Exodus 5:16
There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people.
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(16) The fault is in thine own people.—Heb., thy people is in fault. There can be no reasonable doubt that this clause is antithetical to the preceding one, and means that, though the Hebrews are punished, the people really in fault are the Egyptians.

Exodus 5:16. The fault is in thine own people — That is, in the Egyptian task- masters; who, by sending us abroad to gather straw, hinder us from doing the work which they require; and so are both unjust and unreasonable. For if they had given us straw we should have fulfilled our tasks.

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. i.e. The Egyptian task-masters, who, by sending us abroad to gather straw, hinder us from doing the work which they require; and so they are both unjust and unreasonable. They charge the task-masters, not the king, either in civility and duty, casting his fault upon the instruments; or because they did not know, or at best not believe, that this was the king’s act. Others, Thy people, i.e. the Egyptians, make themselves guilty, and will bring the vengeance of God upon them for their cruelty.

There is no straw given unto thy servants,.... As used to be, which they supposed Pharaoh knew nothing of, and by which it appears that the order given by Pharaoh, Exodus 5:6 was not given in the hearing of the officers, only to the taskmasters, and by them to be made known to the officers, though indeed both are there mentioned, and both represent this to the people, Exodus 5:10.

and they say to us, make brick, though they had no straw to make or burn it with:

and, behold, thy servants are beaten; because the same number of bricks is not made as heretofore, but the fault is in thine own people; the taskmasters, who sent the people abroad to get straw or stubble themselves, and therefore could not make the same bricks as before; or "thy people sin" (n), the guilt is theirs: or by thy people are meant the Israelites, whom they call Pharaoh's people to gain favour with him; and then the sense is, either "sin" is imputed "to thy people" (o), the blame is laid upon them, or punishment is inflicted on them without cause, sin being often put for punishment; they are wrongfully charged with a fault, and wrongfully punished.

(n) "et peccat populus tuns", Montanus, Drusius, Cartwright. (o) So Vatablus, Piscator, and some in Munster, Pagninus.

There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people.
16. they say] viz. the Egyptian ‘taskmasters.’

but the fault is in thine own people] The text cannot be right: not only is the Heb. ungrammatical, but the fault was not in the people, but in the king. It is better, adding one letter, to read with LXX. Pesh. Di. Bä. ‘and thou sinnest against thine own people,’ i.e. committest a wrong against thine own subjects, the Hebrews.

Verse 16. - They say to us. Or, "they keep saying to us." The participle is used, which implies continuance or repetition. The fruit is in thine own people. Literally, "Thine own people is in fault," or "sins." Exodus 5:16As the Israelites could not do the work appointed them, their overlookers were beaten by the Egyptian bailiffs; and when they complained to the king of this treatment, they were repulsed with harshness, and told "Ye are idle, idle; therefore ye say, Let us go and sacrifice to Jehovah." עמּך וחטאת: "and thy people sin;" i.e., not "thy people (the Israelites) must be sinners," which might be the meaning of חטא according to Genesis 43:9, but "thy (Egyptian) people sin." "Thy people" must be understood as applying to the Egyptians, on account of the antithesis to "thy servants," which not only refers to the Israelitish overlookers, but includes all the Israelites, especially in the first clause. חטאת is an unusual feminine form, for חטאה (vid., Genesis 33:11); and עם is construed as a feminine, as in Judges 18:7 and Jeremiah 8:5.
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