Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

Exodus 8

Verses 1-32

Exodus 8:1

And so the world went its way, controlled by no dread of retribution; and on the tomb frescoes you can see legions of slaves under the lash dragging from the quarries the blocks of granite which were to form the eternal monuments of the Pharaoh's tyranny; and you read in the earliest authentic history that when there was a fear that the slave-races should multiply so fast as to be dangerous their babies were flung to the crocodiles.

One of these slave-races rose at last in revolt. Noticeably it did not rise against oppression as such, or directly in consequence of oppression. We hear of no massacre of slave-drivers, no burning of towns or villages, none of the usual accompaniments of peasant insurrections. If Egypt was plagued, it was not by mutinous mobs or incendiaries. Half a million men simply rose up and declared that they could endure no longer the mendacity, the hypocrisy, the vile and incredible rubbish which was offered to them in the sacred name of religion. 'Let us go,' they said, 'into the wilderness, go out of these soft water-meadows and cornfields, forsake our leeks and our flesh-pots, and take in exchange a life of hardship and wandering, that we may worship the God of our fathers.' Their leader had been trained in the wisdom of the Egyptians, and among the rocks of Sinai had learnt that it was wind and vanity. The half-obscured traditions of his ancestors awoke to life again, and were rekindled by him in his people. They would bear with lies no longer. They shook the dust of Egypt from their feet, and the prate and falsehood of it from their souls, and they withdrew with all belonging to them, into the Arabian desert, that they might no longer serve cats and dogs and bulls and beetles, but the Eternal Spirit Who had been pleased to make His existence known to them. They sung no paeans of liberty. They were delivered from the house of bondage, but it was the bondage of mendacity, and they left it only to assume another service. The Eternal had taken pity on them. In revealing His true nature to them, He had taken them for His children. They were not their own, but His, and they laid their lives under commandments which were as close a copy as, with the knowledge which they possessed, they could make, to the moral laws of the Maker of the Universe.

Froude, Short Studies, vol. 11.

Reference. VIII. 1. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi. No. 322.

Exodus 8:15

I expected every wave would have swallowed us up, and that every time the ship fell down, as I thought, in the trough or hollow of the sea, we should never rise more; and in this agony of mind I made many vows and resolutions, that if it would please God here to spare my life this one voyage, if ever I got once my foot upon dry land again, I would go directly home to my father, and never set it into a ship again while I lived.... These wise and sober thoughts continued all the while the storm continued, and indeed some time after; but the next day the wind was abated and the sea calmer, and I began to be a little inured to it.... In a word, as the sea was returned to its smoothness of surface and settled calmness by the abatement of that storm, so the hurry of my thoughts being over, my fears and apprehensions of being swallowed up by the sea being forgotten, and the current of my former desires returned, I entirely forgot the vows and promises that I made in my distress.

Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (chap. I.)

References. VIII. 25. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi. No. 1830. VIII. 28. Ibid., vol. xxxi. No. 1830. IX. 1. Stopford A. Brooke, The Old Testament and Modern Life, p. 129. See also Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. 1894, p. 214. IX. 7 J. J. Tetley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lx. 1901, p. 94.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Exodus 8". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.