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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 9

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7


Verses 1-7:

This is the first time Jehovah identifies Himself as "Jehovah Elohe of the Hebrews."

The fifth "stroke" was upon the property of the Egyptians. The first four plagues were annoyances, primarily upon the persons, though there was some property damage. But Plague Five was upon the "cattle," a generic term denoting domesticated animals in general.

Horses were unknown in Egypt prior to the Hyksos invasion. They became common during the 18th Dynasty, chiefly for use in warfare.

Asses, donkeys, were used in great numbers. Women and children commonly rode upon them. They were used as burden-bearers, and were often saddled with very large loads.

Camels were used primarily to carry loads for great distances, primarily in commerce with other countries.

Oxen were commonly used in agriculture, to pull implements used in farming.

Sheep were considered unclean by the Egyptians, but there were large numbers of them in the country, tended by foreign labor.

The domesticated animals "in the field," were smitten with an epidemic which was fatal in great numbers.

"Murrain" deber, "pestilence, or plague." The Septuagint translates this as thanatos megas sphodra, "exceeding great death." Some suggest this was the disease known today as "anthrax," a highly contagious disease of animals, especially cattle and sheep, characterized by fever and swelling of tissue. This disease in animals may be transmitted to humans, resulting in a disease like smallpox.

The domestic animals were "in the field." During the time of the Nile’s flooding, they were housed. When the waters abated, they were returned to the fields to graze. It is at this time that the danger of epidemics is highest.

The "cattle" of the Egyptians began dying en masse. But not one animal of Israel’s herds died. Pharaoh saw this, but he still did not repent of his rejection of Jehovah and permit Israel to leave. He’ was not moved by the great financial loss of his people.

Verses 8-12

Verses 8-12:

The sixth "stroke" was unannounced, like the third. It was directed upon the person of the Egyptians.

"Ashes of the furnace" is literally "soot of the furnace." Handsful of this soot were to be tossed toward heaven in Pharaoh’s sight. The wind carried it throughout Egypt, and the result was a terrible plague upon man and beast.

"Boil" shechin appears to denote a cutaeneous disease characterized by swelling, pustulant ulcers, "blains" ababuoth. Some suggest this malady was elephantiasis.

Moses and Aaron did as Jehovah instructed, and the plague spread throughout Egypt. The magicians of Pharaoh’s court themselves became victims, along with the rest of the Egyptians.

Until this "stroke," the sixth plague, Pharaoh had himself hardened his heart. But on this occasion, Jehovah hardens his heart, just as He had predicted.

Verses 13-21

Verses 13-21:

The seventh "stroke" apparently fell quickly after the sixth. The warning was that the previous plagues were mild compared to what would come. God would send "all his plagues," or "every worst form of evil," in rapid order. Each "stroke" would be directed against Pharaoh’s hardened heart. Proud Pharaoh would be brought low. He would humble himself and beg Israel to leave his land.

Verse 15: "Now I will stretch out my hand," is literally, "Now I might have stretched out my hand." This tells what God could have done, and would have done except for certain circumstances. He could easily have destroyed Pharaoh with pestilence. But He chose to allow Pharaoh to live, in order to fulfill His purpose, stated in verse 16.

Paul quotes verse 16, in Ro 9:17,18, as an example of God’s sovereignty. God did not arbitrarily decree that Pharaoh would be a rebel, and that the purpose of this rebellion would be to glorify Him. Pharaoh rejected the Word of God of his own volition. But God then used his rebellion to accomplish His purpose and to bring glory to Himself, see Pr 16:4; Ps 76:10.

The seventh "stroke" was a hail storm, of such severity as had not been experienced in all Egypt’s history to that time. This storm would be accompanied with violent thunder and lightning. Cattle grazing in the field would be in danger of death by this hail. For he has "his way in the whirlwind and the storm."

Some of Pharaoh’s servants were doubtless convinced of Jehovah’s power, by the previous plagues. Those who feared the Lord believed Moses’ word, and quickly brought their livestock to safety from the fields.

Verses 22-26

Verses 22-26:

In the first six plagues, Aaron was the human agent. In the last three, it was Moses.

When Moses "stretched forth his rod toward heaven," the hailstorm erupted in all its fury. The lightning raced along the ground, the thunder reverberated throughout the land, and the hail fell with raging intensity. Animals left in the field were killed by the hail. The trees were stripped of their leaves, the branches were broken. The crops in the fields were destroyed. The only area to escape the devastation of the storm was Goshen, where Jehovah’s people Israel lived.

Verses 27-28

Verses 27, 28:

For the first time, Pharaoh admitted his guilt. But this was not a genuine repentance. It was remorse that he was suffering the consequences of his sin. It was made under pressure, and when the pressure was off, so was the-repentance.

Pharaoh’s sorrow was the sorrow of the world, the kind which does not produce genuine repentance, see 2Co 7:10.

Verses 29-35

Verse 29-35:

"The city" was likely Tanis or Zoan. The text infers that Moses and Aaron did not live in this city, but with the Israelites. They went to the city when they confronted Pharaoh.

Moses was skeptical of Pharaoh’s repentance. He knew that as soon as the plague was lifted, Pharaoh and his courtiers would return to their hard-hearted refusal to let Israel go.

Moses lifted up his hands to heaven, and the storm ceased at once.

The time of year may be deduced from verse 31. Flax was a major crop in Egypt. Linen is from its fiber. The Egyptians preferred this fabric to any other. Flax is "boiled" or blossoms during the last of January or the first of February.

Barley comes into ear about the same time that flax blossoms. This was a common grain raised in Egypt. It was fed to livestock, and was used in the brewing of a kind of beer popular in Egypt. The poorer classes used barley in making their bread.

The wheat harvest in Egypt is about a month later than the barley.

"Rye" kussemeth is literally "prickly spelt" or vetch.

When the plague of hail was removed, Pharaoh once more hardened his heart, and refused to let Israel go.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Exodus 9". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/exodus-9.html. 1985.
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