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Pharaoh consents for the men only to go: the plague of locusts is sent: Pharaoh confesses his sin; but still hardens his heart: the plague of darkness is sent: Pharaoh, still obdurate, would have the cattle of the Israelites remain behind.
Before Christ 1491.
Exodus 10:1. For I have hardened his heart— Or, Although I have, &c. that is, although I have suffered him still to continue obdurate, that I might more amply display my own glory, and give not only to Egypt and the nations around, but to my people Israel in particular, a striking proof and monument of my power and providence; and that to the latest generations.
Exodus 10:3. How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself— This expression plainly proves, that God's intention was not to harden Pharaoh by these singular judgments. His gracious purpose was to have humbled him; i.e. to have brought him to a just sense of himself, and to a lowly acknowledgment of the sovereignty of Jehovah.
Exodus 10:4. I will bring the locusts into thy coasts— That this terrible plague, like the rest, was miraculous and supernatural, there can be no doubt: however, travellers inform us of such horrid devastations committed by these destructive insects, as very amply explain the description given by the sacred writer in the 5th, 6th, 14th, and 15th verses, Thevenot, in particular, in his Travels, tells us of armies of locusts laying waste the countries of the Cossacks. Their increase is wonderful, and their numbers almost incredible: they are supposed each to lay near three hundred eggs. Such as have been eye-witnesses, report that they have seen the whole air in Arabia darkened by them in their flight for eighteen or twenty miles. They eclipse the light of the sun, says Pliny, in their flight; the people looking up to them in anxious suspense, lest they should cover their whole country. They are so destructive, that large territories have been laid bare by them in a few hours, and the inhabitants reduced to famine. Pliny further tells us, that they do not spare even the bark of trees, but eat every thing that comes in their way, even to the very doors of houses. These, sent upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians by Jehovah, were peculiarly grievous: Before them were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such, Exodus 10:14. Yet, if we may credit Pliny, there have been locusts seen in India three feet long. See Psa 105:34 and Nahum 3:17.
Exodus 10:7. How long shall this man be a snare unto us— This thing, LXX. Houbigant renders it, How long shall these things be a snare to us? There is no noun in the text, only the pronoun זה zeh, which may, with as much propriety, be rendered this thing, as, this man.
Exodus 10:8. But who are they that shall go— Brought to some degree of sense and feeling by his more wise and moderate counsellors, Pharaoh appears to consent to the departure of the Israelites; but, as in an instant, his perverse heart makes a reserve. It is evident that he feared the absolute and entire loss of the Hebrews, and, consequently, of the advantages which they brought to his kingdom: and, therefore, willing to secure a pledge in hand, he consents to the departure of the men, but would haste the little ones and the flocks remain behind. This was a condition not to be accepted: for a perfect redemption, of every Israelite from Egyptian slavery was the great object of Moses's mission; who informs Pharaoh, Exo 10:9 that a solemn festival was to be held unto the LORD; upon which occasion it was usual for the whole body of the nation, men, women, and children, to unite in the celebration.
Exodus 10:10. He said,—Let the Lord be so with you— Some commentators understand this as an irony; others, as an imprecation: the former interpret it, "yes, your God Jehovah shall deliver you by a miracle, indeed! if ever I part with you in that manner." The latter, "may your God, Jehovah, assist you to my ruin, if ever I let you go upon these terms." I should rather think this to be the true sense, as Moses and Aaron, in consequence of these words, were driven out from Pharaoh's presence. Calmet interprets, for evil is before you, "it is plain your designs are seditious:" as if he had said, "your evil intentions are seen in your eyes." For the Hebrew, says he, might be rendered, voyez que le mal est sur votre visage. Others interpret it of a threat: "evil await you, unless you comply with my terms." Perhaps the verse might best be rendered and understood thus: "Let Jehovah be so with you; as I shall dismiss you and your families; seeing that evil is in your countenances. Not so: go now, ye men, &c." that is, "I wish Jehovah may be with you just as soon as I shall dismiss you upon your terms; since I am convinced you have evil intentions. And if your God was to assist you no sooner than I shall let you go, he would never assist you." The Chaldee paraphrast renders it very similar to this: "So be the word of God your help, as I shall dismiss you and your families. You see that the evil which you think to do, is manifest before your face." When he says, for that you did desire, Exo 10:11 he falsely, and maliciously interprets the original demands ch. Exo 5:1 and, as is usual with people of his turn of mind, gives it such a meaning as was most subservient to his own purposes.
REFLECTIONS.—God's judgments are standing memorials of his power and justice, that the potsherds of the earth may not dare to contend with their Maker. Egypt is almost consumed, but her king is obstinate as ever. Therefore,
1. Moses is sent again to challenge God's people. Before he entreated, now he demands. It required courage indeed to stand thus before an incensed king. Grace makes men as bold as lions. The locusts are threatened, and without waiting for reply, he turns and departs.
2. Pharaoh's servants intercede with him, for fear of that evident ruin which must attend his refusal. On this he makes a new proposal: but, as they who serve God, must serve him with all they possess; Moses insists on leave to depart, for themselves, their children, and their cattle. This Pharaoh rejects with indignation, and drives them from his presence in a rage. Note; When the Devil gets a sinner to the precipice, he pushes him quickly headlong down.
Exodus 10:13. The Lord brought an east-wind— The word קדים chedim, in the original, certainly signifies the east-wind; and, therefore, we have no need to be solicitous, with many, concerning the meaning of the word νοτος, which the LXX here use, and which is generally thought to mean the south-wind. The Vulgate and Houbigant have it, a burning wind. Bochart conceives it to have been the south-wind, properly so called, which carried the locusts into Egypt from AEthiopia; where, as this very learned writer shews, they abound more than in any other country of the world; especially in the spring. This miracle, most probably, consisted, not in God's creating any new swarms of locusts; but in bringing and driving them away at the instance of Moses, according to his Sovereign will. Caterpillars, as the Psalmist informs us, were mixed with these locusts, Psalms 78:46; Psalms 105:34-35. The army of Antichrist is resembled to this plague, Revelation 5:7.
Exodus 10:14. Very grievous— The Vulgate renders it innumerable; and so the original word sometimes signifies. But it seems here rendered, more properly, and more agreeable to the context, grievous.
Exodus 10:17. Take away from me this death— Locusts were generally esteemed an immediate token of the Divine displeasure; and, from the universal and almost instantaneous destruction they occasioned in a country, they are very emphatically and justly styled a death.
Exodus 10:19. A mighty strong west-wind— A wind of the sea, according to the Hebrew. Thus Jehovah rendered obedient to his pleasure, either of punishment or mercy, those winds, and that element of air, which the Egyptians idly adored as their gods. Many naturalists have observed, that locusts are often destroyed, by winds driving their swarms into seas and lakes. The providence of God hath often used the same means to destroy and to save. This strong west-wind, or wind of the sea, most probably, blew from the Mediterranean, which, in respect of Canaan, is west: but, as Moses is here speaking of Egypt, it may mean any wind between the north and west. The Red-sea, or Arabian gulph, lies east of Egypt. But of this we shall have occasion to say more on ch. 14:
REFLECTIONS.—The locusts come, the sky is darkened, the earth covered, and the little which the hail had left utterly consumed. How soon can God, by the most contemptible insects, make our land a wilderness! Hereupon,
1. Pharaoh returns to submission and entreaty, begs pardon of God and his servants, and promises very largely. Note; (1.) They who despise God's ministers, had well ask their pardon, before they stand to accuse them at the bar of God. (2.)
They who are more solicitous to remove the threatened death, than their sin which is the cause of it, are certainly hypocritical penitents.
2. Moses prays, and a west-wind carries the locusts away. No sooner is the plague removed, than Pharaoh returns as the dog to his vomit again. Frequent relapses into sin usually end in final apostasy.
Exodus 10:21. Darkness which may be felt— The supreme objects of the Egyptian worship were the sun, moon, and stars: therefore, to demonstrate his authority over these exalted parts of nature, Jehovah suspended their lights and emanations, and covered all the land of Egypt with thick darkness for three days, a darkness which might be felt, it was so gross and palpable; and a darkness which could not be removed by the common methods then used to supply the absence of the sun: a phenomenon the more portentous to the Egyptians, as their sky was naturally clear and serene to a remarkable degree. Hardly any thing can be conceived more terrible than this punishment: during the continuance of which, the terrified Egyptians sat in deep silence and anguish of heart, strongly pictured by the emphatic phrase, neither rose any from his place: a circumstance of their distress, selected with so much justice by the sacred writer, that it fills the land with a train of striking ideas. It is not, I suppose, to be understood in the strictness of the letter; it denotes only a total inaction and cessation from business; a terrible stilness and silence, which prevailed amidst this palpable and supernatural obscurity; when gross fogs, most probably, infected the air, and men might even feel that darkness which so terribly surrounded them. Still to add more horror to this gloom, this palpable darkness, which blotted out three days, as Milton strongly expresses it, they were troubled, as the author of the Book of Wisdom informs us, with strange apparitions and frightful visions; while an heavy night was spread over them; an image of that darkness which should afterwards receive them: but yet were they unto themselves more grievous than the darkness, Wis 17:3-4; Wis 17:21. See Psalms 78:49. Diodorus Siculus relates, that, in the country of the Troglodites on the frontiers of Egypt, the air is sometimes so choaked up with vapours, occasioned by excessive heat, that, even at noon-day, it is impossible for two persons to discern each other, though ever so near. And Cicero tells us, that the darkness was so great from an eruption of Mount AEtna, that, for two days, men could not know one another: per biduum nemo hominem homo agnosceret. Some expositors, however, have thought that darkness which might be felt is too strong an idea, and that the Hebrew phrase may signify a darkness, wherein men went feeling for every thing they wanted. The author of the Life of Moses understands it in this sense: "in this darkness," says he, "they who were in bed durst not get up; and such as were obliged to do so, went about feeling by the walls, or any other thing they could lay hold on, as if they had been blind."
Exodus 10:23. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings— In the midst of every punishment, Jehovah distinguished the Israelites: thus giving ample and constant conviction to the Egyptians, that he was the Sovereign and sole Author of these wonders; and emphatically instructing them, had they been wise enough to have received it, that nothing can harm them, whose confidence is Jehovah: a God, no less tender in mercies to those who obey, than fearful in judgments to those who despise his word.
Exodus 10:29. I will see thy face again no more— That is, no more in the way of a messenger from God, or of an adviser to thee to do that which is right. And it does not appear that Moses ever came again before Pharaoh: for, as to what follows in the next chapter, Exodus 10:4; Exo 10:8 that was most probably delivered now before he left Pharaoh's presence. And, with respect to Exo 12:31 it by no means follows from thence, that Moses appeared again before Pharaoh: for, alarmed by the terrible circumstances of his people, Pharaoh arose in the night, and called for, or sent by messengers to Moses and Aaron, ordering them forthwith to rise up and get out of the country.
REFLECTIONS.—When sin is not repented of, God's wrath, is not turned away; and though there may be intervals of respite, yet his hand is stretched out still.
1. A more dismal plague overtakes them; total darkness, so dark as to be felt; and made more frightful from the terrors of conscience, which now must seize them; as well as perhaps from fiends of darkness, who, as tradition reports, with horrid yells tormented and haunted those miserable souls. Note; Hell is the place of darkness and of torment. They who choose the darkness of sin, are doomed to this outer darkness, where is weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. If three days so spent were dreadful, what must it be to spend eternity thus?
2. Israel had light in their dwellings. How much better the lightsome tent of a Hebrew servant, than the darkened palaces of proud Pharaoh? Note; The soul in a cottage, enjoying the light of God's countenance, is unspeakably more happy than the greatest monarch that walks in the darkness of sin.
3. Pharaoh again sounds a parley, advances a little farther. Moses is peremptory; a hoof shall not be left behind. Note; False repentance is always partial, and some secret sin is reserved: true repentance is universal, in renouncing every known evil. Allowedly, not a hoof must be left behind.
4. Mad with rage, Pharaoh thrusts him out, and threatens him with death, if he dare ever appear in his presence again. Impotent threats! The ungodly gnash with their teeth, and pine away. Moses consents to his commands, and leaves him quickly with juster indignation. That soul, that people, that place, who thrust out God's ministers from them, and have the dust of their feet shaken off for a testimony against them, are then, most probably, past recovery.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
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