|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
33:1-49 This is a brief review of the travels of the children of Israel through the wilderness. It is a memorable history. In their travels towards Canaan they were continually on the remove. Such is our state in this world; we have here no continuing city, and all our removes in this world are but from one part a desert to another. They were led to and fro, forward and backward, yet were all the while under the direction of the pillar of cloud and fire. God led them about, yet led them the right way. The way God takes in bringing his people to himself is always the best way, though it does not always seem to us the nearest way. Former events are mentioned. Thus we ought to keep in mind the providences of God concerning us and families, us and our land, and the many instances of that Divine care which has led us, and fed us, and kept us all our days hitherto. Few periods of our lives can be thought upon, without reminding us of the Lord's goodness, and our own ingratitude and disobedience: his kindness leaves us without excuse for our sins. We could not wish to travel over again the stages we have passed, unless we could hope, by the grace of God, to shun the sins we then committed, and to embrace such opportunities of doing good as we have let slip. Soon will our wanderings end, and our eternal state be fixed beyond recall; how important then is the present moment! Happy are those whom the Lord now guides with his counsel, and will at length receive to his glory. To this happiness the gospel calls us. Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. Let sinners seize the opportunity, and flee for refuge to the hope set before them. Let us redeem our time, to glorify God and serve our generation; and he will carry us safely through all, to his eternal kingdom.
Verse 4. - Buried all their first-born, which the Lord had smitten among them. Literally, "were burying (Septuagint, ἔθαπτον) those whom the Lord had smitten among them, viz., all the first-born." The fact that the Egyptians were so universally employed about the funeral rites of their first-born - rites to which they paid such extreme attention - seems to be mentioned here as supplying one reason at least why the Israelites began their outward march without opposition. It is in perfect accordance with what we know of the Egyptians, that all other passions and interests should give place for the time to the necessary care for the departed. Upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments. See on Exodus 12:12, and cf. Isaiah 19:1. The false deities of Egypt, having no existence except in the imaginations of men, could only be affected within the sphere of those imaginations, i.e., by being made contemptible in the eyes of those who feared them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the Lord had smitten among them,.... Which contributed much to the more easy and safe deliverance of the children of Israel; for their hearts were heavy with sorrow, and their hands were full, and they had other work to do, namely, to bury their dead, than to molest Israel; and besides, they knew it was for detaining them this stroke came upon them:
upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments; they were moved at the presence, and by the power of God, and fell and were dashed to pieces, as the idols of the same land were in later times, see Isaiah 19:1 and this still the more intimidated and frightened the Egyptians, that they dared not attempt to hinder the departure of the Israelites from them. The Targum of Jonathan says, the Word of the Lord did this; and adds, their molten idols became soft, their strong idols were mutilated, their earthen idols were diminished, their wooden idols became ashes, and those of beasts died.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. upon their gods—used either according to Scripture phraseology to denote their rulers (the first-born of the king and his princes) or the idolatrous objects of Egyptian worship.
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