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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Exodus 5

Verses 1-23

Increase of the Oppression

1. Pharaoh] probably P. Merenptah. See on Exodus 1:8. His court may have been at Zoan or Tanis during the events that ensued: cp. Psalms 78:12, Psalms 78:43; The Lord God of Israel] Heb. ’Jehovah the God of Israel’: see on Exodus 3:13, Exodus 3:18. Similarly in the next v. Pharaoh says, ’Who is Jehovah?.. I know not Jehovah.’ Jehovah not being known and worshipped in Egypt, Pharaoh does not acknowledge His right to command him.

3. See on Exodus 3:18.

4. Let the people] i.e. hinder them, as in Isaiah 43:13; Romans 1:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

6. The taskmasters are the Egyptian officials, and the officers (lit. ’scribes’) are the Hebrew clerks under them whose duty it was to keep an account of the bricks made: see Exodus 15:14.

7. Straw to make brick] The bricks were made of Nile mud to which chopped straw was added to give it consistency. They were sometimes stamped with the name of the reigning king. Some have been found bearing the name of Rameses II, the father of Merenptah, and wooden stamps and moulds have also been discovered.

8. The tale] i.e. the number, as in 1 Samuel 18:27; 1 Chronicles 9:28. To ’tell’ in Old English means to count, and is used in this sense in Genesis 15:5; 2 Chronicles 2:2; Psalms 22:17; Psalms 48:12; Psalms 147:4 etc. The counter of votes in Parliament is still called the ’teller.’

12. Stubble instead of straw] RV ’stubble for straw.’ The word rendered ’straw’ means straw cut into short pieces and mixed with chaff. This required little labour, if any, to make it fit for use in brickmaking. What is called ’stubble’ is not what we know by that name, but includes all kinds of field rubbish, small twigs, stems, roots of withered plants, etc., which were used for fuel. To make this fit for brickmaking it had not only to be gathered, but chopped up and sorted, thus entailing double labour on the part of the Israelites.

21. Our savour to be abhorred] i.e. as we say ’to be in bad odour’: cp. Genesis 34:30.

22. The faith of Moses was severely tried, seeing that what he had done by God’s commandment had the effect of making matters still more grievous for the Israelites meanwhile. But the opening words of the next chapter show that their ’present affliction will work a far more exceeding weight of glory.’

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Exodus 5". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.