Then the LORD said to Moses, Go in to Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus said the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
THE FIFTH PLAGUE.
(1-3) The nature of the fifth plague is manifest, and admits of no dispute. It was a rinderpest, or murrain upon cattle; which, however, unlike most similar disorders, attacked the greater number of the domesticated animals—horses, asses, camels, oxen, and sheep. Thus it was “very grievous” (Exodus 9:3). Horses were highly prized by the Egyptians, and were a comparatively recent importation, having been unknown before the time of the seventeenth, or “Shepherd” Dynasty. They were at first used only in war; then by rich men, in peace, to draw their chariots. They had now, however, it would seem, come to be employed also in agriculture. (Note the words “in the field.”) Asses were the ordinary beasts of burthen, and abounded in Egypt anciently as indeed they do at the present day. The Egyptian monuments mention cases where a single landowner owned as many as seven or eight hundred of them. Camels are not represented by the Egyptian sculptors, but are mentioned in the inscriptions (Chabas, Etudes sur l’ Antiquité Historique, pp. 400-413), and must have been employed in the trade between Egypt and the Sinaitic peninsula. Both oxen and sheep were numerous, and constituted a great part of the wealth of individuals. The plague fell upon such animals as were “in the field” at the time—i.e., in the open air, and not confined in stables or sheds. It was the Egyptian practice to house a considerable portion of their cattle; but at the probable season of this plague—December or January—the majority would be in the pastures. Thus the Egyptian losses were very heavy, and the king, no doubt, suffered with the rest, for the Egyptian monarchs were large cattle-owners (Genesis 47:6; Genesis 47:17), The Pharaoh was, however, less impressed by this plague than by the fourth, and made no sign of submission.Exodus 3:18 note.
Ex 9:1-7. Murrain of Beasts.God threatens to smite his cattle with a pestilence, Exodus 9:1-3; but spares Israel’s, Exodus 9:4. Appoints a time for the execution hereof, Exodus 9:5; wherein the Egyptians’ cattle dies, Exodus 9:6. Pharaoh’s obstinacy, Exodus 9:7. God strikes all Egypt with boils, which is the sixth plague, Exodus 9:10. The magicians are not able to stand before Moses, Exodus 9:11. Pharaoh’s heart hardened according to the word of the Lord, Exodus 9:12. God commands Moses to repeat his message, Exodus 9:13; and threatens Pharaoh with more grievous plagues, Exodus 9:14. God’s end in raising up Pharaoh, Exodus 9:16. The seventh plague, viz. hail and rain, Exodus 9:18. God’s counsel for the securing of their cattle, Exodus 9:19. The execution of this plague, Exodus 9:23. The effects of it, Exodus 9:25. The land of Goshen is preserved, Exodus 9:26. Pharaoh’s confession, Exodus 9:27. Moses’ prayer for him, Exodus 9:29. He foretells Pharaoh’s obstinacy, Exodus 9:30. By Moses’s entreaty the plague is stayed, Exodus 9:33. Pharaoh’s heart remains hardened, Exodus 9:34,35.
go in unto Pharaoh boldly, without any fear of him or his court:
and tell him, thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews: speak in the name of Jehovah, the God whom the Hebrews worship, and who owns them for his people, and has a special love for them, and takes a special care of them, and is not ashamed to be called their God, as poor and as oppressed as they be:Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1. Then] Heb. simply And.
1–4. The announcement to the Pharaoh, worded analogously to those of the second and fourth plagues (Exodus 8:1-4; Exodus 8:20-23,—both J).
1–7. The fifth plague. The murrain on cattle. Entirely J.Verse 1. - Excepting in the designation of Jehovah as "the Lord God of the Hebrews," this verse is an almost exact repetition of the first verse of ch. 8. Such repetitious are very characteristic of the most ancient writings. Psalm 78:45) the men, and disfigured them by the swellings produced by their sting, but also killed the plants in which they deposited their eggs, so alarmed Pharaoh that he sent for Moses and Aaron, and gave them permission to sacrifice to their God "in the land." But Moses could not consent to this restriction. "It is not appointed so to do" (נכון does not mean aptum, conveniens, but statutum, rectum), for two reasons: (1) because sacrificing in the land would be an abomination to the Egyptians, and would provoke them most bitterly (Exodus 8:26); and (2) because they could only sacrifice to Jehovah their God as He had directed them (Exodus 8:27). The abomination referred to did not consist in their sacrificing animals which the Egyptians regarded as holy. For the word תּועבה (abomination) would not be applicable to the sacred animals. Moreover, the cow was the only animal offered in sacrifice by the Israelites, which the Egyptians regarded as sacred. The abomination would rather be this, that the Iran would not carry out the rigid regulations observed by the Egyptians with regard to the cleanness of the sacrificial animals (vid., Hengstenberg, p. 114), and in fact would not observe the sacrificial rites of the Egyptians at all. The Egyptians would be very likely to look upon this as an insult to their religion and their gods; "the violation of the recognised mode of sacrificing would be regarded as a manifestation of contempt for themselves and their gods" (Calvin), and this would so enrage them that they would stone the Israelites. The הן before נזבּח in Exodus 8:26 is the interjection lo! but it stands before a conditional clause, introduced without a conditional particle, in the sense of if, which it has retained in the Chaldee, and in which it is used here and there in the Hebrew (e.g., Leviticus 25:20).
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