Exodus 10
Benson Commentary
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:
Exodus 10:1. Go unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart — That is, either, 1st, Go and make a new address unto him, for what I have yet done has but hardened his heart: or, 2d, כי, here translated for, must, as is often the case, be rendered although; go and speak to him again, although I have suffered his heart to be hardened, and to continue obdurate, that I might more fully display my power and providence, not only to Egypt and the adjacent countries, but to generations yet unborn, and especially to the posterity of my people Israel; that thou mayest tell (Exodus 10:2) in the ears of thy son, and thy son’s son, what things I have wrought. These plagues are standing monuments of the greatness of God, the happiness of the church, and the sinfulness of sin; and standing monitors to the children of men in all ages, not to provoke the Lord to jealousy, nor to strive with their Maker. The benefit of these instructions to the world doth sufficiently balance the expense.

And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.
And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.
Exodus 10:3. How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself? — By this it appears that God’s design was not to harden Pharaoh, but to humble him by these extraordinary judgments. It is justly expected from the greatest of men that they should humble themselves before the great God, and it is at their peril if they refuse to do it. Those that will not humble themselves, God will humble.

Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:
And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:
Exodus 10:5. They shall cover the face — Hebrew, the eye; of the earth — That is, of its inhabitants; that one cannot be able to see the earth — It is observable that no living creature multiplies so fast as the locust. It is almost incredible in what swarms they are sometimes seen in some parts. Thevenot gives an account of armies of locusts laying waste the country of the Cossacks. “They live,” he says, “about six months, and lay their eggs in autumn, to the number of three hundred each, which are hatched in the spring following. Such as have been eye-witnesses report, that they have seen the whole air in Arabia darkened by them, in their flight, for eighteen or twenty miles.” “They eclipse the light of the sun,” says Pliny, “in their flight, the people looking up to them in anxious suspense lest they should cover their whole country. They are so destructive that large territories have bean laid bare by them in a few hours, and the inhabitants reduced to famine. They do not spare even the bark of trees, but eat every thing that comes in their way, even to the very doors of the houses.”

And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.
Exodus 10:6. They shall fill the houses of all the Egyptians — Dr. Shaw says, the locusts he saw in Barbary, in the year 1724, “climbed, as they marched forward, over every tree or wall that was in their way; they entered into our very houses and bed-chambers, like so many thieves.” — See Encycl. Brit. on the term Gryllus, p. 162, 3d edit.

And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?
Exodus 10:7. Pharaoh’s servants — His nobles and counsellors; said, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? — That is, lay before us the occasion of our falling into one calamity after another. To the impenitent the punishment of sin, not the sin which is punished, is the cause of their sorrow. Knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? — It was so in a great degree by these repeated and very destructive plagues.

And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go?
Exodus 10:8. Who are they that shall go? — I am not willing you should all go: it will degrade me in the sight of my subjects that I should be obliged to submit to him who thus makes himself the very friend of my slaves. When he is compelled to yield, yet it is with extreme reluctance, and as little as possible.

And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.
Exodus 10:9. We must hold a feast unto the Lord — And in such solemnities the whole body of the nation, men, women, and children, and all who were not confined by sickness, were wont to join.

And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.
Exodus 10:10. The Lord be so with you, as I will let you go — As if he had said, “May your God Jehovah assist you to my ruin, if I let you go on these terms.” Look to it, for evil is before you — More evil and affliction shall befall you forthwith, unless you be content to go on my terms. Here the spirit of wickedness speaks its own language in impotent wishes of evil, when all its guile, malice, rage, and pride could perform nothing to hurt or hinder the Israel of God from doing as they were commanded. He especially curses and threatens them in case they offered to take their little ones, telling them it was at their peril. Satan doth all he can to hinder those that serve God themselves, from bringing their children to serve him. He is a sworn enemy to early piety, knowing how destructive it is to the interests of his kingdom.

Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.
And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.
Exodus 10:13. The east wind brought the locusts — From Arabia, where they are in great numbers: and God miraculously increased them. The locusts are usually conveyed by the wind. In the year 1527 great troops of locusts were brought by a strong wind out of Turkey into Poland, which country they wasted; and in 1536 a wind from the Euxine Sea brought such vast numbers into Podolia, that, for many miles round, they destroyed every thing. And “in the year 1650, a cloud of locusts was seen to enter Russia in three different places; and from thence they spread themselves over Poland and Lithuania, in such astonishing multitudes that the air was darkened, and the earth covered with their numbers. In some places they were seen lying dead, heaped upon each other to the depth of four feet; in others they covered the surface like a black cloth; the trees bent with their weight, and the damage which the country sustained exceeded computation.” — Encycl. Brit., vol. 8. p. 162, 3d edit.

And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.
For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.
Exodus 10:15. They did eat every green herb of the land — There seems to have been some distance of time between the last plague and this, during which, in that warm and fertile country, new productions had sprouted forth, both out of the ground and from the trees. There remained not any green thing — The earth God has given to the children of men; yet when he pleaseth he can disturb their possession of it, even by locusts and caterpillars. Herb grows for the service of man, yet, when God pleaseth, these contemptible insects shall not only be fellow-commoners with him, but shall eat the bread out of his mouth.

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you.
Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.
Exodus 10:17. Pharaoh desires their prayers that this death only might be taken away, not this sin: he deprecates the plague of locusts, not the plague of a hard heart.

And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.
And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.
Exodus 10:19. An east wind brought the locusts, and now a west wind carried them off. Whatever point of the compass the wind is in, it is fulfilling God’s word, and turns about by his counsel; the wind blows where it listeth for us, but not where it listeth for him; he directeth it under the whole heaven.

But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.
Exodus 10:21. We may observe concerning this plague, 1st, That it was a total darkness. We have reason to think, not only that the lights of heaven were clouded, but that all their fires and candles were put out by the damps or clammy vapours which were the cause of this darkness, for it is said, they saw not one another. 2d, That it was darkness which might be felt; felt in its causes by their finger-ends, so thick were the fogs; felt in its effects, (some think,) by their eyes, which were pricked with pain, and made the more sore by their rubbing them. Great pain is spoken of as the effect of that darkness, (Revelation 16:10,) which alludes to this. 3d, No doubt it was very frightful and amazing. The tradition of the Jews is, that in this darkness they were terrified by the apparition of evil spirits, or rather by dreadful sounds and murmurs which they made; and this is the plague which some think is intended, (for otherwise it is not mentioned at all here,) Psalm 78:49, “He poured upon them the fierceness of his anger, by sending evil angels among them;” for to those to whom the devil has been a deceiver, he will at length be a terror. 4th, It continued three days; six nights in one; so long they were imprisoned by those chains of darkness.

And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:
They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
Exodus 10:23. Neither rose any from his place — This circumstance is one of the lively strokes in description which critics call picturesque: it strongly paints the horror and dismay which this palpable darkness cast upon their minds. Le Clerc, however, justly remarks, that we are not to understand the expression so strictly, as if not one of the Egyptians rose from his place; for the servants, at least, must have moved about the best way they could to find victuals for themselves and their masters. The expression denotes that there was a total inaction and cessation from ordinary business, that they were all confined to their houses, and that such a terror seized them, that few of them had courage to go even from their chairs to their beds, or from their beds to their chairs. Thus were they silent in darkness, 1 Samuel 2:9. Now Pharaoh had time to consider, if he would have improved it. But the children of Israel had light in their dwellings — Not only in the land of Goshen, where most of them inhabited, but in the particular dwellings which in other places the Israelites had dispersed among the Egyptians, as it appears they had, by the distinction afterward appointed to be put on their door-posts. And during these three days of darkness to the Egyptians, if God had so pleased, the Israelites, by the light which they had, might have made their escape, and have asked Pharaoh no leave; but God would bring them out with a high hand, and not by stealth, or in haste.

And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.
And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God.
Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.
And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.
And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.
Exodus 10:29. I will see thy face no more — Namely, after this time, for this conference did not break off till Exodus 11:8, when Moses went out in great anger, and told Pharaoh how soon his proud stomach would come down; which was fulfilled Exodus 12:31, when Pharaoh became an humble supplicant to Moses to depart. So that after this interview Moses came no more till he was sent for.

Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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