Exodus 1:13
And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor:
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(13) With rigour.—Forced labour in Egypt was of a very severe character. Those condemned to it worked from morning to night under the rod of a task-master, which was freely applied to their legs or backs, if they rested their weary limbs for a moment. (See Records of the Past, vol. viii. p. 149; Chabas, Mélanges Egyptolo-giques, vol. ii. p. 121). The heat of the sun was great; the burthens which the labourers had to carry were heavy, and the toil was incessant. Death often resulted from the, excessive work. According to Herodotus, a single monarch, Neco, destroyed in this way 120,000 of his subjects (Herod, ii. 158).

Exodus 1:13. With rigour — בפרךְbepareck, with cruelty, or tyranny; with hard words and cruel usage, without mercy or mitigation. This God permitted for wise and just reasons: 1st, As a punishment of the idolatry into which, it appears, many of them had fallen: 2d, To wean them from the land of Egypt, which was a plentiful, and, in many respects, a desirable land, and to quicken their desires after Canaan: 3d, To prepare the way for God’s glorious works, and Israel’s deliverance.1:8-14 The land of Egypt became to Israel a house of bondage. The place where we have been happy, may soon become the place of our affliction; and that may prove the greatest cross to us, of which we said, This same shall comfort us. Cease from man, and say not of any place on this side heaven, This is my rest. All that knew Joseph, loved him, and were kind to his brethren for his sake; but the best and most useful services a man does to others, are soon forgotten after his death. Our great care should be, to serve God, and to please him who is not unrighteous, whatever men are, to forget our work and labour of love. The offence of Israel is, that he prospers. There is no sight more hateful to a wicked man than the prosperity of the righteous. The Egyptians feared lest the children of Israel should join their enemies, and get them up out of the land. Wickedness is ever cowardly and unjust; it makes a man fear, where no fear is, and flee, when no one pursues him. And human wisdom often is foolishness, and very sinful. God's people had task-masters set over them, not only to burden them, but to afflict them with their burdens. They not only made them serve for Pharaoh's profit, but so that their lives became bitter. The Israelites wonderfully increased. Christianity spread most when it was persecuted: the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. They that take counsel against the Lord and his Israel, do but imagine a vain thing, and create greater vexation to themselves.Taskmasters - The Egyptian "Chiefs of tributes." They were men of rank, superintendents of the public works, such as are often represented on Egyptian monuments, and carefully distinguished from the subordinate overseers. The Israelites were employed in forced labor, probably in detachments, but they were not reduced to slavery, properly speaking, nor treated as captives of war. Amosis had special need of such laborers, as proved by the inscriptions.

Treasure cities - "Magazines," depots of ammunition and provisions 1 Kings 9:19; 2 Chronicles 8:4; 2 Chronicles 32:28.

Pithom and Raamses - Both cities were situated on the canal which was dug or enlarged in the 12th Dynasty. The former is known to have existed under the 18th Dynasty. Both were in existence at the beginning of the reign of Rameses II, by whom they were fortified and enlarged. The name "Pithom" means "House or temple of Tum," the Sun God of Heliopolis (see Exodus 13:20). The name of Raamses, or Rameses, is generally assumed to have been derived from Rameses II, the Sesostris of the Greeks, but it was previously known as the name of the district. See Genesis 45:10; Genesis 47:11.

13, 14. The Egyptians … made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick—Ruins of great brick buildings are found in all parts of Egypt. The use of crude brick, baked in the sun, was universal in upper and lower Egypt, both for public and private buildings; all but the temples themselves were of crude brick. It is worthy of remark that more bricks bearing the name of Thothmes III, who is supposed to have been the king of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, have been discovered than of any other period [Wilkinson]. Parties of these brickmakers are seen depicted on the ancient monuments with "taskmasters," some standing, others in a sitting posture beside the laborers, with their uplifted sticks in their hands. Or, cruelty, or, tyranny; with hard words and cruel usage, without mercy or mitigation. This God permitted for wise and just reasons.

1. As a punishment of their idolatry, into which divers of them fell there. Joshua 24:14 Ezekiel 20:5,7,8 23:8

2. To wean them from the land of Egypt, which otherwise was a plentiful and desirable land, and to quicken their desires after Canaan.

3. To prepare the way for God’s glorious works, and Israel’s deliverance. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour. Or with breach (c), with what might tend to break their strength; they laid heavier burdens upon them, obliged them to harder service, used them more cruelly and with greater fierceness, adding to their hard service ill words, and perhaps blows.

(c) "in fractione", Cajetan. apud Rivet.

And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor:
13. with rigour] The rare word found otherwise only in v. 14, Leviticus 25:43; Leviticus 25:46; Leviticus 25:53 (all P or H); Ezekiel 34:4. The root is not in use in Heb.; in Aram. it means to rub (Luke 6:1 Pesh.), or crush small.

13, 14. The parallel, from P, to vv. 11, 12, and continuation of v. 7. P states simply the fact of the oppression, without referring to the grounds prompting it.Verse 13. - The Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour. The word translated rigour is a very rare one. It is derived from a root which means "to break in pieces, to crush." The "rigour" would be shown especially in the free use of the stick by the taskmaster, and in the prolongation of the hours of work. 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).
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