Exodus 9

CHAPTER IX

The Lord sends Moses to Pharaoh to inform him that, if he did not

let the Israelites depart, a destructive pestilence should be sent

among his cattle, 1-3;

while the cattle of the Israelites should be preserved, 4.

The next day this pestilence, which was the fifth plague, is sent,

and all the cattle of the Egyptians die, 5, 6.

Though Pharaoh finds that not one of the cattle of the Israelites

had died, yet, through hardness of heart, he refuses to let the

people go, 7.

Moses and Aaron are commanded to sprinkle handfuls of ashes from

the furnace, that the sixth plague, that of boils and blains,

might come on man and beast, 5, 9;

which having done, the plague takes place, 10.

The magicians cannot stand before this plague, which they can neither

imitate nor remove, 11.

Pharaoh's heart is again hardened, 12.

God's awful message to Pharaoh, with the threat of more severe

plagues than before, 13-17.

The seventh plague of rain, hail, and fire threatened, 18.

The Egyptians commanded to house their cattle that they might not

be destroyed, 19.

These who feared the word of the Lord brought home their servants

and cattle, and those who did not regard that word left their cattle

and servants in the fields, 20. 21.

The storm of hail, thunder, and lightning takes place, 22-24.

It nearly desolates the whole land of Egypt, 25,

while the land of Goshen escapes, 26.

Pharaoh confesses his sin, and begs an interest in the prayers of

Moses and Aaron, 27, 28.

Moses promises to intercede for him, and while he promises that the

storm shall cease, he foretells the continuing obstinacy of both

himself and his servants, 29. 30.

The flax and barley, being in a state of maturity, are destroyed by

the tempest, 31;

while the wheat and the rye, not being grown up, are preserved, 32.

Moses obtains a cessation of the storm, 33.

Pharaoh and his servants, seeing this, harden their hearts, and

refuse to let the people go, 34, 35.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX

Verse 1. The LORD God of the Hebrews] It is very likely that

the term Lord, Yehovah, is used here to point out

particularly his eternal power and Godhead; and that the term God,

Elohey, is intended to be understood in the sense of

Supporter, Defender, Protector, &c. Thus saith the self-existent,

omnipotent, and eternal Being, the Supporter and Defender of the

Hebrews, "Let my people go, that they may worship me."

The FIFTH plague-the MURRAIN

Verse 3. The hand of the Lord] The power of God manifested in

judgment.

Upon the horses] susim. This is the first place the

horse is mentioned; a creature for which Egypt and Arabia were

always famous. sus is supposed to have the same meaning with

sas, which signifies to be active, brisk, or lively, all which

are proper appellatives of the horse, especially in Arabia and

Egypt. Because of their activity and swiftness they were

sacrificed and dedicated to the sun, and perhaps it was

principally on this account that God prohibited the use of them

among the Israelites.

A very grievous murrain.] The murrain is a very contagious

disease among cattle, the symptoms of which are a hanging down and

swelling of the head, abundance of gum in the eyes, rattling in

the throat, difficulty of breathing, palpitation of the heart,

staggering, a hot breath, and a shining tongue; which symptoms

prove that a general inflammation has taken place. The original

word deber is variously translated. The Septuagint have

θανατος, death; the Vulgate has pestis, a plague or

pestilence; the old Saxon version, [Anglo-Saxon], from

[Anglo-Saxon], to die, any fatal disease. Our English word

murrain comes either from the French mourir, to die, or from the

Greek μαραινω maraino, to grow lean, waste away. The term

mortality would be the nearest in sense to the original, as no

particular disorder is specified by the Hebrew word.

Verse 4. The Lord shall sever] See Clarke on Ex 8:22.

Verse 5. To-morrow the Lord shall do this] By thus foretelling

the evil, he showed his prescience and power; and from this both

the Egyptians and Hebrews must see that the mortality that ensued

was no casualty, but the effect of a predetermined purpose in the

Divine justice.

Verse 6. All the cattle of Egypt died] That is, All the cattle

that did die belonged to the Egyptians, but not one died that

belonged to the Israelites, Ex 9:4, 6. That the whole stock of

cattle belonging to the Egyptians did not die we have the fullest

proof, because there were cattle both to be killed and saved alive

in the ensuing plague, Ex 9:19-25. By this judgment the

Egyptians must see the vanity of the whole of their national

worship, when they found the animals which they not only held

sacred but deified, slain without distinction among the common

herd, by a pestilence sent from the hand of Jehovah. One might

naturally suppose that after this the animal worship of the

Egyptians could never more maintain its ground.

Verse 7. And Pharaoh sent, &c.] Finding so many of his own

cattle and those of his subjects slain, he sent to see whether the

mortality had reached to the cattle of the Israelites, that he

might know whether this were a judgment inflicted by their God,

and probably designing to replace the lost cattle of the Egyptians

with those of the Israelites.

The SIXTH plague-the BOILS and BLAINS

Verse 8. Handfuls of ashes of the furnace] As one part of the

oppression of the Israelites consisted In their labour in the

brick-kilns, some have observed a congruity between the crime and

the punishment. The furnaces, in the labour of which they

oppressed the Hebrews, now yielded the instruments of their

punishment; for every particle of those ashes, formed by unjust

and oppressive labour, seemed to be a boil or a blain on the

tyrannic king and his cruel and hard-hearted people.

Verse 9. Shall be a boil] shechin. This word is

generally expounded, an inflammatory swelling, a burning boil;

one of the most poignant afflictions, not immediately mortal, that

can well affect the surface of the human body. If a single boil

on any part of the body throws the whole system into a fever, what

anguish must a multitude of them on the body at the same time

occasion!

Breaking forth with blains] ababuoth, supposed to come

from baah, to swell, bulge out; any inflammatory swelling,

node, or pustule, in any part of the body, but more especially in

the more glandular parts, the neck, arm-pits, groin, &c. The

Septuagint translate it thus: καιεσταιελκηφλυκτιδεςαναζεουσαι.

And it shalt be an ulcer with burning pustules. It seems to have

been a disorder of an uncommon kind, and hence it is called by way

of distinction, the botch of Egypt, De 28:27, perhaps never

known before in that or any other country. Orosius says that in

the sixth plague "all the people were blistered, that the blisters

burst with tormenting pain, and that worms issued out of them."

[Anglo-Saxon]

Alfred's Oros., lib. i., c. vii.

Verse 11. The boil was upon the magicians] They could not

produce a similar malady by throwing ashes in the air; and they

could neither remove the plague from the people, nor from their

own tormented flesh. Whether they perished in this plague we know

not, but they are no more mentioned. If they were not destroyed by

this awful judgment, they at least left the field, and no longer

contended with these messengers of God. The triumph of God's

power was now complete, and both the Hebrews and the Egyptians

must see that there was neither might, nor wisdom, nor counsel

against the Lord; and that, as universal nature acknowledged his

power, devils and men must fail before him.

Verse 15. For now I will stretch out my hand] In the Hebrew the

verbs are in the past tense, and not in the future, as our

translation improperly expresses them, by which means a

contradiction appears in the text: for neither Pharaoh nor his

people were smitten by a pestilence, nor was he by any kind of

mortality cut off from the earth. It is true the first-born were

slain by a destroying angel, and Pharaoh himself was drowned in

the Red Sea; but these judgments do not appear to be referred to

in this place. If the words be translated, as they ought, in the

subjunctive mood, or in the past instead of the future, this

seeming contradiction to facts, as well as all ambiguity, will be

avoided: For if now I HAD STRETCHED OUT ( shalachti, had set

forth) my hand, and had smitten thee ( vaach otheca)

and thy people with the pestilence, thou SHOULDST HAVE BEEN cut

off ( ticcached) from the earth.

Verse 16. But truly, on this very account, have I caused thee to

SUBSIST, ( heemadticha,) that I MIGHT cause thee to see

my power, ( harotheca eth cochi,) and that my name

MIGHT be declared throughout all the earth, (or, becol

haarets, in all THIS LAND.) See Ainsworth and Houbigant.

Thus God gave this impious king to know that it was in

consequence of his especial providence that both he and his people

had not been already destroyed by means of the past plagues; but

God had preserved him for this very purpose, that he might have a

farther opportunity of manifesting that he, Jehovah, was the only

true God for the full conviction both of the Hebrews and

Egyptians, that the former might follow and the latter fear before

him. Judicious critics of almost all creeds have agreed to

translate the original as above, a translation which it not only

can bear but requires, and which is in strict conformity to both

the Septuagint and Targum. Neither the Hebrew

heemadticha, I have caused thee to stand; nor the apostle's

translation of it, Ro 9:17, εξηγειρα

σε, I have raised thee; nor that of the Septuagint, ενεκεν

τουτουδιετηρηθης, on this account art thou preserved, viz., in

the past plagues; can countenance that most exceptionable meaning

put on the words by certain commentators, viz., "That God ordained

or appointed Pharaoh from all eternity, by certain means, to this

end; that he made him to exist in time; that he raised him to the

throne; promoted him to that high honour and dignity; that he

preserved him, and did not cut him off as yet; that he

strengthened and hardened his heart; irritated, provoked, and

stirred him up against his people Israel, and suffered him to go

all the lengths he did go in his obstinacy and rebellion; all

which was done to show in him his power in destroying him in the

Red Sea. The sum of which is, that this man was raised up by God

in every sense for God to show his power in his destruction."

So man speaks; thus GOD hath not spoken. See Henry on the place.

Verse 17. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people] So it

appears that at this time he might have submitted, and thus

prevented his own destruction.

The SEVENTH plague-the HAIL.

Verse 18. To-morrow about this time] The time of this plague is

marked thus circumstantially to show Pharaoh that Jehovah was Lord

of heaven and earth, and that the water, the fire, the earth,

and the air, which were all objects of Egyptian idolatry, were the

creatures of his power; and subservient to his will; and that, far

from being able to help them, they were now, in the hands of God,

instruments of their destruction.

To rain a very grievous hail] To rain hail may appear to some

superficial observers as an unphilosophical mode of expression,

but nothing can be more correct. "Drops of rain falling through a

cold region of the atmosphere are frozen and converted into hail;"

and thus the hail is produced by rain. When it begins to fall it

is rain; when it is falling it is converted into hail; thus it is

literally true that it rains hail. The farther a hail-stone falls

the larger it generally is, because in its descent it meets with

innumerable particles of water, which, becoming attached to it,

are also frozen, and thus its bulk is continualy increasing till

it reaches the earth. In the case in question, if natural means

were at all used, we may suppose a highly electrified state of an

atmosphere loaded with vapours, which, becoming condensed and

frozen, and having a considerable space to fall through, were of

an unusually large size. Though this was a supernatural storm,

there have been many of a natural kind, that have been exceedingly

dreadful. A storm of hail fell near Liverpool, in Lancashire, in

the year 1795, which greatly damaged the vegetation, broke

windows, &c., &c. Many of the stones measured five inches in

circumference. Dr. Halley mentions a similar storm of hail in

Lancashire, Cheshire, &c., in 1697, April 29, that for sixty miles

in length and two miles in breadth did immense damage, by

splitting trees, killing fowls and all small animals, knocking

down men and horses, &c., &c. Mezeray, in his History of France,

says "that in Italy, in 1510, there was for some time a horrible

darkness, thicker than that of night, after which the clouds broke

into thunder and lightning, and there fell a shower of hail-stones

which destroyed all the beasts, birds, and even fish of the

country. It was attended with a strong smell of sulphur, and the

stones were of a bluish colour, some of them weighing one hundred

pounds' weight." The Almighty says to Job: "Hast thou seen the

treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of

trouble, against the day of battle and war?" Job 38:22, 23.

While God has such artillery at his command, how soon may he

desolate a country or a world! See the account of a remarkable

hail-storm in Jos 10:11.

Verse 19. Send-now, and gather thy cattle] So in the midst of

judgment, God remembered mercy. The miracle should be wrought that

they might know he was the Lord; but all the lives both of men and

beasts might have been saved, had Pharaoh and his servants taken

the warning so mercifully given them. While some regarded not the

word of the Lord, others feared it, and their cattle and their

servants were saved, See Ex 9:20, 21.

Verse 23. The Lord sent thunder] koloth, voices; but

loud, repeated peals of thunder are meant.

And the fire ran along upon the ground] vattihalac

esh aretsah, and the fire walked upon the earth. It was not a

sudden flash of lightning, but a devouring fire, walking through

every part, destroying both animals and vegetables; and its

progress was irresistible.

Verse 24. Hail, and fire mingled with the hail] It is generally

allowed that the electric fluid is essential to the formation of

hail. On this occasion it was supplied in a supernatural

abundance; for streams of fire seem to have accompanied the

descending hail, so that herbs and trees, beasts and men, were all

destroyed by them.

Verse 26. Only in the land of Goshen-was there no hail.] What a

signal proof of a most particular providence! Surely both the

Hebrews and Egyptians profited by this display of the goodness and

severity of God.

Verse 27. The Lord is righteous, and I and my people are

wicked.] The original is very emphatic: The Lord is THE

RIGHTEOUS ONE, ( hatstaddik,) and I and my people are THE

SINNERS, ( hareshaim;) i.e., He is alone righteous, and we

alone are transgressors. Who could have imagined that after such

an acknowledgment and confession, Pharaoh should have again

hardened his heart?

Verse 28. It is enough] There is no need of any farther plague;

I submit to the authority of Jehovah and will rebel no more.

Mighty thunderings] koloth Elohim, voices of

God;-that is, superlatively loud thunder. So mountains of God

(Ps 36:6) means exceeding high mountains. So

a prince of God (Ge 23:6) means a mighty prince. See a

description of thunder, Ps 29:3-8: "The VOICE OF THE LORD is upon

the waters: the God of glory thundereth; the Lord is upon many

waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord

is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars.

The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire. The voice of

the Lord shaketh the wilderness," &c. The production of rain by

the electric spark is alluded to in a very beautiful manner,

Jer 10:13:

When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in

the heavens. See Clarke on Ge 7:11, and

See Clarke on Ge 8:1.

Verse 29. I will spread abroad my hands] That is, I will make

supplication to God that he may remove this plague. This may

not be an improper place to make some observations on the ancient

manner of approaching the Divine Being in prayer. Kneeling down,

stretching out the hands, and lifting them up to heaven, were in

frequent use among the Hebrews in their religious worship. SOLOMON

kneeled down on his knees, and spread forth his hands to heaven;

2Ch 6:13. So DAVID, Ps 143:6:

I stretch forth my hands unto thee. So EZRA: I fell upon my

knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God; Ezr 9:5. See

also JOB Job 11:13:

If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thy hands towards

him. Most nations who pretended to any kind of worship made use

of the same means in approaching the objects of their adoration,

viz., kneeling down and stretching out their hands; which custom

it is very likely they borrowed from the people of God. Kneeling

was ever considered to be the proper posture of supplication, as

it expresses humility, contrition, and subjection. If the person

to whom the supplication was addressed was within reach, the

supplicant caught him by the knees; for as among the ancients the

forehead was consecrated to genius, the ear to memory, and the

right hand to faith, so the knees were consecrated to mercy.

Hence those who entreated favour fell at and caught hold of the

knees of the person whose kindness they supplicated. This mode of

supplication is particularly referred to in the following passages

in Homer:-

τωννυνμινμνησασαπαρεζεοκαιλαβεγουνων.

Iliad i., ver. 407.

Now therefore, of these things reminding Jove,

Embrace his knees. COWPER.

To which the following answer is made:-

καιτοτεπειτατοιειμιδιοςποτιχαλκοβατεςδω,

καιμινγουνασομαικαιμινπεισεσθαιοιω.

Iliad i., ver. 426.

Then will I to Jove's brazen-floor'd abode,

That I may clasp his knees; and much misdeem

Of my endeavour, or my prayer shall speed. Id.

See the issue of thus addressing Jove, Ibid., ver. 500-502, and

ver. 511, &c.

In the same manner we find our Lord accosted, Mt 17:14:

There came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him γονυπετων

αυτον, falling down at his knees.

As to the lifting up or stretching out of the hands, (often

joined to kneeling,) of which we have seen already several

instances, and of which we have a very remarkable one in this

book, Ex 17:11, where the

lifting up or stretching out of the hands of Moses was the means

of Israel's prevailing over Amalek; we find many examples of both

in ancient authors. Thus HOMER:-

εσθλονγαρδυχειραςανασχεμεναικελεηση.

Iliad xxiv., ver. 301.

For right it is to spread abroad the hands

To Jove for mercy.

Also VIRGIL:-

Corripio e stratis corpus, TENDOQUE SUPINAS

AD COELUM cum voce MANUS, et munera libo

AEneid iii., ver. 176.

I started from my bed, and raised on high

My hands and voice in rapture to the sky;

And pour libations. PITT.

Dixerat: et GENUA AMPLEXUS, genibusque volutans

Haerebat. Ibid., ver. 607.

Then kneel'd the wretch, and suppliant clung around

My knees with tears, and grovell'd on the ground.

Id.

----------------media inter numina divum

Multa Jovem MANIBUS SUPPLEX orasse SUPINIS.

Ibid. iv., ver. 204.

Amidst the statues of the gods he stands,

And spreading forth to Jove his lifted hands.

Id.

Et DUPLICES cum voce MANUS ad sidera TENDIT.

Ibid. x., ver. 667.

And lifted both his hands and voice to heaven.

In some cases the person petitioning came forward, and either

sat in the dust or kneeled on the ground, placing his left hand on

the knee of him from whom he expected the favour, while he touched

the person's chin with his right. We have an instance of this

also in HOMER:-

καιραπαροιθαυτοιοκαθεζετοκαιλαβεγουνων

σκαιη. δεξιτερηδαρυπανθερεωνοςελουσα.

Iliad i., ver. 500.

Suppliant the goddess stood: one hand she placed

Beneath his chin, and one his knee embraced.

POPE.

When the supplicant could not approach the person to whom he

prayed, as where a deity was the object of the prayer, he washed

his hands, made an offering, and kneeling down, either stretched

out both his hands to heaven, or laid them upon the offering or

sacrifice, or upon the altar. Thus Homer represents the priest

of Apollo praying:-

χερνιψαντοδεπειτακαιουλοχυταςανελοντο.

τοισινδεχρυσηςμεγαλευχετοχειραςανασχων.

Iliad i., ver. 449.

With water purify their hands, and take

The sacred offering of the salted cake,

While thus, with arms devoutly raised in air,

And solemn voice, the priest directs his prayer.

POPE.

How necessary ablutions of the whole body, and of the hands

particularly, accompanied with offerings and sacrifices were,

under the law, every reader of the Bible knows: see especially

Ex 29:1-4, where Aaron and his sons were commanded to be

washed, previously to their performing the priest's office; and

Ex 30:19-21, where it is said: "Aaron and his sons shall

wash their hands-that they die not." See also Le 17:15. When

the high priest among the Jews blessed the people, he lifted up

his hands, Le 9:22. And the Israelites, when they presented a

sacrifice to God, lifted up their hands and placed them on the

head of the victim: "If any man of you bring an offering unto the

Lord-of the cattle of the herd, and of the flock- he shall put his

hand upon the head of the burnt-offering, and it shall be accepted

for him, to make atonement for him;" Le 1:2-4. To these

circumstances the apostle alludes, 1Ti 2:8: "I will therefore

that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and

doubting." In the apostle's word επαιροντας, lifting up, there is

a manifest reference to stretching out the hands to place them

either on the altar or on the head of the victim. Four

things were signified by this lifting up of the hands. 1. It was

the posture of supplication, and expressed a strong

invitation-Come to my help; 2. It expressed the earnest desire

of the person to lay hold on the help he required, by bringing him

who was the object of his prayer to his assistance; 3. It showed

the ardour of the person to receive the blessings he expected; and

4. By this act he designated and consecrated his offering or

sacrifice to his God.

From a great number of evidences and coincidences it is not

unreasonable to conclude that the heathens borrowed all that was

pure and rational, even in their mode of worship, from the ancient

people of God; and that the preceding quotations are proofs of

this.

Verse 31. The flax and the barley was smitten] The word

pishtah, flax, Mr. Parkhurst thinks, is derived from the root

pashat, to strip, because the substance which we term flax

is properly the bark or rind of the vegetable, pilled or stripped

off the stalks. From time immemorial Egypt was celebrated for the

production and manufacture of flax: hence the linen and fine linen

of Egypt, so often spoken of in ancient authors.

Barley] seorah, from saar, to stand on end,

to be rough, bristly, &c.; hence sear, the hair of the

head, and sair, a he-goat, because of its shaggy hair;

and hence also barley, because of the rough and prickly beard

with which the ears are covered and defended.

Dr. Pocock has observed that there is a double seed-time and

harvest in Egypt: Rice, India wheat, and a grain called the corn

of Damascus, and in Italian surgo rosso, are sown and reaped at a

very different time from wheat, barley and flax. The first are

sown in March, before the overflowing of the Nile, and reaped

about October; whereas the wheat and barley are sown in

November and December, as soon as the Nile is gone off, and are

reaped before May.

Pliny observes, Hist. Nat., lib. xviii., cap. 10, that in Egypt

the barley is ready for reaping in six months after it is sown,

and wheat in seven. In AEgypto HORDEUM sexto a satu mense,

FEUMENTA septimo metuntur.

The flax was bolled.] Meaning, I suppose, was grown up into a

stalk: the original is gibol, podded or was in the pod.

The word well expresses that globous pod on the top of the stalk

of flax which succeeds the flower and contains the seed, very

properly expressed by the Septuagint, τοδελινονσπερματιζον, but

the flax was in seed or was seeding.

Verse 32. But the wheat and the rye were not smitten] Wheat,

chittah, which Mr. Parkhurst thinks should be derived from

the Chaldee and Samaritan chati, which signifies tender,

delicious, delicate, because of the superiority of its flavour,

&c., to every other kind of grain. But this term in Scripture

appears to mean any kind of bread-corn. Rye, cussemeth,

from casam, to have long hair; and hence, though the

particular species is not known, the word must mean some bearded

grain. The Septuagint call it ολυρα, the Vulgate for, and Aquila

ζεα, which signify the grain called spelt; and some suppose that

rice is meant.

Mr. Harmer, referring to the double harvest in Egypt mentioned

by Dr. Pocock, says that the circumstance of the wheat and the rye

being aphiloth, dark or hidden, as the margin renders it,

(i.e., they were sown, but not grown up,) shows that it was the

Indian wheat or surgo rosso mentioned Ex 9:31, which, with the

rye, escaped, while the barley and flax were smitten because

they were at or nearly at a state of maturity. See Harmer's Obs.,

vol. iv., p. 11, edit 1808. But what is intended by the words in

the Hebrew text we cannot positively say, as there is a great

variety of opinions on this subject, both among the versions and

the commentators. The Anglo-Saxon translator, probably from not

knowing the meaning of the words, omits the whole verse.

Verse 33. Spread abroad his hands] Probably with the rod of God

in them. See what has been said on the spreading out of the hands

in prayer, Ex 9:29.

See Clarke on Ex 9:29.

Verse 34. He sinned yet more, and hardened his heart] These

were merely acts of his own; "for who can deny," says Mr.

Psalmanazar, "that what God did on Pharaoh was much more proper to

soften than to harden his heart; especially when it is observable

that it was not till after seeing each miracle, and after the

ceasing of each plague, that his heart is said to have been

hardened? The verbs here used are in the conjugations pihel and

hiphil, and often signify a bare permission, from which it is

plain that the words should have been read, God suffered the heart

of Pharaoh to be hardened."-Universal Hist., vol. i., p. 494. Note D.

Verse 35. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened] In consequence

of his sinning yet more, and hardening his own heart against

both the judgments and mercies of God, we need not be surprised

that, after God had given him the means of softening and

repentance, and he had in every instance resisted and abused them,

he should at last have been left to the hardness and darkness of

his own obstinate heart, so as to fill up the measure of his

iniquity, and rush headlong to his own destruction.

IN the fifth, sixth, and seventh plagues described in this

chapter, we have additional proofs of the justice and mercy of

God, as well as of the stupidity, rebellion, and wickedness of

Pharaoh and his courtiers. As these continued to contradict and

resist, it was just that God should continue to inflict those

punishments which their iniquities deserved. Yet in the midst of

judgment he remembers mercy; and therefore Moses and Aaron are

sent to inform the Egyptians that such plagues would come if they

continued obstinate. Here is mercy; the cattle only are

destroyed, and the people saved! Is it not evident from all these

messages, and the repeated expostulations of Moses and Aaron in

the name and on the authority of God, that Pharaoh was bound by no

fatal necessity to continue his obstinacy; that he might have

humbled himself before God, and thus prevented the disasters that

fell on the land, and saved himself and his people from

destruction? But he would sin, and therefore he must be punished.

In the sixth plague Pharaoh had advantages which he had not

before. The magicians, by their successful imitations of the

miracles wrought by Moses, made it doubtful to the Egyptians

whether Moses himself was not a magician acting without any Divine

authority; but the plague of the boils, which they could not

imitate, by which they were themselves afflicted, and which they

confessed to be the finger of God, decided the business. Pharaoh

had no longer any excuse, and must know that he had now to

contend, not with Moses and Aaron, mortals like himself, but with

the living God. How strange, then, that he should continue to

resist! Many affect to be astonished at this, and think it must

be attributed only to a sovereign controlling influence of God,

which rendered it impossible for him to repent or take warning.

But the whole conduct of God shows the improbability of this

opinion: and is not the conduct of Pharaoh and his courtiers

copied and reacted by thousands who are never suspected to be

under any such necessitating decree? Every sinner under heaven,

who has the Bible in his hand, is acting the same part. God says

to the swearer and the profane, Thou shalt not take the name of

the Lord thy God in vain; and yet common swearing and profaneness

are most scandalously common among multitudes who bear the

Christian name, and who presume on the mercy of God to get at

last to the kingdom of heaven! He says also, Remember the Sabbath

day to keep it holy; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit

adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness;

thou shalt not covet; and sanctions all these commandments with

the most awful penalties: and yet, with all these things before

them, and the professed belief that they came from God,

Sabbath-breakers, men-slayers, adulterers, fornicators, thieves,

dishonest men, false witnesses, liars, slanderers, backbiters,

covetous men, lovers of the world more than lovers of God, are

found by hundreds and thousands! What were the crimes of the poor

half-blind Egyptian king when compared with these! He sinned

against a comparatively unknown God; these sin against the God of

their fathers-against the God and Father of Him whom they call

their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! They sin with the Bible in

their hand, and a conviction of its Divine authority in their

hearts. They sin against light and knowledge; against the checks

of their consciences, the reproofs of their friends, the

admonitions of the messengers of God; against Moses and Aaron in

the law; against the testimony of all the prophets; against the

evangelists, the apostles, the Maker of heaven and earth, the

Judge of all men, and the Saviour of the world! What were

Pharaoh's crimes to the crimes of these? On comparison, his atom

of moral turpitude is lost in their world of iniquity. And yet

who supposes these to be under any necessitating decree to sin on,

and go to perdition? Nor are they; nor was Pharaoh. In all

things God has proved both his justice and mercy to be clear in

this point. Pharaoh, through a principle of covetousness, refused

to dismiss the Israelites, whose services he found profitable to

the state: these are absorbed in the love of the world, the love

of pleasure, and the love of gain; nor will they let one lust go,

even in the presence of the thunders of Sinai, or in sight of the

agony, bloody sweat, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ!

Alas! how many are in the habit of considering Pharaoh the worst

of human beings, inevitably cut off from the possibility of being

saved because of his iniquities, who outdo him so far in the

viciousness of their lives, that Pharaoh, hardening his heart

against ten plagues, appears a saint when compared with those who

are hardening their hearts against ten millions of mercies.

Reader, art thou of this number? Proceed no farther! God's

judgments linger not. Desperate as thy state is, thou mayest

return; and thou, even thou, find mercy through the blood of the

Lamb.

See the observations at the conclusion of the next chapter.

See Clarke on Ex 10:29.

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