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CHAP. X. 1. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pha
raoh; for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his 2 servants, that I might show these my signs before him : and
that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which
I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am 3 the Lord. And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and
said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How
long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my 4 people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou refuse to let
my people go, behold, to-morrow will I bring the locusts into 5 thy coast: and they shall cover the face of the earth, that one
cannot be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue
that of the willow bending before the storm, to rise erect when the storm is past. So he stiffens into an oak, which cannot bend, and has to break, and be hurled away like chaff (Ps. i., ii. 10–12).
The grand description of a locust invasion in Joel i., ii., may here be profitably read for that moral impression which is the commanding interest of our history. The natural history of the locust has been very fully studied. We will refer to it only as bearing on the exposition of our text here.
I. Hardened. The fact of divine agency is made more awful by the manner of the introduction of it here : with the emphatic personal pronoun 1,-“it is my doing” (Ro. i. 18). The word here (khabhëdh), the one for making heavy: the stronger word (chasaq, as if for "incurable obstinacy”) comes in at ver. 20. The servants, under the same carnal influences, no doubt have in substance the same dark career. His signs (Introd, and under iv. I -10). Before him: rather, within him (in his heart); or it may be, within it (the land). 2. The deep abiding impression upon Israel appears in the Psalms (Ps. lxviii. 6, 7, lxviii. 12, etc.). What-Egypt: or, in what manner I have dealt with the Egyptians (or even, played with them). The Heb. word refers to a practising on men which is not to their credit or advantage. That thou—LORD. The miracles are to remain in memory) as evidential stars once created ever shining (Ps. cxlv. 4). 3. To humble himself: a severer manner of speaking than before :—the sinner has relapsed (ix. 27, 28). At the same time, it may point to the tap-root of the sin as pride (Ro. viii. 7). The barrier (under ix. 17) may thus have been proud self (hubris, spiritual “proud flesh ”). 4. Thou-1. Again, sharp antithesis-à personal controversy. Coast: territories. The word for LOCUST here (arběh) is from a root referring to multitude. 5. Face of the earth : (lit. eyes of the land). This plague is to hide from view the face of kind mother earth (alma mater) : the vivid natural image here, and in ver. 15, is employed in only one other place of Scripture (Nu. xxii. 5, 11). That one-earth : either (1) by their darkening the air as with a cloud (so the Persian arrows at Marathon), or (2) by their concealing, as with a cloth, the land which they light upon and overrun.
The literal effect has been witnessed under both aspects : there has been seen a cloud of locusts 500 miles in breadth, which is nearly equal to the whole length of Egypt. The residue (under ix. 32): about half the year's crop had escaped. Since these
of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the
hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the 6 field: and they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy
servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians : which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day
that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned 7 himself, and went out from Pharaoh. And Pharaoh's servants
said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us?
let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God : 8 knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? And Moses
and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh; and he said
unto them, Go, serve the Lord your God; but who are they 9 that shall go? And Moses said, We will go with our young
and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with
herds will we go; for we must hold a words were written, there has been news of a locust army in Western Africa, twelve miles long, causing despair to man. Every tree (regarding the completeness thus represented, see under ver. 15): which groweth; rather, which sprouteth. At the time of the hail plague, some trees, not then sprouted (green, ver. 15), would escape the desolation. For you : it is Egyptians that are to be smitten, even through green tender trees. 6. Houses. It is a strangely horrible circumstance of this plague, that " a storm of locusts” will at once completely fill every part of a house, like invasion of a subtle noisome vapour. Which--day. Here again miracle is shown by unparalleled amount of a thing which is ordinary in its nature. Since-earth (cp. ix. 18, 24): it is quite arbitrary and useless to carry this literally to the beginning of the natural history of creation. The question is only of what is within the knowledge and experience of mankind. It does not necessarily even look beyond the land of Egypt
- an unparalleled thing. That is to say, the question is, Is there miracle in this work? Is this, again, “the finger of God ?”(viii. 19). 7. Servants. It is arbitrary to make them here magicians. These have been exhibited under their own name. The servants here are the king's ordinary subordinates-officers or courtiers. Their remonstrance is an impressive new symptom of a formidable crisis. This man : perhaps with an implication of scornful aversion,—this fellow (cp. Act. xxiv. 5). Snare : Egyptians have often seen the helplessness of a snared bird or lion. The man here does not mean, the adult males, but simply the human beings (folks). Brought you unto Pharaoh. No doubt he sent for them. But who — go ? lit. who and who are the going ones ? Who precisely are on wing for this departure? 9. The will go here is abrupt and peremptory. With-herds. From the omission of the wives here, the obvious inference is, that they are included in the we, along with their husbands. The meaning plainly is, that the whole people were to go bodily,--not merely a select class of representative individuals. Flocks-herds : completing the view of a national migration. Besides, flocks and herds were necessary for the intended sacrifice-which is rather small criticism. Feast (ver. I): festival, solemn, religious. Such festivals were attended by women and children among the Egyptians themselves : such attendance was (De. xvi. II, 14) of
IO feast unto the Lord. And he said unto them, Let the Lord
be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones : 11 look to it; for evil is before you. Not so: go now ye that
are men, and serve the Lord; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come
up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, 13 even all that the hail hath left. And Moses stretched forth
his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and
when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and
rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they;
before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after the substance of Israel's religion. Pharaoh thus was really prohibiting the feast according to its nature. 10, 11. It is hardly possible to understand this as meaning, that Pharaoh really blessed the people, and expressed a solicitude for their safety in circumstances of peril. The most widely received view is, that there is an undertone of menace (when Odysseus said, “My noble gentleman,” the gentleman is in peril of his life), with perhaps the tragic playfulness of infatuation : “ May you have such blessing from Jehovah as you shall have licence from me! To go away wholesale! I warn you, that I see you mean to wrong me (cheat him of his slaves). Only the grown males are to go.
That is all you asked at first. Go, indeed! I should like to see it !” The word for men here is distinctly (gěbhěr) that for adult male. The women and children left behind would be to him for hostages, giving him hold of one end of the chain of those who are gone. Moses has always spoken of Jehovah's people : never hinted at a going without the women and children. Were driven out : it is not said by whom, or at whose instance.
The unceremonious expulsion, as if (cp. the murder of Thomas à Becket) the king's wrathful scorn had been taken by his servants as a signal for “ rabbling" these ambassadors, will be followed (ver. 16) by a
“poetical justice. 12. Over the land (ver. 13, cp. ix. 22, 23), as if beckoning the locusts to come from beyond it. (Class motto-to the ravens—"Come to me, and I will give you flesh ”). Come up upon the land (under ver. 14). This is poetical description of a locust invasion (Joel i., ii., is the locus classicus). First, appearing on the horizon as a wall of cloud : on approaching the fated land, they overspread it as a darkness. 13. East wind. Some would make this a south wind, so as to bring the locusts in the ordinary way from Ethiopia. But it is God that is bringing them extraordinarily. And “south” is not permitted by the known use of the word here employed. Further, it is naturally possible for locusts to be blown from the east, across the Red Sea. They are known to be carried by gentle breezes over wider seas; while there may have been something miraculous in the manner of their importation now. 14. Went up (under ver. 12). A locust army of invasion appears to rise on the border, over which it spreads. Overgrievous (under ver. 5). Another—such : not contradicted by Joel ii. 2; for
15 them shall be such. For they covered the face of the whole
earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of
Egypt 16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and
he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and 17 against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin
only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that he may 18 take away from me this death only. And he went out from 19 Pharaoh, and entreated the Lord. And the Lord turned a
mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and
cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust 20 in all the coasts of Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's
heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go. the reference there is to Israel's " land ;” and the expressions ought not to be pressed beyond what is called for by the argument,—"an unexampled visitation." 15. This terribly powerful description is expounded in Joel (i., ii.). Covered—darkened (under ver. 5). Whole earth : all the land. Green thing, along with fruit of the trees, expounds the every tree in ver. 5. The enemy devoured the trees so far as they were green,—that is, edibly soft and tender. In earlier spring, the ravenous little beasts may consume even the younger branches, then soft and sappy (Ps. civ. 16). Travellers report that they strip the earth bare, as when a carpet is lifted off a floor. 16. In haste : he now is thoroughly alarmed. 1-you : more ample confession than before (under ix. 26, 27). 17. Only this once : in fact he did not after this any more seek their intercession. This death : death, which the hail produced by direct violence, is here as a manifest result of the plague, were it only through destroying the people's means of life. 18. Went out : apparently in silence (cp. ix. 29), as if silently saying, that here words are now useless. 19. West — wind : lit. sea-wind. From the Mediterranean a westerly wind would through the Delta slant south - eastward. Red Sea (under ii. 3): the word here for red (súph) in this famous name is understood to mean weed, so that “red sea” is really weedy sea :-perhaps on account of a seaweed which abounds in the Arabian Gulf; perhaps from an abundance of weeds in what once was an extension of the Red Sea, in the now marshy flats westward of Suez. The suddenness and completeness of the deliverance from this plague is in the line of what is observed in the natural history of locusts. The supernatural in our history is evinced by other circumstances : as a well in Vesuvius, originating at the time of an eruption, can be seen to have been opened by volcanic action. Hardened (under ver. 1).
Exercise 23. 1. State what were the agents in the plague of locusts, and what was the nature
of their activities respectively. 2. Why should the Egyptians, and other men, regard themselves as having a
better title than locusts have to the fruits of the earth? Why do they ?
21 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand
toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of 22 Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses
stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a 23 thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: they saw 3. Give a text in which the winds are commanded not to injure trees, and a case
in proof that the Commander has power to secure their obedience. Note on the locust as a soldier.—(Try to get a picture of a private locust and a man here.) The artillery of heaven in this campaign was a common staff in the hand of an old man. The fishes and the frogs, though a nuisance, cannot be reckoned as a soldiery. And the lice and dog-flies, though tormenting, did not occupy and ravage the land. The only army was that of the locust, which in our note-book is described as “ three or four inches long, in form resembling a flying grasshopper.” It is added that "honey can be found in this lion : the locust is not bad food for men-witness John the Baptist.' It is to be observed that in the plagues, the Almighty employs instrumentalities the most insignificant, having thus chosen "the things which are not to confound the things which are. An Egyptian ruler of our time, says the note-book, “once employed a literal army of soldiers to combat the pest.' A solitary French soldier-Jules Gerard—will make successful war upon the African lion; and the mighty American bison is fading away before the persistence of individual trappers and rovers. The strength and wisdom of the British Empire are powerless against the rabbits and small song-birds which are eating up her Australasian colonies. There is not a run-holder south of the Equator who does not know, that it would be more distinctly a miracle to clear his land of rabbits and small birds than it would be to drive the Turks out of Europe. The Hebrews did not forget about the locust. Their language has ten names for him; which the number of names that theology finds in it for the Supreme Being. The ordinary name is that which
"multitude." Though that "multitude" should have been as wise a people as the ants, they did not conspire with Moses in a pretended miracle.
The Ninth Plague (x. 20-29)--of darkness. Pharaoh, having ceased to seek intercession of those who know the Lord, now looks for the last time (on earth in time) on the face of a mediator between God and man. For the third time there comes a plague without warning. It is to be noted that this Plague, the most awfully terrific of all the nine, is the only one of them that is not in its nature essentially a nuisance; and also, that this thing, which, in the distinctness of Israel's experience from Egypt, is as manifestly miraculous as though a new sun had been placed in the firmament, has a “natural basis” almost as familiarly known to men as the trade winds are.
That 'basis" is in the chamsin or the samoom, two forms of one plague of darkness. The chamsin may last for three days; the samoom, apparently, not for so many hours. The season of it is March (which coincides with our other indications of date). It occurs in connexion with a southerly or easterly wind that begins to blow about the time of the spring solstice (this, in yet closer coincidence with those indications, throws it toward the close of March). The plague at its worst presents these three aspects—(1) the sun's face is hid, as with a yellowish veil ; (2) there is a storm of wind laden with sand ; and (3) men hide themselves (Is. xxxii. 2) in their houses, or tents, or holes dug in the ground.
21. Which-felt: that is, with the hand groping (so in Act. xvii. 27 and 1 Jn. i. 1 — where men are feeling after God); not simply a “darkness visible,” but a palpable thing. The sand loading the atmosphere gives to this representation almost a mechanical accuracy. But the essential meaning is "pitch-dark." 22. Thick darkness : lit. a dark of deep darkness. The