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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Exodus 5

Verse 1

Pharaoh - This king, probably Tothmosis II, the great grandson of Aahmes Exodus 1:8, the original persecutor of the Israelites, must have been resident at this time in a city, probably Tanis Exodus 2:5, of Lower Egypt, situated on the Nile.

The Lord God - Yahweh God of Israel demanded the services of His people. The demand, according to the general views of the pagans, was just and natural; the Israelites could not offer the necessary sacrifices in the presence of Egyptians.

Verse 2

I know not the Lord - Either Pharaoh had not heard of Yahweh, or he did not recognize Him as a God.

Verse 3

Three days’ journey - See the Exodus 3:18 note.

With pestilence, or with the sword - This shows that the plague was well known to the ancient Egyptians. The reference to the sword is equally natural, since the Israelites occupied the eastern district, which was frequently disturbed by the neighboring Shasous.

Verse 4

Let - i. e. hinder.

Verse 6

Their officers - Or scribes. Hebrews able to keep accounts in writing, appointed by the Egyptian superintendents, and responsible to them for the work; see Exodus 5:14. Subordinate officers are frequently represented on Egyptian monuments, giving in written accounts to their immediate superiors.

Verse 7

Some of the most ancient buildings in Egypt were constructed of bricks not burned, but dried in the sun; they were made of clay, or more commonly of mud, mixed with straw chopped into small pieces. An immense quantity of straw must have been wanted for the works on which the Israelites were engaged, and their labors must have been more than doubled by this requisition.

Verse 12

Stubble instead of straw - Rather, for the straw: i. e. to be prepared as straw. This marks the season of the year, namely, early spring, after the barley or wheat harvest, toward the end of April. Their suffering must have been severe: at that season the pestilential sand-wind blows over Egypt some 50 days, hence, its name - Chamsin. (compare Genesis 41:6 note).

Verse 17

Ye are idle - The old Egyptian language abounds in epithets which show contempt for idleness. The charge was equally offensive and ingenious; one which would be readily believed by Egyptians who knew how much public and private labors were impeded by festivals and other religious ceremonies. Among the great sins which, according to Egyptian belief, involved condemnation in the final judgment, idleness is twice mentioned.

Verse 23

The earnestness of this remonstrance, and even its approach to irreverence, are quite in keeping with other notices of Moses’ naturally impetuous character. See Exodus 3:13.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/exodus-5.html. 1870.