Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:1a. Go in unto Pharaoh] as before in J: Exodus 8:1, Exodus 9:1.
1b, 2. Explanation to Moses of the reason of the command. In previous cases the command to go in to the Pharaoh is followed at once by the words, and say unto him, and the demand for the release of the people (Exodus 8:1; Exodus 8:20, Exodus 9:1; Exodus 9:13); and it is possible that Di. and others are right in regarding vv. 1b, 2 as a didactic addition (similar to Exodus 9:14-16) made by the compiler of JE, who at the same time substituted at the beginning of v. 3 ‘And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him’ for an original ‘and say unto him’ (the direct sequel to v. 1a ‘Go in unto Pharaoh’). It may be noticed that in v. 6 ‘And he (i.e. Moses) turned,’ at the end of the interview with Pharaoh, rather suggests that,—in accordance with the command in v. 1, but against v. 3 as it at present stands,—originally Moses alone ‘went in’ to Pharaoh.
1b. for I (emph.) have hardened] Heb. made heavy, the term used by J (see on Exodus 7:13).
shew] Heb. put: cf. the synonym, sâm, ‘set,’ in v. 2.
signs] cf. v. 2, Exodus 7:3 (P), Exodus 8:23 (J), Numbers 14:11; Numbers 14:22 (JE), and often in Dt. (Deuteronomy 4:34, Deuteronomy 6:22 al.); see p. 59. The thought, as Exodus 9:16.
of them] Heb. of it, i.e. of the people of Egypt (Exodus 3:20), which, however, has not been previously mentioned. ‘Them’ is right (so LXX. Pesh. Onk.); but it implies a change of text (בקרבם for בקרבו).
1–20. The eighth plague. The locusts. From J, with short passages from E.
And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.2. thou] i.e. Moses, addressed however as the representative of Israel. Cf. the plural ye at the end of the verse.
in the ears of thy son, &c.] The story is to be passed on to the children. The interest in the instruction of future generations, as Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 6:7; comp. also ch. Exodus 12:26 f., with the note, and Jdg 6:13, Psalm 44:1; Psalm 78:5-6.
how I have mocked the Egyptians] so RVm. rightly: cf. 1 Samuel 6:6 RVm. (also with reference to the Egyptians), Exodus 31:4 RVm. AV. itself has the rend. mock in Numbers 22:29, Jeremiah 38:19. The word used cannot mean ‘wrought’: in Arabic the corresponding word means to divert or occupy oneself; the Heb. word is applied in a bad sense, to ‘divert oneself at another’s expense,’ i.e. to make a toy of, or, by a slight paraphrase, to mock. As used here, ‘it is an anthropomorphism which is not consonant with the higher Christian conception of God’ (McNeile).
done] better, set, as the same verb, also of ‘signs’ ‘set’ in Egypt, is actually rendered, Jeremiah 32:20 AV., RV., Psalm 78:43 RV., cv. 27 RV. (cf. Isaiah 66:19).
and that (G.-K.§ 112p) ye may know, &c.] cf. on Exodus 8:10.
2, 3a. Before the last plague comes, the Israelites are to make request of the Egyptians, as directed in Exodus 3:21-22; cf. Exodus 12:35-36.
2. every man] in Exodus 3:22 only the women are to make the request.
and jewels of gold] LXX. Sam. add and raiment (as Exodus 3:22, Exodus 12:35). It must be supplied, or understood, from Exodus 12:36, to be included.
3a. gave. &c.] according to the promise of Exodus 3:21 a; cf. Exodus 12:36.
3b. Cf. Numbers 12:3 ‘Now the man Moses was very meek,’ &c.; also, for ‘the man Moses,’ Genesis 19:9, Jdg 17:5, 1 Samuel 1:21, 1 Kings 11:28, Esther 9:4.
was very great, &c.] on account viz. of the wonders wrought by him. The words suggest a reason why the Egyptians acceded the more readily to the Israelites’ request.
And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.3–6. The announcement of the plague to Pharaoh.
Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:4. to-morrow] cf. Exodus 8:23, Exodus 9:5-6; Exodus 9:18.
locusts] A well-known plague in Palestine and neighbouring countries: see for descriptions both of their immense numbers, and of their ravages, the writer’s notes on Joel (in the Camb. Bible), pp. 37–39, 48–53, 87–91. They do not however seem to visit Egypt very frequently. Niebuhr (as cited by Kn.) witnessed at Cairo in January a great swarm of locusts blown up by a SW. wind from the Libyan desert: Lepsius (Letters, p. 104) describes one in March, coming up also from the SW., which covered the whole country far and near. Denon (Voyages dans la basse et la haute Égypte, 1807, i. 287) describes one brought up by the wind from the East, which eventually, when the wind changed, was driven back into the desert.
4–8 (J). The sequel,—and once, probably, the immediate sequel,—to Exodus 10:28-29 (J): see the note there.
And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:5. they shall cover, &c.] This is literally true of locusts. As Thomson says of an invasion in the Lebanon district, ‘Their number was astounding; the whole face of the mountain was black with them’ (Joel, p. 89).
face] Heb. eye. A peculiar usage: so v. 15, Numbers 22:5; Numbers 22:11.
they shall eat, &c.] their voracity is insatiable. Cf. Joel 2:3, with the passage cited in the writer’s note from a traveller, ‘On whatever spot they fall, the whole vegetable produce disappears. Nothing escapes them, from the leaves on the forest to the herbs on the plain.’
And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.6. thy houses shall be filled, &c.] Cf. Morier, describing an invasion in Persia (ibid. p. 89), ‘They entered the inmost recesses of the houses, were found in every corner, stuck to our clothes, and infested our food.’
And he turned] i.e. Moses, though Aaron also, according to v. 3, had gone in. See the note on vv. 1b, 2, at the end.
And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?7. a snare] fig. for an occasion of destruction. See 1 Samuel 18:21; and cf. on ch. Exodus 23:33 Lit. a fowling-instrument; and probably, in fact, not a ‘snare’ (i.e. a noose; Germ. Schnur, a ‘string’) at all, but the trigger of a trap with the bait upon it1.
 This must be the meaning, if the Mass. text of Amos 3:5 a (‘Will a bird fall into a trap upon the earth, when there is no môkçsh for it?’) is right; but even though ‘into a trap’ be omitted with LXX., it still (in spite of EB. ii. 1561) seems to be a probable meaning of the word.
destroyed] i.e. ruined, viz. through all the calamities that have visited it.
7–11. The Pharaoh’s ministers suggest to him that Moses should no longer be permitted to ruin Egypt. He accordingly makes an attempt to come to terms with Moses; but when Moses declares that the whole people must go to hold the feast to Jehovah, he replies that he can only in the men go. The ministers shew by what they say that they are prompted not by religious fear, but only by solicitude for the welfare of their country, the misfortunes of which they attribute to Moses.
And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go?8. again] back, a frequent sense of ‘again’ in Old English.
And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.9. a feast unto the Lord] more naturally, Jehovah’s feast.
And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.10. The Pharaoh’s good wishes are of course intended ironically (cf. Amos 5:14): Jehovah be with you, and protect you, as assuredly as I will let you go, i.e. not at all.
for evil is before you] i.e. is contemplated by you, is what ye purpose (marg.): lit. is before your faces. The ‘evil’ is their intention of leaving Egypt altogether.
Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.11. men] Not the word used in v. 7, but one meaning more distinctly men, as opposed to women or children: cf. Deuteronomy 22:5 Heb.
for that is what ye desire] viz. to worship Jehovah at a festival, which could be sufficiently observed by men alone (Exodus 23:17).
And they were driven, &c.] With this ultimatum, that only the men might go, the interview abruptly terminates.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.12, 13a (E). The locusts are brought at the signal given by Moses with his rod. Cf. Exodus 9:22-23 a, with the note.
12. (even) all that, &c.] LXX. Sam. read, and all the fruit of the trees that, &c., perhaps rightly: cf. v. 15, and Exodus 9:25 end.
13b (J). The sequel of v. 11 in J: cf. Exodus 9:23 b, similarly after an insertion from E.
brought (first time)] led (Exodus 3:1), or brought along,—the word used in Psalm 78:26 b of the wind which brought the quails.
an east wind] so Psalm 78:26 a, for which the parallel clause has the south wind. The word does in fact include winds at least from the SE. The ‘east wind’ commonly denotes the violent and scorching sirocco (from Arab. sherḳîyeh, ‘eastern’), often described as ‘drying up’ vegetation, &c. (Ezekiel 17:10; Ezekiel 19:12, Hosea 13:15); hence the Vulg. here has ‘ventus urens.’ ‘That the wind brings locusts is stated by ancient and modern authorities alike, e.g. Agatharc. p. 42, Strabo, 16. p. 772, Diod. Sic. iii. 28, Shaw, Travels (1738), p. 256’ Kn.).
brought (second time)] more exactly, bore along; cf. 1 Kings 18:12 (‘carried’). For the construction of the Heb., cf. Genesis 19:23; Genesis 44:3; and see G.-K.§ 164b, or the writer’s Heb. Tenses, §§ 167–9.
And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.
And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.14. went up] came up (v. 12).
borders (Heb. border)] i.e. territory, as Exodus 8:2, Exodus 10:4; Exodus 10:19 (cf. p. 56).
grievous] Exodus 8:24, Exodus 9:3; Exodus 9:18; Exodus 9:24.
before them, &c.] cf. v. 6b, Exodus 9:18 b, 24b, Exodus 11:6 b; and p. 56.
For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.15. was darkened] i.e. hidden (cf. v. 5) by the multitude of locusts resting upon it. Cf. the description of Thomson, cited on v. 5, ‘the whole face of the mountain was black with them’; and of the Jaffa invasion in 1865 (Joel, p. 90), ‘in parts they covered the ground for miles to a height of several inches.’
not any green thing] cf. the last note on v. 5.
Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you.16, 17. Such terrible ravages move the Pharaoh to confess his sin, in stronger terms than before (Exodus 9:27); he prays for forgiveness, and for a fourth time intreats for the removal of the plague (cf. Exodus 8:8; Exodus 8:28 Exodus 9:28).
Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.17. only this once] Genesis 18:32.
this death only] only this terribly destructive pest. The term ‘death’ depicts vividly the consternation which the Pharaoh feels at it.
And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.18, 19. At Moses’ entreaty, the locusts are removed.
And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.19. turned, &c.] i.e. caused by a change a west wind to blow.
west wind] Heb. a sea-wind. The ‘west’ is regularly in Heb. the sea (Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:14, &c.). The idiom must have formed itself in Palestine, where the ‘sea’ was on the west. It is a common fate of locust swarms to be driven away by the wind, and to perish in the sea. Cf. Joel 2:20, with the writer’s note (p. 60). Pliny (H.N. xi. 35) writes, ‘Gregatim sublatae vento in maria aut stagna decidunt.’ The swarm described by Denon (on v. 4) was driven back by a change of wind into the desert on the East.
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.20. But again, after the removal of the plague, the result was the same as before, and the Pharaoh would not let the people go. The expression, as elsewhere in E (Exodus 4:21 b, Exodus 9:35, Exo Exodus 10:27).
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.21. Stretch out, &c.] addressed to Moses, as Exodus 9:22, Exo Exodus 10:12 (both E).
even darkness which may be felt] lit. so that one may feel darkness. (LXX. ψηλαφητὸν σκότος; Vulg. tam densae ut palpari queant). The marg. ‘feel (or grope) in darkness’ is not favoured by the Heb.
21–27. The ninth plague. The darkness. From E and J.
And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:
They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.23. but, &c.] What is here described is evidently miraculous: but it is said that the sand-clouds of the Ḥamsîn (see below) sometimes travel in streaks, so that parts of the country may escape them.
The darkness was no doubt occasioned really by a sand-storm, produced by the hot electrical wind called the Ḥamsîn, which in Egypt blows in most years intermittently,—usually for two or three days at a time,—from the S., SE., or SW. during some 50 days in spring (hence its name, ḥamsîn = fifty). These winds spring up for the most part suddenly: they are violent, and often as hot as ‘the air of an oven’; and they frequently raise such an amount of sand and dust as to darken the sun, and even to conceal objects a few yards off. Men and animals like are greatly distressed by the sand and heat: the sand penetrates everywhere; and while the storm lasts, people are obliged to remain secluded in their houses. On account of the sand and dust, the darkness is really such as ‘can be felt.’ See R. Pococke, Description of the East (1743), i. 195; Volney, Voyage en Syrie et en Égypte (1787), i. 55–7; DB. iii. 892a; A. B. Edwards, A thousand miles up the Nile2 (1889), ch. 5, p. 76 f.; Rosenm. Schol. ad loc. (a sandstorm, c. 1100, producing darkness so intense that it was thought the end of the world had come); Denon [above, p. 79], i. 285 f.; and a photograph in the Ill. London News, Feb. 17, 1906.
And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.24–26. The Pharaoh now summons Moses again, and offers a greater concession than before (vv. 8–11): the entire people may go; only their flocks and herds must be left behind (as a security for their return). But Moses will not listen to such a compromise. The passage must belong to the same source as vv. 8–11 (J).
And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God.25. Thou also must, &c.] The pron. is emphatic. Pharaoh, besides letting the Israelites’ cattle go, must also himself contribute to the sacrifices which will be offered. By ‘sacrifices’ (lit. slaughterings) are meant the most common kind of sacrifice, called elsewhere for distinction ‘peace-offerings’ (see on Exodus 20:24): they are often, esp. in the historical books, mentioned together with burnt-offerings (see ibid.).
sacrifice] Heb. do,—used in a sacrificial sense, like ῥέζειν and facere, and the Ass. epêshu. So Exodus 29:36; Exodus 29:38, Deuteronomy 12:27, 1 Kings 3:15, and frequently (the instances in the OT. have been collected by the writer in DB. s.v. Offer, Offering, No. 7, iii. 588b).
Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.26. The Israelites’ own cattle must go as well: because until they reach their destination they do not know how many sacrifices will be required.
and we know not] The pron. is emphatic.
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.27. The result is the same as in v. 20.
28, 29 (J). The original sequel of v. 26 (J). The Pharaoh is greatly angered at Moses’ persistency; and declares peremptorily that he will never admit him to his presence again. In the existing text of Exodus, Moses is admitted to the Pharaoh’s presence again, viz. to deliver the message Exodus 11:4-8 after he had received the command contained in Exodus 11:1-3 : the difficulty is removed by the supposition that originally Exodus 11:4-8 was the immediate sequel of Exodus 10:28-29, and that the connexion was interrupted by the compiler’s insertion of Exodus 11:1-3 from E.
And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.28. from me] Heb. from upon me, i.e. from being a trouble to me; cf. Genesis 13:11, Numbers 20:21, 2 Samuel 13:17 (Lex. p. 759a). Not the ‘from’ [Heb. from with = παρὰ with a gen.] of Exodus 8:12; Exodus 8:29-30, Exodus 9:33, Exodus 10:6; Exodus 10:18, Exodus 11:8.
see my face] i.e. be admitted to my presence; cf. Genesis 43:3, 2 Samuel 14:24; 2 Samuel 14:28, 2Ki Exo 25:19.
And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.