Exodus 6:9
And Moses spoke so to the children of Israel: but they listened not to Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
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(9) They hearkened not.—The second message was received in quite a different spirit from the first. Then “the people believed, and bowed their knees and worshipped” (Exodus 4:31). Now they could not even be induced to listen. But there is nothing strange in this. The reason is obvious. The first announcement of coming deliverance elated them with a hope to which they had been long strangers. Their spirits sprang to the message, and readily accepted it. But now they had been chilled by disappointment. The only result of their leader’s interference hitherto had been to increase their misery (Exodus 4:7-23). They had therefore lost heart, and could trust him no longer.

Anguish of spirit.—Heb., shortness of breath. (Comp. Job 21:4.) The expression points to extreme lassitude and depression.

6:1-9 We are most likely to prosper in attempts to glorify God, and to be useful to men, when we learn by experience that we can do nothing of ourselves; when our whole dependence is placed on him, and our only expectation is from him. Moses had been expecting what God would do; but now he shall see what he will do. God would now be known by his name Jehovah, that is, a God performing what he had promised, and finishing his own work. God intended their happiness: I will take you to me for a people, a peculiar people, and I will be to you a God. More than this we need not ask, we cannot have, to make us happy. He intended his own glory: Ye shall know that I am the Lord. These good words, and comfortable words, should have revived the drooping Israelites, and have made them forget their misery; but they were so taken up with their troubles, that they did not heed God's promises. By indulging discontent and fretfulness, we deprive ourselves of the comfort we might have, both from God's word and from his providence, and go comfortless.They hearkened not - The contrast between the reception of this communication and that recorded in Exodus 4:31 is accounted for by the change of circumstances. On the former occasion the people were comparatively at ease, accustomed to their lot, sufficiently afflicted to long for deliverance, and sufficiently free in spirit to hope for it.

For anguish - See the margin; out of breath, as it were, after their cruel disappointment, they were quite absorbed by their misery, unable and unwilling to attend to any fresh communication.

9-11. Moses spake so unto the children of Israel—The increased severities inflicted on the Israelites seem to have so entirely crushed their spirits, as well as irritated them, that they refused to listen to any more communications (Ex 14:12). Even the faith of Moses himself was faltering; and he would have abandoned the enterprise in despair had he not received a positive command from God to revisit the people without delay, and at the same time renew their demand on the king in a more decisive and peremptory tone. Their minds were so oppressed with their present burdens and future expectations, that they could not believe nor hope for any deliverance, but deemed it impossible; and having been once deceived in their hopes, they now quite despaired, and thought their entertainment of new hopes, or use of further endeavours, would make their condition worse, as it had done. And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel,.... After this manner, and in the above words, declaring all that the Lord made known to him, and promised to do for them; which one would have thought would have revived their spirits, and refreshed and comforted their hearts under their troubles, and encouraged a lively exercise of faith and hope of deliverance:

but they hearkened not unto Moses; being disappointed of deliverance by him, and their afflictions being increased, and lying heavy upon them, they were heartless and hopeless:

for anguish of spirit; trouble of mind and grief of heart, with which they were swallowed up; or "for shortness of breath" (b), being so pressed that they could hardly breathe, and so were incapable of attending to what was spoken to them:

and for cruel bondage; under which they laboured, and from which they had scarce any respite, and saw no way of deliverance from it.

(b) "ob brevem anhelitum", Munster.

And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened (c) not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.

(c) So hard a thing it is to show true obedience under the cross.

9. Moses communicates the Divine message to the Israelites; but they are too much disheartened and demoralized by their sufferings to pay heed to it, or credit it.

hearkened not] according to Exodus 4:31 (J), the people listened to Moses gladly.

for impatience] the marg. is right; promises of deliverance had no meaning for them; they repelled them with impatience. See, with the corresponding verb or adj., Job 21:4 RV., Proverbs 14:29 b Heb., Micah 2:7 RVm.; and with ‘soul’ for ‘spirit,’ Numbers 21:4 RVm., Jdg 10:16 Heb. Jdg 16:16 Heb. The opposite is ‘long of spirit,’ i.e. patient, Job 6:11 RV. (lit. ‘make long my spirit’), Ecclesiastes 7:8.

cruel (lit. hard) bondage] The same expression which in Exodus 1:14 (see the note) is rendered hard service (where slaves are referred to, ‘service’ and ‘bondage’ are naturally identical).Verse 9. - Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. The Israelites, who had expected a speedy deliverance, and found themselves only the more down-trodden for Moses' interference, were too much dispirited to be cheered even by the gracious promises and assurances which Moses was commissioned to give. They had no longer any trust in one who they thought had deceived them. He was a dreamer, a visionary, if no worse. They did not intend hearkening to him any more. "Anguish of spirit" possessed their souls, and "cruel bondage" claimed their bodies, day after day. They had not even the time, had they had the will, to hearken. Verse 9. - Anguish of spirit. Literally, "shortness." Compare Job 21:4. Their spirit was shortened - they had lost all heart, as we say, so cruel had been their disappointment. The contrast between their feelings now, and when Moses first addressed them (Exodus 4:31), is strong, but "fully accounted for by the change of circumstances". (Cook). Cruel bondage. Bondage, i.e., far more oppressive and continuous than. it had been (Exodus 5:9-14). The Samaritan version adds: "And they said to him, Let us alone, and let us serve the Egyptians; for it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than die in a wilderness," an addition which receives some support from Exodus 14:12.

CHAPTER 6:10-12 Equipment of Moses and Aaron as Messengers of Jehovah. - Exodus 6:1. In reply to the complaining inquiry of Moses, Jehovah promised him the deliverance of Israel by a strong hand (cf. Exodus 3:19), by which Pharaoh would be compelled to let Israel go, and even to drive them out of his land. Moses did not receive any direct answer to the question, "Why hast Thou so evil-entreated this people?" He was to gather this first of all from his own experience as the leader of Israel. For the words were strictly applicable here: "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter" (John 13:7). If, even after the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and their glorious march through the desert, in which they had received so many proofs of the omnipotence and mercy of their God, they repeatedly rebelled against the guidance of God, and were not content with the manna provided by the Lord, but lusted after the fishes, leeks, and onions of Egypt (Numbers 11); it is certain that in such a state of mind as this, they would never have been willing to leave Egypt and enter into a covenant with Jehovah, without a very great increase in the oppression they endured in Egypt. - The brief but comprehensive promise was still further explained by the Lord (Exodus 6:2-9), and Moses was instructed and authorized to carry out the divine purposes in concert with Aaron (Exodus 6:10-13, Exodus 6:28-30; Exodus 7:1-6). The genealogy of the two messengers is then introduced into the midst of these instructions (Exodus 6:14-27); and the age of Moses is given at the close (Exodus 7:7). This section does not contain a different account of the calling of Moses, taken from some other source than the previous one; it rather presupposes Exodus 3-5, and completes the account commenced in Exodus 3 of the equipment of Moses and Aaron as the executors of the divine will with regard to Pharaoh and Israel. For the fact that the first visit paid by Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh was simply intended to bring out the attitude of Pharaoh towards the purposes of Jehovah, and to show the necessity for the great judgments of God, is distinctly expressed in the words, "Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh." But before these judgments commenced, Jehovah announced to Moses (Exodus 6:2), and through him to the people, that henceforth He would manifest Himself to them in a much more glorious manner than to the patriarchs, namely, as Jehovah; whereas to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He had only appeared as El Shaddai. The words, "By My name Jehovah was I now known to them," do not mean, however, that the patriarchs were altogether ignorant of the name Jehovah. This is obvious from the significant use of that name, which was not an unmeaning sound, but a real expression of the divine nature, and still more from the unmistakeable connection between the explanation given by God here and Genesis 17:1. When the establishment of the covenant commenced, as described in Genesis 15, with the institution of the covenant sign of circumcision and the promise of the birth of Isaac, Jehovah said to Abram, "I am El Shaddai, God Almighty," and from that time forward manifested Himself to Abram and his wife as the Almighty, in the birth of Isaac, which took place apart altogether from the powers of nature, and also in the preservation, guidance, and multiplication of his seed. It was in His attribute as El Shaddai that God had revealed His nature to the patriarchs; but now He was about to reveal Himself to Israel as Jehovah, as the absolute Being working with unbounded freedom in the performance of His promises. For not only had He established His covenant with the fathers (Exodus 6:4), but He had also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, and remembered His covenant (Exodus 6:5; וגם - וגם, not only - but also). The divine promise not only commences in Exodus 6:2, but concludes at Exodus 6:8, with the emphatic expression, "I Jehovah," to show that the work of Israel's redemption resided in the power of the name Jehovah. In Exodus 6:4 the covenant promises of Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 35:11-12, are all brought together; and in Exodus 6:5 we have a repetition of Exodus 2:24, with the emphatically repeated אני (I). On the ground of the erection of His covenant on the one hand, and, what was irreconcilable with that covenant, the bondage of Israel on the other, Jehovah was not about to redeem Israel from its sufferings and make it His own nation. This assurance, which God would carry out by the manifestation of His nature as expressed in the name Jehovah, contained three distinct elements: (a) the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, which, because so utterly different from all outward appearances, is described in three parallel clauses: bringing them out from under the burdens of the Egyptians; saving them from their bondage; and redeeming them with a stretched-out arm and with great judgments; - (b) the adoption of Israel as the nation of God; - (c) the guidance of Israel into the land promised to the fathers (Exodus 6:6-8). נטוּיה זרוע, a stretched-out arm, is most appropriately connected with גּדלים שׁפטים, great judgments; for God raises, stretches out His arm, when He proceeds in judgment to smite the rebellious. These expressions repeat with greater emphasis the "strong hand" of Exodus 6:1, and are frequently connected with it in the rhetorical language of Deuteronomy (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:19). The "great judgments" were the plagues, the judgments of God, by which Pharaoh was to be compelled to let Israel go.
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