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Exo 5:1 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
Ver. 1. That they may hold a feast. ] "That they may serve me." Exo 4:23 "Let us keep the feast," εορταζωμεν , 1Co 5:8 which is the same with "Let us serve God acceptably." Heb 12:28 It is a feast, and better, for a good soul to converse with God. Psalms 63:5 Isa 25:6
Exo 5:2 And Pharaoh said, Who [is] the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
Ver. 2. Who is the Lord? ] God’s attributes either show what he is, or who he is. To the question of Moses - What he is? - God gave a short answer, "I am." To this second by Pharaoh, Who he is? - God made a large reply, till Pharaoh was compelled to answer himself, "The Lord is righteous."
Exo 5:3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
Ver. 3. Three days’ journey,] viz., to mount Horeb. They made it three months’ journey ere they came there. Exo 13:17-18 God leads his people oft not the nearest, but the safest way to their journey’s end.
Exo 5:4 And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
Ver 4. Let the people from their works. ] Moses talks of sacrifice; Pharaoh of work. Anything seems due work to a carnal mind, saving God’s service; nothing superfluous but religious duties. a Seneca saith the Jews cast away a seventh part of their time upon a weekly Sabbath. "To what end is this loss?" said Judas.
a Aug., De Civit. Dei.
Exo 5:5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now [are] many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
Ver. 5. The people of the land now are many. ] Et nihil agendo male agere discent. Iphicrates never suffered his soldiers to be out of employment; but, if out of military services, he set them to dig or lop trees or carry burdens, &c., to keep them from rebelling or worse doing. a
a η ορυττειν, η ταφρευειν, η δενδρα κοπτειν , &c. - Polym. Stratag., lib. iii.
Exo 5:6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
Ver. 6. And Pharaoh commanded. ] He raged the more for the message of dismission: so, wholesome admonitions make ill men worse. Corruptions increase and get bigger by the law. Rom 7:8
Exo 5:7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
Ver. 7. Ye shall no more give the people straw. ] Speculum tyrannidis semper augescentis atque invalescentis. "The matter mends with us," said those martyrs in prison, "as sour ale doth in summer." a
a Act. and Mon.
Exo 5:8 And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish [ought] thereof: for they [be] idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go [and] sacrifice to our God.
Ver. 8. For they be idle. ] I heard a great man once say, saith Luther, Necesse est otiosos esse homilies qui ista negotia religionis curant. They must needs be idle fellows that are so much taken up about the business of religion. See Trapp on " Exo 5:4 "
Exo 5:9 Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
Ver. 9. And not regard vain words. ] Vain lying words. So this profane prince calleth and counteth the word of God. "What is truth?" saith Pilate, scoffingly.
Exo 5:10 And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.
Ver. 10. I will not give you straw. ] Cold comfort! Things commonly go backward with the saints before they come forward, as the corn groweth downward ere it grow upward. Hold out faith and patience; deliverance is at next door by. Cum duplicantur lateres, venit Moyses. When things are at worst, they will mend.
Exo 5:11 Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
Ver. 11. Yet not aught. ] Such hard service puts Satan his slaves to, and yet they rejoice in their bondage.
Exo 5:12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
Ver. 12. So the people were scattered. ] So are most people now-a-days busied about trash and trifles, neglecting the one thing necessary. In the enthronisation of the Pope before he puts on his triple crown, a wad of straw is set on fire before him, and one appointed to say, Sic transit gloria round, the glory of this world is but a blaze of straw or stubble, soon extinct. They that highly esteem it rejoice in a thing of nought, feed upon ashes, &c. Amo 6:13
Exo 5:13 And the taskmasters hasted [them], saying, Fulfil your works, [your] daily tasks, as when there was straw.
Ver. 13. And the taskmasters. ] Who were Egyptians, as the officers under them were Israelities, and beaten. Exo 5:14
Exo 5:14 And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, [and] demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?
Ver. 14. Were beaten. ] It is the misery of those that are trusted with authority that their inferiors’ faults are beaten upon their backs.
Exo 5:15 Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants?
Ver. 15. Came and cried unto Pharaoh. ] They did not rail upon him to his face, as the Janizaries did a in an uproar upon Bajazet II, their prince, saying that they would by and by teach him, as a drunkard, a beast, and a rascal, to use his great place and calling with more sobriety and discretion. Neither did they go behind his back and call him, as Sanders did Queen Elizabeth, his natural sovereign, Lupam Anglicanam , the English wolf, or as Rhiston calleth her, leoenam, omnes Athalias, Macchas, Iezabeles, Herodiades, &c., superantem, a lioness worse than any Athalia, Maacha, Jezabel. A foul-mouthed Jesuit made this false anagram of her, Elizabeth, Jezabel. T is omitted; the presage of the gallows - whereon this anagrammatist was afterwards justly executed. Aretine, by a longer custom of libellous and contumelious speaking against princes, had got such a habit, that at last he came to diminish and disesteem God himself. b
a Turk. Hist., fol. 444.
b Rivetti Jesuita Vapulans, p. 263. Fuller’s Holy State, fol. 317.
Exo 5:16 There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants [are] beaten; but the fault [is] in thine own people.
Ver. 16. But the fault is in thine own people. ] Effugiunt corvi, vexat censura columbas. As a man is friended, so is his matter ended. And where the hedge is low, a man may lightly make large leaps. Or, as the Frenchman saith, Qui son chien vult tuer, la rage luy met sus, He that hath a mind to kill a dog, gives out that he is mad. It was fault enough in God’s Israel, that they would not be miserable.
Exo 5:17 But he said, Ye [are] idle, [ye are] idle: therefore ye say, Let us go [and] do sacrifice to the LORD.
Ver. 17. Ye are idle. ] See Trapp on " Exo 5:4 " See Trapp on " Exo 5:8 "
Exo 5:18 Go therefore now, [and] work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.
Ver. 18. Yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks. ] Or be miserably beaten, if but one be missing. The Spaniards, besides other intolerable burdens and bondages that they lay upon the poor Indians, suppose they show the wretches great favour when they do not, for their pleasure, whip them with cords, and day by day drop their naked bodies with burning bacon. a Regimen without righteousness turns into tyranny.
a Sir Francis Drake’s World Encompas., p. 53.
Exo 5:19 And the officers of the children of Israel did see [that] they [were] in evil [case], after it was said, Ye shall not minish [ought] from your bricks of your daily task.
Ver. 19. In evil case. ] For their evil courses. Ezekiel 23:8 ; Ezekiel 20:5 ; Eze 20:7-8 Jos 24:14 It is written as a heavy curse of God, Lev 26:17 "If ye still trespass against me, I will set princes over you that shall hate you": Mischievous, odious princes; odious to God, malignant to the people.
Exo 5:20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:
Ver. 20. And they met Moses. ] How ready are we to mistake the grounds of our afflictions, and to cast them upon false causes! The Sareptan told the prophet that he had killed her son. 1Ki 17:18
Exo 5:21 And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
Ver. 21. The Lord look upon you. ] Thus we have seen dogs in a chase bark at their best friends.
Exo 5:22 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou [so] evil entreated this people? why [is] it [that] thou hast sent me?
Ver. 22. And Moses returned unto the Lord. ] He turned aside, as it were to speak with a friend, and to disburden himself in God’s bosom. This is the saints’ privilege. See Trapp on " Mat 11:25 "
Exo 5:23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
Ver. 23. Neither hast thou delivered. ] Here Moses himself was too short spirited. He considered not, belike, that God’s promises do many times bear a long date, neither is it fit to set him a time, or to awaken him whom our soul loveth, until he please. Do but "wait," saith the Lord. Hab 2:3 You shall be delivered, you shall be delivered, you shall be delivered; you shall, you shall. So much that text in effect soundeth and assureth.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Exodus 5". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent