Exodus 9But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also - Still it is his own act and deed, not God's. The hand of the Lord - Immediately, without the stretching out of Aaron's hand, is upon the cattle, many of which, some of all kinds, shall die by a sort of pestilence. The hand of God is to be acknowledged even in the sickness and death of cattle, or other damage sustained in them; for a sparrow falls not to the ground without our father. And his providence is to be acknowledged with thankfulness in the life of the cattle, for he preserveth man and beast, Psa 36:6. All the cattle died - All that were in the field. The creature is made subject to vanity by the sin of man, being liable, according to its capacity, both to serve his wickedness, and to share in his punishment. The Egyptians worshipped their cattle; it was among them that the Israelites learned to make a god of a calf; in that therefore this plague meets with them. But not one of the cattle of the Israelites died - Doth God take care for oxen? Yes, he doth, his providence extends itself to the meanest of his creatures. A boil breaking forth with blains - A burning scab, which quickly raised blisters and blains. Ashes of the furnace - Sometimes God shews men their sin in their punishment: they had oppressed Israel in the furnaces, and now the ashes of the furnace are made as much a terror to them as ever their task - masters had been to the Israelites. This is afterwards called the botch of Egypt, Deu 28:27, as if it were some new disease, never heard of before, and known ever after by that name. The magicians were forced to retreat, and could not stand before Moses - To which the apostle refers, 2Tim 3:9, when he saith, that their folly was manifested unto all men. Now the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart - Before he had hardened his own heart, and resisted the grace of God, and now God justly gave him up to his own heart's lusts, to strong delusions, permitting Satan to blind and harden him. Wilful hardness is commonly punished with judicial hardness. Let us dread this as the sorest judgment a man can be under on this side hell. I will find all my plagues upon thy heart - Hitherto thou hast not felt my plagues on thy own person, the heart is put for the whole man. For this cause have I raised thee up - A most dreadful message Moses is here ordered to deliver to him, whether he will hear, or whether he will forbear. He must tell him, that he is marked for ruin: that he now stands as the butt at which God would shoot all the arrows of his wrath. For this cause have I raised thee up to the throne at this time, and made thee to stand the shock of the plagues hitherto, to shew in thee my power - Providence so ordered it, that Moses should have a man of such a fierce and stubborn spirit to deal with, to make it a most signal and memorable instance of the power God has to bring down the proudest of his enemies; that my name, irresistable power, and my inflexible justice, might be declared throughout all the earth - Not only to all places, but through all ages while the earth remains. This will be the event. But it by no means follows, that this was the design of God. We have numberless instances in scripture of this manner of speaking, to denote not the design, but only the event. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people - Wilt thou not yet submit? Since the foundation thereof - Since it was a kingdom. The earth - The world, the heaven and the earth. Bolled - Grown up into a stalk. Moses went out of the city - Not only for privacy in his communion with God, but to shew that he durst venture abroad into the field, notwithstanding the hail and lightning, knowing that every hail - stone had its direction from God. Peace with God makes men thunder - proof, for it is the voice of their father. And spread abroad his hands unto the Lord - An outward expression of earnest desire, and humble expectation. He prevailed with God; but he could not prevail with Pharaoh; he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart - The prayer of Moses opened and shut heaven, like Elijah's. And such is the power of God's two witnesses, Rev 11:6. Yet neither Moses nor Elijah, nor those two witnesses, could subdue the hard hearts of men. Pharaoh was frighted into compliance by the judgment, but, when it was over, his convictions vanished.
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