Exodus 5:22
And Moses returned to the LORD, and said, LORD, why have you so evil entreated this people? why is it that you have sent me?
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(22) Moses returned unto the Lord.—He could find nothing to say to the officers. The course of events had as much disappointed him as it had them All that he could do was to complain to God, with a freedom which seems to us almost to border on irreverence, but which God excused in him, since it had its root in his tender love for his people. Moses might perhaps have borne with patience a mere negative result—the postponement of any open manifestation of the Divine power—but the thought that he had increased the burthens and aggravated the misery of his countrymen was more than he could bear without complaining

Exodus 5:22. Moses returned unto the Lord — And expostulated with him. He knew not how to reconcile the providence with the promise, and the commission he had received. Is this God’s coming down to deliver Israel? Must I, who hoped to be a blessing to them, become a scourge to them?

By this attempt to get them out of the pit, they are but sunk the farther into it. Wherefore hast thou so evil-entreated this people? — Even when God is coming toward his people in ways of mercy, yet sometimes he takes such methods that they may think themselves but ill-treated; when they think so, they should go to God by prayer, which is the way to have better treatment in God’s good time. Why is it that thou hast sent me? — Pharaoh has done evil to this people, and not one step seems to be taken toward their deliverance. It cannot but sit very heavy upon the spirits of those whom God employs for him, to see that their labour doth no good, and much more to see that it doth hurt eventually, though not designedly.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.Ye are idle - The old Egyptian language abounds in epithets which show contempt for idleness. The charge was equally offensive and ingenious; one which would be readily believed by Egyptians who knew how much public and private labors were impeded by festivals and other religious ceremonies. Among the great sins which, according to Egyptian belief, involved condemnation in the final judgment, idleness is twice mentioned. 20, 21. they met Moses … The Lord look upon you, and judge—Thus the deliverer of Israel found that this patriotic interference did, in the first instance, only aggravate the evil he wished to remove, and that instead of receiving the gratitude, he was loaded with the reproaches of his countrymen. But as the greatest darkness is immediately before the dawn, so the people of God are often plunged into the deepest affliction when on the eve of their deliverance; and so it was in this case. Moses returned unto the Lord, to expostulate with him, and pray to him. To the people he saith nothing, but meekly passeth by their severe censures, as forced from them by intolerable oppression; and because their minds being now imbittered and exasperated, they were incapable of admonition. Wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people, by giving occasion to their greater bondage? He expostulates the matter with God, not from pride and arrogance, as one that would censure and condemn his actions, but from zeal for God’s glory, and his people’s happiness, as one that would prevail with God to relieve them; though it must be confessed that Moses exceeded his bounds, being transported with grief and passion, which the gracious God was pleased to pass by. And Moses returned unto the Lord,.... Bishop Patrick thinks, that this not only intimates that the Lord had appeared to Moses since he came into Egypt, but that there was some settled place where he appeared, and where he might resort to him on all occasions, and therefore is said to return to him; though it may signify no more, than that, instead of staying to give an answer to the officers, which he might be at a loss to do, he went to God, to the throne of grace, by prayer, as he was wont to do in cases of difficulty:

and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? or afflicted them, and suffered them to be thus afflicted; which to ascribe to God was right, whatever were the means or instruments; for all afflictions are of him, and who has always wise reasons for what he does, as he now had; to try the faith and patience of his people; to make the Egyptians more odious to them, and so take them off from following their manners, customs, rites, and superstitions, and make them more desirous of departing from thence to the land of Canaan, nor seek a return to Egypt again; and that his vengeance on the Egyptians for such cruelty and inhumanity might appear the more just, and his power might be seen in the plagues he inflicted on them, and in the deliverance of his people when reduced to the utmost extremity:

why is it that thou hast sent me? he seems to wish he had never been sent, and could be glad to be recalled, something of the same disposition still remaining in him as when first called; since no end was answered by his mission, no deliverance wrought, yea, the people were more afflicted and oppressed than before; and therefore he was at a loss how to account for it that he should be sent at all, seeing nothing came of it to the good of the people.

And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, LORD, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
22–23. Moses expostulates with Jehovah; and asks why He has thus brought trouble upon His people, and sent Moses himself upon a fruitless mission.

entreated] an archaism for treated (ill-treated); so Genesis 12:16, Numbers 11:11, Deuteronomy 26:6 al. Elsewhere the same Heb. is rendered dealt ill with (Genesis 43:6), or brought evil upon (1 Kings 17:20).

For the colours of the original, the copper-coloured bodies and white loin-cloths of the men, and the blue water in the tank, &c., see Lepsius’ Denkmäler, v. 40. For the inscriptions accompanying the pictures, see the Introduction, p. xxxi.Verses 22, 23. - The two brothers made no reply to the words of the officers. Perhaps their hearts were too full for speech; perhaps they knew not what to say. Whatever faith they had, it did no doubt seem a hard thing that their interference, Divinely ordered as it was, should have produced as yet nothing but an aggravation of their misery to the Israelite people. They could not understand the course of the Divine action. God had warned them not to expect success at once (Exodus 3:19; Exodus 4:21); but he had said nothing of evil consequences following upon their first efforts. Thus we can well understand that the two brothers (and especially Moses, the more impetuous of them) were bitterly grieved and disappointed. They felt their cup of sorrow to be full - the reproaches of the officers made it overflow. Hence the bitterness of the complaint with which this chapter terminates, and which introduces the long series of precious promise, contained in the opening section of ch. 6. Verse 22. - Moses returned unto the Lord. We are not to understand that Moses had forsaken God and now "returned" to him but simply that in his trouble he had recourse to God, took his sorrow to the Throne of Grace, and poured it out before the Almighty A good example truly, and one which Christians in all their trials would do well to follow. Lord, wherefore, etc. The words, no doubt, are bold. They have been said to "approach to irreverence." But there are parallels to them, which have never been regarded as irreverent, in the Psalms: e.g. "O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? Why does thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?" (Psalm 74:1) "How long wilt thou hide thyself? Where are thy former lovingkindnesses? Wherefore hast thou made all men for nought?" (Psalm 89:46-9), and the like. Kalisch seems right in saying that "the desponding complaint of Moses was not the result of disbelief or doubt, but the effort of a pious soul struggling after a deeper penetration into the mysteries of the Almighty." As 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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