ex 12:27.

Verse 15. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread] This has

been considered as a distinct ordinance, and not essentially

connected with the passover. The passover was to be observed on

the fourteenth day of the first month; the feast of unleavened

bread began on the fifteenth and lasted seven days, the first and

last of which were holy convocations.

That soul shall be cut off] There are thirty-six places in

which this excision or cutting off is threatened against the Jews

for neglect of some particular duty; and what is implied in the

thing itself is not well known. Some think it means a violent

death, some a premature death, and some an eternal death. It is

very likely that it means no more than a separation from the

rights and privileges of an Israelite; so that after this excision

the person was considered as a mere stranger, who had neither lot

nor part in Israel, nor any right to the blessings of the

covenant. This is probably what St. Paul means, Ro 9:3. But we

naturally suppose this punishment was not inflicted but on those

who had showed a marked and obstinate contempt for the Divine

authority. This punishment appears to have been nearly the same

with excommunication among the Christians; and from this general

notion of the cutting off, the Christian excommunication seems to

have been borrowed.

Verse 16. In the first day and in the seventh day there shall be

a holy convocation] This is the first place where we meet with

the account of an assembly collected for the mere purpose of

religious worship. Such assemblies are called holy convocations,

which is a very appropriate appellation for a religious assembly;

they were called together by the express command of God, and were

to be employed in a work of holiness. mikra, convocation,

is a word of similar import with the Greek εκκλησια, which we

commonly translate Church, and which properly signifies an

assembly convened by public call.

Verse 17. Self-same day] beetsem, in the body of this

day, or in the strength of this day; probably they began their

march about day-break, called here the body or strength of the

day, and in De 16:1,

by night-sometime before the sun rose.

Verse 19. No leaven found in your houses] To meet the letter of

this precept in the fullest manner possible, the Jews, on the eve

of this festival, institute the most rigorous search through every

part of their houses, not only removing all leavened bread, but

sweeping every part clean, that no crumb of bread shall be left

that had any leaven in it. And so strict were they in the

observance of the letter of this law, that if even a mouse was

seen to run across the floor with a crumb of bread in its mouth,

they considered the whole house as polluted, and began their

purification afresh. We have already seen that leaven was an

emblem of sin, because it proceeded from corruption; and the

putting away of this implied the turning to God with simplicity

and uprightness of heart. See on Ex 12:8, and

See Clarke on Ex 12:27.

Verse 21. Kill the passover.] That is, the lamb, which was

called the paschal or passover lamb. The animal that was to be

sacrificed on this occasion got the name of the institution

itself: thus the word covenant is often put for the sacrifice

offered in making the covenant; so the rock was Christ, 1Co 10:4;

bread and wine the body and blood of Christ,

Mr 14:22, 24. St. Paul copies the expression, 1Co 5:7:

Christ our passover (that is, our paschal lamb) is sacrificed

for us.

Verse 22. A bunch of hyssop] The original word ezob has

been variously translated musk, rosemary, polypody of the wall,

mint, origanum, marjoram, and HYSSOP: the latter seems to be the

most proper. Parkhurst says it is named from its detersive and

cleansing qualities, whence it was used in sprinkling the blood of

the paschal lamb, in cleansing the leprosy, Le 14:4, 6, 51, 52;

in composing the water of purification, Nu 19:6, and sprinkling

it, Nu 19:18. It was a type of the

purifying virtue of the bitter sufferings of Christ. And it is

plain, from Ps 51:7, that the psalmist understood its meaning.

Among botanists hyssop is described as "a genus of the

gymnospermia (naked-seeded) order, belonging to the didynamia

class of plants. It has under-shrubby, low, bushy stalks, growing

a foot and a half high, small, spear-shaped, close-sitting,

opposite leaves, with several smaller ones rising from the same

joint; and all the stalks and branches terminated by erect whorled

spikes of flowers of different colours, in the varieties of the

plant. The leaves have an aromatic smell, and a warm pungent

taste. The leaves of this plant are particularly recommended in

humoral asthmas, and other disorders of the breast and lungs, and

greatly promote expectoration." Its medicinal qualities were

probably the reason why this plant was so particularly recommended

in the Scriptures.

Verse 26. What mean ye by this service?] The establishment of

this service annually was a very wise provision to keep up in

remembrance this wonderful deliverance. From the remotest

antiquity the institution of feasts, games, &c., has been used to

keep up the memory of past grand events. Hence God instituted the

Sabbath, to keep up the remembrance of the creation; and the

passover to keep up the remembrance of the deliverance from

Egypt. All the other feasts were instituted on similar reasons.

The Jews never took their sons to the tabernacle or temple till

they were twelve years of age, nor suffered them to eat of the

flesh of any victim till they had themselves offered a sacrifice

at the temple, which they were not permitted to do before the

twelfth year of their age. It was at this age that Joseph and

Mary took our blessed Lord to the temple, probably for the first

time, to offer his sacrifice. See Calmet.

Verse 27. It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover] We have

already intimated that the paschal lamb was an illustrious type of

Christ; and we shall find that every thing in this account is

typical or representative. The bondage and affliction of the

people of Israel may be considered as emblems of the hard slavery

and wretchedness consequent on a state of sinfulness. Satan reigns

over both body and soul, bringing the whole into subjection to the

law of sin and death; while various evil tempers, passions, lusts,

and irregular appetites, act as subordinate tormentors, making the

lives of the vassals of sin bitter, because of the rigour by which

they are obliged to serve. Reader, is this thy case? The mercy

of God projects the redemption of man from this cruel bondage and

oppression; and a sacrifice is appointed for the occasion by God

himself, to be offered with particular and significant rites and

ceremonies, all of which represent the passion and death of our

blessed Lord, and the great end for which he became a sacrifice,

viz., the redemption of a lost world from the power, the guilt,

and the pollution of sin, &c. And it is worthy of remark, 1. That

the anniversary or annual commemoration of the passover was

strictly and religiously kept by the Jews on the day, and hour of

the day, on which the original transaction took place, throughout

all their succeeding generations. 2. That on one of these

anniversaries, and, as many suppose, on the very day and hour on

which the paschal lamb was originally offered, our blessed Lord

expired on the cross for the salvation of the world. 3. That

after the destruction of Jerusalem the paschal lamb ceased to be

offered by the Jews throughout the world, though they continue to

hold the anniversary of the passover, but without any sacrifice,

notwithstanding their deep-rooted, inveterate antipathy against

the author and grace of the Gospel. 4. That the sacrament of the

Lord's Supper was instituted to keep this true paschal sacrifice

in commemoration, and that this has been religiously observed by

the whole Christian world (one very small class of Christians

excepted) from the foundation of Christianity to the present day!

5. That the Jews were commanded to eat the paschal lamb; and our

Lord, commemorating the passover, commanded his disciples, saying,

Take, eat, THIS is my body, which is given for you; do this in

remembrance of ME. In the communion service of the Church of

England, the spirit and design both of the type and antitype are

most expressly condensed into one point of view, in the address to

the communicant: "Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ

died for THEE; and FEED upon HIM, in thy heart, by FAITH with

THANKSGIVING. Thus God continues the memorial of that grand

transaction which he has said should be an ordinance for ever;

evidently meaning thereby, that the paschal lamb should be the

significator till the passion and death of Christ; and that

afterwards bread and wine taken sacramentally, in commemoration of

his crucifixion, should be the continual representatives of that

sacrifice till the end of the world. Thus the passover in itself,

and in its reference, is an ordinance for ever; and thus the words

of the Lord are literally fulfilled. Reader, learn from this, 1.

That if thou art not rescued from the thraldom of sin, thou must

perish for ever. 2. That nothing less than the power and mercy of

God can set thee free. 3. That God will save thee in no other way

than by bringing thee out of thy sinful state, and from thy wicked

practices and companions. 4. That in order to thy redemption it

was absolutely necessary that the Son of God should take thy

nature upon him, and die in thy stead. 5. That unless the blood

of this sacrifice be sprinkled, in its atoning efficacy and

merits, on thy heart and conscience, the guilt and power of thy

sin cannot be taken away. 6. That as the blood of the paschal

lamb must be sprinkled on every house, in order to the

preservation of its inhabitants, so there must be a personal

application of the blood of the cross to thy conscience, to take

away thy sins. 7. As it was not enough that the passover was

instituted, but the blood must be sprinkled on the lintels and

door posts of every house to make the rite effectual to the

salvation of each individual, so it is not enough that Christ

should have taken human nature upon him, and died for the sin of

the world; for no man who has the opportunity of hearing the

Gospel is saved by that death, who does not, by faith, get a

personal application of it to his own heart. 8. That those who

wish for an application of the atoning blood, must receive this

spiritual passover with a perfect readiness to depart from the

land of their captivity, and travel to the rest that remains for

the people of God; it being impossible, not only to a gross

sinner, continuing such, to be finally saved, (however he may

presume upon the mercy of God,) but also to a worldly-minded man

to get to the kingdom of God; for Christ died to save us from the

present evil world, according to the will of God. 9. That in

order to commemorate aright, in the sacrament of the Lord's

Supper, the great atonement made for the sin of the world, all

leaven of malice, bitterness, and insincerity, must be put away;

as God will have no man to partake of this mystery who does not

fully enter into its spirit and meaning. See 1Co 5:7, 8.

Verse 29. Smote all the first born] If we take the term

first-born in its literal sense only, we shall be led to

conclude that in a vast number of the houses of the Egyptians

there could have been no death, as it is not at all likely that

every first-born child of every Egyptian family was still alive,

and that all the first-born of their cattle still remained. And

yet it is said, Ex 12:30, that there was

not a house where there was not one dead. The word therefore

must not be taken in its literal sense only. From its use in a

great variety of places in the Scriptures it is evident that it

means the chief, most excellent, best beloved, most distinguished,

&c. In this sense our blessed Lord is called the FIRST-BORN of

every creature, Col 1:15, and

the FIRST-BORN among many brethren, Ro 8:29; that is, he is

more excellent than all creatures, and greater than all the

children of men. In the same sense we may understand Re 1:5,

where CHRIST is called the FIRST-BEGOTTEN from the dead, i.e., the

chief of all that have ever visited the empire of death, and on

whom death has had any power; and the only one who by his own

might quickened himself. In the same sense wisdom is represented

as being brought forth before all the creatures, and being

possessed by the Lord in the beginning of his ways, Pr 8:22-30;

that is, the wisdom of God is peculiarly conspicuous in the

production, arrangement, and government of every part of the

creation. So Ephraim is called the Lord's FIRST-BORN, Jer 31:9.

And the people of Israel are often called by the same name, see

Ex 4:22:

Israel is my son, my FIRST-BORN; that is, the people in whom I

particularly delight, and whom I will especially support and

defend. And because the first-born are in general peculiarly dear

to their parents, and because among the Jews they had especial and

peculiar privileges, whatever was most dear, most valuable, and

most prized, was thus denominated. So Mic 6:7:

Shall I give my FIRST-BORN for my transgression, the fruit of my

body for the sin of my soul? Shall I give up the most beloved

child I have, he that is most dear and most necessary to me, in

order to make an atonement for my sins! In like manner the

Prophet Zechariah, speaking of the conversion of the Jews to the

Gospel of Christ, represents them as looking on him whom they have

pierced, and being as one that is in bitterness for his

FIRST-BORN; that is, they shall feel distress and anguish as those

who had lost their most beloved child. So the Church triumphant

in the kingdom of God are called, Heb 12:23,

the general assembly and Church of the FIRST-BORN, i.e., the

most noble and excellent of all human if not created beings.

So Homer, Il. iv., ver. 102: αρνωνπρωτογονωνρεξεινκλειτην

εκατομβην. "A hecatomb of lambs all firstlings of the flock." That

is, the most excellent of their kind.

In a contrary sense, when the word first-born is joined to

another that signifies any kind of misery or disgrace, it then

signifies the depth of misery, the utmost disgrace. So the

FIRST-BORN of the poor, Isa 14:30, signifies the most abject,

destitute, and impoverished. The FIRST-BORN of death,

Job 18:13, means the

most horrible kind of death. So in the threatening against

Pharaoh, Ex 11:5, where he informs him that he will slay all the

first-born, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon the

throne; to the first born of the maid-servant that is behind the

mill, he takes in the very highest and lowest conditions of life.

As there was no state in Egypt superior to the throne, so there

was none inferior to that of the female slave that ground at the

mill. The Prophet Habakkuk seems to fix this as the sense in

which the word is used here; for speaking of the plagues of Egypt

in general, and the salvation which God afforded his people, he

says, Hab 3:13:

Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people-thou

woundedst the HEAD ( rosh, the chief, the most

excellent) of the house of the wicked-of Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

And the author of the book of Wisdom understood it in the same way:

The master and the servant were punished after one manner; and

like as the king, so suffered the common people-for in one moment

the NOBLEST OFFSPRING of them was destroyed, Wisdom 18:11,12.

And in no other sense can we understand the word in Ps 89:27,

where, among the promises of God to David, we find the following:

Also I will make him my FIRST-BORN, higher than the kings of the

earth; in which passage the latter clause explains the former;

David, as king, should be the FIRST-BORN, of God, i.e., he should

be higher than the kings of the earth-the MOST EMINENT potentate

in the universe. In this sense, therefore, we should understand

the passage in question; the most eminent person in every family

in Egypt, as well as those who were literally the first-born,

being slain in this plague. Calmet and some other critics

particularly contend for this sense.

Verse 30. There was a great cry] No people in the universe were

more remarkable for their mournings than the Egyptians, especially

in matters of religion; they whipped, beat, tore themselves, and

howled in all the excess of grief. When a relative died, the

people left the house, ran into the streets, and howled in the

most lamentable and frantic manner. See Diod. Sicul., lib. i.,

and Herod., lib. ii., c. 85, 86. And this latter author happening

to be in Egypt on one of their solemnities, saw myriads of people

whipping and beating themselves in this manner, lib. ii., c. 60;

and see Mr. Bryant on the Plagues of Egypt, where many examples

are given, p. 162, &c. How dreadful then must the scene of horror

and distress appear when there was not one house or family in

Egypt where there was not one dead; and according to their custom,

all the family running out into the streets bewailing this

calamity!

Verse 31. Called for Moses and Aaron] That is, he sent the

message here mentioned to them; for it does not appear that he had

any farther interview with Moses and Aaron, after what is

mentioned Ex 10:28, 29, and Ex 11:8.

See Clarke on Ex 10:28; "Ex 10:29"; "Ex 11:8".

Verse 33. The Egyptians were urgent upon the people] They felt

much, they feared more; and therefore wished to get immediately

rid of a people on whose account they found they were smitten with

so many and such dreadful plagues.

Verse 34. The people took their dough before it was leavened,

&c.] There was no time now to make any regular preparation for

their departure, such was the universal hurry and confusion. The

Israelites could carry but little of their household utensils with

them; but some, such as they kneaded their bread and kept their

meal in, they were obliged to carry with them. The kneading

troughs of the Arabs are comparatively small wooden bowls, which,

after kneading their bread in, serve them as dishes out of which

they eat their victuals. And as to these being bound up in their

clothes, no more may be intended than their wrapping them up in

their long, loose garments, or in what is still used among the

Arabs, and called hykes, which is a long kind of blanket,

something resembling a highland plaid, in which they often carry

their provision, wrap themselves by day, and sleep at night. Dr.

Shaw has been particular in his description of this almost entire

wardrobe of an Arab. He says they are of different sizes and of

different qualities, but generally about six yards in length, and

five or six feet broad. He supposes that what we call Ruth's

veil, Ru 3:15, was a

hyke, and that the same is to be understood of the clothes of

the Israelites mentioned in this verse. See his Travels, p. 224,

4to edition.

Verse 35. They borrowed of the Egyptians]

See Clarke on Ex 3:22, where the very exceptionable term

borrow is largely explained.

Verse 37. From Rameses to Succoth] Rameses appears to have been

another name for Goshen, though it is probable that there might

have been a chief city or village in that land, where the children

of Israel rendezvoused previously to their departure, called

Rameses. As the term Succoth signifies booths or tents, it is

probable that this place was so named from its being the place of

the first encampment of the Israelites.

Six hundred thousand] That is, There was this number of

effective men, twenty years old and upwards, who were able to go

out to war. But this was not the whole number, and therefore the

sacred writer says they were about 600,000; for when the numbers

were taken about thirteen months after this they were found to be

six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty, without

reckoning those under twenty years of age, or any of the tribe of

Levi; see Nu 1:45, 46. But besides those

on foot, or footmen, there were no doubt many old and

comparatively infirm persons, who rode on camels, horses, or

asses, besides the immense number of women and children, which

must have been at least three to one of the others; and the mixed

multitude, Ex 12:38, probably of refugees in Egypt, who came to

sojourn there, because of the dearth which had obliged them to

emigrate from their own countries; and who now, seeing that the

hand of Jehovah was against the Egyptians and with the Israelites,

availed themselves of the general consternation, and took their

leave of Egypt, choosing Israel's God for their portion, and his

people for their companions. Such a company moving at once, and

emigrating from their own country, the world never before nor

since witnessed; no doubt upwards of two millions of souls,

besides their flocks and herds, even very much cattle; and what

but the mere providence of God could support such a multitude, and

in the wilderness, too, where to this day the necessaries of life

are not to be found?

Suppose we take them at a rough calculation thus, two millions

will be found too small a number.

Effective men, 20 years old and upward..600,000

Two-thirds of whom we may suppose

were married, in which case their

wives would amount to..................400,000

These, on an average, might have 5

children under 20 years of age, an

estimate which falls considerably

short of the number of children

each family must have averaged in

order to produce from 75 persons,

in A. M. 2298, upwards of 600,000

effective men in A. M. 2494, a

period of only 196 years.............2,000,000

The Levites, who probably were not

included among the effective men........45,000

Their wives..............................33,000

Their children..........................165,000

The mixed multitude probably

not less than...........................20,000

_________

Total 3,263,000

Besides a multitude of old and infirm persons who would be

obliged to ride on camels and asses, &c., and who must, from the

proportion that such bear to the young and healthy, amount to many

thousands more! Exclude even the Levites and their families, and

upwards of three millions will be left.

"In Nu 3:39 the male Levites, aged one month and upwards, are

reckoned 22,000, perhaps the females did not much exceed this

number, say 23,000, and 500 children, under one month, will make

45,500."-Anon.

Had not Moses the fullest proof of his Divine mission, he never

could have put himself at the head of such an immense concourse of

people, who, without the most especial and effective providence,

must all have perished for lack of food. This single

circumstance, unconnected with all others, is an ample

demonstration of the Divine mission of Moses, and of the

authenticity and Divine inspiration of the Pentateuch. To suppose

that an impostor, or one pretending only to a Divine call, could

have ventured to place himself at the head of such an immense body

of people, to lead them through a trackless wilderness, utterly

unprovided for such a journey, to a land as yet in the possession

of several powerful nations whom they must expel before they could

possess the country, would have implied such an extreme of madness

and folly as has never been witnessed in an individual, and such a

blind credulity in the multitude as is unparalleled in the annals

of mankind! The succeeding stupendous events proved that Moses

had the authority of God to do what he did; and the people had at

least such a general conviction that he had this authority, that

they implicitly followed his directions, and received their law

from his mouth.

Verse 40. Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, &c.]

The statement in this verse is allowed on all hands to be

extremely difficult, and therefore the passage stands in especial

need of illustration. "That the descendants of Israel did not

dwell 430 years in Egypt," says Dr. Kennicott, "may be easily

proved, and has often been demonstrated. Some therefore imagine

that by Egypt here both it and Canaan are to be understood. But

this greater latitude of place will not solve the difficulty,

since the Israelites, including Israel their father, did not

sojourn 430 years in both countries previous to their departure

from Egypt. Others, sensible of the still remaining deficiency,

would not only have Egypt in the text to signify it and Canaan,

but by a figure more comprehensive would have the children of

Israel to mean Israel's children, and Israel their father, and

Isaac the father of Israel, and part of the life of Abraham, the

father of Isaac.

"Thus indeed," says Dr. Kennicott, "we arrive at the exact sum,

and by this method of reckoning we might arrive at any thing but

truth, which we may presume was never thus conveyed by an

inspired writer." But can the difficulty be removed without

having recourse to such absurd shifts? Certainly it can. The

Samaritan Pentateuch, in all its manuscripts and printed copies,

reads the place thus:-

[Samaritan]

Umoshab beney Yishrael veabotham asher yashebu baarets Cenaan,

ubaarets mitsraim sheloshim shanah vearba meoth shanah.

"Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, and of their

fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the

land of Egypt, was 430 years." This same sum is given by St.

Paul, Ga 3:17, who reckons from the promise made to Abraham, when

God commanded him to go to Canaan, to the giving of the law, which

soon followed the departure from Egypt; and this chronology of the

apostle is concordant with the Samaritan Pentateuch, which, by

preserving the two passages, they and their fathers, and in the

land of Canaan, which are lost out of the present copies of the

Hebrew text, has rescued this passage from all obscurity and

contradiction. It may be necessary to observe that the

Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has the same reading as that in

the Samaritan. The Samaritan Pentateuch is allowed by many

learned men to exhibit the most correct copy of the five books of

Moses; and the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint must also be

allowed to be one of the most authentic as well as most ancient

copies of this version which we possess. As to St. Paul, no man

will dispute the authenticity of his statement; and thus in the

mouth of these three most respectable witnesses the whole account

is indubitably established. That these three witnesses have the

truth, the chronology itself proves: for from Abraham's entry

into Canaan to the birth of Isaac was 25 years, Ge 12:4; 17:1-21;

Isaac was 60 years old at the birth of Jacob, Ge 25:26; and Jacob

was 130 at his going down into Egypt, Ge 47:9; which three sums

make 215 years. And then Jacob and his children having continued

in Egypt 215 years more, the whole sum of 430 years is regularly

completed. See Kennicott's Dissertation on the Hebrew Text.

Verse 42. A night to be much observed] A night to be held in

everlasting remembrance, because of the peculiar display of the

power and goodness of God, the observance of which annually was to

be considered a religious precept while the Jewish nation should

continue.

Verse 43. This is the ordinance of the passover] From the last

verse of this chapter it appears pretty evident that this, to the

50th verse inclusive, constituted a part of the directions given

to Moses relative to the proper observance of the first passover,

and should be read conjointly with the preceding account beginning

at Ex 12:21. It may be supposed that these latter parts contain

such particular directions as God gave to Moses after he had given

those general ones mentioned in the preceding verses, but they

seem all to belong to this first passover.

There shall no stranger eat thereof] ben nechar,

the son of a stranger or foreigner, i.e., one who was not of the

genuine Hebrew stock, or one who had not received circumcision;

for any circumcised person might eat the passover, as the total

exclusion extends only to the uncircumcised, see Ex 12:48. As

there are two sorts of strangers mentioned in the sacred writings;

one who was admitted to all the Jewish ordinances, and another

who, though he dwelt among the Jews, was not permitted to eat the

passover or partake of any of their solemn feasts; it may be

necessary to show what was the essential point of distinction

through which the one was admitted and the other excluded.

In treatises on the religious customs of the Jews we frequently

meet with the term proselyte, from the Greek προσηλυτος, a

stranger or foreigner; one who is come from his own people and

country to sojourn with another. All who were not descendants of

some one of the twelve sons of Jacob, or of Ephraim and Manasseh,

the two sons of Joseph, were reputed strangers or proselytes among

the Jews. But of those strangers or proselytes there were two

kinds, called among them proselytes of the gate, and proselytes of

injustice or of the covenant. The former were such as wished

to dwell among the Jews, but would not submit to be circumcised;

they, however, acknowledged the true God, avoided all idolatry,

and observed the seven precepts of Noah, but were not obliged to

observe any of the Mosaic institutions. The latter submitted to

be circumcised, obliged themselves to observe all the rites and

ceremonies of the law, and were in nothing different from the Jews

but merely in their having once been heathens. The former, or

proselytes of the gate, might not eat the passover or partake of

any of the sacred festivals; but the latter, the proselytes of the

covenant, had the same rights, spiritual and secular, as the Jews

themselves. See Ex 12:48.

Verse 45. A foreigner] toshab, from yashab,

to sit down or dwell; one who is a mere sojourner, for the

purpose of traffic, merchandise, &c., but who is neither a

proselyte of the gate nor of the covenant.

And a hired servant] Who, though he be bought with money, or

has indented himself for a certain term to serve a Jew, yet has

not become either a proselyte of the gate or of the covenant.

None of these shall eat of it, because not circumcised- not

brought under the bond of the covenant; and not being under

obligation to observe the Mosaic law, had no right to its

privileges and blessings. Even under the Gospel of our Lord Jesus

Christ, he is the author of eternal salvation only to them who

OBEY him, Heb 5:9; and those who become Christians are

chosen to salvation through SANCTIFICATION of the Spirit, and

belief of the truth, 2Th 2:13;

for the grace of God, that bringeth salvation to all men, hath

appeared, teaching us that, DENYING UNGODLINESS and WORLDLY LUSTS

we should live SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, and GODLY, in this present

world; Tit 2:11, 12. Such persons only walk worthy of the

vocation wherewith they are called.

Verse 46. In one house shall it be eaten] In one family, if

that be large enough; if not, a neighbouring family might be

invited, Ex 12:4.

Thou shalt not carry forth aught of the flesh] Every family must

abide within doors because of the destroying angel, none being

permitted to go out of his house till the next day, Ex 12:22.

Neither shall ye break a bone thereof.] As it was to be eaten

in haste, (Ex 12:11,) there was no time either to separate the

bones, or to break them in order to extract the marrow; and lest

they should be tempted to consume time in this way, therefore this

ordinance was given. It is very likely that, when the whole lamb

was brought to table, they cut off the flesh without even

separating any of the large joints, leaving the skeleton, with

whatever flesh they could not eat, to be consumed with fire,

Ex 12:10. This precept was also given to point out a most

remarkable circumstance which 1500 years after was to take place

in the crucifixion of the Saviour of mankind, who was the true

Paschal Lamb, that Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the

world; who, though he was crucified as a common malefactor, and it

was a universal custom to break the legs of such on the cross, yet

so did the providence of God order it that a bone of HIM was not

broken. See the fulfilment of this wondrously expressive type,

Joh 19:33, 36.

Verse 48. And when a stranger-will keep the passover, &c.] Let

all who sojourn among you, and who desire to partake of this

sacred ordinance, not only be circumcised themselves, but all the

males of their families likewise, that they may all have an equal

right to the blessings of the covenant.

Verse 49. One law shall be to him that is home-born, &c.] As

this is the first place that the term torah or LAW occurs, a

term of the greatest importance in Divine revelation, and on the

proper understanding of which much depends, I judge it best to

give its genuine explanation once for all.

The word torah comes from the root yarah, which

signifies to aim at, teach, point out, direct, lead, guide, make

straight, or even; and from these significations of the word (and

in all these senses it is used in the Bible) we may see at once

the nature, properties, and design of the law of God. It is a

system of INSTRUCTION in righteousness; it teaches the difference

between moral good and evil; ascertains what is right and fit to

be done, and what should be left undone, because improper to be

performed. It continually aims at the glory of God, and the

happiness of his creatures; teaches the true knowledge of the true

God, and the destructive nature of sin; points out the absolute

necessity of an atonement as the only means by which God can be

reconciled to transgressors; and in its very significant rites and

ceremonies points out the Son of God, till he should come to put

away iniquity by the sacrifice of himself. It is a revelation of

God's wisdom and goodness, wonderfully well calculated to direct

the hearts of men into the truth, to guide their feet into the

path of life, and to make straight, even, and plain that way which

leads to God, and in which the soul must walk in order to arrive

at eternal life. It is the fountain whence every correct notion

relative to God-his perfections, providence, grace, justice,

holiness, omniscience, and omnipotence, has been derived. And it

has been the origin whence all the true principles of law and

justice have been deduced. The pious study of it was the grand

means of producing the greatest kings, the most enlightened

statesmen, the most accomplished poets, and the most holy and

useful men, that ever adorned the world. It is exceeded only by

the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is at once the accomplishment of

its rites and predictions, and the fulfilment of its grand plan

and outline. As a system of teaching or instruction, it is the

most sovereign and most effectual; as by it is the knowledge of

sin, and it alone is the schoolmaster, παιδαγωγος, that leads

men to Christ, that they may be justified through faith.

Ga 3:24. Who can absolutely ascertain the exact quantum of

obliquity in a crooked line, without the application of a

straight one? And could sin, in all its twistings, windings,

and varied involutions, have ever been truly ascertained, had not

God given to man this perfect rule to judge by? The nations who

acknowledge this revelation of God have, as far as they attained

to its dictates, the wisest, purest, most equal, and most

beneficial laws. The nations that do not receive it have laws at

once extravagantly severe and extravagantly indulgent. The proper

distinctions between moral good and evil, in such states, are not

known: hence the penal sanctions are not founded on the principles

of justice, weighing the exact proportion of moral turpitude; but

on the most arbitrary caprices, which in many cases show the

utmost indulgence to first-rate crimes, while they punish minor

offences with rigour and cruelty. What is the consequence? Just

what might be reasonably expected: the will and caprice of a man

being put in the place of the wisdom of God, the government is

oppressive, and the people, frequently goaded to distraction, rise

up in a mass and overturn it; so that the monarch, however

powerful for a time, seldom lives out half his days. This was the

case in Greece, in Rome, in the major part of the Asiatic

governments, and is the case in all nations of the world to the

present day, where the governor is despotic, and the laws not

formed according to the revelation of God.

The word lex, law, among the Romans, has been derived from lego,

I read; because when a law or statute was made, it was hung up in

the most public places, that it might be seen, read, and known by

all men, that those who were to obey the laws might not break them

through ignorance, and thus incur the penalty. This was called

promulgatio legis, q. provulgatio, the promulgation of the law,

i.e., the laying it before the common people. Or from ligo, I

bind, because the law binds men to the strict observance of its

precepts. The Greeks call a law νομος nomos, from νεμω, to

divide, distribute, minister to, or serve, because the law

divides to all their just rights, appoints or distributes to

each his proper duty, and thus serves or ministers to the welfare

of the individual and the support of society. Hence where there

are either no laws, or unequal and unjust ones, all is

distraction, violence, rapine, oppression, anarchy, and ruin.

Verse 51. By their armies.] tsibotham, from

tsaba, to assemble, meet together, in an orderly or regulated

manner, and hence to war, to act together as troops in battle;

whence tsebaoth, troops, armies, hosts. It is from this

that the Divine Being calls himself Yehovah tsebaoth,

the LORD of HOSTS or armies, because the Israelites were brought

out of Egypt under his direction, marshalled and ordered by

himself, guided by his wisdom, supported by his providence, and

protected by his might. This is the true and simple reason why

God is so frequently styled in Scripture the Lord of hosts; for

the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt

by their ARMIES.

ON this chapter the notes have been so full and so explicit,

that little can be added to set the subject before the reader in a

clearer light. On the ordinance of the PASSOVER, the reader is

requested to consult the notes on verses 7, 14, and 27.

See Clarke on Ex 12:7; "Ex 12:14"; "Ex 12:27".

For the display of God's power and providence in supporting so

great a multitude where, humanly speaking, there was no provision,

and the proof that the exodus of the Israelites gives of the truth

of the Mosaic history, he is referred to Ex 12:37. And for the

meaning of the term LAW, to Ex 12:49.

On the ten plagues it may be but just necessary, after what has

been said in the notes, to make a few general reflections. When

the nature of the Egyptian idolatry is considered, and the plagues

which were sent upon them, we may see at once the peculiarity of

the judgment, and the great propriety of its being inflicted in

the way related by Moses. The plagues were either inflicted on

the objects of their idolatry, or by their means.

1. That the river Nile was an object of their worship and one of

their greatest gods, we have already seen. As the FIRST plague,

its waters were therefore turned into blood; and the fish, many

of which were objects also of their adoration, died. Blood was

particularly offensive to them, and the touch of any dead animal

rendered them unclean. When then their great god, the river, was

turned into blood, and its waters became putrid, so that all the

fish, minor objects of their devotion, died, we see a judgment at

once calculated to punish, correct, and reform them. Could they

ever more trust in gods who could neither save themselves nor

their deluded worshippers?

2. Mr. Bryant has endeavoured to prove that frogs, the SECOND

plague, were sacred animals in Egypt, and dedicated to Osiris:

they certainly appear on many ancient Egyptian monuments, and in

such circumstances and connections as to show that they were held

in religious veneration. These therefore became an awful scourge;

first, by their numbers, and their intrusion into every place;

and, secondly, by their death, and the infection of the atmosphere

which took place in consequence.

3. We have seen also that the Egyptians, especially the priests,

affected great cleanliness, and would not wear woollen garments

lest any kind of vermin should harbour about them. The THIRD

plague, by means of lice or such like vermin, was wisely

calculated both to humble and confound them. In this they

immediately saw a power superior to any that could be exerted by

their gods or their magicians; and the latter were obliged to

confess, This is the finger of God!

4. That flies were held sacred among the Egyptians and among

various other nations, admits of the strongest proof. It is very

probable that Baal-zebub himself was worshipped under the form of

a fly or great cantharid. These, therefore, or some kind of

winged noxious insects, became the prime agents in the FOURTH

plague; and if the cynomyia or dog-fly be intended, we have

already seen in the notes with what propriety and effect this

judgment was inflicted.

5. The murrain or mortality among the cattle was the FIFTH

plague, and the most decisive mark of the power and indignation

of Jehovah. That dogs, cats, monkeys, rams, heifers, and bulls,

were all objects of their most religious veneration, all the world

knows. These were smitten in a most singular manner by the hand

of God; and the Egyptians saw themselves deprived at once of all

their imaginary helpers. Even Apis, their ox-god, in whom they

particularly trusted, now suffers, groans, and dies under the hand

of Jehovah. Thus does he execute judgment against all the gods of

Egypt. See Ex 12:12.

6. The SIXTH plague, viz., of boils and blains, was as

appropriate as any of the preceding; and the sprinkling of the

ashes, the means by which it was produced, peculiarly significant.

Pharmacy, Mr. Bryant has observed, was in high repute among the

Egyptians; and Isis, their most celebrated goddess, was considered

as the preventer or healer of all diseases. "For this goddess,"

says Diodorus, Hist., lib. i., "used to reveal herself to people

in their sleep when they laboured under any disorder, and afford

them relief. Many who placed their confidence in her influence,

παραδοξωςυγιαινεσθαι, were miraculously restored. Many likewise

who had been despaired of and given over by the physicians on

account of the obstinacy of the distemper, were saved by this

goddess. Numbers who had been deprived of their eyes, and of other

parts of their bodies, were all restored on their application to

Isis." By this disorder, therefore, which no application to their

gods could cure, and which was upon the magicians also, who were

supposed to possess most power and influence, God confounded their

pride, showed the folly of their worship, and the vanity of their

dependence. The means by which these boils and blains were

inflicted, viz., the sprinkling of ashes from the furnace, was

peculiarly appropriate. Plutarch assures us, De Iside et Osiride,

that in several cities of Egypt they were accustomed to sacrifice

human beings to Typhon, which they burned alive upon a high altar;

and at the close of the sacrifice the priests gathered the ashes

of these victims, and scattered them in the air: "I presume, says

Mr. Bryant, "with this view, that where an atom of their dust was

wafted, a blessing might be entailed. The like was done by Moses

with the ashes of the furnace, that wherever any, the smallest

portion, alighted, it might prove a plague and a curse to this

cruel, ungrateful, and infatuated people. Thus there was a

designed contrast in these workings of Providence, an apparent

opposition to the superstition of the times."

7. The grievous hail, the SEVENTH plague, attended with rain,

thunder, and lightning, in a country where these scarcely ever

occur, and according to an express prediction of Moses, must in

the most signal manner point out the power and justice of God.

Fire and water were some of the principal objects of Egyptian

idolatry; and fire, as Porphyry says, they considered μεγανειναι

θεον, to be a great god. To find, therefore, that these very

elements, the objects of their adoration, were, at the command of

a servant of Jehovah, brought as a curse and scourge on the whole

land, and upon men also and cattle, must have shaken their belief

in these imaginary deities, while it proved to the Israelites that

there was none like the God of Jeshurun.

8. In the EIGHTH plague we see by what insignificant creatures

God can bring about a general destruction. A caterpillar is

beyond all animals the most contemptible, and, taken singly, the

least to be dreaded in the whole empire of nature; but in the hand

of Divine justice it becomes one of the most formidable foes of

the human race. From the examples in the notes we see how little

human power, industry, or art, can avail against this most awful

scourge. Not even the most contemptible animal should be

considered with disrespect, as in the hand of God it may become

the most terrible instrument for the punishment of a criminal

individual or a guilty land.

9. The NINTH plague, the total and horrible darkness that lasted

for three days, afforded both Israelites and Egyptians the most

illustrious proof of the power and universal dominion of God; and

was particularly to the latter a most awful yet instructive lesson

against a species of idolatry which had been long prevalent in

that and other countries, viz., the worship of the celestial

luminaries. The sun and moon were both adored as supreme

deities, as the sole dispensers of light and life; and the sun was

invoked as the giver of immortality and eternal blessedness.

Porphyry, De Abstin., l. 4, preserves the very form used by the

Egyptian priests in addressing the sun on behalf of a deceased

person, that he might be admitted into the society of the gods: ω

δεσποταηλιεκαιθεοιπαντεςοιρηνζωηντοιςανθρωποιςδοντες

προσδεξασθεμεκαιπαραδοτετοιςαιδιοιςθεοιςσυνοικον, "O

sovereign lord the sun, and all ye other deities who bestow life

on mankind! Receive me, and grant that I may be admitted as a

companion with the immortal gods!" These objects of their

superstitious worship Jehovah showed by this plague to be his

creatures, dispensing or withholding their light merely at his

will and pleasure; and that the people might be convinced that all

this came by his appointment alone, he predicted this awful

darkness; and that their astronomers might have the fullest proof

that this was no natural occurrence, and could not be the effect

of any kind of eclipse, which even when total could endure only

about four minutes, (and this case could happen only once in a

thousand years,) he caused this palpable darkness to continue for

three days!

10. The TENTH and last plague, the slaying of the first-born or

chief person in each family, may be considered in the light of a

Divine retribution: for after that their nation had been preserved

by one of the Israelitish family, "they had," says Mr. Bryant,

"contrary to all right, and in defiance of original stipulation,

enslaved the people to whom they had been so much indebted; and

not contented with this, they had proceeded to murder their

offspring, and to render the people's bondage intolerable by a

wanton exertion of power. It had been told them that the family

of the Israelites were esteemed as God's first-born, Ex 4:22;

therefore God said: Let my son go, that he may serve me; and if

thou refuse-behold, I will slay thy son, even thy FIRST-BORN,

Ex 4:23. But they heeded not this admonition, and hence those

judgments came upon them that terminated in the death of the

eldest in each family; a just retaliation for their disobedience

and cruelty." See several curious and important remarks on this

subject in a work entitled, Observations upon the Plagues

inflicted on the Egyptians, by Jacob Bryant, 8vo., 1810.

On the whole we may say, Behold the goodness and severity of

God! Severity mixed with goodness even to the same people. He

punished and corrected them at the same time; for there was not

one of these judgments that had not, from its peculiar nature and

circumstances, some emendatory influence. Nor could a more

effectual mode be adopted to demonstrate to that people the

absurdity of their idolatry, and the inefficacy of their

dependence, than that made use of on this occasion by the wise,

just, and merciful God. At the same time the Israelites

themselves must have received a lesson of the most impressive

instruction on the vanity and wickedness of idolatry, to which

they were at all times most deplorably prone, and of which they

would no doubt have given many more examples, had they not had the

Egyptian plagues continually before their eyes. It was probably

these signal displays of God's rower and justice, and these alone,

that induced them to leave Egypt at his command by Moses and

Aaron; otherwise, with the dreadful wilderness before them,

totally unprovided for such a journey, in which humanly speaking

it was impossible for them and their households to subsist, they

would have rather preferred the ills they then suffered, than have

run the risk of greater by an attempt to escape from their present

bondage. This is proved by their murmurings, Ex 16:2, 3, from

which it is evident that they preferred Egypt with all its curses

to their situation in the wilderness, and never could have been

induced to leave it had they not had the fullest evidence that it

was the will of God; which will they were obliged, on pain of

utter destruction, to obey.

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