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Exodus 8:8-15

8. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat the Lord, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord.

8. Tunc vocavit Pharao Mosen et Aharon, ac dixit, Precamini Jehovam ut auferat ranas a me et a populo meo: et dimittam populum, ut sacrificent Jehovae.

9. And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?

9. Et dixit Moses Pharaoni, Gloriare super me quando orabo pro te, et pro servis tuis et pro populo tuo, ut exscindantur ranae a te, et a domibus tuis: tantum in flumine residuae sint.

10. And he said, Tomorrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord our God.

10. Et ait, Cras. Tunc ille dixit, Secundum sermonem tuum, ut scias quod nullus sit sicut Jehova Deus noster.

11. And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only.

11. Recedent igitur ranae abs te et a domibus tuis, eta servis tuis, et a populo tuo: tantum in flumine residuae erunt.

12. And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh; and Moses cried unto the Lord because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh.

12. Tunc egressus est Moses et Aharon a Pharaone. Et clamavit Moses ad Jehovam super causa ranarum, quas immiserat Pharaoni.

13. And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields.

13. Et fecit Jehova secundum sermonem Mosis. Itaque mortuae sunt ranae ex domibus, ex atriis, et ex agris.

14. And they gathered them together upon heaps; and the land stank.

14. Et coacervarunt eas turmatim: et computruit terra.

15. But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

15. Videns autem Pharao quod esset relaxatio, aggravavit cor suum: neque audivit eos, sicuti loquutus erat Jehova.

8. Then Pharaoh called for Moses. Pharaoh at last appears to be softened, and to lay aside some of his fierceness; but it will soon appear that he was not really tamed. It may indeed have been that, seized with terror, he seriously took refuge in cries for pardon; but that he lied to God, and to himself, is plain from his very inconstancy; because, as soon as a reprieve was granted, he returned to his natural disposition, nay, he effectively manifested that his malice was only repressed by fear, since it presently began to vent itself again. Thus do hypocrites, when they are beneath God’s afflicting hand, or tremble under the apprehension of His chastenings, humbly and submissively implore His mercy; but when the evil has been withdrawn for a little while, this short truce puffs up their hearts, as if they had attained an eternal peace. The Prophet complains in the psalm, that thus also it happened with the Jews,

“When he slew them, then they sought him; and they returned and inquired early after God; and they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer; nevertheless, they did but flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues; for their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant.” (Psalm 78:34-37.)

In fine, this is a disease common to all hypocrites, that, having found by experience their frowardness to be destructive to them, they feign penitence for the sake of obtaining pardon, because they cannot escape the judgments of God; but, when they fancy themselves escaped, they hasten back to the same pride, they kick against God, and even wantonly insult him; in a word, it is only their trouble that humbles them and that only for a short time. But although Pharaoh’s fear extorted this from him, that he sought for Moses to entreat for him, and was anxious to appease God, yet was it a token of his deceitful and double mind, that he made it, as it were, a bargain, that the frogs should be taken away before he let the people go. His impiety, therefore, lay concealed in his heart, so long as he thought that he could not defy God with impunity; but, relying confidently on impunity, he manifested his deceit and perfidy. Although it was not with any sincere feeling of repentance that he now humbly speaks of Jehovah by name, yet it shews that the stoutness of his spirit was broken, of which mention was made before, when he inquired in mockery, “Who is the Lord?”

9. And Moses said unto Pharaoh. Commentators differ as to the meaning of this passage. They are too speculative who expound it, that this honor was granted to Pharaoh, that he should fix the time in which Moses was to pray. Again, there is a flatness in the exposition, that Pharaoh might glory because the frogs were to die. Those who expound it, that Pharaoh should be freed from the frogs, so that he might glory in safety, express part of the meaning, but not the whole. It rather appears to me that there is an implied antithesis between the perverse boasting, wherewith Pharaoh had exulted, and that pious glowing which he ought to seek for in the mercy of God; as if Moses had said, “Thus far you have exalted yourself improperly, trusting in your power, and afterwards when bewitched by the enchantments; now rather glory, because you have an intercessor and patron to plead for you to God.” For it was needful that the arrogance, which had so falsely elevated him, that he dared to contend with God, should be crushed, and that no hope should be left him, save in the mercy of God. But to “glory over” Moses, means that he should seek his glory in the advocacy of Moses, and should account it a very great happiness that he should deign to interpose for his reconciliation with God. For the particle על,9393     על. Instances in which this particle has the meaning attributed to it by C., may be seen in Psalm 37:4, first clause; and in Job 27:10. Noldius has also observed that עלי, the form in which it here occurs, has the meaning of mihi curae, mihi incumbit, in Judges 19:20, Psalm 116:12, Proverbs 7:14, and 2 Samuel 18:11. Concord. particularum, על, 34. — W is often so taken. Yet Moses by no means wished to detract at all from the glory of God; but (as I have lately said) desiring to humble the pride of the haughty king, he told him that nothing would be better and more glorious for him than to have a good hope of pardon, when he had obtained as his advocate the servant of the living God, whom he so cordially hated. He only affirms that the frogs should “remain in the river;” as much as to say that they should be content with their ordinary habitation and bounds; for we know that frogs, although they sometimes jump out on the bank, still do not go far from the water, because they are nourished by humidity. Thus he hints that they were let loose by God’s command to cover the ground, and that it was still in His power, if He chose, that they should invade the fields and houses again in new multitudes; and that it must be ascribed to His blessing, if they kept themselves in the waters, and did not make incursions beyond their own boundaries.

10. And he said, Tomorrow. If you refer this to Moses, there is ambiguity in the sense; but, it being probable that they were Pharaoh’s words, I think that he is asking for a respite till tomorrow, before he lets the people go. For they fall into an absurdity, who think that he asked Moses to drive away the frogs by his prayers on the morrow, as if Pharaoh went quietly to sleep, and put off the remedy of the evil. There is, then, no pretence for understanding it, that Pharaoh, as if his mind were quite tranquil and unmoved, desired to have his land delivered from the frogs on the following day: but rather it means, that if he be released from this difficulty, he promises the discharge of the people, but yet suspends it till the next day, for the purpose of deceit. For there was no other reason for this procrastination, except that, having obtained what he wanted, he might depart from his engagement, as he actually did; but Moses, satisfied with this promise, undertakes to bring it about that God should disperse the frogs; and this, I doubt not, was performed on the same day. For this was the cause of the tyrant’s changing his determination, that, by the interposition of the night, his fear departed. And, certainly, it is gathered from the following words, that the frogs were soon after removed; for it is said that Moses and Aaron prayed after they had gone out; which would be but little in accordance with the notion, that the next day was waited for. It is not by any rash or presumptuous impulse that Moses affirms that Pharaoh should obtain his desire; because it appears from his success that he was assured of its being God’s will. Thus often are the prophets, although no spoken revelation may intervene, directed nevertheless by the secret inspiration of the Spirit. In this confidence, also, Moses declares that Pharaoh should know that there is none other God to be compared with the God of Israel. This, moreover, is the true knowledge of God, when whatsoever lifts itself up to obscure His glory, is reduced to its proper level, and every high thing yields or is cast down, so that He alone may be exalted.

15. But when Pharaoh saw. Hence it appears that the wretched tyrant, like a winding serpent, twisted and turned his mind to crooked counsels; for when he was trembling beneath the present feeling of God’s power, he dared not obstinately resist any longer; he only sought a little breathing time; now, being freed from fear, he returns to his former contumacy. But this is a sign of a perverse and crooked disposition, not to submit willingly, but to pay only a temporary deference, when necessity is more than usually urgent. God foreknew, and had foretold to Moses, that this perfidy was hidden in the recesses of his heart; but he was willing to bring it to light, and therefore remitted the punishment; and hence was the opportunity for dissembling.


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