|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:37-42 The children of Israel set forward without delay. A mixed multitude went with them. Some, perhaps, willing to leave their country, laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love to them and their religion. But there were always those among the Israelites who were not Israelites. Thus there are still hypocrites in the church. This great event was 430 years from the promise made to Abraham: see Ga 3:17. So long the promise of a settlement was unfulfilled. But though God's promises are not performed quickly, they will be, in their season. This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. The great things God does for his people, are to be not only a few days' wonder, but to be remembered throughout all ages; especially the work of our redemption by Christ. This first passover-night was a night of the Lord, much to be observed; but the last passover-night, in which Christ was betrayed and in which the first passover, with the rest of the Jewish ceremonies, was done away, was a night of the Lord, much more to be observed. Then a yoke, heavier than that of Egypt, was broken from off our necks, and a land, better than that of Canaan, set before us. It was a redemption to be celebrated in heaven, for ever and ever.
Verse 38. - A mixed multitude went up also with them. Kalisch supposes that these strangers were native Egyptians, anxious to escape the tyranny of the kings. Canon Cook suggests that they were "remains of the old Semitic population" of the Eastern provinces. Perhaps it is more probable that they consisted of fugitives from other subject races (as the Shartana) oppressed by the Pharaohs. We have again mention of this "mixed multitude" in Numbers 11:4, where we find that they were the first to regret the "flesh and the fish, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlick" which they had eaten in Egypt freely (ib. 5). They thus set a bad example, which the Israelites followed. And flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. Compare Exodus 10:26. It has been noticed that this is important, as lessening the difficulties connected with the sustentation of the Israelites in the wilderness. But it increases, on the other hand, the difficulties connected with the march, and with the possibility of finding pasture for such large flocks and herds in the Sinaitic peninsula.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And a mixed multitude went up also with them,.... Some of these were Egyptians, and some of other nations that had resided in Egypt, and who, on various accounts, might choose to go along with the children of Israel; some through intermarriages with them, being loath to part with their relations, see Leviticus 20:10, others on account of religion, being proselytes of righteousness, and others through worldly interest, the land of Egypt being by the plagues a most desolate place; and such wonders being wrought for the children of Israel, they saw they were a people that were the favourites of heaven, and judged it safest and best and most for their interest to keep with them; the Targum of Jonathan computes the number of those to be two hundred and forty myriads:
and flocks and herds, even very much cattle; the greatest part of which must be supposed to belong to the children of Israel, whose cattle were not destroyed when those of the Egyptians were; and the rest might be the cattle of such who feared and regarded the word of God, and took their cattle into their houses at the time of the plague of hail, whereby they were preserved; and which might be an inducement to them to take their herds and their flocks, and go along with the children of Israel, see Exodus 9:20.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
38. a mixed multitude went with them—literally, "a great rabble" (see also Nu 11:4; De 29:11); slaves, persons in the lowest grades of society, partly natives and partly foreigners, bound close to them as companions in misery, and gladly availing themselves of the opportunity to escape in the crowd. (Compare Zec 8:23).
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