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Exodus 10:2. In the ears of thy son. The Hebrew prophets in their sermons, and the psalmists in their songs, have recorded those wonderful works of the Lord; and the doctrines and inferences fairly deduced are firm and strong. For how different soever the circumstances of the church may be, the perfections of God are still the same.
Exodus 10:4. The locusts. The science of entomology has classed in one genus the locust or gryllus, the grasshopper, the cricket, and fifty other species. The locust belongs to the order of hemiptera. The head of the gryllus migratorius is inflected, armed with jaws, and a pair of feelers. The wings are four, deflex, and convolated; double claws on all the feet. Their natural history is, in many respects, the same as the butterfly, only they migrate in clouds, which partially darken the sun. Clouds of these drop and perish in the sea, and sometimes will hang on the ropes and cover the deck of a ship, while sailing on the western coast of Africa. Sometimes a swarm of locusts is seen to extend to the width of half a mile; but they cannot fly far, except in the latter part of summer. Whenever a detached swarm has reached Germany and Britain, it has been by some strong south wind. In the 46th volume of the Transactions of the Royal Society of London, we have half a dozen accounts of the dreadful devastations they have made in Syria, Wallachia, and Lombardy, which confirm to the letter what is said of God’s great army in the second chapter of the prophet Joel. This was a terrible scourge on the Egyptians, as they devoured the verdure of the trees and fields. The gryllus crystatus is very large, and often used for food. Its colour is a bright red, the body annulated with black; the legs varied with yellow, the wings tesselated with shades of dark green. Matthew 3:4.
Exodus 10:9. With our young, or little ones. This text has been thought by some to sanction a custom, partially adopted by the primitive christians, of giving the holy sacrament to little children. It was however the general practice of the patriarchs to take their children to sacrifice. See Reflections on Genesis 22:0.
Exodus 10:13. The east wind brought the locusts. The Septuagint reads, a south wind. In the 105th Psalm, the caterpillars are joined with the locusts. The critics have collected many heathen testimonies concerning locusts; and so many authors of different nations having written to the same effect, we ought not to discredit their testimony. The substance of which is, that in the warmer climates the locusts come suddenly by a strong wind across deserts and seas; that they can continue their flight for several days, and that they know by instinct the approach of famine. Wherever they alight, presently the whole district exhibits a scene of devastation; and when the vegetation is consumed, they do not even spare the bark of trees. The number is sometimes so great as to becloud the heavens in their flight; and there are species of them so strong as to kill serpents, by biting them near the throat. See Dr. Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, book 11. chap. 29. A locust about four inches long is exhibited in the Liverpool Museum. The darkening of the heavens by the locusts, has chiefly been occasioned by the fires which men on those occasions everywhere kindle, to prevent them from settling on their lands.
Exodus 10:19. Red sea. The Hebrew, yam suph, is equivalent to the weedy sea; but the Edomites call it yam Edom, after their father; that is, the red sea.
Exodus 10:21. Darkness which might be felt. The darkness seems however to have been occasioned by the density of vapours, connected with cold, which very sensibly affected the lungs, and the nerves, exciting very great terror of mind. Their terrors would be the greater, having no promise that it ever would be light again. This darkness seemed to portend what Homer calls Pluto’s dark house, for in a few days their firstborn were slain by the angel, and the whole army were drowned in the sea. The terrors of God would affect the learned as the illiterate, for total darkness in a solar eclipse continues but a few minutes; this continued for three days.
Exodus 10:23. The children of Israel had light. It is said, Psalms 105:28, that they rebelled not against his word; and as it appears from Joshua 5:9, that the Israelites had neglected circumcision while they were in Egypt, it is very ingeniously inferred by Dr. Lightfoot, that they took the opportunity of fulfilling the divine command, while the Egyptians were confined to their dwellings by the surrounding darkness.
Exodus 10:29. I will see thy face again no more. I will no more solicit an interview. If Moses appeared before Pharaoh after this time, it was not to ask a favour, but to denounce the judgments of heaven against his impenitence.
This chapter presents us with new and increasing visitations for the increasing wickedness of men. The good acknowledgments extorted from Pharaoh were as intrusive visitors, not allowed to lodge a single night in his breast; but every cruel purpose was rooted there. So it is with every hardened rebel, from whom God withdraws his grace.
But while God was proceeding in the awful administration of justice, he acquainted Moses that these things were to be told in the ears of our children. In this view the sacred volume is valuable above all books. It exhibits to us in large characters, a righteous God governing the world. It traces his longsuffering and mercy, his justice and judgment diversified in a thousand forms; and it does this with the avowed design that future ages may learn to revere his name, and to confide in his protecting arm. Other histories and books, not being written by inspired men, do this only in an accidental way, or more frequently they ascribe all events to accident or chance.
We find Moses, once weak and timorous, now animated with the highest zeal and courage in the administration of his terrific mission. He would make no compound with Pharaoh; he would not consent that either son or servant, or even a hoof of the cattle should remain behind. And let not the christian church, groaning like Israel for emancipation, be animated with a zeal less pure and noble. It would be very inconsistent to seek salvation for ourselves, and to leave our children entangled with the fashions and follies of the age. They had better be unacquainted with what are called accomplishments, than involved in the destruction which awaits the unregenerate crowd.
The Egyptians having made their hearts stout against judgments which had barely spared their lives, were next enshrouded with the horrors of impervious night. This judgment contained more of terror than all the preseding; for they knew not that it should ever be succeeded with light. Every man was separated from his friend; the sinner had no companion but his conscience. How awful, how very awful to see a whole nation suddenly arrested in their sins, cut off in a moment, and at noonday, from their pleasures, and deprived of every hope. So circumstanced, what would their fears augur! Would they not imagine that the dark kingdom of their Pluto had vaulted them in with eternal shades? In fact it was as they feared. This darkness, like the blindness of the men of Sodom, was to myriads of them an immediate forerunner, and a dreadful omen of the death just at the door. Surely we should tell those things to our children! Surely we should publish them to the proud, to the oppressors, to the obdurate, and to the infidel world. Let the man who disregards all former visitations with which he may have been afflicted, remember that the hour will suddenly come, when the terrors of God shall be arrayed against him. He shall sit alone, surrounded with darkness like the Egyptians; and whether he recals the idea of pleasures now vanished away, whether he ventures to look at a boding futurity, or dares to raise his guilty soul to the God he has despised, all shall be darkness, terror and alarm. To whatever side he may turn his views, there shall be no voice, no hope, no vestige of consolation. The sinner has resisted the early calls of grace, he has fought against God’s judgments, has refused to know the day of his visitation; and now the things which belong to his peace are hid from his eyes. Now the door is shut, and the Lord will no more be entreated.
It must on the other hand be allowed, that the day of the Lord will also come to the good man, and perhaps when least expected; but it shall not be to him a dark day. There was light in all the land of Goshen. The good man will commend his soul into the hands of God, will prepare with joy to leave a body in which he has groaned, and a world in which he has wept and suffered, that he may be associated with his fathers and brethren in the presence of his God.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Exodus 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany