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11. Plague on the Firstborn

And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether. 2Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold. 3And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people. 4And Moses said, Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 5And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. 6And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. 7But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. 8And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger. 9And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. 10And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

9. And the Lord said unto Moses. This seems to be a representation of the reason why Moses was so angry; viz., because he had been forewarned that he had to do with a lost and desperate man. When, therefore, after so many contests, he sees the dominion of God despised by the audacity and madness of the tyrant, deeper indignation bursts from him in their last struggle; especially because he sees before his eyes that detestable prodigy, viz., an earthen vessel so bold as to provoke God with indomitable obstinacy. But God had foretold to Moses (as we have already seen) the end of this his exceeding stubbornness, lest, having so often suffered repulse, he should faint at length. Otherwise, there might have crept in no trifling temptation, as to how it could please God to contend in vain with a mortal man. And it was absurd that the hardness of a human heart could not be either subdued, or corrected, or broken by the divine power. God, therefore, asserts that He was thus designing His own glory, which he desired to manifest by various miracles; and on this account he adds again in the next verse, that Pharaoh’s heart was again hardened by God Himself; whereby he signifies, that the tyrant thus pertinaciously resisted, not without the knowledge and will of God, in order that the deliverance might be more wonderful.

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