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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:
2And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.
3And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.
4Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:
The locusts - The locust is less common in Egypt than in many eastern countries, yet it is well known, and dreaded as the most terrible of scourges. They come generally from the western deserts, but sometimes from the east and the southeast. No less than nine names are given to the locust in the Bible, of which the word used here is the most common (ארבה 'arbeh); it signifies "multitudinous," and whenever it occurs reference is made to its terrible devastations.
5And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:
The face - Literally, cover "the eye of the earth," alluding to the darkness which follows, when the whole atmosphere is filled on all sides and to a great height by an innumerable quantity of these insects.
Shall eat every tree - Not only the leaves, but the branches and even the wood were attacked and devoured. The Egyptians were passionately fond of trees.
6And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which 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, and went out from Pharaoh.
Fill thy houses - The terraces, courts, and even the inner apartments are said to be filled in a moment by a locust storm. Compare Joel 2:9.
7And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?
For the first time the officers of Pharaoh intervene before the scourge is inflicted, showing at once their belief in the threat, and their special terror of the infliction. Also, for the first time, Pharaoh takes measures to prevent the evil; he does not indeed send for Moses and Aaron, but he permits them to be brought into his presence.
Let the men go - i. e. the men only, not all the people. See Exodus 10:8.
8And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go?
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 a feast unto the LORD.
With our young ... - The demand was not contrary to Egyptian usage, as great festivals were kept by the whole population.
10And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.
Evil is before you - i. e. "your intentions are evil." Great as the possible infliction might be, Pharaoh held it to be a less evil than the loss of so large a population.
11Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.
12And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine 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.
13And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.
An east wind - See Exodus 10:4. Moses is careful to record the natural and usual cause of the evil, portentous as it was both in extent and in connection with its denouncement.
14And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.
Went up - At a distance the locusts appear hanging, as it were, like a heavy cloud over the land; as they approach they seem to rise, and they fill the atmosphere overhead upon their arrival.
Over all the land - Travelers mention a cloud of locusts extending over 500 miles, and so compact while on the wing that it completely hid the sun. This passage describes a swarm unprecedented in extent.
15For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that 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 all the land of Egypt.
16Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you.
17Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.
This death only - Pliny calls locusts a pestilence brought on by divine wrath. Pharaoh now recognizes the justice of his servants' apprehensions, Exodus 10:7.
18And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.
19And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.
West wind - Literally, "a sea wind," a wind blowing from the sea on the northwest of Egypt.
Red sea - The Hebrew has the "Sea of Suph": the exact meaning of which is disputed. Gesenius renders it "rush" or "seaweed;" but it is probably an Egyptian word. A sea-weed resembling wood is thrown up abundantly on the shores of the Red Sea. The origin of the name "Red" Sea is uncertain: (naturalists have connected it with the presence of red infusoria, Exodus 7:17).
20But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
21And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.
Darkness - This infliction was specially calculated to affect the spirits of the Egyptians, whose chief object of worship was the Sun-god; and its suddenness and severity in connection with the act of Moses mark it as a preternatural withdrawal of light. Yet, it has an analogy in physical phenomena. After the vernal equinox the southwest wind from the desert blows some 50 days, not however, continuously but at intervals, lasting generally some two or three days. It fills the atmosphere with dense masses of fine sand, bringing on a darkness far deeper than that of our worst fogs in winter. The consternation of Pharaoh proves that, familiar as he may have been with the phenomenon, no previous occurrence had prepared him for its intensity and duration, and that he recognized it as a supernatural visitation.
22And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:
23They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
Had light in their dwellings - The sandstorm, if such were the cause, may not have extended to the district of Goshen; but the expression clearly denotes a miraculous intervention, whether accomplished or not by natural agencies.
24And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.
Your flocks and your herds - Pharaoh still exacts what would of course be a complete security for their return: but the demand was wholly incompatible with the object assigned for the journey into the wilderness.
25And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God.
26Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.
27But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.
28And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.
29And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.