World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
5. We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt. By this comparison with the former mode of living, they depreciate the present grace of God: and yet they enumerate no delicacies, when they speak of leeks, and onions, and garlic. Some, therefore, thus explain it, When such great abundance and variety was commonly to be met with, how painful and grievous must it be to us to be deprived of greater delicacies! My own opinion is, that these lowly people, who had been used to live on humble fare, praised their accustomed food, as if they had been the greatest luxuries. Surely rustics and artisans value as much their pork and beef, their cheese and curds, their onions and cabbage, as most of the rich do their sumptuous fare. Scornfully, therefore, do the Israelites magnify things which, in themselves, are but of little value, in order the more to stimulate their depraved appetite, already sufficiently excited. Still there is no doubt but that those who had been accustomed to a diet of herbs and fish, would think themselves happy with that kind of food. Moreover, to make the matter more invidious, they say in general, that they ate gratis 1515 A. V., “freely.” Ainsworth, “for nought;” this (he adds) may be referred to the fish which they had for nought, without price, getting them out of the rivers freely; or for nought, that is, for very little, very cheap. It may also have reference to the former, We remember for nought, i.e., in vain; so the Hebrew Chinnam, and the Greek δωρεὰν, sometimes signifieth a thing done or spoken in vain, and without effect; as Proverbs 1:17; Ezekiel 6:10; Galatians 2:21.” Geneva Version, “for nought, i.e., for a small price, or good cheep.” of that, which cost them but little: although such a phrase is common in all languages. For even profane writers testify that all that sea-shore abounds with fish. 1616 Herod., 2:93, describes the abundance of the fish in Egypt, and their migrations for the deposition of their spawn: and states that the inhabitants of the marshes, some of them, “live on nothing but fish.” — Ibid. 92. The fisheries of the Nile also are very productive, and a part: of the wealth of Egypt: whilst the country is so well watered, that it produces abundance of vegetables and fruits. 1717 Raphelius has a striking note on this passage from Herod. “The herbs (onions and garlic) were ordinarily given to laborers in Egypt. Whence also this was the food of the Israelites, whose labors the Egyptians used, or rather abused, in making bricks. Herod. 2:125. “It is declared by certain Egyptian inscriptions on the Pyramid itself, how much was paid to the workmen, ἔς τε συρμαίην, καὶ κρόμμυα καὶ σκόροδα, for radishes, onions, and garlic.” — Raphel., in loco.