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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 10

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-20

The Eighth Plague (Locusts) - Exodus 10:1-20 tells us about the eighth plague in which swarms of locusts filled the land of Egypt.

Verses 1-29

The Ten Plagues Exodus 7:14 to Exodus 11:10 records the story of the Ten Plagues that God brought upon the nation of Egypt. The swallowing of the serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians by the serpent of Moses (Exodus 7:11-12) foreshadows the fact that the Ten Plagues were a power struggle between the gods of Egypt and the God of Israel. These enchantments by Pharaoh’s sorcerers symbolized the strength of their gods. Yet, the Ten Plagues demonstrated that God’s power extended beyond their gods of enchantment unto all of the gods that were worshipped in the land of Egypt, deities that were designated for every area of their lives. The Egyptians served deities of heaven and deities of the earth, deities of the weather, over their crops and those for diseases. Each deity was believed to have power over a limited aspect of one’s life. The Egyptians knew that their gods were limited in scope of influence and power. With the Ten Plagues, God proved that His power encompassed over all creation and every aspect of human life.

Throughout the Ten Plagues God demonstrated that He was God Almighty. This was God’s way of using judgment to bring men to repentance. In fact, the Scriptures indicate that a number of Egyptians were converted and followed the Israelites out in the Exodus to serve their God.

Exodus 12:38, “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.”

Numbers 11:4, “And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?”

These converts declared that they would go with the children of Israel because God is with them, as the prophet Zechariah says would happen again later in Israel’s history (Zechariah 8:3); or, as Ruth clung to Naomi in order to serve her God.

Zechariah 8:23, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you .”

Ruth 1:16, “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:”

When God judges a nation as He did Egypt during the time of Moses, He always begins by judging the object of a nation’s trust and confidence. For example, in 2001 to 2003, the Lord judged the United States in three areas. The destruction of the World Trade Center symbolized American’s trust in its wealth. The damage to the Pentagon on the same day represented American’s military might. The explosion of the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia represented American’s technology and ingenuity. None of these three are above God Almighty. In the same way, God judged the deities of Egypt so that these people would know the true and living God, the God of Israel.

The Significance of the Number “Ten” - The Hebrew phrase “ten times” ( פְּעָמִ֔ים עֶ֣שֶׂר ) is made up of two words, “ten” ( עֶשֶׂר ) (H6235), and “times” ( פַּעַם ) (H6471). Although the literal translation is, “ten times,” John Gill understands the phrase “ten times” in Numbers 14:22 as an idiom to mean a rounded number, which is equivalent to “time after time,” thus “numerous times.” He says that although the Jews counted ten literal occasions when Israel tempted the Lord during the wilderness journeys, Aben Ezra gives this phrase a figurative meaning of “many times.” [34] T. E. Espin adds to the figurative meaning of Numbers 14:22 by saying that Israel had tempted the Lord to its fullness, so that the Lord would now pass judgment upon them, even denying them access into the Promised Land, which is clearly stated in the next verse. [35]

[34] Gill lists ten literal occasions, “twice at the sea, Exodus 14:11; twice concerning water, Exodus 15:23; twice about manna, Exodus 16:2; twice about quails, Exodus 16:12; once by the calf, Exodus 32:1; and once in the wilderness of Paran, Numbers 14:1, which last and tenth was the present temptation.” John Gill, Numbers, in John Gill’s Expositor, in e-Sword, v. 7.7.7 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Numbers 14:22.

[35] E. T. Espin and J. F. Thrupp, Numbers, in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611), with an Explanation and Critical Commentary and a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops and Clergy of the Anglican Church, vol. 1, part 2, ed. F. C. Cook (London: John Murray, 1871), 702.

The phrase “ten times” is used as an idiom in several passages in the Scriptures to mean countless times (Genesis 31:7, Numbers 14:22, Nehemiah 4:12).

Genesis 31:7, “And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.”

Numbers 14:22, “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;”

Nehemiah 4:12, “And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times , From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.”

The NAB translates this phrase in Genesis 31:7 as “time after time.”

NAB, “yet your father cheated me and changed my wages time after time . God, however, did not let him do me any harm.”

The number ten represents a counting system that is based on ten units. Thus, the number ten can be interpreted literally to represent the numerical system, or it can be given a figurative meaning to reflect the concept of multiple occurrences.

Verses 21-29

The Ninth Plague (Darkness) Exodus 10:21-29 tells us about the ninth plague in which darkness filled the land of Egypt. In Egyptian mythology, Re was their sun god. [43] It is possible that the ninth plague was directed against this god. Thus, the description of “thick darkness over the land of Egypt” serves as a declaration of the mighty power of the God of Israel over the Egyptian god Re.

[43] James H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912), 8.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Exodus 10". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/exodus-10.html. 2013.
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