Exodus 10
Matthew Poole's Commentary
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:
The reason why God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, Exodus 10:1,2. Egypt threatened with locusts, Exodus 10:4. Pharaoh’s servants persuade him to let the Israelites go, Exodus 10:7. Pharaoh inquires of Moses who are they that shall go to serve the Lord, Exodus 10:8. Of Moses’s answer, Exodus 10:9. Pharaoh’s reply, Exodus 10:10,11. Locusts come over all Egypt, Exodus 10:13-15. Pharaoh sends for Moses, and confesseth his sin, Exodus 10:16,17. Moses prays to God, Exodus 10:18. The plague is stayed, Exodus 10:19. Pharaoh’s heart hardened, Exodus 10:20. The ninth plague, to wit, darkness over all Egypt, Exodus 10:22,23. Pharaoh would let Israel go, but without cattle, Exodus 10:24. Moses will not leave a hoof behind, Exodus 10:25,26. Pharaoh hardened, Exodus 10:27; and charges Moses, upon pain of death, never to appear in his sight any more, Exodus 10:28; which also came to pass, Exodus 10:29.

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And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.
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And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.
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Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:
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And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:
The residue; the wheat and the rye, the staff of their lives. Every tree; the fruits and leaves of every tree.

And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.
Such for number, or shape, or mischievous effects, as were never seen before.

And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?
How long shall this man be a snare; an occasion of sin and destruction? See Exodus 23:33 Joshua 23:13.

And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go?
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And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.
A feast upon a sacrifice, wherein all are concerned, and therefore all must be present and ready to do what God requires us.

And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.
I wish God may be no more ready and willing to be with you, and to do you good, than I am willing to let you go.

Evil is before you; either,

1. Evil of sin. You have some ill design against me, either to stir up sedition or war against me, or utterly to depart out of my kingdom. Or rather,

2. Evil of calamity or mischief.

1. Because it is here said to be before their faces, whereas evil designs are in men’s hearts, and the fair pretenses wherewith they cover them are said to be before their faces.

2. The word of caution he gives to them, look to it, or take heed, seems to simply that he speaks not of the evil they designed against Pharaoh, but of that which they would unavoidably bring upon themselves from so potent a king, by the refusal of such fair offers, and continuing in such insolent and unreasonable demands.

Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.
For that ye did desire; which was not true, but only was gathered by him out of their declared intention of going to sacrifice, wherein he thought the presence of the women and children wholly unnecessary.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.
This is no unusual plague in Africa and Arabia, where, when the harvest is ripe, they frequently come in vast numbers, and upon all their corn, and what they do not eat they infect with their touch, and the moisture coming from them, and afterwards dying in great numbers, they poison the air, and cause a pestilence. So that it is no wonder that Pharaoh and his servants were so concerned for this plague, so well known to them, especially considering that this was like to be far worse than all of the same kind which they had either seen or heard of.

And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.
Over the land; over divers parts of the land, shaking his rod towards the several quarters of it. An east wind in those parts is a most violent and pernicious wind, Exodus 14:21 Numbers 11:31, and a dry wind, and therefore fit for the engendering of those creatures. This wind brought them from Arabia, where they are in great numbers, as we have seen, Exodus 10:12, though God miraculously increased their numbers, and their power of doing mischief.

And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.
Quest. How can this be true, when the same words are used of the locusts in Joel’s time?

Answ. It might be true of both in divers respects; of these for number and quality, of them for long continuance, for they lasted three or four years, when these were but for a little time; of these for Egypt, of them for Judea, where they were fixed.

For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.
The land was darkened; either by their flying in vast numbers, and so darkening the air, as they have ofttimes done; or by covering the green and lightsome herbs and productions of the earth with their dark and direful bodies.

They did eat every herb of the land. How could this be, when the hail had smitten every herb, and broken every tree? Exodus 9:25.

Answ. 1. There seems to have been some distance of time between these two plagues, in which space new productions might be sprouting forth, both out of the ground, and from the trees.

2. The words all and every are commonly understood of the greatest part.

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you.
Pharaoh called for them, because this kind of plague in itself was most pernicious, whereby whole countries had been wasted, and grievous famines and pestilences caused, and was mightily aggravated by the vengeance of God, and by the peculiar quality of these locusts, which did not only fall upon their herbs and fruits, as they use to do, but invade their very houses, Exodus 10:6, infect their meats, fill their beds, poison them with their stink and with their venomous bitings, whereby they killed many men, as it is written in /APC Wis 16:19.

Against you; by contempt of your great and terrible works, by breach of my promise made to you, and by my denial of your just desires and commands given to me in his name, whom I now find and feel to be the almighty and sovereign God.

Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.
I desire no further favour, I will no more offend nor need your pardon.

This death; this deadly plague, compare 2 Kings 4:40,2 Corinthians 11:23. Besides it did destroy the life of herbs and trees, yea, of beasts and men, either directly, or at least by consequence, in depriving them of the necessary supports of life.

And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.
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And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.
A mighty strong west wind; Heb. a wind of the sea, i.e. coming from the sea, called there the great sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, from whence came the north-west wind, which did blow the locusts directly into the Red Sea.

Cast them, as the Hebrew word signifies, with a great noise, and with great force, so as they should never rise again to molest them.

The Red Sea; Heb. the sea of bulrushes, so called from the great number of bulrushes near its shore; or, the sea of bounds or limits, q.d. the narrow sea, whereas they could see no bounds nor shore beyond the Mediterranean Sea. It was called the Arabian Gulf, and by others the Red Sea, either from its red sand, or rather from Esau, called also Edom, which signifies red, Genesis 25:30, from whom as the adjoining country was called Edom, or red, so this was called the Red Sea.

But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
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And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.
It is an hyperbolical expression, such being very frequent both in Scripture and in all authors. For darkness being only a privation, cannot be properly felt, yet it might be felt in its cause, to wit, those thick and gross vapours which filled and infected the air. But the place may be rendered thus,

that there may be darkness after that (so the Hebrew vau is sometimes used, as Micah 7:13) the darkness (i.e. the darkness of the night, or the common and daily darkness) is departed or removed, and the time of the day come; for so the root from whence this word may be derived signifies, Exodus 13:22. And to this purpose the words are rendered by the Chaldee and Syriac, and some others; and the sense is, that the darkness may continue in the day-time as well as in the night.

And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:
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They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
They saw not one another, because these gross and moist fogs and vapours did not only quite shut out the light of the heavenly bodies, but also put out their candles, or other artificial lights, or at least so darken them that men could have no benefit by them.

From his place. Place here may be taken, either,

1. More strictly and particularly; so the sense is, The horror of that darkness was so great that they durst not remove at all, but stood or sat where the darkness found them, like men astonished or affrighted, and therefore unmovable, having their minds disturbed, being terrified with their guilty consciences, which most affect men in the dark, and with the dreadful noises which they heard, /APC Wis 17:5, and with the apparitions of evil angels, as may seem from Psalm 78:49 where the plague of evil angels is put instead of this plague of darkness, which therefore is omitted in that place where all the rest are reckoned up. Or rather,

2. More largely, for their own houses or dwellings, for so the Hebrew word is certainly used, Exodus 16:29. So the sense is, They did not stir abroad out of their houses upon their most necessary occasions.

Object. He saith not that they could not go, but that they could not rise from their place, which may seem to limit this expression to their particular places.

Answ. The word to rise is commonly put for going about any business; and here it is a pregnant word, as they call it, and implies going in it, none arose, viz. to go or remove

from his place. And rising cannot be properly taken here for that particular posture, unless we will suppose that this darkness found all men sitting, which is absurd to imagine.

The children of Israel had light in their dwellings, whereby they might have conveyed themselves, and families, and goods away, as afterwards they did in haste; but they waited for Moses’s orders, and he for God’s command; and God intended to bring them forth, not by stealth, but in a more honourable and public manner, in spite of all opposition.

And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.
And Pharaoh, or therefore, or then, to wit, after the darkness was either wholly or in part removed.

Let your flocks and your herds be stayed, either as a pledge of your return after your sacrifice is ended, or as a recompence for the cattle which I have lost by your means. Let your little ones also go with you, and consequently the women, whose help and service was necessary for their little ones in divers regards.

And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God.
Thou must give us, i.e. suffer us to take of our own stock

Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.
Which was not a pretence, but a real truth. For this being a solemn and extraordinary sacrifice by the express and particular appointment of God, they knew not either of what kinds, or in what number or manner their sacrifices must be offered. And for all these things they did not receive particular directions till they came to Mount Sinai.

But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.
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And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.
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And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.
Thou hast spoken well, Heb. right; not morally, for so it was very ill said; but logically, that which agrees, though not with thy duty, yet with the event and truth of the thing; for as thou hast warned me to see thee no more, so I in the name of God assure thee that thou shalt see me no more, to beg my prayers, or to be helped out of thy troubles by my means. And therefore that discourse of Moses to Pharaoh, which follows, Exodus 11:4, &c., though it be put there out of its order and proper place, as many other passages are, yet was delivered at this time, and upon occasion of these words.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

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