Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.THIRD SECTION
Announcement of the last or tenth plague, the immediate miraculous interposition of God. The commands respecting the indemnification of the Israelites, and the Passover, as the festival preliminary to their deliverance. The midnight of terror and of the festival of deliverance. The release and the exodus. The legal consequences of the liberation: the Passover, the consecration of the first-born, the feast of unleavened bread
A.—ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE LAST PLAGUE
1AND Jehovah said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more [One more plague will I bring] upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall [will] surely thrust you out hence altogether. 2Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow [ask] of his neighbor, and every woman of her neighbor, jewels [articles] of silver, and 3jewels [articles] of gold. And Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people. 4And Moses said, Thus saith Jehovah, About [At] midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 5And all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even [throne], unto the first-born of the maid-servant that is behind the mill; and all the first-born of beasts. 6And there shall be a great cry throughout [in] all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it [the like of which hath not been], nor shall be like it [nor shall be] any more. 7But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move [sharpen] his tongue, against man or beast; that ye may know how [know] that Jehovah doth put a difference [doth distinguish] between the Egyptians and Israel. 8And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves [bow down] unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great [burning] anger. 9And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall [will] not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. 10And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not [and he did not] let the children of Israel go out of his land.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Exo 11:1. And Jehovah said.—According to Keil, Jehovah’s address to Moses here reported was made before the interview with Pharaoh recorded in 10:24–29, but is given here by the narrator because it explains Moses’ confident answer in 10:29. But we cannot suppose that Moses would have preännounced the tenth plague before Pharaoh’s obduracy in reference to the ninth had showed itself. Also, it is clear from Exo 11:8 that the announcement made in Exo 11:4–8 immediately follows Moses’ declaration in 10:29. The difference between this announcement and the former ones consists in the fact that this last one is made immediately after Pharaoh’s obdurate answer. By a sort of attraction other particulars are added to this central part of the section: Exo 11:9 and 10 as a recollection which the theocratic spirit loves to repeat. Exo 11:1–3, however, are put before Exo 11:4–8, evidently from pragmatic considerations; in historical order they form the immediate consequence of what is there related. Only the matter of the silver and gold articles seems to have been often talked of: the idea is advanced as early as 3:21.
Exo 11:8. That follow thee.—Here for the first time the thought appears, that the people are to form a military host.—In a burning anger.—Patience is exhausted, and the prophet’s anger breaking forth is a foretoken of judgment.
Exo 11:9, 10. What Jehovah has predicted (4:21; 7:3) has thus far all been fulfilled. The pause before the last thunder-bolt has intervened, and occasions a review.
Exo 11:4, 5. At midnight.—The day is not fixed, only the dreadful hour of the night. Keil correctly observes, in opposition to Baumgarten, that the institution of the feast of the Passover does not come till after the announcement of the last plague, and in accordance with this direction at least nine1 days, according to 12:3, must have preceded the Passover. Also the indefinitely protracted expectation of the stroke must have heightened the fear in Egypt, and made the stroke the more effectual. At midnight will I go out.—The servant with his symbolic action retires; Jehovah will Himself step forth from His hidden throne, and march through the whole of hostile Egypt in judicial majesty. The judgment will be so severe that even Moses with his rod must reverently retire, all the more, as in this last scene there is to be made manifest on Israel’s part also a relative complicity in guilt, which can be expiated only by the blood of the paschal lamb. Moses must here retire on account also of the infliction of death on the first-born children of Egypt.—The maid-servant that is behind the mill.—From the king’s son down to the lowest female slave. A still stronger expression is used for the latter extreme in 12:29.2—All the first-born.—The firstborn are the natural heads, representatives, priests, and chief sufferers, of families; and to the first-born as priests correspond the first-born of beasts as offerings (vid. 13:2). Here, it is true, the offering spoken of is the curse-offering, חֶרֶם. According to Keil, the beasts also are mentioned because Pharaoh was going to keep back the men and the cattle of the Israelites. But this judgment goes so deep that the firstborn Israelitish children must likewise be atoned for; therefore also faultless lambs must be offered. The first-born among lambs cannot have been meant.
Exo 11:7. Not a dog sharpen his tongue.—A proverbial expression, signifying that not the slightest trouble could be experienced. Hence, too, not even the cattle of the Jews were to suffer the least disturbance (vid. Judith 11:19). The proverbial expression may seem strange in this connection; but the thought readily occurs, that the Egyptians, in this great calamity which they had to experience on account of the Israelites, might come against them with revengeful purpose. But even this will so little be the case that rather all of Pharaoh’s servants will fall at Moses’ feet and beg him to go out together with his people.
1[Probably a misprint for “four,” i.e., the four days intervening between the 10th and the 14th of the month. Murphy agrees with Baumgarten that the midnight here spoken of is the one following the announcement of the plague, which, therefore, according to 12:6, 29, must have taken place on the 14th. This of course requires us to assume that the injunction of 12:1–3 preceded this announcement. In itself considered, however, there is certainly no more difficulty in this than in the view held by Keil respecting 11:1–3, viz., that chronologically it belongs before 10:24–29.—TR.].
2[Where prisoners are substituted for grinders. But, as Keil remarks, according to Judg. 16:21; Isa. 47:2, it was not uncommon to employ prisoners as grinders.—TR.].