Exodus 3:21
And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty:
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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 will give this people favour, so that they shall readily grant what the Israelites desire. See Exodus 12:36.

And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians,.... That is, give the Israelites favour in their sight, a little before their departure, who should be ready to do anything for them, or bestow anything upon them; or however lend them what they would desire, being glad to be at peace with them, or get rid of them, for whose sakes they would perceive all those sore calamities came upon them, they were distressed with:

and it shall come to pass, that when ye go, ye shall not go empty; destitute of what was necessary for them, but even with great substance, as was foretold by Abraham they should, and which prophecy was now about to be fulfilled, Genesis 15:14.

And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.
21–22. Not only will the Egyptians then let the Israelites go, but God will give them favour in the eyes of the Egyptians, and they will bestow many valuables upon them. The verses, it is evident, must belong to the narrator who regards the Israelites as settled among the Egyptians themselves (i.e. E), not to J, who (see on Exodus 8:22) represents them as living apart in the land of Goshen.

Verses 21, 22. - The "spoiling of the Egyptians" has called forth much bitter comment. (See Kalisch, note on Exodus 3:22.) It has been termed a combination of "fraud, deception and theft" - "base deceit and nefarious fraud" - "glaring villainy," and the like. The unfortunate translation of a verb meaning "ask" by "borrow" in ver. 22, has greatly helped the objectors. In reality, what God here commanded and declared was this: - The Israelite women were told on the eve of their departure from Egypt to ask presents (bakh-sheesh) from their rich Egyptian neighbours, as a contribution to the necessary expenses of the long journey on which they were entering; and God promised that he would so favourably incline the hearts of these neighbours towards them, that, in reply to their request, articles of silver and of gold, together with raiment, would be freely and bounteously bestowed on them - so freely and so bounteously, that they might clothe and adorn, not only themselves, but their sons and daughters, with the presents; and the entire result would be that, instead of quitting Egypt like a nation of slaves, in rags and penniless, they would go forth in the guise of an army of conquerors, laden with the good things of the country, having (with their own good-will) "spoiled the Egyptians." No fraud, no deceit, was to be practised - the Egyptians perfectly well understood that, if the Israelites once went, they would never voluntarily return - they were asked to give and they gave - with the result that Egypt was "spoiled." Divine justice sees in this a rightful nemesis. Oppressed, wronged, down-trodden, miserably paid for their hard labour during centuries, the Israelites were to obtain at the last something like a compensation for their ill-usage; the riches of Africa were to be showered on them. Egypt, "glad at their departing," was to build them a bridge of gold to expedite their flight, and to despoil herself in order to enrich her quondam slaves, of whom she was, under the circumstances, delighted to be rid. Exodus 3:21Not only would God compel Pharaoh to let Israel go; He would not let His people go out empty, but, according to the promise in Genesis 15:14, with great substance. "I will give this people favour in the eyes of the Egyptians;" that is to say, the Egyptians should be so favourably disposed towards them, that when they solicited of their neighbours clothes and ornaments of gold and silver, their request should be granted. "So shall ye spoil the Egyptians." What is here foretold as a promise, the Israelites are directed to do in Exodus 11:2-3; and according to Exodus 12:35-36, it was really carried out. Immediately before their departure from Egypt, the Israelites asked (ישׁאלוּ) the Egyptians for gold and silver ornaments (כּלים not vessels, either for sacrifice, the house, or the table, but jewels; cf. Genesis 24:53; Exodus 35:22; Numbers 31:50) and clothes; and God gave them favour in the eyes of the Egyptians, so that they gave them to them. For אשּׁה שׁאלה, "Let every woman ask of her (female) neighbour and of her that sojourneth in her house" (בּיתהּ גּרת, from which it is evident that the Israelites did not live apart, but along with the Egyptians), we find in Exodus 11:2, "Let every man ask of his neighbour, and every woman of her (female) neighbour." - ושׂמתּם, "and put them upon your sons and daughters." על שׂוּם, to put on, applied to clothes and ornaments in Leviticus 8:8 and Genesis 41:42. This command and its execution have frequently given occasion to the opponents of the Scriptures to throw contempt upon the word of God, the asking being regarded as borrowing, and the spoiling of the Egyptians as purloining. At the same time, the attempts made to vindicate this purloining from the wickedness of stealing have been in many respects unsatisfactory.

(Note: For the different views as to the supposed borrowing of the gold and silver vessels, see Hengstenberg, Dissertations on the Pentateuch, vol. ii. pp. 419ff., and Kurtz, History of the Old Covenant, vol. ii.319ff.)

But the only meaning of שׁאל is to ask or beg,

(Note: Even in 2 Kings 5:6; see my commentary on the passage.)

and השׁאיל, which is only met with in Exodus 12:36 and 1 Samuel 1:28, does not mean to lend, but to suffer to ask, to hear and grant a request. ישׁאלוּם (Exodus 12:36), lit., they allowed them to ask; i.e., "the Egyptians did not turn away the petitioners, as not wanting to listen to them, but received their petition with good-will, and granted their request. No proof can be brought that השׁאיל means to lend, as is commonly supposed; the word occurs again in 1 Samuel 1:28, and there it means to grant or give" (Knobel on Exodus 12:36). Moreover the circumstances under which the שׁאל and השׁאיל took place, were quite at variance with the idea of borrowing and lending. For even if Moses had not spoken without reserve of the entire departure of the Israelites, the plagues which followed one after another, and with which the God of the Hebrews gave emphasis to His demand as addressed through Moses to Pharaoh, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me," must have made it evident to every Egyptian, that all this had reference to something greater than a three days' march to celebrate a festival. And under these circumstances no Egyptian could have cherished the thought, that the Israelites were only borrowing the jewels they asked of them, and would return them after the festival. What they gave under such circumstances, they could only give or present without the slightest prospect of restoration. Still less could the Israelites have had merely the thought of borrowing in their mind, seeing that God had said to Moses, "I will give the Israelites favour in the eyes of the Egyptians; and it will come to pass, that when ye go out, ye shall not go out empty" (Exodus 3:21). If, therefore, it is "natural to suppose that these jewels were festal vessels with which the Egyptians furnished the poor Israelites for the intended feast," and even if "the Israelites had their thoughts directed with all seriousness to the feast which they were about to celebrate to Jehovah in the desert" (Baumgarten); their request to the Egyptians cannot have referred to any borrowing, nor have presupposed any intention to restore what they received on their return. From the very first the Israelites asked without intending to restore, and the Egyptians granted their request without any hope of receiving back, because God had made their hearts favourably disposed to the Israelites. The expressions את־מצרים נצּלתּם in Exodus 3:22, and וינצּלוּ in Exodus 12:36, are not at variance with this, but rather require it. For נצל does not mean to purloin, to steal, to take away secretly by cunning and fraud, but to plunder (2 Chronicles 20:25), as both the lxx (σκυλεύειν) and Vulgate (spoliare) have rendered it. Rosenmller, therefore, is correct in his explanation: "Et spoliabitis Aegyptios, ita ut ab Aegyptiis, qui vos tam dura servitute oppresserunt, spolia auferetis." So also is Hengstenberg, who says, "The author represents the Israelites as going forth, laden as it were with the spoils of their formidable enemy, trophies of the victory which God's power had bestowed on their weakness. While he represents the gifts of the Egyptians as spoils which God had distributed to His host (as Israel is called in Exodus 12:41), he leads us to observe that the bestowment of these gifts, which outwardly appeared to be the effect of the good-will of the Egyptians, if viewed more deeply, proceeded from another Giver; that the outwardly free act of the Egyptians was effected by an inward divine constraint which they could not withstand" (Dissertations, vol. ii. p. 431). - Egypt had spoiled Israel by the tributary labour so unjustly enforced, and now Israel carried off the spoil of Egypt-a prelude to the victory which the people of God will one day obtain in their conflict with the power of the world (cf. Zechariah 14:14).

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