Exodus 5:12
So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
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(12) Stubble instead of straw.—Heb., stubble for the straw. Reaping in Egypt was effected by cutting off the ears only from the stalks, and thus a very tall stubble was left in the fields. This appears not to have been valued by the cultivators, and whoever wished was allowed to collect it. After collecting it, and bringing it to the brick-fields in bundles, they would have to chop it small before it would be fit for use.

5:10-23 The Egyptian task-masters were very severe. See what need we have to pray that we may be delivered from wicked men. The head-workmen justly complained to Pharaoh: but he taunted them. The malice of Satan has often represented the service and worship of God, as fit employment only for those who have nothing else to do, and the business only of the idle; whereas, it is the duty of those who are most busy in the world. Those who are diligent in doing sacrifice to the Lord, will, before God, escape the doom of the slothful servant, though with men they do not. The Israelites should have humbled themselves before God, and have taken to themselves the shame of their sin; but instead of that, they quarrel with those who were to be their deliverers. Moses returned to the Lord. He knew that what he had said and done, was by God's direction; and therefore appeals to him. When we find ourselves at any time perplexed in the way of our duty, we ought to go to God, and lay open our case before him by fervent prayer. Disappointments in our work must not drive us from our God, but still we must ponder why they are sent.Stubble instead of straw - Rather, for the straw: i. e. to be prepared as straw. This marks the season of the year, namely, early spring, after the barley or wheat harvest, toward the end of April. Their suffering must have been severe: at that season the pestilential sand-wind blows over Egypt some 50 days, hence, its name - Chamsin. (compare Genesis 41:6 note). 12. So the people were scattered—It was an immense grievance to the laborers individually, but there would be no hindrance from the husbandmen whose fields they entered, as almost all the lands of Egypt were in the possession of the crown (Ge 47:20). All the land of Egypt, i.e. all that part of it; which is a very usual synecdoche.

So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt,.... That part of it where they dwelt:

to gather stubble instead of straw; straw not being easy to come at, they were obliged to gather stubble that was left in the fields, after the corn was gathered in. Ben Melech observes, that the word signifies small straw, or small sticks of wood, and Kimchi (m), and if so, this must be to burn the bricks with in the furnaces.

(m) Sepher Shorash, rad.

So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
12. to gather stubble] which might be difficult to find, except immediately after the harvest.

Verse 12. - The people were mattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt. The expression used is hyperbolical, and not to be understood literally. A tolerably wide dispersion over the central and eastern portions of the Delta is probably intended. Stubble instead of straw. Rather, "stubble for the straw." Teben, the word translated straw, seems to he properly "chopped straw" (stramenta minutim concisa, Cook). The Israelites, who had been accustomed to have this provided for them, gathered now long stalks of stubble in the fields, which they had subsequently to make into teben by chopping it into short bits. Exodus 5:12ק לקשׁשׁ: "to gather stubble for straw;" not "stubble for, in the sense of instead of straw," for ל is not equivalent to תּחת but to gather the stubble left in the fields for the chopped straw required for the bricks.
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