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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.”

7. And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him. We have seen, a little above, that they were obstinate in common with their king; nor can it be doubted that by their servile flattery they had blinded him more and more; but now, conquered by their calamities, and fearing something still worse, they seek to mitigate his fury, — not because they had themselves returned to their senses, but because they feel that they are overcome by the hand of God, and that strength to resist had failed them. They say, therefore, that Moses, until he should be dismissed, would be a constant source of evil to them. Whether you translate the word מוקש,117117     מוקש. The root of this word makes it obvious that its proper meaning is a snare. The word offendiculum mentioned by C., he found in S. M.; but the LXX and V. have also rendered it a stumbling-block
   As to the latter part of this verse, C.: appears to have given too hasty a glance at S. M.’s notes. Neither the Hebrew nor the Chaldee Paraphrast has used the infinitive. S.M. has ceased to speak of Onkelos, when he proceeds to say, Alii sic vertunt, visne prius experiri? — W.
mokesh, a snare or a stumbling-block, is of little consequence, because it is taken metaphorically for every kind of misfortune or injury. They signify, then, that no end of their troubles was to be expected so long as Pharaoh shall contend with Moses; for that evils would follow upon evils. By the question “how long?” they admonish him that his pertinacity had already been more injurious than enough; and thence they conclude that there is nothing better to be done than, by the expulsion of Moses, to free himself from the snare, or to avoid the stumbling-block, since he could only fight unsuccessfully. As to the second part of the verse, interpreters differ. The Chaldee Paraphrast translates it with the introduction of a negative, — “Knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?” Word for word it is, “whether to know before,” or “before that to know.” But because the infinitive is sometimes taken for the future, thus does it seem to accord very well with the sense — “Do you wish to know the destruction of the whole kingdom before you desist from your unhappy contention?” as if they had said, that unless God should avert His anger, the remedy would be soon too late and useless.

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