And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Who is the Lord?—Heb., Who is Jehovah? If Jehovah was a name, the use of which had been laid aside, as would seem to have been the case by the later chapters of Genesis, and which was revived by the scene at the burning bush, Pharaoh may very probably not have heard of it.
That I should obey his voice.—The king means to say, that, whoever Jehovah is, He can have no authority over him, as He is not one of his gods. The Egyptians were accustomed to the idea of local gods, and quite expected every nation to have a deity or several deities of its own; but they regarded the power of each as circumscribed, certainly not extending beyond the race or nation to which the god belonged.Exodus 5:2. Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? — I am the sovereign lord of Egypt, and I own no superior here. The Hebrew name Jehovah ought to have been retained in this and the preceding verse, and not to have been translated Lord. Thus saith Jehovah — who is Jehovah — I know not Jehovah. The Egyptians, it must be observed, and other nations were at this time sunk in idolatry, and knowing nothing of the true God, the possessor of heaven and earth, each nation had a god or gods of its own. Pharaoh, therefore, did not speak as an atheist, or mean that he knew nothing of any god whom he ought to obey; but he knew nothing of the God of the Hebrews, whom they termed Jehovah, imagining him to be like one of the gods of Egypt, or of some other country, a mere local deity, whom therefore it neither concerned him to know nor to obey. Now the train of miracles which followed were intended to teach Pharaoh and his people, that Jehovah was not only the God of the Hebrews, but of all the world, having an uncontrolled and sovereign power over universal nature.
I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go—As his honor and interest were both involved he determined to crush this attempt, and in a tone of insolence, or perhaps profanity, rejected the request for the release of the Hebrew slaves.
that I should obey his voice, to let Israel go? he knew of no superior monarch to him, whose orders he was obliged to obey in any respect, and particularly in this, the dismission of the people of Israel out of his land, though it was but for a short time:
I know not the Lord; who this Jehovah is, that made this demand, and required Israel's dismission. The Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it,"I have not found the name of Jehovah written in the book of angels, I am not afraid of him.''An Egyptian book, in which, the paraphrast supposes, were written the names of gods and of angels; and no such name being there, he was the more bold and insolent:And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. The Pharaoh replies contemptuously that he knows nothing of Jehovah, and need not therefore listen to His behests.Verse 2. - And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord? Rather, "Who is Jehovah?" Either Pharaoh is actually ignorant, or he pretends to be. The former is possible, since Jehovah was a name but little employed, until the return of Moses to Egypt. The latter, however, is more probable. That I should obey his voice. Why am I to obey his voice? What is your Jehovah to me? What authority has he over me? He is, at best, your god, not mine. I know not Jehovah. I acknowledge him not. He is not within the range of my Pantheon. Neither will I let Israel go, i.e. "nor even, if he were, would I consent to such a request as this from him." The Pharaohs assumed to be themselves gods, on a par with the national gods, and not bound to obey them. Exodus 3:1). To Aaron he related all the words of Jehovah, with which He had sent (commissioned) him (שׁלח with a double accusative, as in 2 Samuel 11:22; Jeremiah 42:5), and all the signs which He had commanded him (צוּה also with a double accusative, as in Genesis 6:22). Another proof of the favour of God consisted of the believing reception of his mission on the part of the elders and the people of Israel. "The people believed" (ויּאמן) when Aaron communicated to them the words of Jehovah to Moses, and did the signs in their presence. "And when they heard that Jehovah had visited the children of Israel, and had looked upon their affliction, they bowed and worshipped." (Knobel is wrong in proposing to alter ישׁמעוּ into ישׂמחוּ, according to the Sept. rendering, καὶ ἐχάρη). The faith of the people, and the worship by which their faith was expressed, proved that the promise of the fathers still lived in their hearts. And although this faith did not stand the subsequent test (Exodus 5), yet, as the first expression of their feelings, it bore witness to the fact that Israel was willing to follow the call of God.
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