Exodus 5:23
For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
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5:10-23 The Egyptian task-masters were very severe. See what need we have to pray that we may be delivered from wicked men. The head-workmen justly complained to Pharaoh: but he taunted them. The malice of Satan has often represented the service and worship of God, as fit employment only for those who have nothing else to do, and the business only of the idle; whereas, it is the duty of those who are most busy in the world. Those who are diligent in doing sacrifice to the Lord, will, before God, escape the doom of the slothful servant, though with men they do not. The Israelites should have humbled themselves before God, and have taken to themselves the shame of their sin; but instead of that, they quarrel with those who were to be their deliverers. Moses returned to the Lord. He knew that what he had said and done, was by God's direction; and therefore appeals to him. When we find ourselves at any time perplexed in the way of our duty, we ought to go to God, and lay open our case before him by fervent prayer. Disappointments in our work must not drive us from our God, but still we must ponder why they are sent.The earnestness of this remonstrance, and even its approach to irreverence, are quite in keeping with other notices of Moses' naturally impetuous character. See Exodus 3:13. 20, 21. they met Moses … The Lord look upon you, and judge—Thus the deliverer of Israel found that this patriotic interference did, in the first instance, only aggravate the evil he wished to remove, and that instead of receiving the gratitude, he was loaded with the reproaches of his countrymen. But as the greatest darkness is immediately before the dawn, so the people of God are often plunged into the deepest affliction when on the eve of their deliverance; and so it was in this case. In thy name; not of my own head, but by thy command and commission.

Neither hast thou delivered thy people, according to thy promise and mine, and thy people’s just expectation.

For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name,.... Had he come in his own name, it needed not be wondered at if he should not succeed, but coming in the name of God, it might have been expected he would, and that Pharaoh would have been prevailed upon, or obliged to use the people well, and let them go; but instead of that:

he hath done evil to this people; afflicted and oppressed them more than ever: see Exodus 5:7, &c.

neither hast thou delivered thy people at all; there was not the least thing done towards their deliverance, their affliction was not at all mitigated, but increased: Moses expected that God would have made a beginning as soon as he had delivered his message to Pharaoh; that his mind would have been disposed in favour of the people, and he would have made their bondage lighter and easier, if he did not dismiss them at once; but, instead of that, more work was laid upon them, and their burdens were heavier: now this was a stumbling and a temptation to Moses, to wish he had never been sent; but if he had called to mind, which he seems to have forgotten, that Pharaoh would not let the people go at first, until all the wonders were wrought he had given him power to do, Exodus 4:2 it would have relieved him, and removed his objections, and put a stop to his expostulation with God, who gives an answer to them in the following chapter, without expressing any displeasure at them.

For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
23. neither, &c.] according to the promise, Exo Exodus 3:8.

Verse 23. - He hath done evil to this people. See above, vers. 7-9, and ver. 14. Pharaoh had increased the burdens of the whole nation, and in this way "done evil" to them. He had also brought the punishment of scourging on a number of the chiefs. Neither hast thou delivered thy people at all. The promised deliverance (Exodus 3:8, 20) had not come - there was no sign of it - the people was suffering under a more cruel bondage than ever.

Exodus 5:23"Jehovah look upon you and judge" (i.e., punish you, because) "ye have made the smell of us to stink in the eyes of Pharaoh and his servants," i.e., destroyed our good name with the king and his servants, and turned it into hatred and disgust. ריח, a pleasant smell, is a figure employed for a good name or repute, and the figurative use of the word explains the connection with the eyes instead of the nose. "To give a sword into their hand to kill us." Moses and Aaron, they imagined, through their appeal to Pharaoh had made the king and his counsellors suspect them of being restless people, and so had put a weapon into their hands for their oppression and destruction. What perversity of the natural heart! They call upon God to judge, whilst by their very complaining they show that they have no confidence in God and His power to save. Moses turned (ויּשׁב Exodus 5:22) to Jehovah with the question, "Why hast Thou done evil to this people," - increased their oppression by my mission to Pharaoh, and yet not delivered them? "These are not words of contumacy or indignation, but of inquiry and prayer" (Aug. quaest. 14). The question and complaint proceeded from faith, which flies to God when it cannot understand the dealings of God, to point out to Him how incomprehensible are His ways, to appeal to Him to help in the time of need, and to remove what seems opposed to His nature and His will.
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