Behold, the hand of the LORD is on your cattle which is in the field, on the horses, on the asses, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Exodus 9:3. The hand of the Lord — Immediately, without the stretching out of Aaron’s hand; is upon the cattle — Many of which, some of all kinds, should die by a sort of pestilence. The hand of God is to be acknowledged even in the sickness and death of cattle, or other damage sustained in them; for a sparrow falls not to the ground without our Father. And his providence is to be acknowledged with thankfulness in the life of the cattle, for he preserveth man and beast, Psalm 36:6.
The camels - These animals are only twice mentioned, here and Genesis 12:16, in connection with Egypt. Though camels are never represented on the monuments, they were known to the Egyptians, and were probably used on the frontier.
Thy cattle which they kept for their wool or milk, or manifold uses and services, though not for food and sacrifice.
is upon thy cattle which is in the field: this takes in all in general, of which the particulars follow, though limited to such as were in the field, and so did not take in what were at home in their out houses and stables:
upon the horses: of which there was great plenty in Egypt, as appears from various places of Scripture:
upon the asses; used for carrying burdens from place to place:
and upon the camels; used the like purposes, and to ride upon, and particularly to travel with through desert places for commerce, being able to proceed on without water for a considerable time:
upon the oxen, and upon the sheep; oxen were for labour to plough with, and sheep for their wool, and all of them to trade with: there shall be
a very grievous murrain: or "pestilence" (y), a very noisome one, and which would carry off great numbers; the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan render it a "death", as the Jews commonly call a pestilence, whether on man or beast, because it generally sweeps away large numbers.Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. cattle] lit. possessions, commonly used of possessions in sheep and oxen (Exodus 12:38, Genesis 47:14), but including here other animals as well.
camels] Camels were not used, or bred, in ancient Egypt, nor do they appear ‘in any inscription or painting before the Greek period’ (Erman, p. 493; cf. W. Max Müller, EB. i. 634; Sayce, EHH. 169). They look here like an anachronism: the reference may however be to camels belonging to traders, which had brought merchandise into Egypt across the desert from Arabia, or elsewhere (cf. Genesis 37:25).
grievous] i.e. severe: see on Exodus 8:24.
murrain] the word which, when used of a disease of men, is commonly rendered pestilence (v. 15, Exodus 9:3, and frequently); it is applied to a cattle plague only here and Psalm 78:50.
Egypt does not seem to be often visited by cattle plagues. Pruner (Krankheiten des Orients, p. 108 ff.), and Lepsius (Letters from Eg., p. 44), cited by Kn., mention, however, a severe epidemic which began in 1842, and by June, 1843, had raged for nine months (Mrs Poole, The Englishwoman in Egypt, 1844, ii. 114 f.), causing great mortality among oxen and sheep, though it did not affect camels or horses. Pruner attributed this epidemic to the water of the Nile, which was low and impure at the time when it began: cattle which were at a distance from the Nile, and could obtain good water, were not attacked by it. There have also been cattle plagues in Egypt in recent years.Verse 3. - Thy cattle which is in the field. The word "cattle" here is to be taken generally, as including under it the various kinds particularised. The cattle are mentioned as being at this time "in the field," because during the inundation all of them were brought in and housed, while, after the waters had retired, and the land had dried, most of them were turned out to graze. This is always the time at which epidemics break out. The horses, the asses, etc. Horses, which had been unknown prior to the Hyksos invasion, and which consequently do not appear in the list of animals presented to Abraham (Genesis 12:16), first became common under the eighteenth dynasty, when they seem to have been employed exclusively in war. Their use for agricultural purposes, which is perhaps here indicated, was not till later. (See Chabas, Etudes sur l'Antquite' Historic, p. 421.) The ass was employed in great numbers at all times in Egypt. Women and children rode on them, men sometimes in a sort of litter between two of them. They were chiefly used for carrying burthens, which were sometimes of enormous size (Lepsius, Denkmaler, Part 2. pls. 42a, 47, 56, 80c, etc.). The camels. Camels are not represented on any Egyptian monument; but they are occasionally mentioned in the inscriptions (Chabas, Etudes, pp. 400-13). They are called kauri or kamaru. There is no doubt of their employment by the Egyptians as beasts of burthen in the traffic with Syria and with the Sinaitic peninsula. Exodus 8:8). But Pharaoh hardened his heart as soon as the plague was taken away, just as he had done after the second plague (Exodus 8:15), to which the word "also" refers (Exodus 8:32).
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