Exodus 1
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The Second Book Of Moses(Exodus)


Contents and Arrangement of the Book of Exodus

The second book of Moses is called שׁמות ואלה in the Hebrew Codex from the opening words; but in the Septuagint and Vulgate it has received the name Ἔξοδος, Exodus, from the first half of its contents. It gives an account of the first stage in the fulfilment of the promises given to the patriarchs, with reference to the growth of the children of Israel into a numerous people, their deliverance from Egypt, and their adoption at Sinai as the people of God. It embraces a period of 360 years, extending from the death of Joseph, with which the book of Genesis closes, to the building of the tabernacle, at the commencement of the second year after the departure from Egypt. During this period the rapid increase of the children of Israel, which is described in Exodus 1, and which caused such anxiety to the new sovereigns of Egypt who had ascended the throne after the death of Joseph, that they adopted measure for the enslaving and suppression of the ever increasing nation, continued without interruption. With the exception of this fact, and the birth, preservation, and education of Moses, who was destined by God to be the deliverer of His people, which are circumstantially related in Exodus 2, the entire book from Exodus 3 to Exodus 40 is occupied with an elaborate account of the events of two years, viz., the last year before the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and the first year of their journey. This mode of treating the long period in question, which seems out of all proportion when judged by a merely outward standard, may be easily explained from the nature and design of the sacred history. The 430 years of the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt were the period during which the immigrant family was to increase and multiply, under the blessing and protection of God, in the way of natural development; until it had grown into a nation, and was ripe for that covenant which Jehovah had made with Abraham, to be completed with the nation into which his seed had grown. During the whole of this period the direct revelations from God to Israel were entirely suspended; so that, with the exception of what is related in Exodus 1 and 2, no event occurred of any importance to the kingdom of God. It was not till the expiration of these 400 years, that the execution of the divine plan of salvation commenced with the call of Moses (Exodus 3) accompanied by the founding of the kingdom of God in Israel. To this end Israel was liberated from the power of Egypt, and, as a nation rescued from human bondage, was adopted by God, the Lord of the whole earth, as the people of His possession.

These two great facts of far-reaching consequences in the history of the world, as well as in the history of salvation, form the kernel and essential substance of this book, which may be divided accordingly into two distinct parts. In the first part, Exodus 1-15:21, we have seven sections, describing (1) the preparation for the saving work of God, through the multiplication of Israel into a great people and their oppression in Egypt (Exodus 1), and through the birth and preservation of their liberator (Exodus 2); (2) the call and training of Moses to be the deliverer and leader of Israel (Exodus 3 and 4); (3) the mission of Moses to Pharaoh (Exodus 5-7:7); (4) the negotiations between Moses and Pharaoh concerning the emancipation of Israel, which were carried on both in words and deeds or miraculous signs (Exodus 7:8-11); (5) the consecration of Israel as the covenant nation through the institution of the feast of Passover; (6) the exodus of Israel effected through the slaying of the first-born of the Egyptians (Exodus 12-13:16); and (7) the passage of Israel through the Red Sea, and destruction of Pharaoh and his host, with Israel's song of triumph at its deliverance (Exodus 13:17-15:21). - In the second part, Exodus 15:22-40:38, we have also seven sections, describing the adoption of Israel as the people of God; viz., (1) the march of Israel from the Red Sea to the mountain of God (Exodus 15:22-17:7); (2) the attitude of the heathen towards Israel, as seen in the hostility of Amalek, and the friendly visit of Jethro the Midianite at Horeb (Exodus 17:8-18:27); (3) the establishment of the covenant at Sinai through the election of Israel as the people of Jehovah's possession, the promulgation of the fundamental law and of the fundamental ordinances of the Israelitish commonwealth, and the solemn conclusion of the covenant itself (Exodus 19-24:11); (4) the divine directions with regard to the erection and arrangement of the dwelling-place of Jehovah in Israel (Exodus 24:12-31:18); (5) the rebellion of the Israelites and their renewed acceptance on the part of God (Exodus 32-34); (6) the building of the tabernacle and preparation of holy things for the worship of God (Exodus 35-39); and (7) the setting up of the tabernacle and its solemn consecration (Exodus 40).

These different sections are not marked off, it is true, like the ten parts of Genesis, by special headings, because the account simply follows the historical succession of the events described; but they may be distinguished with perfect east, through the internal grouping and arrangement of the historical materials. The song of Moses at the Red Sea (15:1-21) formed most unmistakeably the close of the first stage of the history, which commenced with the call of Moses, and for which the way was prepared, not only by the enslaving of Israel on the part of the Pharaohs, in the hope of destroying its national and religious independence, but also by the rescue and education of Moses, and by his eventful life. And the setting up of the tabernacle formed an equally significant close to the second stage of the history. By this, the covenant which Jehovah had made with the patriarch Abram (Genesis 15) was established with the people Israel. By the filling of the dwelling-place, which had just been set up, with the cloud of the glory of Jehovah (Exodus 40:34-38), the nation of Israel was raised into a congregation of the Lord and the establishment of the kingdom of God in Israel fully embodied in the tabernacle, with Jehovah dwelling in the Most Holy Place; so that all subsequent legislation, and the further progress of the history in the guidance of Israel from Sinai to Canaan, only served to maintain and strengthen that fellowship of the Lord with His people, which had already been established by the conclusion of the covenant, and symbolically exhibited in the building of the tabernacle. By this marked conclusion, therefore, with a fact as significant in itself as it was important in the history of Israel, Exodus, which commences with a list of the names of the children of Israel who went down to Egypt, is rounded off into a complete and independent book among the five books of Moses.

Increase in the Number of the IsraelitesTheir Bondage in Egypt - Exodus 1

The promise which God gave to Jacob in his departure from Canaan (Genesis 46:3) was perfectly fulfilled. The children of Israel settled down in the most fruitful province of the fertile land of Egypt, and grew there into a great nation (Exodus 1:1-7). But the words which the Lord had spoken to Abram (Genesis 15:13) were also fulfilled in relation to his seed in Egypt. The children of Israel were oppressed in a strange land, were compelled to serve the Egyptians (Exodus 1:8-14), and were in great danger of being entirely crushed by them (Exodus 1:15-22).

Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.
To place the multiplication of the children of Israel into a strong nation in its true light, as the commencement of the realization of the promises of God, the number of the souls that went down with Jacob to Egypt is repeated from Genesis 46:27 (on the number 70, in which Jacob is included, see the notes on this passage); and the repetition of the names of the twelve sons of Jacob serves to give to the history which follows a character of completeness within itself. "With Jacob they came, every one and his house," i.e., his sons, together with their families, their wives, and their children. The sons are arranged according to their mothers, as in Genesis 35:23-26, and the sons of the two maid-servants stand last. Joseph, indeed, is not placed in the list, but brought into special prominence by the words, "for Joseph was in Egypt" (Exodus 1:5), since he did not go down to Egypt along with the house of Jacob, and occupied an exalted position in relation to them there.

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,
Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,
Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.
And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.
After the death of Joseph and his brethren and the whole of the family that had first immigrated, there occurred that miraculous increase in the number of the children of Israel, by which the blessings of creation and promise were fully realised. The words פּרוּ ישׁרצוּ (swarmed), and ירבּוּ point back to Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 8:17, and יעצמוּ to עצוּם גּוי in Genesis 18:18. "The land was filled with them," i.e., the land of Egypt, particularly Goshen, where they were settled (Genesis 47:11). The extra-ordinary fruitfulness of Egypt in both men and cattle is attested not only by ancient writers, but by modern travellers also (vid., Aristotelis hist. animal. vii. 4, 5; Columella de re rust. iii. 8; Plin. hist. n. vii. 3; also Rosenmller a. und n. Morgenland i. p. 252). This blessing of nature was heightened still further in the case of the Israelites by the grace of the promise, so that the increase became extraordinarily great (see the comm. on Exodus 12:37).

And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
The promised blessing was manifested chiefly in the fact, that all the measures adopted by the cunning of Pharaoh to weaken and diminish the Israelites, instead of checking, served rather to promote their continuous increase.

Exodus 1:8-9

"There arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph." ויּקם signifies he came to the throne, קוּם denoting his appearance in history, as in Deuteronomy 34:10. A "new king" (lxx: βασιλεὺς ἕτερος; the other ancient versions, rex novus) is a king who follows different principles of government from his predecessors. Cf. חדשׁים אלהים, "new gods," in distinction from the God that their fathers had worshipped, Judges 5:8; Deuteronomy 32:17. That this king belonged to a new dynasty, as the majority of commentators follow Josephus

(Note: Ant. ii. 9, 1. Τῆς βασιλέιας εἰς ἄλλον οἶκον μεταληλυθυΐ́ας.)

in assuming, cannot be inferred with certainty from the predicate new; but it is very probable, as furnishing the readiest explanation of the change in the principles of government. The question itself, however, is of no direct importance in relation to theology, though it has considerable interest in connection with Egyptological researches.

(Note: The want of trustworthy accounts of the history of ancient Egypt and its rulers precludes the possibility of bringing this question to a decision. It is true that attempts have been made to mix it up in various ways with the statements which Josephus has transmitted from Manetho with regard to the rule of the Hyksos in Egypt (c. Ap. i. 14 and 26), and the rising up of the "new king" has been identified sometimes with the commencement of the Hyksos rule, and at other times with the return of the native dynasty on the expulsion of the Hyksos. But just as the accounts of the ancients with regard to the Hyksos bear throughout the stamp of very distorted legends and exaggerations, so the attempts of modern inquirers to clear up the confusion of these legends, and to bring out the historical truth that lies at the foundation of them all, have led to nothing but confused and contradictory hypotheses; so that the greatest Egyptologists of our own days, - viz., Lepsius, Bunsen, and Brugsch - differ throughout, and are even diametrically opposed to one another in their views respecting the dynasties of Egypt. Not a single trace of the Hyksos dynasty is to be found either in or upon the ancient monuments. The documental proofs of the existence of a dynasty of foreign kings, which the Vicomte de Roug thought that he had discovered in the Papyrus Sallier No. 1 of the British Museum, and which Brugsch pronounced "an Egyptian document concerning the Hyksos period," have since then been declared untenable both by Brugsch and Lepsius, and therefore given up again. Neither Herodotus nor Diodorus Siculus heard anything at all about the Hyksos though the former made very minute inquiry of the Egyptian priests of Memphis and Heliopolis. And lastly, the notices of Egypt and its kings, which we meet with in Genesis and Exodus, do not contain the slightest intimation that there were foreign kings ruling there either in Joseph's or Moses' days, or that the genuine Egyptian spirit which pervades these notices was nothing more than the "outward adoption" of Egyptian customs and modes of thought. If we add to this the unquestionably legendary character of the Manetho accounts, there is always the greatest probability in the views of those inquirers who regard the two accounts given by Manetho concerning the Hyksos as two different forms of one and the same legend, and the historical fact upon which this legend was founded as being the 430 years' sojourn of the Israelites, which had been thoroughly distorted in the national interests of Egypt. - For a further expansion and defence of this view see Hvernick's Einleitung in d. A. T. i. 2, pp. 338ff., Ed. 2((Introduction to the Pentateuch, pp. 235ff. English translation).)

The new king did not acknowledge Joseph, i.e., his great merits in relation to Egypt. ידע לא signifies here, not to perceive, or acknowledge, in the sense of not wanting to know anything about him, as in 1 Samuel 2:12, etc. In the natural course of things, the merits of Joseph might very well have been forgotten long before; for the multiplication of the Israelites into a numerous people, which had taken place in the meantime, is a sufficient proof that a very long time had elapsed since Joseph's death. At the same time such forgetfulness does not usually take place all at once, unless the account handed down has been intentionally obscured or suppressed. If the new king, therefore, did not know Joseph, the reason must simply have been, that he did not trouble himself about the past, and did not want to know anything about the measures of his predecessors and the events of their reigns. The passage is correctly paraphrased by Jonathan thus: non agnovit (חכּים) Josephum nec ambulavit in statutis ejus. Forgetfulness of Joseph brought the favour shown to the Israelites by the kings of Egypt to a close. As they still continued foreigners both in religion and customs, their rapid increase excited distrust in the mind of the king, and induced him to take steps for staying their increase and reducing their strength. The statement that "the people of the children of Israel" (ישׂראל בּני עם lit., "nation, viz., the sons of Israel;" for עם with the dist. accent is not the construct state, and ישראל בני is in apposition, cf. Ges. 113) were "more and mightier" than the Egyptians, is no doubt an exaggeration.

And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.
"Let us deal wisely with them," i.e., act craftily towards them. התחכּם, sapiensem se gessit (Ecclesiastes 7:16), is used here of political craftiness, or worldly wisdom combined with craft and cunning (κατασοφισώμεθα, lxx), and therefore is altered into התנכּל in Psalm 105:25 (cf. Genesis 37:18). The reason assigned by the king for the measures he was about to propose, was the fear that in case of war the Israelites might make common cause with his enemies, and then remove from Egypt. It was not the conquest of his kingdom that he was afraid of, but alliance with his enemies and emigration. עלה is used here, as in Genesis 13:1, etc., to denote removal from Egypt to Canaan. He was acquainted with the home of the Israelites therefore, and cannot have been entirely ignorant of the circumstances of their settlement in Egypt. But he regarded them as his subjects, and was unwilling that they should leave the country, and therefore was anxious to prevent the possibility of their emancipating themselves in the event of war. - In the form תּקראנה for תּקרינה, according to the frequent interchange of the forms הל and אל (vid., Genesis 42:4), nh is transferred from the feminine plural to the singular, to distinguish the 3rd pers. fem. from the 2nd pers., as in Judges 5:26; Job 17:16 (vid., Ewald, 191c, and Ges. 47, 3, Anm. 3). Consequently there is no necessity either to understand מלחמה collectively as signifying soldiers, or to regard תּקראנוּ drager ot , the reading adopted by the lxx (συμβῆ ἡμῖν), the Samaritan, Chaldee, Syriac, and Vulgate, as "certainly the original," as Knobel has done.

The first measure adopted (Exodus 1:11) consisted in the appointment of taskmasters over the Israelites, to bend them down by hard labour. מסּים שׂרי bailiffs over the serfs. מסּים from מס signifies, not feudal service, but feudal labourers, serfs (see my Commentary on 1 Kings 4:6). ענּה to bend, to wear out any one's strength (Psalm 102:24). By hard feudal labour (סבלות burdens, burdensome toil) Pharaoh hoped, according to the ordinary maxims of tyrants (Aristot. polit., 5, 9; Liv. hist. i. 56, 59), to break down the physical strength of Israel and lessen its increase-since a population always grows more slowly under oppression than in the midst of prosperous circumstances-and also to crush their spirit so as to banish the very wish for liberty. - ויּבן - .ytrebil r, and so Israel built (was compelled to build) provision or magazine cities vid., 2 Chronicles 32:28, cities for the storing of the harvest), in which the produce of the land was housed, partly for purposes of trade, and partly for provisioning the army in time of war; - not fortresses, πόλεις ὀχυραί, as the lxx have rendered it. Pithom was Πάτουμος; it was situated, according to Herodotus (2, 158), upon the canal which commenced above Bybastus and connected the Nile with the Red Sea. This city is called Thou or Thoum in the Itiner. Anton., the Egyptian article pi being dropped, and according to Jomard (descript. t. 9, p. 368) is to be sought for on the site of the modern Abassieh in the Wady Tumilat. - Raemses (cf. Genesis 47:11) was the ancient Heroopolis, and is not to be looked for on the site of the modern Belbeis. In support of the latter supposition, Stickel, who agrees with Kurtz and Knobel, adduces chiefly the statement of the Egyptian geographer Makrizi, that in the (Jews') book of the law Belbeis is called the land of Goshen, in which Jacob dwelt when he came to his son Joseph, and that the capital of the province was el Sharkiyeh. This place is a day's journey (for as others affirm, 14 hours) to the north-east of Cairo on the Syrian and Egyptian road. It served as a meeting-place in the middle ages for the caravans from Egypt to Syria and Arabia (Ritter, Erdkunde 14, p. 59). It is said to have been in existence before the Mohammedan conquest of Egypt. But the clue cannot be traced any farther back; and it is too far from the Red Sea for the Raemses of the Bible (vid., Exodus 12:37). The authority of Makrizi is quite counterbalanced by the much older statement of the Septuagint, in which Jacob is made to meet his son Joseph in Heroopolis; the words of Genesis 46:29, "and Joseph went up to meet Israel his father to Goshen," being rendered thus: εἰς συϚάϚτησιν Ἰσραὴλ τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦκαθ ̓ Ἡρώων πόλιν. Hengstenberg is not correct in saying that the later name Heroopolis is here substituted for the older name Raemses; and Gesenius, Kurtz, and Knobel are equally wrong in affirming that καθ ̓ ἩρώωϚ πόλιν is supplied ex ingenio suo; but the place of meeting, which is given indefinitely as Goshen in the original, is here distinctly named. Now if this more precise definition is not an arbitrary conjecture of the Alexandrian translators, but sprang out of their acquaintance with the country, and is really correct, as Kurtz has no doubt, it follows that Heroopolis belongs to the γῆ Ῥαμεσσῆ (Genesis 46:28, lxx), or was situated within it. But this district formed the centre of the Israelitish settlement in Goshen; for according to Genesis 47:11, Joseph gave his father and brethren "a possession in the best of the land, in the land of Raemses." Following this passage, the lxx have also rendered גּשׁן ארצה in Genesis 46:28 by εἰς γῆν Ῥαμεσσῆ, whereas in other places the land of Goshen is simply called γῆ Γεσέμ (Genesis 45:10; Genesis 46:34; Genesis 47:1, etc.). But if Heroopolis belonged to the γῆ Ῥαμεσσῆ, or the province of Raemses, which formed the centre of the land of Goshen that was assigned to the Israelites, this city must have stood in the immediate neighbourhood of Raemses, or have been identical with it. Now, since the researches of the scientific men attached to the great French expedition, it has been generally admitted that Heroopolis occupied the site of the modern Abu Keisheib in the Wady Tumilat, between Thoum equals Pithom and the Birket Temsah or Crocodile Lake; and according to the Itiner. p. 170, it was only 24 Roman miles to the east of Pithom, - a position that was admirably adapted not only for a magazine, but also for the gathering-place of Israel prior to their departure (Exodus 12:37).

But Pharaoh's first plan did not accomplish his purpose (Exodus 1:12). The multiplication of Israel went on just in proportion to the amount of the oppression (כּן equals כּאשׁר prout, ita; פּרץ as in Genesis 30:30; Genesis 28:14), so that the Egyptians were dismayed at the Israelites (קוּץ to feel dismay, or fear, Numbers 22:3). In this increase of their numbers, which surpassed all expectation, there was the manifestation of a higher, supernatural, and to them awful power. But instead of bowing before it, they still endeavoured to enslave Israel through hard servile labour. In Exodus 1:13, Exodus 1:14 we have not an account of any fresh oppression; but "the crushing by hard labour" is represented as enslaving the Israelites and embittering their lives. פּרך hard oppression, from the Chaldee פּרך to break or crush in pieces. "They embittered their life with hard labour in clay and bricks (making clay into bricks, and working with the bricks when made), and in all kinds of labour in the field (this was very severe in Egypt on account of the laborious process by which the ground was watered, Deuteronomy 11:10), כּל־עבדתם את with regard to all their labour, which they worked (i.e., performed) through them (viz., the Israelites) with severe oppression." כל־ע את is also dependent upon ימררו, as a second accusative (Ewald, 277d). Bricks of clay were the building materials most commonly used in Egypt. The employment of foreigners in this kind of labour is to be seen represented in a painting, discovered in the ruins of Thebes, and given in the Egyptological works of Rosellini and Wilkinson, in which workmen who are evidently not Egyptians are occupied in making bricks, whilst two Egyptians with sticks are standing as overlookers; - even if the labourers are not intended for the Israelites, as the Jewish physiognomies would lead us to suppose. (For fuller details, see Hengstenberg's Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 80ff. English translation).

Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
As the first plan miscarried, the king proceeded to try a second, and that a bloody act of cruel despotism. He commanded the midwives to destroy the male children in the birth and to leave only the girls alive. The midwives named in Exodus 1:15, who are not Egyptian but Hebrew women, were no doubt the heads of the whole profession, and were expected to communicate their instructions to their associates. ויּאמר in Exodus 1:16 resumes the address introduced by ויאמר in Exodus 1:15. The expression על־האבנים, of which such various renderings have been given, is used in Jeremiah 18:3 to denote the revolving table of a potter, i.e., the two round discs between which a potter forms his earthenware vessels by turning, and appears to be transferred here to the vagina out of which the child twists itself, as it were like the vessel about to be formed out of the potter's discs. Knobel has at length decided in favour of this explanation, at which the Targumists hint with their מתברא. When the midwives were called in to assist at a birth, they were to look carefully at the vagina; and if the child were a boy, they were to destroy it as it came out of the womb. וחיה for חייה rof ו from חיי, see Genesis 3:22. The w takes kametz before the major pause, as in Genesis 44:9 (cf. Ewald, 243a).

And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.
But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.
But the midwives feared God (ha-Elohim, the personal, true God), and did not execute the king's command.

And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?
When questioned upon the matter, the explanation which they gave was, that the Hebrew women were not like the delicate women of Egypt, but were חיות "vigorous" (had much vital energy: Abenezra), so that they gave birth to their children before the midwives arrived. They succeeded in deceiving the king with this reply, as childbirth is remarkably rapid and easy in the case of Arabian women (see Burckhardt, Beduinen, p. 78; Tischendorf, Reise i. p. 108).

And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.
Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.
God rewarded them for their conduct, and "made them houses," i.e., gave them families and preserved their posterity. In this sense to "make a house" in 2 Samuel 7:11 is interchanged with to "build a house" in 2 Samuel 7:27 (vid., Ruth 4:11). להם for להן as in Genesis 31:9, etc. Through not carrying out the ruthless command of the king, they had helped to build up the families of Israel, and their own families were therefore built up by God. Thus God rewarded them, "not, however, because they lied, but because they were merciful to the people of God; it was not their falsehood therefore that was rewarded, but their kindness (more correctly, their fear of God), their benignity of mind, not the wickedness of their lying; and for the sake of what was good, God forgave what was evil." (Augustine, contra mendac. c. 19.)

And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.
And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.
The failure of his second plan drove the king to acts of open violence. He issued commands to all his subjects to throw every Hebrew boy that was born into the river (i.e., the Nile). The fact, that this command, if carried out, would necessarily have resulted in the extermination of Israel, did not in the least concern the tyrant; and this cannot be adduced as forming any objection to the historical credibility of the narrative, since other cruelties of a similar kind are to be found recorded in the history of the world. Clericus has cited the conduct of the Spartans towards the helots. Nor can the numbers of the Israelites at the time of the exodus be adduced as a proof that no such murderous command can ever have been issued; for nothing more can be inferred from this, than that the command was neither fully executed nor long regarded, as the Egyptians were not all so hostile to the Israelites as to be very zealous in carrying it out, and the Israelites would certainly neglect no means of preventing its execution. Even Pharaoh's obstinate refusal to let the people go, though it certainly is inconsistent with the intention to destroy them, cannot shake the truth of the narrative, but may be accounted for on psychological grounds, from the very nature of pride and tyranny which often act in the most reckless manner without at all regarding the consequences, or on historical grounds, from the supposition not only that the king who refused the permission to depart was a different man from the one who issued the murderous edicts (cf. Exodus 2:23), but that when the oppression had continued for some time the Egyptian government generally discovered the advantage they derived from the slave labour of the Israelites, and hoped through a continuance of that oppression so to crush and break their spirits, as to remove all ground for fearing either rebellion, or alliance with their foes.

Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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