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Exodus 7:1-7

1. And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

1. Et dixit Jehova ad Mosen, Ecce, dedi te Deum Pharaoni, eritque Aharon frater tuus Propheta tuus

2. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.

2. Tu loqueris omnia quae mandavero tibi, et Aharon frater loquetur ad Pharaonem, ut dimittat filios Israel e terra sua.

3. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

3. Ego autem indurabo cor Pharaonis, et multiplicabo signa mea, atque portenta mea in terra Aegypti.

4. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt, by great judgments.

4. Et non audiet vos Pharao: sed extendam manum meam super Aegyptum, et educam exercitus meos, et populum meum filios Israel e terra Aegypti in judiciis magnis.

5. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

5. Et cognoscent Aegyptii quod ego sim Jehova, quum extendero manum meam super Aegyptum, et eduxero filios Israel e medio eorum.

6. And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, so did they.

6. Fecit ergo Moses et Aharon: sicuti praeceperat Jehova ipsis, sic fecerunt.

7. And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spoke unto Pharaoh.

7. Moses autem filius octoginta annorum fuit, et Aharon filius octoginta trium annorum, quum loquerentur ad Pharaonem.

1. And the Lord said unto Moses. Moses again repeats, that consolation was afforded him in his anxiety, and a remedy given for his want of faith; since he was both armed himself with divine authority, and Aaron was appointed as his companion and assistant. For that he was “made a god to Pharaoh,” means that he was furnished with supreme authority and power, whereby he should cast down the tyrant’s pride.7777     “The word Elohim, as the Hebrews remark, whether applied to God, or to men, or to angels, signifies judicial power.” — Grotius in ­Pol. Syn. Nor did God take away anything from Himself in order to transfer it to Moses; since He so communicates to His servants what is peculiar to Himself as to remain Himself in His completeness. Nay, whenever He seems to resign a part of His glory to His ministers, He only teaches that the virtue and efficacy of His Spirit will be joined with their labors, that they may not be fruitless. Moses, therefore, was a god to Pharaoh; because in him God exerted His power, that he should be superior to the greatness of the king. It is a common figure of the Hebrews, to give the title of God to all things excellent, since He alone reigns over heaven and earth, and exalts or casts down angels, as well as men, according to His will. By this consolation, as I have said, the weakness of Moses was supported, so that, relying on God’s authority, he might fearlessly despise the fierceness of the king. A reinforcement is also given him in the person of his brother, lest his stammering should be any hinderance to him. It has been already remarked, that it was brought about by the ingratitude of Moses, that half the honor should be transferred to his brother; although God, in giving him as his companion, so far lessened his dignity as to put the younger before the first-born. The name of “Prophet” is here used for an interpreter; because the prophetical office proceeds from God alone. But, because God delivered through one to the other what He wished to be said or done, Aaron is made subject to Moses, just as if he had been God; since it is fit that they should be listened to without contradiction who are the representatives of God. And this is made clearer in the second verse, where God restricts the power given to Moses, and circumscribes it within its proper bounds; for, when He directs him to speak whatever He commands, He ranks him as His minister, and confines him under authority, without departing from His own rights.

3. And I will harden. As the expression is somewhat harsh, many commentators, as I have before said, take pains to soften it. Hence it is that some take the words in connection, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart by multiplying my signs;” as if God were pointing out the external cause of his obstinacy. But Moses has already declared, and will hereafter repeat it, that the king’s mind was hardened by God in other ways besides His working miracles. As to the meaning of the words, I have no doubt that, by the first clause, God armed the heart of His servant with firmness, to resist boldly the perversity of the tyrant; and then reminds him that he has the remedy in his hand. Thus, then, I think this passage must be translated, “I indeed will harden Pharaoh’s heart, but I will multiply my signs;” as though He had said, his hardness will be no obstacle to you, for the miracles will be sufficient to overcome it. In the same sense, He adds immediately afterwards, “Although Pharaoh should not hear you, still I will lay on my hand;” for thus, in my opinion, the conjunctions should be resolved adversatively I do not altogether reject the interpretation of others; “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that I may multiply my signs;” and, “He7878     It is thus translated in A.V. will not hearken unto you, that I may lay on my hand.” And, in fact, God willed that Pharaoh should pertinaciously resist Moses, in order that the deliverance of the people might be more conspicuous. There is, however, no need of discussing at length the manner in which God hardens reprobates, as often as this expression occurs. Let us hold fast to what I have already observed, that they are but poor speculators who refer it to a mere bare permission; because if God, by blinding their minds, or hardening their hearts, inflicts deserved punishment upon the reprobate, He not only permits them to do what they themselves please, but actually executes a judgment which He knows to be just. Whence also it follows, that He not only withdraws the grace of His Spirit, but delivers to Satan those whom he knows to be deserving of blindness of mind and obstinacy of heart. Meanwhile, I admit that the blame of either evil rests with the men themselves, who willfully blind themselves, and with a willfulness which is like madness, are driven, or rather rush, into sin. I have also briefly shewn what foul calumniators are they, who for the sake of awakening ill-will against us, pretend that God is thus made to be the author of sin; since it would be an act of too great absurdity to estimate His secret and incomprehensible judgments by the little measure of our own apprehension. The opponents of this doctrine foolishly and inconsiderately mix together two different things, since the hardness of heart is the sin of man, but the hardening of the heart is the judgment of God. He again propounds in this place His great judgments, in order that the Israelites may expect with anxious and attentive minds His magnificent and wonderful mode of operation.

5. And the Egyptians shall know. This is a species of irony, viz., that the Egyptians, subdued by the plagues, should at last begin to feel that their contention was against God. The object, however, of God was to encourage Moses, lest he should fail before the madness and fury of his enemies. Therefore, although the Egyptians might be stupid n their rage, still God declares that in the end they would know that they had fought to their own destruction when they waged war against heaven; for there is an implied antithesis between their tardy acknowledgment of this and their present slowness of heart, which was at length forcibly removed when God thundered openly against them from heaven. For we know how unconcernedly the wicked oppose their7979     “Leur fierte, comme un bouclier de fer;” their pride like an iron buckler. — Fr. iron obstinacy to the Divine threatenings, until they are forced into a state of alarm by violence; not because they are humbled beneath the hand of God, but because they see that by all their raging and turbulence they cannot escape from punishment; just as drunkards, awakened from their intoxication, would willingly drown their senses in eternal sleep, and even in annihilation; yet, whether they will or not, they must bear the pains of their intemperance. Moreover, this acknowledgment which was to be extorted from the unwilling, admonished Moses and others8080     Les autres fideles. — Fr. to attribute just praise to the power of God, before they were experimentally convinced of it. It is true, indeed, that the sincere worshippers of God also are sometimes instructed by punishments, (to which reference is made, Isaiah 26:9, “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness;”) but a kind of “knowledge” is here pointed out which so prostrates the reprobate that they cease not to lift up their horns, as it were, against God; and thus it casts them down without amending them. There was also an experimental knowledge for the elect people, of which mention has been already made, (Isaiah 6:7,)

“ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, after that I shall have brought you out from the land of Egypt;”

but this (properly speaking) is nothing more than a confirmation of the faith which, before the event takes place, is content with the simple word. Or, God certainly, by the event itself, reproves the dullness of His people when He sees that their confidence in His own word is not sufficiently strong. But the wicked so know God, that, lost in shame and fear, they see not what they do see.

6. And Moses and Aaron did. It is not for the sake of boasting that Moses reports his own obedience; but after having ingenuously confessed his hesitation, he now relates that he and his brother were in better courage for the performance of their office. In the meantime he shows that he, as well as his brother, was God’s minister, and that he brought no industry, nor talent, nor counsel, nor dexterity himself, but simply obeyed God. Still from their example we must learn, that as we may not set about anything except what God prescribes, so we ought obediently and without objection to pursue whatever He commands. What follows as to their age is meant in amplification; since it was no common case, considering the natural coldness and heaviness of old age, that two octogenarians should have actively engaged in so difficult a charge. For I do not assent to the opinion of those who think that their dignity was enhanced by their age. I admit that age is venerable; but Moses had far different views, namely, that, excluding all human means, he might celebrate God’s glory, who performed so mighty a work by men who were failing and decrepit with age. For although their vigor was as yet unabated, their old age might have made them timid, and might have also affected the people with anxiety, when they beheld their leaders to be not only of advanced age, but even naturally not far from the grave.


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