Exodus 14:12
Is not this the word that we did tell you in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
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(12) Is not this the word that we did tell thee . . .?—At one time they had refused to listen to Moses (Exodus 6:9) but in the main they had acquiesced in his proceedings, and allowed him to act in their name. The reproach was therefore unjust and undeserved; but it is in human nature to make such reproaches in times of danger and difficulty.

14:10-14 There was no way open to Israel but upward, and thence their deliverance came. We may be in the way of duty, following God, and hastening toward heaven, yet may be troubled on every side. Some cried out unto the Lord; their fear led them to pray, and that was well. God brings us into straits, that he may bring us to our knees. Others cried out against Moses; fear set them murmuring as if God were not still able to work miracles. They quarrel with Moses for bringing them out of Egypt; and so were angry with God for the greatest kindness ever done them; thus gross are the absurdities of unbelief. Moses says, Fear ye not. It is always our duty and interest, when we cannot get out of troubles, yet to get above our fears; let them quicken our prayers and endeavours, but not silence our faith and hope. Stand still, think not to save yourselves either by fighting or flying; wait God's orders, and observe them. Compose yourselves, by confidence in God, into peaceful thoughts of the great salvation God is about to work for you. If God brings his people into straits, he will find a way to bring them out.Let us alone - This is a gross exaggeration, yet not without a semblance of truth: for although the Israelites welcomed the message of Moses at first, they gave way completely at the first serious trial. See the reference in the margin. The whole passage foreshadows the conduct of the people in the wilderness. 10. when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes—The great consternation of the Israelites is somewhat astonishing, considering their vast superiority in numbers, but their deep dismay and absolute despair at the sight of this armed host receives a satisfactory explanation from the fact that the civilized state of Egyptian society required the absence of all arms, except when they were on service. If the Israelites were entirely unarmed at their departure, they could not think of making any resistance [Wilkinson and Hengstenberg]. No text from Poole on this verse. Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt,.... The thing they suggested to him, and talked with him about while they were in the land of Egypt, before they came out of it, particularly after their service and bondage were made more severe and cruel upon Moses and Aaron's demanding their dismission, see Exodus 5:21,

saying, let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? peaceably and quietly, as we have been used to do, since there is no likelihood of being freed, and since we are more evilly treated than before:

for it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness: of such mean spirits were they, and had so poor a notion of, and taste for liberty, and so ungrateful were they to their deliverer.

Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let {g} us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

(g) Such is the impatience of the flesh, that it cannot wait for God's appointed time.

12. They even declare that while they were still in Egypt they had been unfavourable to Moses’ plan. This is not mentioned before: in Exodus 4:31 they listen to Moses gladly; at most, they had blamed Moses when they found increased labour imposed upon them (Exodus 5:21). Even in Exodus 6:9 (P) nothing like the words here used is placed in their mouth.Verse 12. - Is not this the word that we did tell thee? The reference was probably to that time of depression, after their burdens had been increased, and before the series of miracles began, when the Israelites had addressed reproaches to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 5:21), and refused to listen to words of encouragement (Exodus 6:9). It was not true that they had uniformly held the same language, and desired Moses and Aaron to cease their efforts. It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die. The spirit to prefer death to slavery, where they are the only alternatives, is not a common one; and we must not be surprised that a people which had grown up in servitude and had no traditions of national independence did not rise to the heroic height attained under other circumstances by Greeks, by Switzers. and by Poles. It would have been most extraordinary had they done so. When it was announced that Israel had fled, "the heart of Pharaoh and his servants turned against the people," and they repented that they had let them go. When and whence the information came, we are not told. The common opinion, that it was brought after the Israelites changed their route, has no foundation in the text. For the change in Pharaoh's feelings towards the Israelites, and his regret that he had let them go, were caused not by their supposed mistake, but by their flight. Now the king and his servants regarded the exodus as a flight, as soon as they recovered from the panic caused by the death of the first-born, and began to consider the consequences of the permission given to the people to leave his service. This may have occurred as early as the second day after the exodus. In that case, Pharaoh would have had time to collect chariots and horsemen, and overtake the Israelites at Hachiroth, as they could easily perform the same journey in two days, or one day and a half, to which the Israelites had taken more than three. "He yoked his chariot (had it yoked, cf. 1 Kings 6:14), and took his people (i.e., his warriors) with him," viz., "six hundred chosen war chariots (Exodus 14:7), and all the chariots of Egypt" (sc., that he could get together in the time), and "royal guards upon them all." שׁלשׁים, τριστάται, tristatae qui et terni statores vocantur, nomen est secundi gradus post regiam dignitatem (Jerome on Ezekiel 23:23), not charioteers (see my Com. on 1 Kings 9:22). According to Exodus 14:9, the army raised by Pharaoh consisted of chariot horses (רכב סוּס), riding horses (פּרשׁים, lit., runners, 1 Kings 5:6), and חיל, the men belonging to them. War chariots and cavalry were always the leading force of the Egyptians (cf. Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 36:9). Three times (Exodus 14:4, Exodus 14:8, and Exodus 14:17) it is stated that Jehovah hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he pursued the Israelites, to show that God had decreed this hardening, to glorify Himself in the judgment and death of the proud king, who would not honour God, the Holy One, in his life. "And the children of Israel were going out with a high hand:" Exodus 14:8. is a conditional clause in the sense of, "although they went out" (Ewald, 341). רמה יד, the high hand, is the high hand of Jehovah with the might which it displayed (Isaiah 26:11), not the armed hand of the Israelites. This is the meaning also in Numbers 33:3; it is different in Numbers 15:30. The very fact that Pharaoh did not discern the lifting up of Jehovah's hand in the exodus of Israel displayed the hardening of his heart. "Beside Pihachiroth:" see Exodus 14:2.
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