Exodus 5:5
And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and you make them rest from their burdens.
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(5) And Pharaoh said.—Moses and Aaron having retired, re infectâ, Pharaoh turns to the officers of his court and reproaches them with allowing the Hebrews to be idle. They have time to hold meetings (Exodus 4:30-31), and listen to inflammatory harangues, and depute leaders to make very inconvenient proposals—why are they not kept closer to their tasks? Some change of system is requisite.

Make them rest.—Rather, “let them rest.”

Exodus 5:5-6. The people are many — Therefore your injury to me is greater, in attempting to make them rest from their labours. The task- masters — Were Egyptians; the officers — Were Israelites employed under them, who, as appears from Exodus 5:14, were some of the heads of the people, obliged, under the penalty of punishment, to take care that a certain number of bricks were furnished by them daily.5:1-9 God will own his people, though poor and despised, and will find a time to plead their cause. Pharaoh treated all he had heard with contempt. He had no knowledge of Jehovah, no fear of him, no love to him, and therefore refused to obey him. Thus Pharaoh's pride, ambition, covetousness, and political knowledge, hardened him to his own destruction. What Moses and Aaron ask is very reasonable, only to go three days' journey into the desert, and that on a good errand. We will sacrifice unto the Lord our God. Pharaoh was very unreasonable, in saying that the people were idle, and therefore talked of going to sacrifice. He thus misrepresents them, that he might have a pretence to add to their burdens. To this day we find many who are more disposed to find fault with their neighbours, for spending in the service of God a few hours spared from their wordly business, than to blame others, who give twice the time to sinful pleasures. Pharaoh's command was barbarous. Moses and Aaron themselves must get to the burdens. Persecutors take pleasure in putting contempt and hardship upon ministers. The usual tale of bricks must be made, without the usual allowance of straw to mix with the clay. Thus more work was to be laid upon the men, which, if they performed, they would be broken with labour; and if not, they would be punished.Let - i. e. hinder. 4. Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? &c.—Without taking any notice of what they had said, he treated them as ambitious demagogues, who were appealing to the superstitious feelings of the people, to stir up sedition and diffuse a spirit of discontent, which spreading through so vast a body of slaves, might endanger the peace of the country.Ver. 5. The Israelites in this land are very numerous, and therefore it were a madness in me to permit them all to meet and go together as you desire, which may tend to the ruin of my whole kingdom, and probably it is designed by you to that purpose. Or, therefore your injury to me is the greater, in attempting to rob me of the benefit of their labours. This I prefer, because it suits best with the following words. And Pharaoh said, behold, the people of the land now are many,.... So that if some were taken off, as suggested, there were enough of them to do business and so he cared not; but if allowed to go, they might mutiny and rebel, and give a great deal of trouble to quell them; or it may be, the sense is, they were very numerous, and too numerous already, and if they were took off of their work, and allowed to go a feasting, they would be more so, which agrees with the next clause:

and you make them rest from their burdens; which was the way to make them more numerous still, and to frustrate the design of laying burdens upon them, which was originally intended to hinder the multiplication of them, Exodus 1:9.

And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye {c} make them rest from their burdens.

(c) As though you would rebel.

5. the people of the land] the common work-people; cf. Jeremiah 52:25. They are already sufficiently numerous; and idleness will unsettle them, and make them dangerous to their masters.Verse 5. - The people are many. This is added as an aggravation of the offence charged in the last verse. The people are numerous. Therefore the greater damage is done to the crown by putting a stop to their labours. With these words the first interview between the Israelite leaders and the Egyptian monarch ends. Moses and Aaron, we must suppose, retired discomfited from the royal presence.

CHAPTER 5:6-9 After the removal of the sin, which had excited the threatening wrath of Jehovah, Moses once more received a token of the divine favour in the arrival of Aaron, under the direction of God, to meet him at the Mount of God (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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