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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.
The Lord said - Or "the Lord had said." The first three verses of this chapter are parenthetical. Before Moses relates the last warning given to Pharaoh, he feels it right to recall to his readers' minds the revelation and command which had been previously given to him by the Lord.
When he shall let you go ... - When at last he lets you depart with children, flocks, herds, and all your possessions, he will compel you to depart in haste. Moses was already aware that the last plague would be followed by an immediate departure, and, therefore, measures had probably been taken to prepare the Israelites for the journey. In fact, on each occasion when Pharaoh relented for a season, immediate orders would of course be issued by Moses to the heads of the people, who were thus repeatedly brought into a state of more or less complete organization for the final movement.
2Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.
Every man - In Exodus 3:22 only women were named; the command is more explicit when the time has come for its execution.
Borrow - "ask." See Exodus 3:22 note.
3And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people.
4And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:
And Moses said - The following words must be read in immediate connection with the last verse of the preceding chapter.
About midnight - This marks the hour, but not the day, on which the visitation would take place. There may have been, and probably was, an interval of some days, during which preparations might be made both for the celebration of the Passover, and the departure of the Israelites.
5And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.
Two points are to be noticed:
1. The extent of the visitation: the whole land suffers in the persons of its firstborn, not merely for the guilt of the sovereign, but for the actual participation of the people in the crime of infanticide Exodus 1:22.
2. The limitation: Pharaoh's command had been to slay ALL the male children of the Israelites, but only one child in each Egyptian family was to die. If Tothmosis II was the Pharaoh, the visitation fell with special severity on his family. He left no son, but was succeeded by his widow.
The mill - This consisted of two circular stones, one fixed in the ground, the other turned by a handle. The work of grinding was extremely laborious, and performed by women of the lowest rank.
Firstborn of beasts - This visitation has a special force in reference to the worship of beasts, which was universal in Egypt; each district having its own sacred animal, adored as a manifestation or representative of the local tutelary deity.
6And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.
7But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
Shall not a dog move his tongue - A proverb expressive of freedom from alarm and immunity front assault.
8And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger.
9And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.
10And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.