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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Exodus 10

 

 

Verses 1-20

H.—The locusts

Exodus 10:1-20

1And Jehovah said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I might shew [may do] these my signs before him [in the midst of them]; 2And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son and of thy son’s Song of Solomon, what things I have wrought in Egypt [what I have done with the Egyptians][FN1], and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how [may know] that I am Jehovah 3 And Moses and Aaron came [went] in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith. Jehovah, God [the God] of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people 4 go, that they may serve me. Else [For] if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to-morrow will I bring the [bring] locusts into thy coast [borders]: 5And they shall cover the face of the earth, that [so that] one cannot [shall not] be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth [is left] unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field; 6And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians, which [as] neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself [turned], and went out from Pharaoh 7 And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him; How long shall this man be a snare unto us? Let the men go, that they may serve Jehovah their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? 8And Moses and Aaron were brought again [back] unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve Jehovah, your God: but who are they that shall go [are going]? 9And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old; with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold [wehave] a feast unto [of] Jehovah 10 And he said unto them, Let [May] Jehovah be so with you, as I will let you go and your little ones! Look to it [See]; for evil is before you 11 Not so: go now, ye that are men [ye men], and serve Jehovah; for that ye did desire [that is what ye are seeking]. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s 12 presence. And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch out thine [thy] hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left 13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and Jehovah brought [drove] an east wind upon the land all that day and all that [the] night: and when it was morning the east wind brought the locusts 14 And the locusts went [came] up over [upon] all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts [borders] of Egypt; very grievous were they: before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after 15 them shall be such. For [And] they covered the face of the whole earth [land], so that [and] the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through [in] all the land of Egypt 16 Then [And] Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have 17 sinned against Jehovah your God, and against you. Now therefore [And now] forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and entreat Jehovah your God that he may take away from me this death only 18 And he went out from Pharaoh, and 19 entreated Jehovah. And Jehovah turned a mighty [very] strong west wind, which [and] took away the locusts, and cast [thrust] them into the Red Sea: there remained 20 not one locust in all the coasts [borders] of Egypt. But Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not [and he did not] let the children of Israel go.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

[ Exodus 10:2. That מִצְרַיִם here means “Egyptians,” and not “Egypt,” is evident from the plural pronoun which follows. And the whole phrase הִתְעַלַּלְתִּי בְּמִצְרַיִם is poorly reproduced in the A. V. This verb in the Hithpael is always followed by בְ with the name of a person. The meaning of it Isaiah, “to do one’s pleasure with.” Except here, and 1 Samuel 6:6, the phrase is used in a bad sense, e.g, 1 Samuel 31:4, “lost these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me.” Comp. Judges 19:25. Here, therefore, the meaning Isaiah, “how I did my pleasure with the Egyptians.”—Tr.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Exodus 10:1. I have hardened his heart.—According to shallow rationalistic views, this betrays a low state of intelligence; viewed from the ethical relations of life, it indicates a very high one. Pharaoh’s acts of self-hardening preceded this; but after the seventh one, his sentence was determined; the following plagues, therefore, must complete his obduracy. Moses must know this beforehand, in order that he may not be discouraged respecting his mission. But that, under divine Revelation, he can foreknow it, is characteristic of the man who, being eminent in religious conscientiousness, has a wonderfully profound insight into the justice and judgments of God. The general prediction of Exodus 7:3-5 is now for the first time completely fulfilled; hence it is here repeated.

Exodus 10:2. That thou mayest tell.—“How Israel related these miraculous signs to children and children’s children, is shown in Psalm 78, 105 (Keil).

Exodus 10:3. To humble thyself.—Jehovah speaks now in a severer tone. After so many apparent failures, this is a proof that Moses has his confidence and his word from God. Analogous is the heathen legend of the Sibyl who, for the prophetical books twice reduced in number, kept asking the same price.

Exodus 10:4. The antithesis is sharp. Similar forms in Exodus 9:17 and Exodus 8:17, 21]. It is not merely the antithesis between a divine and a human action; the almighty personality of Jehovah confronts the defiant personality of Pharaoh. The assurance with which the locusts are predicted for the morrow marks the miracle, as also afterwards the sudden removal of them at Moses’ intercession.

Exodus 10:5. The face [lit. eye] of the land.—“This phraseology, peculiar to the Pentateuch, and occurring elsewhere only Exodus 10:15 and Numbers 22:5; Numbers 22:11, rests on the ancient and genuinely poetic conception, that the earth with its floral ornamentation looks upon man” (Keil).

Exodus 10:6. Fill thy houses.Vid. Joel 2:9. On locusts finding their way into houses, vid. the quotations in Keil.

Exodus 10:7. Pharaoh’s servants.—The courtiers begin to tremble. But they are governed by no noble motive to intercede for Israel, but by the fear that by resistance Egypt may go to ruin.—A snare.—In whose fatal toils they are becoming entangled to their destruction.

Exodus 10:8. For the first time Pharaoh enters upon negotiations before the plague; yet without consistency.—Who are they? (lit. who and who) מִי וָמִי. Immediately the timorous policy of the tyrant withdraws more than half of the concession.

Exodus 10:9. To make a festival are needed not only the whole assembly, old and young, but also the cattle and possessions in general, on account of the offerings. Pharaoh suspects that freedom also is involved in the plan. According to Keil, the women, who are seemingly omitted, are designed to be included in the “we.” They are also included in the phrase “young and old.”

Exodus 10:10. The thought, “Jehovah be with you on your journey,” is transformed by Pharaoh into mockery: As little as I will let you go with your children, so little shall ye go on your journey, so little shall Jehovah be with you. Inasmuch as he has been obliged to refer the preceding experiences to Jehovah, his audacity here passes over into blasphemy.

Exodus 10:11. Go now, ye men.—הַגְּבָרִים. The expression forms an antithesis to the הָאֲנָשִׁים, in the use of which the servants proposed the release of the Israelites in general. But that he is not even willing to let only the men go is shown by the fact that the messengers of God were at once driven out. The expression “ye men,” “ye heroes,” may involve a scornful allusion to the power with which they have risen up against him. Also in the form לְכוּ נָא the irony (according to Keil) is continued.—They were driven out.—As we should say, they were turned out of doors. “The restriction of the right of departure to the men was pure caprice, inasmuch as according to Herodotus II:60 the Egyptians also had religious festivals in which the women were accustomed to go out with the men” (Keil).

Exodus 10:12. Stretch out thy hand.—According to Exodus 10:13, with the rod in it. Was it in order that they might rise up like a hostile military force? More probably the idea is that they are to rise up in the distance like clouds carried by the wind. With the wind, brought by it, locusts are wont to come. Vid. the citations in Keil.

Exodus 10:13. And Jehovah drove.—Jehovah Himself is the real performer of miracles. When He seems in His government to follow Moses’ suggestion, while, on the other hand, the action of Moses is only a symbolical one resting on prophetic foresight, this all signifies that God’s dominion in nature answers to God’s dominion in His kingdom, therefore, also, in the mind of Moses. It is a pre-established harmony, in which the outward things of nature are made serviceable to the inward necessities of the spiritual life. Vid. Matthew 28:18.—An east wind,רוּחַ־קָדִים. “Not νότος (LXX.), south wind, as even Bochart (Hierozoicon III, p287) thought. For although the swarms of locusts come to Egypt generally from Ethiopia or Libya, yet they are sometimes brought by the east wind from Arabia, as has been observed, among others, by Denon, quoted by Hengstenberg, Egypt, etc., p125” (Keil).

Exodus 10:13-15. Further miraculous features: (a) that the locusts come from so far (the wind blew twenty-four hours); (b) that they cover the whole land, whereas they generally attack only particular regions. Among the various forms of the preludes of the final judgment, (blood, fire, war, pestilence, darkness), the plagues of locusts are also especially prominent. According to Joel, the fundamental significance of them is the incessant destruction of the flesh on all sides.[FN2]

Exodus 10:16-17. And Pharaoh called in haste.—This is his second confession of sin, more distinct than the first, Exodus 9:27. For the third time he implores Moses’ intercession; Exodus 8:24 (28), Exodus 9:28, and here. His penitence, however, again exhibits the character of an insincere submission, attritio; he begs Moses’ forgiveness, but wishes him to intercede with God to avert this death, this deadly ruin, which he sees in the plague of locusts. He condemns himself, however, for what follows, inasmuch as he asks for exemption only this once.

Exodus 10:18. Moses’ intercession has a twofold significance: It Isaiah, first, an expression of divine forbearance; secondly, the attestation of the miracle displayed in the plague of locusts.

Exodus 10:19. The east wind is changed to a west wind, or, more probably, to a northwest wind. “That the locusts perish in the sea is variously attested. Gregatim sublatæ vento in maria aut stagna decidunt, says Pliny” (Keil). For Pharaoh the help may have been ominous, as he himself afterwards with his host was to perish, like the locusts, in the Red Sea.


Footnotes:

FN#1 - Exodus 10:2. That מִצְרַיִם here means “Egyptians,” and not “Egypt,” is evident from the plural pronoun which follows. And the whole phrase הִתְעַלַּלְתִּי בְּמִצְרַיִם is poorly reproduced in the A. V. This verb in the Hithpael is always followed by בְ with the name of a person. The meaning of it Isaiah, “to do one’s pleasure with.” Except here, and 1 Samuel 6:6, the phrase is used in a bad sense, e.g, 1 Samuel 31:4, “lost these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me.” Comp. Judges 19:25. Here, therefore, the meaning Isaiah, “how I did my pleasure with the Egyptians.”—Tr.].

FN#2 - This is obscure. It is true that the invasion of the locusts is described by Joel as the precursor of “the day of Jehovah” ( Exodus 1:15; Exodus 2:1); but where or in what sense he represents them as destroying the flesh, it is impossible to see. Certainly if the literal language of Joel is referred to, there is nothing of the sort. And no more is there any indication that Joel means to intimate that locusts symbolize the destruction of the flesh. Lange moreover leaves us in doubt whether he uses the word “flesh” in the literal or figurative sense.—Tr.].


Verses 21-29

I.—The darkness

Exodus 10:21-29

21And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch out thine [thy] hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings 24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve Jehovah; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed [kept back]; let your little ones also [also your little ones shall] go with you 25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also [Thou shalt also put into our hands] sacrifices and burnt-offerings, that we may sacrifice unto Jehovah our God 26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an [a] hoof be left behind; for thereof [from them] must we [shall we] take to serve Jehovah our God; and we know not with what we must 27 serve Jehovah until we come thither. But Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go 28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that [the] day thou seest my face thou shalt die 29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well; I will see thy face again no more.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Exodus 10:21-23. The natural phenomenon underlying this miraculous infliction of Egyptian darkness is generally taken to be the Chamsin, the scorching hot south wind (in Italy the Sirocco, in Switzerland the Föhn), “referred to apparently by the LXX, where they render חשֶׁךְ־ אֲפֵלָה by σκότος καὶ γνόφος, καὶ θύελλα. This wind, which in Egypt is accustomed to blow before and after the vernal equinox, and generally lasts two or three days, usually rises very suddenly and fills the air with such a mass of fine dust and coarser sand, that the sun ceases to shine, the sky is covered with a thick veil, and the obscuration becomes so nocturnal that the darkness of the thickest fog of our late autumn or winter days is not to be compared with it (vid. Schubert’s Reise, II, p409). (Keil). See further citations in Keil. Hengstenberg interprets the darkness in Egypt as the image of the divine anger, the light in Goshen as image of the divine grace. But the preceding plagues also were at least signs of the divine anger. The judgment of darkness doubtless expresses more specifically the fact, that the wisdom of Egypt has become transformed into a spiritual night, in which the night of death soon to follow is pre-announced, whereas the light in Goshen in contrast with it may signify the dawn of a higher wisdom which finally brings freedom. The miraculousness of it consisted, first, in its following the symbolic action and prediction of Moses; secondly, in its intensity and the exceptional condition of Goshen.—In their dwellings.—Keil correctly refers this, in opposition to Kurtz, to the country; whereas the latter understands that the Egyptians were even unable to illumine their houses. But one might as readily infer that the Israelites obtained light only by artificial means.—Darkness which may be felt.—Beautiful hyperbolic expression; yet the dust brought by the tornado could indeed be felt by the hand.

Exodus 10:24. Pharaoh, frightened, makes a new concession, but again with a shrewd reservation. The concession consists, strictly speaking, of two parts, and the reservation is very furtively inserted between the two.—Go ye, he says at first, this time not only the strong men; and at last, as if with the intention of entrapping Moses by the excitement of his emotions: Also your little ones shall go with you.—Nevertheless all their cattle were to be left in the hands of the Egyptians as a pledge of their return.“יֻצָּג, sistatur, be stopped, kept in certain places under the charge of the Egyptians as a pledge of your return” (Keil).

Exodus 10:25. Moses invalidates Pharaoh’s demand by reference to the religious duty of his people. They must make an offering, must therefore have their cattle with them. But, together with the claims of religious feeling, those of justice are also insisted on, in the utterance which has even become parabolical: “There shall not a hoof be left behind.” This bold utterance, on the other hand, is softened by the declaration that they did not know what offerings (and how many) they would have to bring to Jehovah.

Exodus 10:28. The negotiation becomes more and more unequivocal. The one intention has struggled with the other in carefully chosen terms up to the point of decision. The tyrant’s defiance now flames up, and Moses, with a calm consciousness of superiority, tinged with irony, assents to the decree that he shall not again, on penalty of death, appear before Pharaoh. It is an indirect announcement of the last plague. But its first consequence will be that Pharaoh must take back his threat, Exodus 12:31.



 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Exodus 10:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/exodus-10.html. 1857-84.

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