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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.”

8. And Moses and Aaron were brought again. It is probable that, when the wrath of the king was appeased, some of the company were hastily dispatched to bring back Moses in that same hour, lest the calamity denounced by him should happen on the morrow. For we may gather from the king’s words that he was not altogether overcome by their entreaties; but that, because he was unwilling to offend all their minds by an abrupt refusal, he suffered Moses to be recalled, that he might delude them by an underhand artifice; since thus do tyrants escape unpopularity by the false appearance of consent.118118     “A fausses enseignes;” under false colors. — Fr. But he returns to his former purpose, when seeking to compound with God by an intermediate course he wishes to secure to himself the people’s return. It appears indeed that he was himself also frightened, and sought some way to propitiate God; meanwhile, as if it were free for him to make conditions, he proposes such as would be advantageous to himself; as hypocrites are wont so to treat with God, as if He were compelled to abandon half His rights. But although he cunningly inquires, as if the point were doubtful,119119     Addition in Fr., “quelle partie du peuple deura aller;” what part of the people was to go. still his suspicion is easily discovered. Therefore, what he knows to be enjoined him respecting all, he restricts to a few, and yet pretends that he accords what is right and what ought to satisfy God. But although Moses, in his answer, abundantly cuts off all pretext for subterfuge, and does not flatter him with any prevarication or ambiguity, still he suppresses God’s counsel respecting the deliverance of the people — not because he wishes to deceive or to lie, but that he may confine himself within the bounds of his commission. And lest it might be objected that in this way the Israelites would be withdrawn from their legitimate government, he does not dissemble that, being adopted by God, they were under the dominion of none other. God therefore openly asks again His own whom He has once attached to Himself. Nor must He be thought to have dealt fraudulently with the tyrant, although he conceals His counsel from him. He says that the Israelites must take their flocks and their herds with them, that the victims which they should offer to God may be at hand. As to their “sons and their daughters,” he insinuates that the feast-day must be kept by the very least of them, because God had devoted them all to Himself for the services of piety.

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