Exodus 12:38
And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
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(38) A mixed multitude went up also with them.—Nothing is told us of the component elements of this “mixed multitude.” We hear of them as “murmuring” in Numbers 11:4, so that they seem to have remained with Israel. Some may have been Egyptians, impressed by the recent miracles; some foreigners held to servitude, like the Israelites, and glad to escape from their masters. It is noticeable that the Egyptian writers, in their perverted accounts of the Exodus, made a multitude of foreigners (Hyksôs) take part with the Hebrews.

Exodus 12:38-39. And a mixed multitude went up with them — Some perhaps willing to leave their country, because it was laid waste by the plagues. But probably the greatest part was but a rude, unthinking mob, that followed they knew not why. It is likely, when they understood that the children of Israel were to continue forty years in the wilderness, they quitted them, and returned to Egypt again. And flocks and herds, even very much cattle — This is taken notice of, because it was long ere Pharaoh would give them leave to remove their effects, which were chiefly cattle. Thrust out — By importunate entreaties.12:37-42 The children of Israel set forward without delay. A mixed multitude went with them. Some, perhaps, willing to leave their country, laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love to them and their religion. But there were always those among the Israelites who were not Israelites. Thus there are still hypocrites in the church. This great event was 430 years from the promise made to Abraham: see Ga 3:17. So long the promise of a settlement was unfulfilled. But though God's promises are not performed quickly, they will be, in their season. This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. The great things God does for his people, are to be not only a few days' wonder, but to be remembered throughout all ages; especially the work of our redemption by Christ. This first passover-night was a night of the Lord, much to be observed; but the last passover-night, in which Christ was betrayed and in which the first passover, with the rest of the Jewish ceremonies, was done away, was a night of the Lord, much more to be observed. Then a yoke, heavier than that of Egypt, was broken from off our necks, and a land, better than that of Canaan, set before us. It was a redemption to be celebrated in heaven, for ever and ever.A mixed multitude - Probably remains of the old Semitic population, whether first brought into the district by the Hyksos or not is uncertain. As natural objects of suspicion and dislike to the Egyptians who had lately become masters of the country, they would be anxious to escape, the more especially after the calamities which preceded the Exodus.

Very much cattle - This is an important fact, both as showing that the oppression of the Israelites had not extended to confiscation of their property, and as bearing upon the question of their maintenance in the Wilderness.

38. a mixed multitude went with them—literally, "a great rabble" (see also Nu 11:4; De 29:11); slaves, persons in the lowest grades of society, partly natives and partly foreigners, bound close to them as companions in misery, and gladly availing themselves of the opportunity to escape in the crowd. (Compare Zec 8:23). A mixed multitude, consisting of Egyptians or other people, who went with them, either because they were their servants, or that by this means they might free themselves from the servitude which they endured under hard masters in Egypt; or because the glorious works which they had seen, had raised their esteem of God and of his people, and made them expect a share in the great felicities which they presumed would be conferred upon a people so highly honoured and beloved of such an almighty and all-sufficient God. And because their hearts were not sincere, nor their ends right, they soon repented of their choice, Numbers 11:4. Compare Zechariah 8:23. And a mixed multitude went up also with them,.... Some of these were Egyptians, and some of other nations that had resided in Egypt, and who, on various accounts, might choose to go along with the children of Israel; some through intermarriages with them, being loath to part with their relations, see Leviticus 20:10, others on account of religion, being proselytes of righteousness, and others through worldly interest, the land of Egypt being by the plagues a most desolate place; and such wonders being wrought for the children of Israel, they saw they were a people that were the favourites of heaven, and judged it safest and best and most for their interest to keep with them; the Targum of Jonathan computes the number of those to be two hundred and forty myriads:

and flocks and herds, even very much cattle; the greatest part of which must be supposed to belong to the children of Israel, whose cattle were not destroyed when those of the Egyptians were; and the rest might be the cattle of such who feared and regarded the word of God, and took their cattle into their houses at the time of the plague of hail, whereby they were preserved; and which might be an inducement to them to take their herds and their flocks, and go along with the children of Israel, see Exodus 9:20.

And {r} a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

(r) Which were strangers, and not born from the Israelites.

38. a great mixed multitude] cf. Numbers 11:4 (the Heb. word different). Non-Israelites (cf. the same word in Nehemiah 13:3) of various kinds are meant: e.g. Egyptians who had intermarried with Israelites (cf. Leviticus 24:10), other Semites who had found their way into Egypt, and prisoners taken in war who had been employed in the corvée (Exodus 1:9).

flocks and herds] cf. v. 32, Exodus 10:26.Verse 38. - A mixed multitude went up also with them. Kalisch supposes that these strangers were native Egyptians, anxious to escape the tyranny of the kings. Canon Cook suggests that they were "remains of the old Semitic population" of the Eastern provinces. Perhaps it is more probable that they consisted of fugitives from other subject races (as the Shartana) oppressed by the Pharaohs. We have again mention of this "mixed multitude" in Numbers 11:4, where we find that they were the first to regret the "flesh and the fish, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlick" which they had eaten in Egypt freely (ib. 5). They thus set a bad example, which the Israelites followed. And flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. Compare Exodus 10:26. It has been noticed that this is important, as lessening the difficulties connected with the sustentation of the Israelites in the wilderness. But it increases, on the other hand, the difficulties connected with the march, and with the possibility of finding pasture for such large flocks and herds in the Sinaitic peninsula. The very same night Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and gave them permission to depart with their people, their children, and their cattle. The statement that Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron is not at variance with Exodus 10:28-29; and there is no necessity to resort to Calvin's explanation, "Pharaoh himself is said to have sent for those whom he urged to depart through the medium of messengers from the palace." The command never to appear in his sight again did not preclude his sending for them under totally different circumstances. The permission to depart was given unconditionally, i.e., without involving an obligation to return. This is evident from the words, "Get you forth from among my people," compared with Exodus 10:8, Exodus 10:24, "Go ye, serve Jehovah," and Exodus 8:25, "Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land." If in addition to this we bear in mind, that although at first, and even after the fourth plague (Exodus 8:27), Moses only asked for a three days' journey to hold a festival, yet Pharaoh suspected that they would depart altogether, and even gave utterance to this suspicion, without being contradicted by Moses (Exodus 8:28, and Exodus 10:10); the words "Get you forth from among my people" cannot mean anything else than "depart altogether." Moreover, in Exodus 11:1 it was foretold to Moses that the result of the last blow would be, that Pharaoh would let them go, or rather drive them away; so that the effect of this blow, as here described, cannot be understood in any other way. And this is really implied in Pharaoh's last words, "Go, and bless me also;" whereas on former occasions he had only asked them to intercede for the removal of the plagues (Exodus 8:8, Exodus 8:28; Exodus 9:28; Exodus 10:17). בּרך, to bless, indicates a final leave-taking, and was equivalent to a request that on their departure they would secure or leave behind the blessing of their God, in order that henceforth no such plague might ever befall him and his people. This view of the words of the king is not at variance either with the expression "as ye have said" in Exodus 12:31, which refers to the words "serve the Lord," or with the same words in Exodus 12:32, for there they refer to the flock and herds, or lastly, with the circumstance that Pharaoh pursued the Israelites after they had gone, with the evident intention of bringing them back by force (Exodus 14:5.), because this resolution is expressly described as a change of mind consequent upon renewed hardening (Exodus 14:4-5).
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