Exodus 8:26
And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: see, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) It is not meet so to do.—Pressed to remain “in the land,” and sacrifice, Moses deemed it right to explain to the king why this was impossible. The Israelites would have to “sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians”—i.e., animals of which the Egyptians abominated the killing; and if they did this in the presence of Egyptians, a riot would be certain to break out—perhaps a civil war would ensue. The animal worship of the Egyptians is a certain, and generally recognised, fact. It seemed to the Greeks and Romans the most striking characteristic of the Egyptian reliction. (See Herod, ii. 65-76; Diod. Sic. i. 82-84; Cic. De Nat. Deor. i. 36; &c.) The sacrificial animals of the Hebrews—sheep, goats, and cattle—were all of them sacred animals, either to the Egyptians generally, or to the inhabitants of certain districts. A Theban could not endure the sacrifice of a sheep, nor a Men-desian that of a goat (Herod. ii. 42). White cows and heifers—perhaps cows and heifers generally—were sacred to Isis-Athor. Any bull-calf might be an Apis; and it could not be known whether he was Apis or not till the priests had examined him (Herod. iii. 28). The extent to which the Egyptians carried their rage when a sacred animal was killed in their presence is illustrated by many facts in history. On one occasion a Roman ambassador, who had accidentally killed a cat, was torn to pieces by the populace (Diod. Sic. i. 83). On another, war broke out between the Oxyrinchites and the Cynopolites, because the latter had eaten one of the fish considered sacred by the former (Plutarch, De Isid. et Osir. § 44). The fear of Moses was thus not at all groundless.

Will they not stone us?—This is the first mention of “stoning” in Scripture or elsewhere. It was not a legalised Egyptian punishment; but probably it was everywhere one of the earliest, as it would be one of the simplest, modes of wreaking popular vengeance. Æschylus mentions it (Sept. 100 Th. 183), also Herodotus (v. 38). It was known in ancient Persia (Ctes. Fr. 50).

Exodus 8:26. We should sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians — That which they abominated to see killed, because they worshipped as gods the animals which the Hebrews were wont to offer in sacrifice. From this it seems probable, and from no mention being made of any, that the Israelites had omitted to offer sacrifices from their first coming into Egypt.8:20-32 Pharaoh was early at his false devotions to the river; and shall we be for more sleep and more slumber, when any service to the Lord is to be done? The Egyptians and the Hebrews were to be marked in the plague of flies. The Lord knows them that are his, and will make it appear, perhaps in this world, certainly in the other, that he has set them apart for himself. Pharaoh unwillingly entered into a treaty with Moses and Aaron. He is content they should sacrifice to their God, provided they would do it in the land of Egypt. But it would be an abomination to God, should they offer the Egyptian sacrifices; and it would be an abomination to the Egyptians, should they offer to God the objects of the worship of the Egyptians, namely, their calves or oxen. Those who would offer acceptable sacrifice to God, must separate themselves from the wicked and profane. They must also retire from the world. Israel cannot keep the feast of the Lord, either among the brick-kilns or among the flesh-pots of Egypt. And they must sacrifice as God shall command, not otherwise. Though they were in slavery to Pharaoh, yet they must obey God's commands. Pharaoh consents for them to go into the wilderness, provided they do not go so far but that he might fetch them back again. Thus, some sinners, in a pang of conviction, part with their sins, yet are loth they should go very far away; for when the fright is over, they will turn to them again. Moses promised the removal of this plague. But let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: if we think to cheat God by a sham repentance and a false surrender of ourselves to him, we shall put a fatal cheat upon our own souls. Pharaoh returned to his hardness. Reigning lusts break through the strongest bonds, and make men presume and go from their word. Many seem in earnest, but there is some reserve, some beloved, secret sin. They are unwilling to look upon themselves as in danger of everlasting misery. They will refrain from other sins; they do much, give much, and even punish themselves much. They will leave it off sometimes, and, as it were, let their sin depart a little way; but will not make up their minds to part with all and follow Christ, bearing the cross. Rather than that, they venture all. They are sorrowful, but depart from Christ, determined to keep the world at present, and they hope for some future season, when salvation may be had without such costly sacrifices; but, at length, the poor sinner is driven away in his wickedness, and left without hope to lament his folly.The abomination - i. e. an animal which the Egyptians held it sacrilegious to slay. The ox, bull, or cow, is meant. The cow was never sacrificed in Egypt, being sacred to Isis, and from a very early age the ox was worshipped throughout Egypt, and more especially at Heliopolis and Memphis under various designations, Apis, Mnevis, Amen-Ehe, as the symbol or manifestation of their greatest deities, Osiris, Atum, Ptah, and Isis. 25-32. Pharaoh called for Moses, … Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land, &c.—Between impatient anxiety to be freed from this scourge and a reluctance on the part of the Hebrew bondsmen, the king followed the course of expediency; he proposed to let them free to engage in their religious rites within any part of the kingdom. But true to his instructions, Moses would accede to no such arrangement; he stated a most valid reason to show the danger of it, and the king having yielded so far as to allow them a brief holiday across the border, annexed to this concession a request that Moses would entreat with Jehovah for the removal of the plague. He promised to do so, and it was removed the following day. But no sooner was the pressure over than the spirit of Pharaoh, like a bent bow, sprang back to its wonted obduracy, and, regardless of his promise, he refused to let the people depart. It is not meet, Heb. not right, neither in God’s eyes, who hath appointed us the place as well as the thing; nor in the Egyptians’ eyes, as it follows.

The abomination of the Egyptians; that which the Egyptians abhor to kill, or to see killed; as not only Scripture, but profane authors, as Diodorus, and Tully, and Juvenal, witness, because they worshipped them as gods, as is notoriously known. Their fear was just; for when once a Roman had but killed a cat, though imprudently, the people tumultuously met together, and beset his house, and killed him in spite of the king and his princes, who used their utmost power and diligence to prevent it. And Moses said, it is not meet so to do,.... It being the command and will of God that they should go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice there; and besides it was dangerous, the Egyptians might be provoked by their sacrifices to fall upon them, and kill them:

for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God; by which Moses is not to be understood as calling the idols of Egypt an abomination, as being so to God and to all good men, that were not idolaters; for though they were, Moses would scarcely call them so before Pharaoh, when he could have made use of another word as well; but his meaning is, that the Israelites would sacrifice that which would be an abomination, and very detestable to the Egyptians for them to do. And so the Targum of Jonathan;"for the sheep, which are the idols of the Egyptians, we shall take and offer before the Lord our God.''Herodotus (w) says, it was not accounted with the Egyptians lawful to sacrifice any creature but swine, and male oxen, and calves, such as were clean; but nevertheless, as after these times the Egyptians did offer such creatures as oxen, sheep, and goats, at least some of them did, Bishop Patrick thinks this may only refer to the rites and ceremonies of sacrificing, and to the qualities and condition of the beasts that were offered, about which the Egyptians in later ages were very curious; however, be it which it will, something might be done which would displease the Egyptians, and therefore it was best to sacrifice out of their land:

lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? rise up in a body in great wrath, and fall upon us and slay us, by taking up stones and casting at us, or by some means or another dispatch us while offering; just as Pilate mingled the blood of the Galilaeans with their sacrifices, Luke 13:1 and the Egyptians were a people that greatly resented any indignity done to their deities, and would prosecute it with great wrath and fury; as appears from an instance which Diodorus Siculus (x) reports he was an eyewitness of, as that a certain Roman having killed a cat, (which is an Egyptian deity,) the mob rose about his house, so that neither the princes sent by the king of Egypt to entreat them, nor the common dread of the Roman name, could deliver the man from punishment, though he did it imprudently, and not on purpose.

(w) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 41, 42, 45. (x) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 75.

And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the {g} abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

(g) For the Egyptians worshipped various beasts, ox, sheep and such like which the Israelites offered in sacrifice, a thing the Egyptians abhorred to see.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. Moses objects that, if they do this, they will arouse the religious susceptibilities of the Egyptians, and be in danger of their lives.

meet] i.e. suitable, proper; an archaism, not unfrequent in AV., RV.: see e.g. Genesis 2:18, Matthew 3:8 (AV.: RV. worthy), Exodus 15:26.

the abomination of the Egyptians] i.e. animals which the Egyptians deemed it unlawful to sacrifice, and the sacrifice of which would consequently shock them: as the cow (which was sacred to Isis), the bull (which, according to Hdt. ii. 41, was only sacrificed by them when it was ‘clean,’ i.e. free from the sacred marks of Apis), sheep at Thebes, and goats (according to Wiedemann, an error for rams) at Mendes: see Hdt. ii. 38, 41, 42, 46; cf. Wilk.-Birch, ii. Exo 460, iii. 108 f., 304 f.; Wiedemann, Herodots Zweites Buch, pp. 180–3, 187 f., 196 f., 218 f.Verse 26. - It is not meet so to do. So many animals were held sacred by the Egyptians, some universally, some partially, that, if they held a great festival anywhere in Egypt, the Israelites could not avoid offending the religious feelings of their neighbours. Some animals would be sure to be sacrificed - white cows, or heifers, for instance - by some of the people, which the Egyptians regarded it as sacrilegious to put to death. A bloody conflict, or even a civil war, might be the consequence. By the abomination of the Egyptians seems to be meant animals of which the Egyptians would abominate the killing. It has generally been supposed that either cows alone, or "cows, bulls and oxen" are meant; but recent researches seem to show that it was only white cows which it was absolutely unlawful to sacrifice. (See 'Records of the Past,' vol. 2. pp. 90, 96, 99; vol. 10. pp. 44, 62, etc.) Will they not stone us? Death was the legal penalty for wilfully killing any sacred animal in Egypt (Herod. 2:65). On one occasion even a Roman ambassador was put to death for accidentally killing a eat (Diod. Sic. 1:88). Stoning does not appear to have been a legal punishment in Egypt, so that we must suppose Moses to have feared the people present taking the law into their own hands, seizing the sacrificers, and killing them by this ready method. As the Egyptian magicians saw nothing more than the finger of God in the miracle which they could not imitate, that is to say, the work of some deity, possibly one of the gods of the Egyptians, and not the hand of Jehovah the God of the Hebrews, who had demanded the release of Israel, a distinction was made in the plagues which followed between the Israelites and the Egyptians, and the former were exempted from the plagues: a fact which was sufficient to prove to any one that they came from the God of Israel. To make this the more obvious, the fourth and fifth plagues were merely announced by Moses to the king. They were not brought on through the mediation of either himself or Aaron, but were sent by Jehovah at the appointed time; no doubt for the simple purpose of precluding the king and his wise men from the excuse which unbelief might still suggest, viz., that they were produced by the powerful incantations of Moses and Aaron.

Exodus 8:20-22

The fourth plague, the coming of which Moses foretold to Pharaoh, like the first, in the morning, and by the water (on the bank of the Nile), consisted in the sending of "heavy vermin," probably Dog-Flies. ערב, literally a mixture, is rendered κυνόμυια (dog-fly) by the lxx, πάμμυια (all-fly), a mixture of all kinds of flies, by Symmachus. These insects are described by Philo and many travellers as a very severe scourge (vid., Hengstenberg ut sup. p. 113). They are much more numerous and annoying than the gnats; and when enraged, they fasten themselves upon the human body, especially upon the edges of the eyelids, and become a dreadful plague. כּבד: a heavy multitude, as in Exodus 10:14; Genesis 50:9, etc. These swarms were to fill "the houses of the Egyptians, and even the land upon which they (the Egyptians) were," i.e., that part of the land which was not occupied by houses; whilst the land of Goshen, where the Israelites dwelt, would be entirely spared. הפלה (to separate, to distinguish in a miraculous way) is conjugated with an accusative, as in Psalm 4:4. It is generally followed by בּין (Exodus 4:4; Exodus 11:7), to distinguish between. עמד: to stand upon a land, i.e., to inhabit, possess it; not to exist, or live (Exodus 21:21).

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