Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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 10:7
If there be any one truth which the deductions of reason alone, independent of history, would lead us to anticipate, and which again history alone would establish independently of antecedent reasoning, it is this: that a whole class of men placed permanently under the ascendancy of another as subjects, without the rights of citizens, must be a source, at the best, of weakness, and generally of danger to the State. They cannot well be expected, and have rarely been found, to evince much hearty patriotic feeling towards a community in which their neighbours looked down on them as an inferior and permanently degraded species. While kept in brutish ignorance, poverty, and weakness, they are likely to feel—like the ass in the fable—indifferent whose panniers they bear. If they increase in power, wealth, and mental development, they are likely to be ever on the watch for an opportunity of shaking off a degrading yoke.... Indeed almost every page of history teaches the same lesson, and proclaims in every different form, 'How long shall these men be a snare to us? Let the people go, that they may serve their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?'
In a letter, written during 1840, to awaken the upper orders of Britain to the social evils which the Chartist movement sprang from, Dr. Arnold of Rugby wrote: 'My fear with regard to every remedy that involves any sacrifices to the upper classes, is, that the public mind is not yet enough aware of the magnitude of the evil to submit to them. "Knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?" was the question put to Pharaoh by his counsellors; for unless he did know it, they were aware that he would not let Israel go from serving them.'
The question with me is, not whether you have a right to render your people miserable; but whether it is not your interest to make them happy. It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.
—Burke, Speech on Conciliation with America.
References.—X. 8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi. No. 1830. X. 8, 9.—J. Oswald Dykes, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. 1894, p. 261. X. 11.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Lessons for Daily Life, p. 291.
Pharaoh's 'I Have Sinned'
What was Pharaoh's 'I have sinned?' Where did it tend?
I. It was a Mere Hasty Impulse.—'Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.' There was no thought in it; no careful dealing with his own soul; no depth. Real repentance is never like that. It may express itself quickly. It may come suddenly to a crisis. But that which leaps to the surface is the result of much that has been going on long before in secret.
II. The Moving Principle was Nothing but Fear.—He was agitated—greatly agitated—only agitated. He said it the first time under 'the hail'; the second, under 'the locust'. Property was going; the land was being devastated; his empire was impoverished; and he exclaimed, 'I have sinned'. He simply desired to avert a punishment that was throwing a black shadow over him! Now, fear may be, and probably it must be, a part of real repentance. But I doubt whether there was ever a real repentance that was promoted by fear only. This is the reason why so few—so very few—sick-bed repentances ever stand. They were dedicated by fear only. When the Holy Ghost gives repentance, He inspires fear; and He also adds, what, if we may not yet call it love, yet has certainly some soft feeling—some desire towards God Himself. If you have fear, do not wish it away. But ask God to mingle something with your fear—some other view of God, which, coming in tenderly, and mellowingly, may melt fear, and make repentance.
III. Pharaoh's Thoughts were Directed far too much to Man.—It was not the 'Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned'. He never went straight to God. Observe what he said: 'I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now, therefore, forgive'—Moses and Aaron—'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'. The more God is immediate to you, there will be repentance. The more you go to Him without any intervention whatsoever—feeling: 'It is God I have grieved, it is God must forgive; it is God only who can give me what I want; it is God only who can speak peace'—the more genuine your sorrow will be; and the more surely it will be accepted.
References.—X. 16.—J. Vaughan, Sermons Preached in Christ Church, Brighton (7th Series), p. 71. X. 20.—J. Owen, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xli. 1892, p. 166.
If all Egypt had been light, the Israelites would not have had the less; but to enjoy that light alone, while their neighbours lived in thick darkness, must make them more sensible of their privilege. Distinguishing mercy affects more than any mercy.
—Baxter, Saints' Rest, chap. III.
'In the great majority of things,' said John Foster, 'habit is a greater plague than ever afflicted Egypt; in religious character it is eminently a felicity.'
References.—X. 24.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi. No. 1830. X. 26.—Ibid. vol. vi. No. 309. Ibid. vol. xxxi. No. 1830. XI. 1-10.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture —Exodus, etc., p. 33.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.