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Psalm 136:10-16

10. Who smote the Egyptians in their first-born, for his mercy endureth for ever. 11. And brought out Israel from, the midst of them, for his mercy endureth for ever: 12. With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, for his mercy endureth for ever. 13. Who divided the Red Sea into divisions, for his mercy endureth for ever, 14. And made Israel to pass through the midst of it, for his mercy endureth for ever. 15. And cast Pharaoh and his host headlong into the Red Sea, for his mercy endureth for ever. 16. And led his people through the wilderness, for his mercy endureth for ever.

 

10. Who smote the Egyptians in, their first-born Some read with their first-born, but the other rendering reads better. As we do not mean to sermonize upon the passage, it is unnecessary to detain the reader here with many words, as nothing is mentioned but what has been treated elsewhere. Only we may notice that the Egyptians are well said to have been smitten in their first-born, because they continued in their outrageous obstinacy under the other plagues, though occasionally terrified by them, but were broken and subdued by this last plague, and submitted. As it was not intended to recount all the wonders successively done in Egypt, the whole is summed up in one word when it is said, that he led his people forth from the midst of it with a mighty and a stretched out arm. For pressed down as they were on every side, it was only by a wonderful display of divine power that they could effect an escape. The figure of an outstretched arm is appropriate, for we stretch out the arm when any great effort is required; so that this implies that God put forth an extraordinary and not a common or slight display of his power in redeeming his people. 175175     “Dieu en deliverant son peuple n’a point monstre une petite puissance,” etc. — Fr.

13. Who divided the Red Sea I have already (Psalm 106:7) spoken of the word סוף, suph, and have not therefore hesitated to render it the Red Sea The Psalmist speaks of divisions in the plural number, which has led some Jewish authors to conjecture that there must have been more passages than one — an instance of their solemn trifling in firings of which they know nothing, and of their method of corrupting the Scriptures entirely with their vain fancies. ‘We may well laugh at such fooleries, yet we are to hold them at the same time in detestation; for there can be no doubt that the Rabbinical writers were led to this by the devil, as an artful way of discrediting the Scriptures. Moses plainly and explicitly asserts that the heaps of waters stood up on both sides, from which we infer that the space between was one and undivided. 176176     “Dont nous pouvons bien recueillir que l’espace d’entre deux estoit sans aucune separation.” — Fr. But as the people passed through in troops, and not one by one, the pathway being so broad as to admit of their passing freely men and women, with their families and cattle, the Psalmist very properly mentions divisions, with a reference to the people who passed through, this circumstance not a little enhancing the mercy of God, that they saw large depths or channels dried up, so that they had no difficulty in advancing in troops abreast. Another circumstance which confirmed or enhanced the mercy shown, was, that Pharaoh was shortly afterwards drowned; for the very different issue proved that it could not be owing to any hidden cause of a merely natural kind, that some should have perished, while others passed over with entire safety. The distinction made afforded a conspicuous display of God’s mercy in saving his people. Much is included in the single expression that God was the leader of his people through the wilderness. It was only by a succession of miracles of various kinds that they could have been preserved for forty years in a parched wilderness, where they were destitute of all the means of subsistence. So that we are to comprehend, under what is here stated, the various proofs of divine goodness and power which are mentioned by Moses as having been vouchsafed, in feeding his people with bread from heaven — in making water to flow from the rock — in protecting them under the cloud from the heat of the sun — giving them a sign of his presence in the pillar of fire — preserving their raiment entire — shielding them and their little ones in their exile wanderings under tents of leaves, 177177     “Sous des logettes de feuilles.” — Fr. with innumerable other instances of mercy which must occur to the reader.


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