Exodus 5:9
Let there more work be laid on the men, that they may labor therein; and let them not regard vain words.
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(9) Let them not regard vain words.—Or, false words. The reference is to the promises of deliverance wherewith Moses and Aaron had raised the people’s hopes (Exodus 4:30). Pharaoh supposed these to be “vain words,” as Sennacherib did those spoken by Hezekiah (2Kings 18:20).

Exodus 5:9. Vain words — Those of Moses and Aaron, which he said were vain, or false; that is, that they falsely pretended that their God had commanded them to go and worship, when it was only a crafty design of their own to advance themselves by raising sedition.5:1-9 God will own his people, though poor and despised, and will find a time to plead their cause. Pharaoh treated all he had heard with contempt. He had no knowledge of Jehovah, no fear of him, no love to him, and therefore refused to obey him. Thus Pharaoh's pride, ambition, covetousness, and political knowledge, hardened him to his own destruction. What Moses and Aaron ask is very reasonable, only to go three days' journey into the desert, and that on a good errand. We will sacrifice unto the Lord our God. Pharaoh was very unreasonable, in saying that the people were idle, and therefore talked of going to sacrifice. He thus misrepresents them, that he might have a pretence to add to their burdens. To this day we find many who are more disposed to find fault with their neighbours, for spending in the service of God a few hours spared from their wordly business, than to blame others, who give twice the time to sinful pleasures. Pharaoh's command was barbarous. Moses and Aaron themselves must get to the burdens. Persecutors take pleasure in putting contempt and hardship upon ministers. The usual tale of bricks must be made, without the usual allowance of straw to mix with the clay. Thus more work was to be laid upon the men, which, if they performed, they would be broken with labour; and if not, they would be punished.Some of the most ancient buildings in Egypt were constructed of bricks not burned, but dried in the sun; they were made of clay, or more commonly of mud, mixed with straw chopped into small pieces. An immense quantity of straw must have been wanted for the works on which the Israelites were engaged, and their labors must have been more than doubled by this requisition. 8. tale—an appointed number of bricks. The materials of their labor were to be no longer supplied, and yet, as the same amount of produce was exacted daily, it is impossible to imagine more aggravated cruelty—a perfect specimen of Oriental despotism. The words of Moses and Aaron, which are vain or false, i.e. which they falsely pretend to come from God, when it is only an ill design of their own to advance themselves by raising sedition. Let there more work be laid upon the men,.... Instead of lessening it, let it be increased, or "be heavy" (k) upon them, that it may oppress and afflict them and keep them down, and weaken their strength and their spirits, and diminish them:

that they may labour therein; and have no leisure time to spend in idleness and sloth:

and let them not regard vain words; or "words of falsehood" (l) and lies, such as were spoken by Moses and Aaron, promising them liberty and deliverance from their bondage, which he was determined never to grant, and so eventually make such words to appear to be vain and empty, falsehood and lies.

(k) "aggravetur", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (l) "in verbis mendacii", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus. "Verbis falsis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

{e} Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard {f} vain words.

(e) The more cruelly the tyranny rages, the nearer is God's help.

(f) Of Moses and Aaron.

9. Let them be fully occupied with their work, and have no time to regard ‘lying words,’ as if God had really demanded a pilgrimage of them.Verse 9. - Let there more work be laid upon the men. Rather, as in the margin, "Let the work be heavy upon the men." Let the tasks set them be such as to occupy all their time, and not leave them any spare moments in which they may be tempted to listen to mischievous talkers, like Moses and Aaron) who flatter them with vain (literally, lying, words. Pharaoh, no doubt, imagined that the hopes raised by the two brothers were vain and illusive. He was utterly blind as to the course which events were about to take.

CHAPTER 5:10-14 The messengers founded their request upon the fact that the God of the Hebrews had met them (נקרא, vid., Exodus 3:18), and referred to the punishment which the neglect of the sacrificial festival demanded by God might bring upon the nation. פּן־יפגּענוּ: "lest He strike us (attack us) with pestilence or sword." פּגע: to strike, hit against any one, either by accident or with a hostile intent; ordinarily construed with בּ, also with an accusative, 1 Samuel 10:5, and chosen here probably with reference to נקרא equals נקרה. "Pestilence or sword:" these are mentioned as expressive of a violent death, and as the means employed by the deities, according to the ordinary belief of the nations, to punish the neglect of their worship. The expression "God of the Hebrews," for "God of Israel" (Exodus 5:1), is not chosen as being "more intelligible to the king, because the Israelites were called Hebrews by foreigners, more especially by the Egyptians (Exodus 1:16; Exodus 2:6)," as Knobel supposes, but to convince Pharaoh of the necessity for their going into the desert to keep the festival demanded by their God. In Egypt they might sacrifice to the gods of Egypt, but not to the God of the Hebrews.
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