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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.”

24. And Pharaoh called unto Moses. We gather that he was greatly alarmed by this infliction; because of his own accord he again calls to him (as before) the men who were so troublesome to him, and the authors of such sore calamities, that he may treat with them of their departure. But it is asked how, if no one rose from his place for three days, Pharaoh could send for Moses and Aaron? If we were to answer that the messengers were sent after the darkness had been dispersed, this objection must readily arise, via, that it does not appear probable that this untamable wild beast should be so much subdued, when the severity of the punishment was relaxed; for thus far we perceive that, as often as God withdrew his hand, the proud tyrant, having cast aside his fear, returned to his ferocity. My own opinion is, that whilst the exigency was still pressing upon him, and he feared lest the darkness should be upon him for ever, he took counsel how to appease Moses. But when it is here related, that “none rose from his place,” I understand that it is spoken hyperbolically, as though it were said that they ceased from all the occupations which required light. But although the night does not allow of our executing the works in which men are employed by day, still it does not so confine them that they are unable to move about. Neither has this hyperbole127127     Excez de parler. — Fr. anything harsh or severe in it, that the Egyptians were so overwhelmed with darkness as to remain each one fixed as it were in his own place, and not to behold each other; because in the three days darkness God forbade them from performing their customary actions. Although Pharaoh is prepared to accord somewhat more than before, still he does not make an end of shuffling. He allows their little ones to go, provided their herds remain; either because he hoped that the people might easily be recalled through fear of famine; or because his loss would be at any rate less, if he were enriched by such spoils. For it. is plain that he was very anxious about the men themselves, because he so very reluctantly made the concession that they might go out to sacrifice without their goods; which he would not have been unwilling to do, if he had only been desirous of spoiling them. But this passage again teaches us, that the wicked only partially yield to God, though they cease not meanwhile to struggle like malefactors, who are compelled to follow the executioner when he drags them by a rope round their necks, and yet are not on that account any the more obedient. This, too, is to be observed, that the wicked are quick in inventing subterfuges, when they are suffering under God’s hand, and that they turn and twist about in every direction to discover plans for escaping from a sincere and hearty submission. When he says, “let your little ones also go with you,” by this particle of amplification he would make a specious show of generosity, in order to cajole Moses and Aaron; as if he said, that he now at length granted them what they had seemed chiefly to require.

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