Psalm 105:28
He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they rebelled not against his word.
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(28) Darkness.—The enumeration of the plagues omits the fifth and sixth, and begins with the ninth, and appends a clause which, from the first, has troubled translators. Of whom is it said, “They rebelled not against his words”? Of the Egyptians it is not true; and to refer the words to Moses and Aaron, in contrast with their resistance to the Divine command at Massah and Meribah, is feeble. The LXX. and the Syriac solved the difficulty by rejecting the negative. (Comp. the Prayer Book Version.)

The simplest explanation is to take the verb as imperfect subjunctive: “He sent darkness, and made it dark, that they might not rebel against his word.”

But this fails to supply a reason for the position in the list of the ninth plague, and the suggested emendation of Mr. Burgess is so satisfactory in this respect, that it almost by itself carries conviction with it. By a very slight change, he obtains: “He sent darkness, and darkened them, that they might not discern his tokens;” taking deber in the same sense that it bears in Psalm 105:27.

Thus the plague of darkness is, by a slight device of the poet, made to symbolise the moral blindness displayed by the Egyptians throughout.

Psalm 105:28-31. He sent darkness, &c. — This was one of the last plagues, though here mentioned first: God sent darkness, and, coming with commission from him, it came with efficacy; his command made it dark. And they rebelled not against his word — That is, the people of Israel were not disobedient to God’s commands by Moses and Aaron, respecting killing the passover, and making preparation, in other respects, to leave Egypt. The old translation follows the LXX., and reads, They were not obedient to his word; which may be applied to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who, notwithstanding the terror of this plague, would not let the people go; but there is no ground for this interpretation in the Hebrew, the reading of which, however, לא מרו את דברוו, Houbigant translates, His words were not changed, that is, “What God had commanded to be done was done.” Their land brought forth frogs — That is, their country brought them forth; for they were produced by their rivers, Exodus 8:3. In the chambers of their kings — Which entered into the chambers of Pharaoh, and his sons, and his chief nobles, and governors of provinces under him; such persons being often called kings in Scripture. And lice in all their coasts — Or borders, that is, in all their land, even to the remotest parts or borders of it. For a further elucidation of the particulars contained in these and the following verses, to Psalm 105:37, see notes on Psalm 78:43-51.105:24-45 As the believer commonly thrives best in his soul when under the cross; so the church also flourishes most in true holiness, and increases in number, while under persecution. Yet instruments shall be raised up for their deliverance, and plagues may be expected by persecutors. And see the special care God took of his people in the wilderness. All the benefits bestowed on Israel as a nation, were shadows of spiritual blessings with which we are blessed in Christ Jesus. Having redeemed us with his blood, restored our souls to holiness, and set us at liberty from Satan's bondage, he guides and guards us all the way. He satisfies our souls with the bread of heaven, and the water of life from the Rock of salvation, and will bring us safely to heaven. He redeems his servants from all iniquity, and purifies them unto himself, to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works.He sent darkness, and made it dark - Exodus 10:21-23.

And they rebelled not against his word - More literally, "his words." The reference is to Moses and Aaron; and the idea, as expressed here, is that they were obedient to the command of God; that they went and did what he ordered them; that, although he required them to go before a mighty and proud monarch, to denounce against him the vengeance of heaven, and to be the instruments of bringing upon the land unspeakably severe judgments, yet they did not shrink from what God commanded them to do. They were true to his appointment, and showed themselves to be faithful messengers of God. Others, however, suppose that this refers to the Egyptians, and that it is to be taken as a question: "And did they not rebel against his word?" The language might bear this, and the translators of the Septuagint seem to have so understood it, for they render it, "And they rebelled against his words." But the most natural construction is that in our common version, and the design is evidently to commend the boldness and the fidelity of Moses and Aaron.

28-36. The ninth plague is made prominent as peculiarly wonderful.

they rebelled not—Moses and Aaron promptly obeyed God (Heb 11:27); (compare Ex 7:1-11:10 and Ps 78:44-51, with which this summary substantially agrees). Or, rather, the "darkness" here is figurative (Jer 13:16), the literal plague of darkness (Ex 10:22, 23) being only alluded to as the symbol of God's wrath which overhung Egypt as a dark cloud during all the plagues. Hence, it is placed first, out of the historical order. Thus, "They rebelled not (that is, no longer) against His word," refers to the Egyptians. Whenever God sent a plague on them, they were ready to let Israel go, though refusing when the plague ceased.

his word—His command to let Israel go [Hengstenberg]. Of the ten plagues, only eight are mentioned, the fifth, the murrain of beasts, and the sixth, the boils, being omitted.


1. The darkness and other plagues; which obeyed God’s word, and instantly came at God’s call. So this may be a reflection upon the Egyptians, that those brutish or unreasonable creatures were more obedient to the will and command of God than they were. Thus diseases are said to come or go at God’s command, Matthew 8:8. Or rather,

2. Moses and Aaron, mentioned Psalm 105:26, and called they, Psalm 105:27, whose obedience in denouncing and inflicting these plagues, and especially that plague of darkness, is noted and commended here as an act of great faith and fortitude, because they inflicted that plague after Pharaoh had threatened them, Exodus 10:10; as the obedience of their parents is commended as a great act of faith, because they preserved and hid their son contrary to the express command of the king of Egypt. He sent darkness, and made it dark,.... The land of Egypt; either he, God, or it, darkness, made it dark, or it was made dark; the Targum is,

"made them dark;''

that is, the Egyptians; darkness was a messenger of the Lord's, who forms the light and creates darkness; it came at his word and covered all the land, excepting the dwellings of Israel; even a thick darkness that might be felt, so that the Egyptians could not see one another, nor rise from their place for three days together; such as sometimes rises at sea, and is said to be so dark, that for five days together day and night are the same; this was the ninth of the ten plagues, Exodus 10:21 and was an emblem of the darkness which is on the minds of men in an unregenerate state; who are covered with gross darkness, and are even darkness itself; which is universal as to persons, and the powers and faculties of their souls concerning divine things: and it also bears some resemblance to the darkness which will be in the kingdom of the beast upon the pouring out of the fifth vial, or plague, on spiritual Egypt, Revelation 16:10.

And they rebelled not against his word: the plague of darkness, and the rest of the plagues which God commanded; these, as they were his servants, were not disobedient to him, they came at his word; see Psalm 105:31, so Jarchi interprets it; or else Moses and Aaron, who were sent of God to inflict those plagues, did not refuse to obey the divine orders; though Pharaoh threatened them hard, yet they feared not the wrath and menaces of the king, but did as the Lord commanded them. Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, mention both these senses, but the latter seems most agreeable. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, leave out the word "not"; and so some copies of the Vulgate Latin version, and Apollinarius in his metaphrase, "and they rebelled against his word"; that is, the Egyptians did not hearken to the word of the Lord, nor to the signs and wonders he wrought, but their hearts were hardened, and they would not let Israel go. But this is contrary to the original text; though Arama interprets it of them, that they did not rebel, but confessed this miracle, which being the greatest of all, as he observes, is first mentioned. Dr. Lightfoot (y) thinks it is to be understood of Israel, and of some special part of obedience performed by them; which he takes to be circumcision, which they had omitted in Egypt, at least many of them, and was necessary to their eating of the passover, which was to be done in a few days, Exodus 12:48 and it was a fit time to perform this service while darkness for three days was upon the Egyptians; in which they were shut up by the Lord, that they might not take the opportunity against his people, now sore through circumcision.

(y) Works, vol. 1. p. 707.

He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they {o} rebelled not against his word.

(o) Meaning, Moses and Aaron.

28. It is difficult to say why the ninth plague (Exodus 10:21 ff.) is placed first here. Possibly, like the fifth and sixth, it was not originally mentioned, and the verse was the marginal gloss of a reader who noticed the omission, which was subsequently inserted in the text in the wrong place. If however the text is sound, perhaps the ninth plague is mentioned first, because it is regarded as the plague which wrought conviction in the minds of the Egyptians, who were already anxious that the Israelites should be allowed to depart (Exodus 10:7; Exodus 11:2-3); though the further plague of the death of the firstborn was needed finally to convince Pharaoh. The plague of darkness was specially calculated to inspire the worshippers of the sun-god with the sense of Jehovah’s power. The next line and they rebelled not against his words confirms this interpretation. ‘They’ must refer to the Egyptians, and the allusion must be to their change of feeling towards the Israelites after the plague of darkness, described in Exodus 11:2-3. Some commentators suppose that ‘they’ refers to Moses and Aaron, who did not disobey God’s commands, as they afterwards did at Meribah (Numbers 20:24; Numbers 27:14), but accepted their perilous mission. Such a statement however does not seem natural in the present context. Others read they observed not (שׁמרו for מרו). Others follow the LXX and Syr. in omitting the negative. So in effect Coverdale (following the Zürich Bible, ‘dann sy warend seinem geheyss nit gehorsam’), for they were not obedient unto his word; P.B.V. and they were not &c. But the remark would be out of place at the point when the resistance of the Egyptians had been overcome.

his word] So the Q’rç; R.V. his words follows the K’thîbh, which is supported by the LXX, Aq., and Jer.Verse 28. - He sent darkness, and made it dark (see Exodus 10:21-23). And they rebelled not against his word. If the "not" is to stand in this passage, it must be referred to Moses and Aaron. Professor Cheyne, however, following the Septuagint and Peshito versions, boldly cancels the "not." "To call up a famine" is also a prose expression in 2 Kings 8:1. To break the staff of bread (i.e., the staff which bread is to man) is a very old metaphor, Leviticus 26:26. That the selling of Joseph was, providentially regarded, a "sending before," he himself says in Genesis 45:5. Psalm 102:24 throws light upon the meaning of ענּה ב. The Kerמ רגלו is just as much without any occasion to justify it as עינו in Ecclesiastes 4:8 (for עיניו). The statement that iron came upon his soul is intended to say that he had to endure in iron fetters sufferings that threatened his life. Most expositors take בּרזל as equivalent to בּבּרזל, but Hitzig rightly takes נפשׁו as an object, following the Targum; for ברזל as a name of an iron fetter

(Note: Also in ancient Arabic firzil (after the Aramaic פרזלא) directly signifies an iron fetter (and the large smith's shears for cutting the iron), whence the verb. denom. Arab. farzala, c. acc. pers., to put any one into iron chains. Iron is called בּרזל from בּרז, to pierce, like the Arabic ḥdı̂d, as being the material of which pointed tools are made.)

can change its gender, as do, e.g., צפון as a name of the north wind, and כבוד as a name of the soul. The imprisonment (so harsh at the commencement) lasted over ten years, until at last Joseph's word cam to pass, viz., the word concerning this exaltation which had been revealed to him in dreams (Genesis 42:9). According to Psalm 107:20, דברו appears to be the word of Jahve, but then one would expect from Psalm 105:19 a more parallel turn of expression. What is meant is Joseph's open-hearted word concerning his visions, and אמרת ה is the revelation of God conveying His promises, which came to him in the same form, which had to try, to prove, and to purify him (צרף as in Psalm 17:3, and frequently), inasmuch as he was not to be raised to honour without having in a state of deep abasement proved a faithfulness that wavered not, and a confidence that knew no despair. The divine "word" is conceived of as a living effectual power, as in Psalm 119:50. The representation of the exaltation begins, according to Genesis 41:14, with שׁלח־מלך

(Note: Here שׁלח is united by Makkeph with the following word, to which it hurries on, whereas in Psalm 105:28 it has its own accent, a circumstance to which the Masora has directed attention in the apophthegm: שׁלוחי דמלכא זריזין שׁלוחי דחשׁוכא מתינין (the emissaries of the king are in haste, those of darkness are tardy); vid., Baer, Thorath Emeth, p. 22.)

and follows Genesis 41:39-41, Genesis 41:44, very closely as to the rest, according to which בּנפשׁו is a collateral definition to לאסּר (with an orthophonic Dag.) in the sense of בּרצונו: by his soul, i.e., by virtue of his will (vid., Psychology, S. 202; tr. p. 239). In consequence of this exaltation of Joseph, Jacob-Israel came then into Egypt, and sojourned there as in a protecting house of shelter (concerning גּוּר, vid., supra, p. 414). Egypt is called (Psalm 105:23, Psalm 105:27) the land of Chaam, as in Psalm 78:51; according to Plutarch, in the vernacular the black land, from the dark ashy grey colouring which the deposited mud of the Nile gives to the ground. There Israel became a powerful, numerous people (Exodus 1:7; Deuteronomy 26:5), greater than their oppressors.

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