|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:22-35 Woful havoc this hail made: it killed both men and cattle; the corn above ground was destroyed, and that only preserved which as yet was not come up. The land of Goshen was preserved. God causes rain or hail on one city and not on another, either in mercy or in judgment. Pharaoh humbled himself to Moses. No man could have spoken better: he owns himself wrong; he owns that the Lord is righteous; and God must be justified when he speaks, though he speaks in thunder and lightning. Yet his heart was hardened all this while. Moses pleads with God: though he had reason to think Pharaoh would repent of his repentance, and he told him so, yet he promises to be his friend. Moses went out of the city, notwithstanding the hail and lightning which kept Pharaoh and his servants within doors. Peace with God makes men thunder-proof. Pharaoh was frightened by the tremendous judgment; but when that was over, his fair promises were forgotten. Those that are not bettered by judgments and mercies, commonly become worse.
Verse 31. - The flax and the barley was smitten. Flax was largely cultivated by the Egyptians, who preferred linen garments to any other (Herod. 2:37), and allowed the priests to wear nothing but linen. Several kinds of flax are mentioned as grown in Egypt (Plin. H. N. 19:1); and the neighbourhood of Tanis is expressly said to have been one of the places where the flax was produced. The flax is boiled, i.e. blossoms towards the end of January or beginning of February, and the barley comes into ear about the same time, being commonly cut in March. Barley was employed largely as the food of horses, and was used also for the manufacture of beer, which was a common Egyptian beverage. A certain quantity was made by the poorer classes into bread.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the flax and the barley was smitten,.... With the hail, thunder, and lightning, and were beat down, bruised, broken, and blasted, and destroyed; of the former there were great quantities produced in Egypt, which was famous for linen, much was made there, and there were many that wrought in fine flax, see Isaiah 19:9 and the latter were used not only to feed their cattle, but to make a drink of, as we do, ale and strong beer; and so the Egyptians use it to this day, as Dr. Shaw (p) says, both to feed their cattle, and after it is dried and parched, to make a fermented, intoxicating liquor, called "bonzah"; probably the same with the barley wine of the ancients, and a species of the "sicar", or strong drink of the Scriptures:
for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled; or in the stalk, quite grown up, and so the ears of the one were beat off, and the stalks of the other battered with the hail, and broken and destroyed.
(p) Travels, tom. 2. c. 2. sect. 5. p. 407. Ed. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
31, 32. the flax and the barley was smitten, &c.—The peculiarities that are mentioned in these cereal products arise from the climate and physical constitution of Egypt. In that country flax and barley are almost ripe when wheat and rye (spelt) are green. And hence the flax must have been "bolled"—that is, risen in stalk or podded in February, thus fixing the particular month when the event took place. Barley ripens about a month earlier than wheat. Flax and barley are generally ripe in March, wheat and rye (properly, spelt) in April.
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