Exodus 5:15
Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, saying, Why deal you thus with your servants?
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(15) The officers . . . came and cried unto Pharaoh.—The Egyptian monarchs were accessible to all. It was a part of their duty to hear complaints personally; and they, for the most part, devoted to this employment the earlier hours of each day (see Herod. ii. 173;. Those who came to them generally cried to them for justice, as is the Oriental wont.

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). 13-19. And the taskmasters hasted them … officers … beaten—As the nearest fields were bared and the people had to go farther for stubble, it was impossible for them to meet the demand by the usual tale of bricks. "The beating of the officers is just what might have been expected from an Eastern tyrant, especially in the valley of the Nile, as it appears from the monuments, that ancient Egypt, like modern China, was principally governed by the stick" [Taylor]. "The mode of beating was by the offender being laid flat on the ground and generally held by the hands and feet while the chastisement was administered" [Wilkinson]. (De 25:2). A picture representing the Hebrews on a brick field, exactly as described in this chapter, was found in an Egyptian tomb at Thebes. No text from Poole on this verse. Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh,.... Made their complaints to him, perhaps with tears in their eyes, being used so very ill. They little thought it was by Pharaoh's orders; they supposed he knew nothing of it, and therefore hoped to have their grievances redressed by him, but were mistaken:

saying, wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants? so they call themselves, they living in his country, and being under his jurisdiction, though not properly his subjects; however, he had made them his slaves, and so indeed even bondservants.

Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants?
15–19. The officers of the Israelites expostulate with the Pharaoh, but to no effect. Cf. Erman, 177 (a complaint of the absence of straw).Verses 15-19. - Smarting under the sense of injustice, the Israelite officers "came and cried to Pharaoh" (ver. 15), supposing that he could not have intended such manifest unfairness and cruelty. They were conscious to themselves of having done their utmost, and of having failed simply because the thing required was impossible. Surely the king would understand this, if they pointed it out, and would either allow straw as before, or diminish the number of the bricks. But the king had no desire for justice, and did not even pretend to it. He asked for no particulars, ordered no inquiry into the ground of complaint; but turned upon the complainants with the cuckoo cry - "Idle, idle yourselves - else ye had no time to come here; go, work - go, work." Then the officers felt that they were indeed "in evil case" (ver. 19) - the king was determined not to do justice - no hope remained - they must be beaten again and again, until they died of the punishment (ver. 21). Verse 15. - Came and cried. The shrill "cry" of Orientals when making complaint has often been noticed by travellers, and is probably here alluded to. To Pharaoh. See the "Introductory paragraph" at the beginning of the chapter, where it has been noticed that complainants had free access to the presence of Egyptian kings. "Let the work be heavy (press heavily) upon the people, and they shall make with it (i.e., stick to their work), and not look at lying words." By "lying words" the king meant the words of Moses, that the God of Israel had appeared to him, and demanded a sacrificial festival from His people. In Exodus 5:11 special emphasis is laid upon אתּם "ye:" "Go, ye yourselves, fetch your straw," not others for you as heretofore; "for nothing is taken (diminished) from your work." The word כּי for has been correctly explained by Kimchi as supposing a parenthetical thought, et quidem alacriter vobis eundum est.
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