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Exodus 12:29-39

29. And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the first-born of cattle.

29. Et factum est in medio noctis ut percuteret Jehova omne primogenitum in terra AEgypti, a primogenito Pharaonis sedente super solium ejus, ad primogenitum captivi qui erat in carcere: et omne primogenitum bestiae.

30. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt: for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

30. Surrexit ergo Pharao nocte, ipse et omnes servi ejus, et omnes AEgyptii: fuitque clamor magnus in AEgypto, quoniam nulla erat domus ubi non esset mortuus.

31. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said.

31. Vocavitque Mosen et Aharon nocte, et ait, Surgite, et exite e medio populi mei tam vos quam filii Israel: ite et servite Jehovae secundum sermonem vestrum.

32. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone: and bless me also.

32. Etiam greges vestros, etiam armenta vestra accipite: sicuti dixistis: et ite, ac benedicite etiam mihi.

33. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead

33. Et vehementer instabant AEgyptii erga populum ut festinanter eos emitterent e terra: quia dicebant, Omnes sumus mortui.

34. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.

34. Tulit ergo populus conspersionem suam antequam fermentaretur, cibos suos ligatos in vestibus super humerum suum.

35. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment.

35. Fecerunt autem filii Israel secundum sermonem Mosis, ut postulatent ab Aegyptiis vasa argentea, et vasa aurea, et vestes.

36. And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required: and they spoiled the Egyptians.

36. Et dedit Jehova gratiam populo in oculis AEgyptiorum, et commodaverunt eis: itaque spoliaverunt Aegyptios.

37. And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, besides children.

37. Profectique sunt filii Israel e Ramesses in Sucoth circiter sexcenta millia peditum et quidem virorum, praeter parvulos.

38. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

38. Atque etiam mixtio multa ascendit cum eis, et pecudes et boves, pecus copiosum valde.

39. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.

39. Et coxerunt conspersionem quam extulerant ex AEgypto, placentas infermentatas, quia non erat fermentatum, eo quod ejecti fuissent ex Aegypto, nec potuissent morari, ideoque cibum non paraverant sibi.

29. And it came to pass, that at midnight. Lest the hand of God should be hidden in this miracle, as well in the preservation of the people as in taking vengeance upon the Egyptians, Moses sets forth its power by many circumstances. For he both relates that the destruction took place at midnight, which was the time prescribed by God, and then adds, that all the first-born of the land were smitten, from the son of the king to the son of the captive in the dungeon. It is thus that he indicates proverbially the most abject persons, as he had said before, “unto the first-born of the maidservant that is behind the mill.” For it could only be by an extraordinary miracle that this calamity could affect every house without exception, at the same hour, especially when it extended even to the beasts. Thirdly, he recounts that all the Egyptians were aroused suddenly, and manifestly convinced that the God of Israel was wrath with them. Fourthly, that Pharaoh humbly prayed of Moses to lead forth the people in haste; nay, that he even importunately thrust them out. Yet not even by such clear and solid proofs has the dishonesty and impudence of some been prevented from attempting to upset by their falsehoods this memorable work of God. The calumnies are too well known which Josephus refutes in his reply to Apion the Grammarian; and it appears from Justin144144     Vide Justini Hist., lib. 36 cap. 2. that they were generally received. Nor can we wonder that the devil should have employed all sorts of artifices, so that by the introduction of various fables he might efface from men’s minds the redemption of the Church. But here also was manifested the admirable wisdom of God, that the futility of these absurdities refutes itself, without the use of any arguments against them. Perhaps there was no intention to deceive on the part of profane writers, when they reported these frivolous and silly stories about the Jews; for doubtless Strabo145145     Vide Strabonis Geog., lib. 17 desired to give the true history of the origin of circumcision when he wrote his foolish and unfounded fables. Nor did even Cornelius Tacitus,146146     C. Tacit. Hist., 5:3, 4. although he wrote with malignant and virulent feelings, intentionally put himself to shame; but when by the impulse of Satan they obscured God’s glory, they were smitten with blindness and folly, so that their ridiculous want of truth might be discovered even by children; from whence, however, some sparks of fact may still be elicited, because God would not suffer so memorable an operation to be altogether forgotten, of which these blind men were the proclaimers, when the devil was using their aid to obliterate its memory.

31. And he called for Moses. It is not probable that God’s servants were recalled into the presence of Pharaoh; but the sense of this passage must be sought for in the prediction of Moses. Pharaoh, therefore, is said to have called them, when, by sending to them his chief courtiers, he compelled their departure. And this is sufficiently proved by the context, because it is immediately added, that the Israelites were by the Egyptians compelled to go out: in haste. Therefore, although Pharaoh never should have seen Moses from the time that he threatened him with death if he came to him again, there is nothing absurd in saying that he called for him when he sent his nobles to him with his command. The perturbation of an alarmed and anxious person is expressed to the life in these words, — “Rise up, get you forth, both ye and your children; go, serve the Lord; also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said.” For he takes no less precaution lest he should give any occasion for delay, than he had before been diligent in bargaining. Whilst, then, he hastily cuts off all objections, the change in the man betrays itself, for the same God who had before hardened his iron heart has now broken it. Hence, too, that cry — the signal of despair — “We be all dead men;” hence, too, their readiness to give willingly of their substance, and to dress up in spoils those whom they had pillaged before. Nor indeed does he without reason repeat that this favor proceeded from divine inspiration, since there would never have been such liberality in robbers as willingly to proffer whatever precious things their houses possessed, and to give them to the Israelites, now ready to depart, whom they knew to be justly hostile to them on account of so many injuries. And that the children of Israel should be so prompt to obey, who before had been either slow, or inconstant, or sullen, or rebellious, was brought about by the guidance of the Spirit, who turned their hearts in a moment; since God well knew how to dispose opportunely all the springs of action.

37. And the children of Israel journeyed. Although it is probable that they were more widely dispersed, since that district could not have contained so great a multitude, especially when the Egyptians occupied it together with them; still because the recollection of the promise remained among them, from whence some hope of their redemption always was preserved, it is not wonderful that they should have preferred to be kept within narrow bounds, to their great inconvenience, rather than, by seeking other habitations, to separate from the main body. That this was the peculiar abode of the nation is plain also from what has gone before, where Moses related that they were forced to servile tasks in building those fortified cities wherein they might be shut up, as in prison. In the number of men which he reports, he commends the incredible miracle of God’s favor in increasing and multiplying their race. Thus is the effrontery of the impious refuted who think it a sufficient ground for their sneers, that this great people could not in so short a time have naturally proceeded from a single family; and therefore they burst out into unrestrained and blasphemous laughter, as if Moses were simply relating what had happened, and not rather extolling the extraordinary power of God in the sudden increase of His Church. But we know that it was no more a matter of difficulty for the Creator of the whole world to exceed the ordinary course of nature, in the multiplication of a particular nation, than at the beginning to produce speedily many people from one man and woman; and again, after the deluge, to renew the human race by a miraculous augmentation. Now, this is the peculiar character of the Church, that in producing and preserving it, God exerts unusual power, that it may be separated from the common condition of mankind; for although it sojourns on earth, yet is its nature in a manner heavenly, that the work of God may shine forth more brightly in it. No wonder then if, contrary to usual custom, it should emerge, as it were, from nothing, if it grows in the same way and makes continual progress. Such an example does Paul set before us in Romans 4., in the person of Abraham. But whilst the impious despisers of God betray their stupidity in their wicked audacity, when they estimate this work of God by their own senses and by common reason, so, too, do they foolishly err who attempt to defend Moses by philosophical arguments; for his intention was very different, viz., to show that the promises were not unfulfilled, “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore,” (Genesis 22:17, and Genesis 12:2, and Genesis 15:5,) the effect of which promises was beyond human comprehension.

38. And a mixed multitude. Although Abraham possessed many servants, yet is it scarcely probable that in the famine Jacob maintained any other persons in his family besides his own children, whom he could hardly so sustain as to preserve them from dying of hunger. And since Moses, in relating their coming into Egypt, does not mention any servants, we may conjecture that they brought no great number, because necessity compelled them to be content at any rate with a few. From hence we gather that the mixed multitude, which united themselves with the Israelites, were either the offspring of Egypt, or had migrated from the neighboring countries to take up their habitation there; as fertile lands often attract many strangers to them by the pleasures of abundance. The same expression is used in Nehemiah 13:3, where it is said that “the mixed multitude” was separated from the true Israelites, lest all should promiscuously arrogate to themselves the same dignity, and, thus the Church should be polluted by a confused admixture, But if any should think it absurd that ungodly men, with no better hope before them, would voluntarily forsake a rich and convenient habitation in order to seek a new home as wanderers and pilgrims, let him recollect that Egypt had now been afflicted by so many calamities that by its very poverty and devastation it might easily have driven away its inhabitants. A great part of the cattle had perished; all the fruits of the earth were corrupted; the fields were ravaged and almost desert; we need not, therefore, wonder if despair should have caused many sojourners to fly away, and even some of the natives themselves. It may be also that, having been inhumanly treated, they shook off the yoke of tyranny when a way to liberty was opened to them.

But although God gave His people a ready departure, still He did not choose to let them go out altogether without any inconvenience; for they go not out satiated with food, nor having delicately supped, but are compelled to carry in their bags unbaked masses of dough, that they may eat bread burned or toasted on the embers in their journey. By this example we are taught that God’s blessings are always mingled with certain inconveniences, lest too great delight should corrupt the minds of the godly.

Exodus 12:40-42, 50, 51

40. Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

40. Habitatio autem filiorum Israel, qua habitaverunt in AEgypto, triginta fuerunt anni et quadringenti anni.

41. And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

41. Factumque est a fine triginta et quadringentorum annorum, ipsa eadem die egressi sunt omnes exercitus Jehovae e terra AEgypti.

42. It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.

42. Nox observabilis (Hebrews observantiarum, vel custodiarum) haec est Jehovae, qua eduxit eos e terra Aegypti: nox inquam haec observanda est Jehovae apud omnes filios Israel per aetates suas.

50. Thus did all the children of Israel: as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

50. Et fecerunt omnes filii Israel sicuti praeceperat Jehova Mosi et Aaron, sic fecerunt.

51. And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

51. Et factum est ut ipsa eadem die educeret Jehova filios Israel e terra Aegypti per exercitus suos.

40. Now the sojourning of the children of Israel. The beginning of this period is not reckoned from the coming down of Jacob, for it is very clear from other passages, that, from the time that Jacob entered into Egypt to the Exodus, not more than 230 years at most had passed.147147     This sentence is omitted in the French. The Latin is, “Hebraei communiter tantum decem recensent.” A reference, however, to R. Sal. Jarchi explains it, “you will find, (he says,) that from the arrival of the Israelites in Egypt to the time of their departure, was 210 years.” — In loco. Compare the LXX. The Jews generally only reckon 210; but Moses includes also the period during which Abraham and his children were not in possession of the promised land. The meaning therefore is, that from the time that the inheritance of the land of Canaan was given to Abraham, the promise was suspended for 400, years before his posterity enjoyed their right. For Paul also thus explains this difficulty, (Galatians 3:17,) where he says, that God had confirmed his covenant with Abraham 430 years before the law was promulgated. Moses, therefore, dates the commencement of this period from the sojourning of Abraham, when he was still the lord of the land of Canaan by the just title of donation. With respect to the omission of the thirty years in the 15th chapter of Genesis, in this there is no contradiction, because the land had already been promised to Abraham some years previously, though, so far from obtaining dominion over it, he had scarcely been permitted to occupy it as “a stranger.” Therefore God apprizes him, that 400 years still remained before he would put his descendants into possession of it; and, consequently, that the little time which had elapsed was not sufficient for the trial of his patience, but that both for himself and for his posterity there was need of extraordinary endurance, lest they should faint under the weariness of the long delay. Moreover, there is no departure from the usual manner of speaking, in His not exactly reckoning the number of years. More than 400 years, some twenty, or thereabouts, indeed, remained; but, since God had no other object than to exhort His people to patience, He does not accurately compute or define the exact number of years, because it was sufficient to put before them 400 years in a round sum. In the same way, it is added in the next verse, “at the end of 430 years,” viz., from the time that Abraham had begun to be the legitimate lord of the land; for Moses wished to show, that although God had long delayed the fulfillment of His promise, still His truth and faithfulness were certainly proved, not only because He had precisely performed what He had proraised, but because He had observed the: foreappointed time. He calls the people, weak as they were, by an honorable title, “the hosts of the Lord,” both to enforce again the power of God’s blessing, and to give due honor to His grace in ruling and marshalling so confused a band. Although soldiers may be accustomed to obedience, and have learnt from exercise to keep their ranks; although they may have generals, commandants, and captains, and banners also under which to range themselves, still it is a very difficult thing to march an army of 20,000, or 30,000 men by night without. confusion, and in good order; how great a miracle was it, then, for 600,000 men, with women and children, much baggage, herds, and flocks, and other encumbrances, to pass by night through the midst of enemies, and all to escape safely without a single exception! To the same effect, Moses repeats in the last verse of this chapter, that “the Lord did bring the children of Israel out — by their armies,” as much as to say, that there was no confusion in that immense multitude; since God performed the part of an incomparable Leader in His marvelous power.

42. It is a night to be much observed. He shows that the Israelites have good cause for sacrificing to God with a solemn ceremony year by year for ever, and for celebrating the memory of that night; and that the Passover was instituted in token of their gratitude. But this admonition was very useful, in order that the Israelites should retain the legitimate use of this solemn feast-day, and that it might not grow into a mere cold ceremony, as is often the case; but that rather they might profitably, and to the advancement of their piety, exercise themselves in this emblem of their redemption. At the same time, he teaches that this so inestimable a benefit was not to be celebrated in one, or two, or three generations, but that as long as the people should remain it was worthy of eternal remembrance, and that it might never be forgotten, the Passover was to be sacredly observed.

Moreover we must remark, that the generations of the ancient people were brought to an end by the coming of Christ; because the shadows of the Law ceased when the state of the Church was renewed, and the Gentiles were gathered into the same body.

50. Thus did all the children of Israel. This chiefly refers to the slaying of the Paschal lamb with its adjuncts, although I do not deny that allusion is also made to the other circumstances attending their sudden departure. But it is not so much their promptitude and alacrity which are praised, as the wondrous power of God in fashioning their hearts, and directing their hands, so that, in the darkness of the night, amidst the greatest disturbances, in precipitate haste, with nothing well prepared, they were so active and dexterous. Meanwhile, Moses concludes, from the obedience of the people, that nothing was done without the command and guidance of God; from whence it is more clearly manifest that He was the sole author of their deliverance.


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