|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-9 God will own his people, though poor and despised, and will find a time to plead their cause. Pharaoh treated all he had heard with contempt. He had no knowledge of Jehovah, no fear of him, no love to him, and therefore refused to obey him. Thus Pharaoh's pride, ambition, covetousness, and political knowledge, hardened him to his own destruction. What Moses and Aaron ask is very reasonable, only to go three days' journey into the desert, and that on a good errand. We will sacrifice unto the Lord our God. Pharaoh was very unreasonable, in saying that the people were idle, and therefore talked of going to sacrifice. He thus misrepresents them, that he might have a pretence to add to their burdens. To this day we find many who are more disposed to find fault with their neighbours, for spending in the service of God a few hours spared from their wordly business, than to blame others, who give twice the time to sinful pleasures. Pharaoh's command was barbarous. Moses and Aaron themselves must get to the burdens. Persecutors take pleasure in putting contempt and hardship upon ministers. The usual tale of bricks must be made, without the usual allowance of straw to mix with the clay. Thus more work was to be laid upon the men, which, if they performed, they would be broken with labour; and if not, they would be punished.
Verse 9. - Let there more work be laid upon the men. Rather, as in the margin, "Let the work be heavy upon the men." Let the tasks set them be such as to occupy all their time, and not leave them any spare moments in which they may be tempted to listen to mischievous talkers, like Moses and Aaron) who flatter them with vain (literally, lying, words. Pharaoh, no doubt, imagined that the hopes raised by the two brothers were vain and illusive. He was utterly blind as to the course which events were about to take.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Let there more work be laid upon the men,.... Instead of lessening it, let it be increased, or "be heavy" (k) upon them, that it may oppress and afflict them and keep them down, and weaken their strength and their spirits, and diminish them:
that they may labour therein; and have no leisure time to spend in idleness and sloth:
and let them not regard vain words; or "words of falsehood" (l) and lies, such as were spoken by Moses and Aaron, promising them liberty and deliverance from their bondage, which he was determined never to grant, and so eventually make such words to appear to be vain and empty, falsehood and lies.
(k) "aggravetur", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (l) "in verbis mendacii", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus. "Verbis falsis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
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