|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:4-10 The death of all the first-born in Egypt at once: this plague had been the first threatened, but is last executed. See how slow God is to wrath. The plague is foretold, the time is fixed; all their first-born should sleep the sleep of death, not silently, but so as to rouse the families at midnight. The prince was not too high to be reached by it, nor the slaves at the mill too low to be noticed. While angels slew the Egyptians, not so much as a dog should bark at any of the children of Israel. It is an earnest of the difference there shall be in the great day, between God's people and his enemies. Did men know what a difference God puts, and will put to eternity, between those that serve him and those that serve him not, religion would not seem to them an indifferent thing; nor would they act in it with so much carelessness as they do. When Moses had thus delivered his message, he went out from Pharaoh in great anger at his obstinacy; though he was the meekest of the men of the earth. The Scripture has foretold the unbelief of many who hear the gospel, that it might not be a surprise or stumbling-block to us, Ro 10:16. Let us never think the worse of the gospel of Christ for the slights men put upon it. Pharaoh was hardened, yet he was compelled to abate his stern and haughty demands, till the Israelites got full freedom. In like manner the people of God will find that every struggle against their spiritual adversary, made in the might of Jesus Christ, every attempt to overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and every desire to attain increasing likeness and love to that Lamb, will be rewarded by increasing freedom from the enemy of souls.
Verses 9-10. - Before proceeding to relate the last and greatest of the plagues, the author allows himself a momentary pause while he casts his eye back on the whole series of miracles hitherto wrought in Egypt, on the circumstances under which they had been wrought, their failure to move the stubborn will of Pharaoh, and the cause of that failure, the hardening of his heart, which hardening the author once more ascribes to Jehovah. With this summary he terminates the second great division of his work, that which began with ch. 2, and which traces the history of Moses from his birth to the close of his direct dealings with Pharaoh. Verse 9. - And the Lord said. Rather, "had said." God had forewarned Moses that Pharaoh's heart would be hardened (Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:3), and that, in spite of all the miracles which he was empowered to perform before him, he would not let the people go (Exodus 3:19; Exodus 4:21). It was not until God took Pharaoh's punishment altogether into his own hands, and himself came down and smote all the first-born, that the king's obstinacy was overcome, and he proceeded to "thrust the people out." That my wonders may be multiplied. Compare Exodus 3:20; Exodus 7:3. If Pharaoh had yielded at the first, or even after two or three miracles, God's greatness and power would not have been shown forth very remarkably. Neither the Egyptians nor the neighbouring nations would have been much impressed. The circumstances would soon have been forgotten. As it was, the hardness of Pharaoh's heart, while it delayed the departure of the Israelites for a year, and so added to their sufferings, was of advantage to them in various ways: -
1. It gave them time to organise them elves, and make all necessary preparations for a sudden departure.
2. It deeply impressed the Egyptians, and led them to abstain from all interference with the Israelites for above three centuries.
3. It impressed the neighbouring nations also to some extent, and either prevented them from offering opposition to the Israelites, or made them contend with less heart, and so with less success against them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord said unto Moses,.... Not at this time when he went out from Pharaoh, but some time before this, for the words may be rendered, "the Lord had said" (x), for so he had, as is related, Exodus 7:3, but the historian makes mention of it here, to show that Moses was not ignorant of the event of things; he knew that Pharaoh's heart would be hardened from time to time, and that one plague after another must be inflicted, before he would let the people go; and therefore when he prayed for the removal of any, it was not in expectation that he would abide by his promise, but to do the will of God, and the duty of his calling:
Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; to Moses and Aaron, and let the people of Israel go as required of him:
that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt; which Jarchi interprets of the smiting of the firstborn, dividing the waters of the Red sea, and the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in it; but since these words were said before any of the plagues, were inflicted, it may refer to them all.
(x) "dixerat autem", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Rivet.
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