a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

The Eighth Plague: Locusts


Then the L ord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his officials, in order that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them—so that you may know that I am the L ord.”

3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and said to him, “Thus says the L ord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 4For if you refuse to let my people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country. 5They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They shall devour the last remnant left you after the hail, and they shall devour every tree of yours that grows in the field. 6They shall fill your houses, and the houses of all your officials and of all the Egyptians—something that neither your parents nor your grandparents have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’ ” Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh.

7 Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long shall this fellow be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the L ord their God; do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” 8So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, worship the L ord your God! But which ones are to go?” 9Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old; we will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, because we have the L ord’s festival to celebrate.” 10He said to them, “The L ord indeed will be with you, if ever I let your little ones go with you! Plainly, you have some evil purpose in mind. 11No, never! Your men may go and worship the L ord, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

12 Then the L ord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt, so that the locusts may come upon it and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.” 13So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the L ord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night; when morning came, the east wind had brought the locusts. 14The locusts came upon all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever shall be again. 15They covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was black; and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left; nothing green was left, no tree, no plant in the field, in all the land of Egypt. 16Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the L ord your God, and against you. 17Do forgive my sin just this once, and pray to the L ord your God that at the least he remove this deadly thing from me.” 18So he went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the L ord. 19The L ord changed the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt. 20But the L ord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

The Ninth Plague: Darkness

21 Then the L ord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.” 22So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23People could not see one another, and for three days they could not move from where they were; but all the Israelites had light where they lived. 24Then Pharaoh summoned Moses, and said, “Go, worship the L ord. Only your flocks and your herds shall remain behind. Even your children may go with you.” 25But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings to sacrifice to the L ord our God. 26Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must choose some of them for the worship of the L ord our God, and we will not know what to use to worship the L ord until we arrive there.” 27But the L ord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was unwilling to let them go. 28Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take care that you do not see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.” 29Moses said, “Just as you say! I will never see your face again.”

10. Let the Lord be so with you. I am surprised that this passage, so clear in itself, should be violently wrested by the interpreters.120120     In commenting on this verse, C. alludes to interpretations not noticed by S.M. — W. The gloss in the Geneva Bible is, “I would the Lord were no more affectioned toward you than I am minded to let you go.” Some thus expound it, — “I would that God may not otherwise favor you, than as I am determined to let you go;” while others think that it was spoken deceitfully, as though he had commended them to God after their departure. I will not adduce the opinions of all, nor is it necessary. I have no doubt that it was an ironical sneer, whereby he insults, at the same time, both God and them; as if he had said, “You boast that God is on your side; experience will prove this, if I shall let you go.” Thus, then, establishing himself as the supreme judge as to their departure, and claiming to himself the power of forbidding and preventing them from going, he derides their confidence, because, in demanding their free dismissal, they profess to do so under the auspices and by the command of God; just as if he had said, “If I do not hinder you, then you may reasonably pretend that Jehovah is the guide of your journey.” In this way he wantonly provokes God, and denies that He is able so to aid His people as to prevent his own power from prevailing to resist Him. Thus the reprobate, after having been troubled in themselves, sometimes burst forth with ravings of contempt against God, as if they were well secured from all dangers, and counting for nothing the aid which God has promised to give to His own people, fearlessly ridicule the simplicity of their faith.

Again, in the second clause of the verse, many, as it appears to me, raise unnecessary difficulties. Some gather from it this sense, — “The evil which you are planning shall happen to yourselves, and shall be turned against your own faces.” Others think that it is a comparison taken from a target, because the Israelites were looking steadfastly at nothing but ill-doing.121121     “Les Israelites ne regardent, et ne tendent qu’a real faire, come les archiers dressent les yeux a leur but;” they have no other object or intention but do wrong, and (have their eyes as steadfastly set upon it) as archers fix theirs on the butt. — Fr. But I do not doubt that Pharaoh, after having set his tyrannical prohibitions in array against God, now threatens them, to inspire them with terror. He says, therefore, that evil awaits the Israelites, and is, as it were, held up before their eyes, because they are about to suffer the penalty of their rashness. Thus he signifies that the help of God, in which they confide for protection, is either evanescent or will profit them nothing. But when he says, “Look to it,” he indirectly taunts them; because, in their reliance on God’s assistance, they are rushing inconsiderately on their ruin. The conclusion is, that they were ill-advised as to their own interests in making these attempts, and that they foolishly or incautiously trusted to the protection of God.

VIEWNAME is study