Exodus 11:1
And the LORD said to Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more on Pharaoh, and on Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XI.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE TENTH PLAGUE.

(1) And the Lord said.—Rather, Now the Lord had said. The passage (Exodus 11:1-3) is parenthetic, and refers to a revelation made to Moses before his present interview with Pharaoh began. The insertion is needed in order to explain the confidence of Moses in regard to the last plague (Exodus 11:5), and the effect it would have on the Egyptians (Exodus 11:8).

When he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.—The word rendered “altogether” belongs to the first clause. Translate, when he shall let you go altogether, he shall assuredly thrust you out hence.

Exodus

A LAST MERCIFUL WARNING

Exodus 11:1 - - Exodus 11:10
.

The first point to be noted in this passage is that it interposes a solemn pause between the preceding ineffectual plagues and the last effectual one. There is an awful lull in the storm before the last crashing hurricane which lays every obstacle flat. ‘There is silence in heaven’ before the final peal of thunder. Exodus 11:1 - - Exodus 11:3 seem, at first sight, out of place, as interrupting the narrative, since Moses’ denunciation and prophecy in Exodus 11:4 - - Exodus 11:8 must have been spoken at the interview with Pharaoh which we find going on at the end of the preceding chapter. But it is legitimate to suppose that, at the very moment when Pharaoh was blustering and threatening, and Moses was bearding him, giving back scorn for scorn, the latter heard with the inward ear the voice which made Pharaoh’s words empty wind, and gave him the assurances and commands contained in Exodus 11:1 - - Exodus 11:3, and that thus it was given him in that hour what he should speak; namely, the prediction that follows in Exodus 11:4 - - Exodus 11:8. Such a view of the sequence of the passage makes it much more vivid, dramatic, and natural, than to suppose that the first verses are either interpolation or an awkward break referring to a revelation at some indefinite previous moment. When a Pharaoh or a Herod or an Agrippa threatens, God speaks to the heart of a Moses or a Paul, and makes His servant’s face ‘strong against their faces.’

The same purpose of parting off the preceding plagues from the past ones explains the introduction of Exodus 11:9 - - Exodus 11:10, which stand as a summary of the whole account of these, and, as it were, draw a line across the page, before beginning the story of that eventful day and night of Israel’s deliverance.

Moses’ conviction, which he knew to be not his own thought but God’s revelation of His purpose, pointed first to the final blow which was to finish Pharaoh’s resistance. He had been vacillating between compliance and refusal, like an elastic ball which yields to compression and starts back to its swelling rotundity as soon as the pressure is taken off. But at last he will collapse altogether, like the same ball when a slit is cut in it, and it shrivels into a shapeless lump. Weak people’s obstinate fits end like that. He will be as extreme in his eagerness to get rid of the Israelites as he had been in his determination to keep them. The sail that is filled one moment tumbles in a heap the next, when the halyards are cut. It is a poor affair when a man’s actions are shaped mainly by fear of consequences. Fright always drives to extremes. ‘When he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.’ Many a stout, God-opposing will collapses altogether when God’s finger touches it. ‘Can thy heart endure in the days that I shall deal with thee?’

Exodus 11:2 - - Exodus 11:3 appear irrelevant here, but the command to collect from the Egyptians jewels, which might be bartered for necessaries, may well have been given to Moses simultaneously with the assurance that he would lead forth the people after the next plague, and the particulars of the people’s favour and of Moses’ influence in the eyes of the native inhabitants, come in anticipatively to explain why the request for such contributions was granted when made.

With the new divine command swelling in his heart, Moses speaks his last word to Pharaoh, towering above him in righteous wrath, and dwindling his empty threats into nothingness. What a contrast between the impotent rage of the despot, with his vain threat, ‘Thou shalt die,’ and the unblenching boldness of the man with God at his back! One cannot but note in Moses’ prediction of the last plague the solemn enlargement on the details of the widespread calamity, which is not unfeeling gloating over an oppressor’s misery, but a yearning to save from hideous misery by timely and plain depicting of it. There is a flash of national triumph in the further contrast between the universal wailing in Egypt and the untouched security of the children of Israel, but that feeling merges at once into the higher one of ‘the Lord’ s’ gracious action in establishing the ‘difference’ between them and their oppressors. It is not safe to dwell on superiority over others, either as to condition or character, unless we print in very large letters that it is ‘the Lord’ who has made it. There is a flash, too, of natural triumph in the picture of the proud courtiers brought down to prostrate themselves before the shepherd from Horeb, and to pray him to do what their master and they had so long fought against his doing. And there is a most natural assertion of non-dependence on their leave in that emphatic ‘After that I will go out.’ He is not asserting himself against God, but against the cowering courtiers. ‘Hot anger’ was excusable, but it was not the best mood in which to leave Pharaoh. Better if he had gone out unmoved, or moved only to ‘great heaviness and sorrow of heart’ at the sight of men setting themselves against God, and rushing on the ‘thick bosses of the Almighty’s buckler’ to their own ruin. Moses’ anger we naturally sympathise with, Christ’s meekness we should try to copy.

The closing verses, as we have already noticed, are a kind of summing-up of the whole narrative of the plagues and their effects on Pharaoh. They open two difficult questions, as to how and why it was that the effect of the successive strokes was so slight and transient. They give the ‘how’ very emphatically as being that ‘Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart.’ Does that not free Pharaoh from guilt? And does it not suggest an unworthy conception of God? It must be remembered that the preceding narrative employs not only the phrase that ‘Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart,’ but also the expression that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. And it is further to be noted that the latter expression is employed in the accounts of the earlier plagues, and that the former one appears only towards the close of the series. So then, even if we are to suppose that it means that there was a direct hardening action by God on the man’s heart, such action was not first, but subsequent to obstinate hardening by himself. God hardens no man’s heart who has not first hardened it himself. But we do not need to conclude that any inward action on the will is meant. Was not the accumulation of plagues, intended, as they were, to soften, a cause of hardening? Does not the Gospel, if rejected, harden, making consciences and wills less susceptible? Is it not a ‘savour of death unto death,’ as our fathers recognised in speaking of ‘gospel-hardened sinners’? The same fire softens wax and hardens clay. Whosoever is not brought near is driven farther off, by the influences which God brings to bear on us.

The ‘why’ is stated in terms which may suggest difficulties,-’that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’ But we have to remember that the Old Testament writers are not wont to distinguish so sharply as more logical Westerns do between the actual result of an event and its purpose. With their deep faith in the all-ruling power of God, whatever had come to pass was what He had meant to come to pass. In fact, Pharaoh’s obstinacy had not thwarted the divine purpose, but had been the dark background against which the blaze of God’s irresistible might had shone the brighter. He makes the wrath of man to praise Him, and turns opposition into the occasion of more conspicuously putting forth His omnipotence.Exodus 11:1. The Lord said — Or rather, had said, for this and the next verse are only a recapitulation of what had been revealed to Moses in mount Horeb, (Exodus 3:20-22, and Exodus 4:23,) and, together with the third verse, ought to be read as a parenthesis. Accordingly, it is evident that the 4th verse is a continuation of Moses’s conference with Pharaoh, mentioned in the preceding chapter. He shall thrust you out hence altogether — Men, and women, and children, and cattle, and all that you have, which he would never do before.11:1-3 A secret revelation was made to Moses while in the presence of Pharaoh, that he might give warning of the last dreadful judgment, before he went out. This was the last day of the servitude of Israel; they were about to go away. Their masters, who had abused them in their work, would have sent them away empty; but God provided that the labourers should not lose their hire, and ordered them to demand it now, at their departure, and it was given to them. God will right the injured, who in humble silence commit their cause to him; and none are losers at last by patient suffering. The Lord gave them favour in the sight of the Egyptians, by making it appear how much he favoured them. He also changed the spirit of the Egyptians toward them, and made them to be pitied of their oppressors. Those that honour God, he will honour.The Lord said - Or "the Lord had said." The first three verses of this chapter are parenthetical. Before Moses relates the last warning given to Pharaoh, he feels it right to recall to his readers' minds the revelation and command which had been previously given to him by the Lord.

When he shall let you go ... - When at last he lets you depart with children, flocks, herds, and all your possessions, he will compel you to depart in haste. Moses was already aware that the last plague would be followed by an immediate departure, and, therefore, measures had probably been taken to prepare the Israelites for the journey. In fact, on each occasion when Pharaoh relented for a season, immediate orders would of course be issued by Moses to the heads of the people, who were thus repeatedly brought into a state of more or less complete organization for the final movement.

CHAPTER 11

Ex 11:1-10. Death of the First-born Threatened.

1. the Lord said—rather, "had said unto Moses." It may be inferred, therefore, that he had been apprised that the crisis had now arrived, that the next plague would so effectually humble and alarm the mind of Pharaoh, that he would "thrust them out thence altogether"; and thus the word of Moses (Ex 10:29), must be regarded as a prediction.God commandeth the Israelites to borrow jewels of the Egyptians, Exodus 11:2. God giveth them favour among the Egyptians, Exodus 11:3. Moses denounceth the last plague, Exodus 11:4,5. A great cry, Exodus 11:6. The Israelites’ safety, Exodus 11:7. The Egyptians thrusting them out, Exodus 11:8. God foretells Pharaoh’s hardness, Exodus 11:9.

The Lord said unto Moses; either,

1. Whilst Moses was not yet gone out of Pharaoh’s presence; so God might suggest this to his mind, as he did other things to Micaiah, when he was before Ahab and Jehoshaphat, 1Ki 22. Or rather,

2. Before his last coming to Pharaoh; and the words may be rendered thus, Now the Lord had said unto Moses. And this is here added as the reason why Moses spake so boldly to Pharaoh, because God had assured him of a good issue.

He shall surely thrust you out hence altogether; men, and women, and children, and cattle, and all that they had, which he would never do before.

And the Lord said unto Moses,.... While in the presence of Pharaoh, by a secret impulse upon his mind; or he had said (m), which some refer as far back as to his appearance to him in Midian, Exodus 4:23, which is too remote; rather it refers to the last time he went to Pharaoh, being sent for by him; and the words may be rendered, "for the Lord had said" (n); and so are a reason why Moses was so bold, and expressed himself with so much confidence and assurance to Pharaoh, that he would see his face no more:

yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; upon him and all his subjects, for the following one would affect all the families of Egypt, in which there was a son:

afterwards he will let you go hence; out of Egypt readily, at once, and not attempt to stop or retard your going:

when he shall let you go; declare his will, give leave and orders for it:

he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether; absolutely, entirely, without any exception or limitation, them, their wives, their children, their flocks and herds, and whatsoever belonged to them, without any restraint upon them in any respect, and without any condition of return, or fixing any time for it, but the dismission should be general, unlimited, and unconditional; or, "in thrusting he shall thrust you out" (o), with force and vehemence, with urgency and in great haste.

(m) "dixerat", some in Vatablus, Ainsworth, Cartwright; so Aben Ezra. (n) "Dixerat enim", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Rivet. (o) "expellendo expellet", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; so Fagius, Vatablus, Cartwright.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall {a} surely thrust you out hence altogether.

(a) Without any condition, but with haste and violence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. plague] Heb. néga‘, from nâga‘, to touch; lit. (severe) touch or stroke, Genesis 12:17, 1 Kings 8:37-38, Psalm 39:10; most commonly, of the severe stroke of leprosy (Leviticus 13-14). Not the word used Exodus 9:14, or Exodus 12:13 : see p. 58.

when, &c.] the marg. is preferable: when he does let you go altogether (without, for instance, keeping back the flocks and herds, Exodus 10:24), he will be glad to be rid of you, and will even thrust you out: see Exodus 12:39, also Exodus 12:33; Exodus 6:1 Heb.

1–8. Announcement of the last plague. From J and E.

1–3 (E). The sequel to Exodus 10:27 (E).Verses 1-3. - We have here a parenthetic statement of something that had previously happened. Before Moses was summoned to appear in the presence of Pharaoh as related in Exodus 10:24, it had been expressly revealed to him by God,

1. That one more plague, and one only, was impending;

2. That this infliction would be effectual, and be followed by the departure of the Israelites; and,

3. That instead of reluctantly allowing them to withdraw from his kingdom, the monarch would be eager for their departure and would actually hasten it. He had also been told that the time was now come when the promise made to him in Mount Horeb, that his people should "spoil the Egyptians" (Exodus 3:22), would receive its accomplishment. The Israelites, before departing, were to ask their Egyptian neighbours for any articles of gold and silver that they possessed, and would receive them (ver. 2). The reasons for this extraordinary generosity on the part of the Egyptians are then mentioned, in prolongation of the parenthesis.

1. God "gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians"; and

2. The circumstances of the time had exalted Moses, and made him be looked upon as "very great" (ver. 3), so that there was a general inclination to carry out his wishes. Verse 1. - And the Lord spake unto Moses. Rather, "Now the Lord had said unto Moses." The Hebrew has no form for the pluperfect tease, and is consequently obliged to make up for the grammatical deficiency by using the simple preterite in a pluperfect sense. We cannot definitely fix the time when Moses had received this revelation; but the expression, one plague more, shows that it was after the commencement of the "plague of darkness." When he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out altogether. The Hebrew win not bear this rendering. It runs distinctly thus - "When he shall let you go altogether, he will assuredly thrust you out hence." As Canon Cook notes, "the meaning is - when at last he lets you depart, with children, flocks, herds, and all your possessions, he will compel you to depart in haste" (Speaker's Commentary, vol. 1. p. 290). It has been well noticed by the same writer that both this announcement, and the previous relentings of Pharaoh, would have caused Moses to have preparations made, and to hold the Israelites in readiness for a start upon their journey almost at any moment. No doubt a most careful and elaborate organization of the people must have been necessary; but there had been abundant time for such arrangements during the twelvemonth that had elapsed since the return of Moses from Midian. Ninth plague: The Darkness. - As Pharaoh's defiant spirit was not broken yet, a continuous darkness came over all the land of Egypt, with the exception of Goshen, without any previous announcement, and came in such force that the darkness could be felt. חשׁך וימשׁ: "and one shall feel, grasp darkness." המשׁ: as in Psalm 115:7; Judges 16:26, ψηλαφητὸν σκότος (lxx); not "feel in the dark," for משׁשׁ has this meaning only in the Piel with בּ (Deuteronomy 28:29). אפלה חשׁך: darkness of obscurity, i.e., the deepest darkness. The combination of two words or synonyms gives the greatest intensity to the thought. The darkness was so great that they could not see one another, and no one rose up from his place. The Israelites alone "had light in their dwelling-places." The reference here is not to the houses; so that we must not infer that the Egyptians were unable to kindle any lights even in their houses. The cause of this darkness is not given in the text; but the analogy of the other plagues, which had all of them a natural basis, warrants us in assuming, as most commentators have done, that there was the same here - that it was in fact the Chamsin, to which the lxx evidently allude in their rendering: σκότος καὶ γνόφος καὶ θύελλα. This wind, which generally blows in Egypt before and after the vernal equinox and lasts two or three days, usually rises very suddenly, and fills the air with such a quantity of fine dust and coarse sand, that the sun loses its brightness, the sky is covered with a dense veil, and it becomes so dark that "the obscurity cause by the thickest fog in our autumn and winter days is nothing in comparison" (Schubert). Both men and animals hide themselves from this storm; and the inhabitants of the towns and villages shut themselves up in the innermost rooms and cellars of their houses till it is over, for the dust penetrates even through well-closed windows. For fuller accounts taken from travels, see Hengstenberg (pp. 120ff.) and Robinson's Palestine i. pp. 287-289. Seetzen attributes the rising of the dust to a quantity of electrical fluid contained in the air. - The fact that in this case the darkness alone is mentioned, may have arisen from its symbolical importance. "The darkness which covered the Egyptians, and the light which shone upon the Israelites, were types of the wrath and grace of God" (Hengstenberg). This occurrence, in which, according to Arabian chroniclers of the middle ages, the nations discerned a foreboding of the day of judgment or of the resurrection, filled the king with such alarm that he sent for Moses, and told him he would let the people and their children go, but the cattle must be left behind. יצּג: sistatur, let it be placed, deposited in certain places under the guard of Egyptians, as a pledge of your return. Maneat in pignus, quod reversuri sitis, as Chaskuni correctly paraphrases it. But Moses insisted upon the cattle being taken for the sake of their sacrifices and burnt-offerings. "Not a hoof shall be left behind." This was a proverbial expression for "not the smallest fraction." Bochart gives instances of a similar introduction of the "hoof" into proverbial sayings by both Arabians and Romans (Hieroz. i. p. 490). This firmness on the part of Moses he defended by saying, "We know not with what we shall serve the Lord, till we come thither;" i.e., we know not yet what kind of animals or how many we shall require for the sacrifices; our God will not make this known to us till we arrive at the place of sacrifice. עבד with a double accusative as in Genesis 30:29; to serve any one with a thing.
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