Exodus 15:26
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
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Exodus 15:26. If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, &c. — He here states the substance of what he required of them. For as yet he did not load them with that grievous yoke of ceremonies, which he thought fit afterward to lay upon them, for the hardness of their hearts, or because they showed themselves incapable of a more liberal and ingenuous service. And to this the words of the Lord by Jeremiah seem to refer, Jeremiah 7:22-23, “I spake not to your fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings, or sacrifices,” &c. I will put none of these diseases upon thee — Either such preternatural plagues as God had inflicted on the Egyptians, or the diseases which were peculiar to Egypt, and most frequent in that country, such as the leprosy and other cutaneous diseases. This intimates that if they were disobedient, the plagues which they had seen inflicted on their enemies should be brought on them. The threatening is implied only, but the promise is expressed. I am the Lord that healeth thee — That preserves thee in health, as well as heals thy diseases.

15:22-27 In the wilderness of Shur the Israelites had no water. At Marah they had water, but it was bitter; so that they could not drink it. God can make bitter to us that from which we promise ourselves most, and often does so in the wilderness of this world, that our wants, and disappointments in the creature, may drive us to the Creator, in whose favour alone true comfort is to be had. In this distress the people fretted, and quarrelled with Moses. Hypocrites may show high affections, and appear earnest in religious exercises, but in the time of temptation they fall away. Even true believers, in seasons of sharp trial, will be tempted to fret, distrust, and murmur. But in every trial we should cast our care upon the Lord, and pour out our hearts before him. We shall then find that a submissive will, a peaceful conscience, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost, will render the bitterest trial tolerable, yea, pleasant. Moses did what the people had neglected to do; he cried unto the Lord. And God provided graciously for them. He directed Moses to a tree which he cast into the waters, when, at once, they were made sweet. Some make this tree typical of the cross of Christ, which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction to all the faithful, and enables them to rejoice in tribulation. But a rebellious Israelite shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian. The threatening is implied only, the promise is expressed. God is the great Physician. If we are kept well, it is he that keeps us; if we are made well, it is he that recovers us. He is our life and the length of our days. Let us not forget that we are kept from destruction, and delivered from our enemies, to be the Lord's servants. At Elim they had good water, and enough of it. Though God may, for a time, order his people to encamp by the bitter waters of Marah, that shall not always be their lot. Let us not faint at tribulations.A tree ... - The statement points to a natural agency, but the result was manifestly supernatural.

He made ... - The Lord then set before them the fundamental principle of implicit trust, to be shown by obedience. The healing of the water was a symbol of deliverance from physical and spiritual evils.

25. the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet—Some travellers have pronounced this to be the Elvah of the Arabs—a shrub in form and flower resembling our hawthorn; others, the berries of the Ghurkhud—a bush found growing around all brackish fountains. But neither of these shrubs are known by the natives to possess such natural virtues. It is far more likely that God miraculously endowed some tree with the property of purifying the bitter water—a tree employed as the medium, but the sweetening was not dependent upon the nature or quality of the tree, but the power of God (compare Joh 9:6). And hence the "statute and ordinance" that followed, which would have been singularly inopportune if no miracle had been wrought.

and there he proved them—God now brought the Israelites into circumstances which would put their faith and obedience to the test (compare Ge 22:1).

None of these diseases upon thee, nor other evils or plagues; but, on the contrary, I will bless thee with all manner of blessings. Under one branch or part of the blessings of God’s covenant, he includes all the rest by a very common synecdoche.

That healeth thee; or, thy physician, for all thy maladies both of soul and body.

And said, if thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God,.... By this and the following words, they are prepared to expect a body of laws to be given unto them, as the rule of their future conduct; and though they were delivered from the rigorous laws, bondage, and oppression of the Egyptians, yet they were not to be without law to God, their King, Lord, and Governor, whose voice they were to hearken to in all things he should direct them in:

and wilt do that which is right in his sight; which he shall see and order as fit to be done, and which was not to be disputed and contradicted by them:

and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes; whether moral, ceremonial, or judicial, even all that either had been made known to them, or should be hereafter enjoined them; and this at Mount Sinai, where they received a body of laws, they promised to do; namely, both to hear and to obey, Exodus 24:3.

I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; in any of the plagues inflicted on them, which they were witnesses of; from these they should be preserved, if obedient, but if not they must expect them, or what was similar to them, see Deuteronomy 28:27,

for I am the Lord that healeth thee; both in body and soul; in body, by preserving from diseases, and by curing them when afflicted with them; and in soul, by pardoning their iniquities, which, in Scripture, is sometimes signified by healing, see Psalm 103:3.

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is {o} right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

(o) Which is, to do only what God commanded.

26. Encouragement to Israel, to obey the commandments laid upon them. The verse approximates in style and tone to Deuteronomy, and is probably one of the parenetic additions of the compiler of JE (see on Exodus 13:3-16); notice Hearken to the voice, as Deuteronomy 15:5; Deuteronomy 28:1 al. (but with ב, not ל, as here); Jehovah thy Goa, as Deuteronomy 1:21; Deuteronomy 1:31, and constantly; that which is right &c., as Deuteronomy 6:18, Deuteronomy 12:25; Deuteronomy 12:28 al.; give ear, as Deuteronomy 1:45 (elsewhere nearly always poet.); commandments … and statutes, as Deuteronomy 4:40, Deuteronomy 6:17, Deuteronomy 10:13, &c.; keep, as Deuteronomy 4:40, Deuteronomy 26:17.

I will put, &c.] Deuteronomy 7:15 is based upon this passage (in spite of the Heb. word for ‘diseases’ being different).

diseases] alluding to the plagues.

that healeth thee] Cf. Psalm 103:3; also ch. Exodus 23:25. The thought seems to be suggested by the incident of v. 25a: unwholesome or bitter water that has been made sweet is sometimes spoken of as ‘healed’ (2 Kings 2:21-22, Ezekiel 47:8).

Exodus 15:26When Moses cried to the Lord in consequence, He showed him some wood which, when thrown into the water, took away its bitterness. The Bedouins, who know the neighbourhood, are not acquainted with such a tree, or with any other means of making bitter water sweet; and this power was hardly inherent in the tree itself, though it is ascribed to it in Ecclus. 38:5, but was imparted to it through the word and power of God. We cannot assign any reason for the choice of this particular earthly means, as the Scripture says nothing about any "evident and intentional contrast to the change in the Nile by which the sweet and pleasant water was rendered unfit for use" (Kurtz). The word עץ "wood" (see only Numbers 19:6), alone, without anything in the context to explain it, does not point to a "living tree" in contrast to the "dead stick." And if any contrast had been intended to be shown between the punishment of the Egyptians and the training of the Israelites, this intention would certainly have been more visibly and surely accomplished by using the staff with which Moses not only brought the plagues upon Egypt, but afterwards brought water out of the rock. If by עץ we understand a tree, with which ויּשׁלך, however, hardly agrees, it would be much more natural to suppose that there was an allusion to the tree of life, especially if we compare Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 3:22 with Revelation 22:2, "the leaves of the tree of life were for the healing of the nations," though we cannot regard this reference as established. All that is clear and undoubted is, that by employing these means, Jehovah made Himself known to the people of Israel as their Physician, and for this purpose appointed the wood for the healing of the bitter water, which threatened Israel with disease and death (2 Kings 4:40).

By this event Jehovah accomplished two things: (a) "there He put (made) for it (the nation) an ordinance and a right," and (b) "there He proved it." The ordinance and right which Jehovah made for Israel did not consist in the words of God quoted in Exodus 15:26, for they merely give an explanation of the law and right, but in the divine act itself. The leading of Israel to bitter water, which their nature could not drink, and then the sweetening or curing of this water, were to be a חק for Israel, i.e., an institution or law by which God would always guide and govern His people, and a משׁפּט or right, inasmuch as Israel could always reckon upon the help of God, and deliverance from every trouble. But as Israel had not yet true confidence in the Lord, this was also a trial, serving to manifest its natural heart, and, through the relief of its distress on the part of God, to refine and strengthen its faith. The practical proof which was given of Jehovah's presence was intended to impress this truth upon the Israelites, that Jehovah as their Physician would save them from all the diseases which He had sent upon Egypt, if they would hear His voice, do what was right in His eyes, and keep all His commandments.

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