Second Interview with Pharaoh.
1. the Lord said unto Moses—He is here
encouraged to wait again on the king—not, however, as formerly,
in the attitude of a humble suppliant, but now armed with credentials
as God's ambassador, and to make his demand in a tone and manner which
no earthly monarch or court ever witnessed.
I have made thee a god—"made," that
is, set, appointed; "a god"; that is, he was to act in this business as
God's representative, to act and speak in His name and to perform
things beyond the ordinary course of nature. The Orientals familiarly
say of a man who is eminently great or wise, "he is a god" among
Aaron thy brother shall be thy
prophet—that is, "interpreter" or "spokesman." The one was to
be the vicegerent of God, and the other must be considered the speaker
throughout all the ensuing scenes, even though his name is not
3. I will harden Pharaoh's heart—This
would be the result. But the divine message would be the
occasion, not the cause of the king's impenitent
4, 5. I may lay mine hand upon Egypt,
&c.—The succession of terrible judgments with which the
country was about to be scourged would fully demonstrate the supremacy
of Israel's God.
7. Moses was fourscore years old—This
advanced age was a pledge that they had not been readily betrayed into
a rash or hazardous enterprise, and that under its attendant
infirmities they could not have carried through the work on which they
were entering had they not been supported by a divine hand.
9. When Pharaoh shall speak unto you,
&c.—The king would naturally demand some evidence of their
having been sent from God; and as he would expect the ministers of his
own gods to do the same works, the contest, in the nature of the case,
would be one of miracles. Notice has already been taken of the rod of
4:2), but rods were carried
also by all nobles and official persons in the court of Pharaoh. It was
an Egyptian custom, and the rods were symbols of authority or rank.
Hence God commanded His servants to use a rod.
10. Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh,
&c.—It is to be presumed that Pharaoh had demanded a proof of
their divine mission.
11. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the
sorcerers, &c.—His object in calling them was to
ascertain whether this doing of Aaron's was really a work of divine
power or merely a feat of magical art. The magicians of Egypt in modern
times have been long celebrated adepts in charming serpents, and
particularly by pressing the nape of the neck, they throw them into a
kind of catalepsy, which renders them stiff and immovable—thus
seeming to change them into a rod. They conceal the serpent about their
persons, and by acts of legerdemain produce it from their dress, stiff
and straight as a rod. Just the same trick was played off by their
ancient predecessors, the most renowned of whom, Jannes and Jambres
3:8), were called in on this
occasion. They had time after the summons to make suitable
preparations—and so it appears they succeeded by their
"enchantments" in practising an illusion on the senses.
12. but Aaron's rod swallowed up their
rods—This was what they could not be prepared for, and the
discomfiture appeared in the loss of their rods, which were probably
14. Pharaoh's heart is hardened—Whatever
might have been his first impressions, they were soon dispelled; and
when he found his magicians making similar attempts, he concluded that
Aaron's affair was a magical deception, the secret of which was not
known to his wise men.
15. Get thee unto Pharaoh—Now began
those appalling miracles of judgment by which the God of Israel,
through His ambassadors, proved His sole and unchallengeable supremacy
over all the gods of Egypt, and which were the natural phenomena of
Egypt, at an unusual season, and in a miraculous degree of intensity.
The court of Egypt, whether held at Rameses, or Memphis, or Tanis in
the field of Zoan (Ps 78:12),
was the scene of those extraordinary transactions, and Moses must have
resided during that terrible period in the immediate neighborhood.
in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the
water—for the purpose of ablutions or devotions perhaps; for
the Nile was an object of superstitious reverence, the patron deity of
the country. It might be that Moses had been denied admission into the
palace; but be that as it may, the river was to be the subject of the
first plague, and therefore, he was ordered to repair to its banks with
the miracle-working rod, now to be raised, not in demonstration, but in
judgment, if the refractory spirit of the king should still refuse
consent to Israel's departure for their sacred rites.
17-21. Aaron lifted up the rod and smote the
waters, &c.—Whether the water was changed into real
blood, or only the appearance of it (and Omnipotence could effect the
one as easily as the other), this was a severe calamity. How great must
have been the disappointment and disgust throughout the land when the
river became of a blood red color, of which they had a national
abhorrence; their favorite beverage became a nauseous draught, and the
fish, which formed so large an article of food, were destroyed. [See on
Nu 11:5.] The immense scale on which the plague
was inflicted is seen by its extending to "the streams," or branches of
the Nile—to the "rivers," the canals, the "ponds" and "pools,"
that which is left after an overflow, the reservoirs, and the many
domestic vessels in which the Nile water was kept to filter. And
accordingly the sufferings of the people from thirst must have been
severe. Nothing could more humble the pride of Egypt than this dishonor
brought on their national god.
22. And the magicians … did so with their
enchantments, &c.—Little or no pure water could be
procured, and therefore their imitation must have been on a small
scale—the only drinkable water available being dug among the
sands. It must have been on a sample or specimen of water dyed red with
some coloring matter. But it was sufficient to serve as a pretext or
command for the king to turn unmoved and go to his house.