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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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 complainingExodus 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.
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?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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." 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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