Exodus 3:19
And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) I am sure.—Heb., I know, which is more suitable, since it is God who speaks, and to Him the future is known with as absolute a certainty as the past.

No, not by a mighty hand.—Rather, not even under a mighty hand (ne quidem valida manu castigatus, Rosenmüller). Pharaoh, even when chastised by My mighty hand, will not voluntarily permit of your departure (see Exodus 14:5-23).

3:16-22 Moses' success with the elders of Israel would be good. God, who, by his grace, inclines the heart, and opens the ear, could say beforehand, They shall hearken to thy voice; for he would make them willing in this day of power. As to Pharaoh, Moses is here told that petitions and persuasions, and humble complaints, would not prevail with him; nor a mighty hand stretched out in signs and wonders. But those will certainly be broken by the power of God's hand, who will not bow to the power of his word. Pharaoh's people should furnish Israel with riches at their departure. In Pharaoh's tyranny and Israel's oppression, we see the miserable, abject state of sinners. However galling the yoke, they drudge on till the Lord sends redemption. With the invitations of the gospel, God sends the teaching of his Spirit. Thus are men made willing to seek and to strive for deliverance. Satan loses his power to hold them, they come forth with all they have and are, and apply all to the glory of God and the service of his church.No, not - See the marginal rendering. Others explain it to mean, Pharaoh will not let the people go even when severely smitten. 10-22. Come now therefore, and I will send thee—Considering the patriotic views that had formerly animated the breast of Moses, we might have anticipated that no mission could have been more welcome to his heart than to be employed in the national emancipation of Israel. But he evinced great reluctance to it and stated a variety of objections [Ex 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10] all of which were successfully met and removed—and the happy issue of his labors was minutely described. I am sure; I know it infallibly beforehand.

No, not by a mighty hand; though he see and feel the miraculous and dreadful works of a strong, yea, almighty hand, yet he will not consent to your going; which the history makes good. Nor did he let them go till he could hold them no longer, till the fear of his own life, and the clamours of his people, forced him to give way to it. And yet after that he repents of his permission, and laboured to bring them back again. Others, but or except by a strong hand, i.e. except by my almighty power he be forced to it. Both translations come to the same sense.

And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go,.... Or "but" (c) "I am sure", &c. though so reasonable a request was made him, yet it would not be granted; this is observed to them, that they might not be discouraged when he should refuse to dismiss them, which the omniscient God knew beforehand, and acquaints them with it, that, when it came to pass, they might be induced to believe that the mission of Moses was of God, rather than the contrary:

no, not by a mighty hand; the mighty power of God displayed once and again, even in nine plagues inflicted on him, until the tenth and last came upon him; or "unless by a mighty hand" (d), even the almighty hand of God; prayers, entreaties, persuasions, and arguments, will signify nothing, unless the mighty power of God is exerted upon him.

(c) "ego autem", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "sed ego", V. L. (d) Sept. "nisi", V. L. Pagninus, Vatablus; so Noldius, p. 344. No. 1246.

And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. But I know. The pron. is emphatic.

no, not by a mighty hand] not even when severely smitten by God’s hand,—as in the first nine plagues. But it is strange that the tenth plague (when the Pharaoh did let them go) should be excluded. What we expect (cf. v. 20) is, ‘except by a mighty hand’ (so LXX.); and this ought probably to be read (אם לא for ולא). Mighty hand as Exodus 6:1, Exodus 13:9, Exodus 32:11; Numbers 20:20 (of Edom): and often in Dt. (esp. in the combination ‘a mighty hand and stretched out arm,’ Deuteronomy 4:34, Deuteronomy 5:15 al.).

19–20. But the Pharaoh will not let Israel go, till the Egyptians have experienced the power of Jehovah’s hand.

Verse 19. - I am sure. Literally, "I know," a better rendering, since, "I am sure" implies something leas than knowledge. No, not by a mighty hand. Or "not even by a mighty hand." Pharaoh will not be willing to let you go even when my mighty hand is laid upon him. (See Exodus 8:15, 19, 32; Exodus 9:12, 35; Exodus 10:20, 27.) "But by strong hand" (marg.) is a rendering which the rules of grammar do not permit. Exodus 3:19With the command, "Go and gather the elders of Israel together," God then gave Moses further instructions with reference to the execution of his mission. On his arrival in Egypt he was first of all to inform the elders, as the representatives of the nation (i.e., the heads of the families, households, and tribes), of the appearance of God to him, and the revelation of His design, to deliver His people out of Egypt and bring them to the land of the Canaanites. He was then to go with them to Pharaoh, and make known to him their resolution, in consequence of this appearance of God, to go a three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to their God. The words, "I have surely visited," point to the fulfilment of the last words of the dying Joseph (Genesis 50:24). עלינוּ נקרה (Exodus 3:18) does not mean "He is named upon us" (lxx, Onk., Jon.), nor "He has called us" (Vulg., Luth.). The latter is grammatically wrong, for the verb is Niphal, or passive; and though the former has some support in the parallel passage in Exodus 5:3, inasmuch as נקרא is the verb used there, it is only in appearance, for if the meaning really were "His name is named upon (over) us," the word שׁמו (שׁם) would not be omitted (vid., Deuteronomy 28:10; 2 Chronicles 7:14). The real meaning is, "He has met with us," from נקרה, obruam fieri, ordinarily construed with אל, but here with על, because God comes down from above to meet with man. The plural us is used, although it was only to Moses that God appeared, because His appearing had reference to the whole nation, which was represented before Pharaoh by Moses and the elders. In the words נלכה־נא, "we will go, then," equivalent to "let us go," the request for Pharaoh's permission to go out is couched in such a form as to answer to the relation of Israel to Pharaoh. He had no right to detain them, but he had a right to consent to their departure, as his predecessor had formerly done to their settlement. Still less had he any good reason for refusing their request to go a three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to their God, since their return at the close of the festival was then taken for granted. But the purpose of God was, that Israel should not return. Was it the case, then, that the delegates were "to deceive the king," as Knobel affirms! By no means. God knew the hard heart of Pharaoh, and therefore directed that no more should be asked at first than he must either grant, or display the hardness of his heart. Had he consented, God would then have made known to him His whole design, and demanded that His people should be allowed to depart altogether. But when Pharaoh scornfully refused the first and smaller request (Exodus 5), Moses was instructed to demand the entire departure of Israel from the land (Exodus 6:10), and to show the omnipotence of the God of the Hebrews before and upon Pharaoh by miracles and heavy judgments (Hebrews 7:8.). Accordingly, Moses persisted in demanding permission for the people to go and serve their God (Exodus 7:16; Exodus 8:1; Exodus 9:1, Exodus 9:13; Exodus 10:3); and it was not till Pharaoh offered to allow them to sacrifice in the land that Moses replied, "We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Jehovah our God" (Exodus 8:27); but, observe, with this proviso, "as He shall command us," which left, under the circumstances, no hope that they would return. It was an act of mercy to Pharaoh, therefore, on the one hand, that the entire departure of the Israelites was not demanded at the very first audience of Moses and the representatives of the nation; for, had this been demanded, it would have been far more difficult for him to bend his heart in obedience to the divine will, than when the request presented was as trifling as it was reasonable. And if he had rendered obedience to the will of God in the smaller, God would have given him strength to be faithful in the greater. On the other hand, as God foresaw his resistance (Exodus 3:19), this condescension, which demanded no more than the natural man could have performed, was also to answer the purpose of clearly displaying the justice of God. It was to prove alike to Egyptians and Israelites that Pharaoh was "without excuse," and that his eventual destruction was the well-merited punishment of his obduracy.

(Note: "This moderate request was made only at the period of the earlier plagues. It served to put Pharaoh to the proof. God did not come forth with His whole plan and desire at first, that his obduracy might appear so much the more glaring, and find no excuse in the greatness of the requirement. Had Pharaoh granted this request, Israel would not have gone beyond it; but had not God foreseen, what He repeatedly says (compare, for instance, Exodus 3:18), that he would not comply with it, He would not thus have presented it; He would from the beginning have revealed His whole design. Thus Augustine remarks (Quaest. 13 in Ex.)." Hengstenberg, Diss. on the Pentateuch. vol. ii. p. 427, Ryland's translation. Clark, 1847.)

חזקה ביד ולא, "not even by means of a strong hand;" "except through great power" is not the true rendering, ולא does not mean ἐὰν μὴ, nisi. What follows, - viz., the statement that God would so smite the Egyptians with miracles that Pharaoh would, after all, let Israel go (Exodus 3:20), - is not really at variance with this, the only admissible rendering of the words. For the meaning is, that Pharaoh would not be willing to let Israel depart even when he should be smitten by the strong hand of God; but that he would be compelled to do so against his will, would be forced to do so by the plagues that were about to fall upon Egypt. Thus even after the ninth plague it is still stated (Exodus 10:27), that "Pharaoh would (אבה) not let them go;" and when he had given permission, in consequence of the last plague, and in fact had driven them out (Exodus 12:31), he speedily repented, and pursued them with his army to bring them back again (Exodus 14:5.); from which it is clearly to be seen that the strong hand of God had not broken his will, and yet Israel was brought out by the same strong hand of Jehovah.

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