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Warning of the Final Plague


The L ord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go from here; indeed, when he lets you go, he will drive you away. 2Tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman is to ask her neighbor for objects of silver and gold.” 3The L ord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, Moses himself was a man of great importance in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s officials and in the sight of the people.

4 Moses said, “Thus says the L ord: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. 5Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 6Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as has never been or will ever be again. 7But not a dog shall growl at any of the Israelites—not at people, not at animals—so that you may know that the L ord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8Then all these officials of yours shall come down to me, and bow low to me, saying, ‘Leave us, you and all the people who follow you.’ After that I will leave.” And in hot anger he left Pharaoh.

9 The L ord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; but the L ord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

8. And all these thy servants shall come down. Thus far Moses had reported the words of God; he now begins to speak in his own person, and announces that, by Pharaoh’s command, messengers would come from his court, who would voluntarily and humbly crave for what he had refused respecting the dismissal of the Israelites. The great asperity of these words inflicted no slight; wound on the tyrant’s mind, for it was the same as if he had said — Thus far I have entreated you to allow God’s people to depart; now, whether you will or not, I will freely go, and not even without the request of yourself and your followers. What he then relates, that he went out “in the heat of anger,”139139     Margin, A. V. or “in a great anger,” shows us that the servants of God, even when they truly and faithfully perform their duty, are so disturbed with indignation against sin, that they are by no means restrained from being affected with anger. Nor is there any question that Moses was thus excited to wrath by the impulse of the Spirit. Yet, since we are naturally too prone to impetuous passions, we must diligently beware lest our indignation exceed due bounds. The Spirit awakened in the heart of Moses this zeal, which here is mentioned, but he at the same time moderated it, so that it should contain no admixture of unregulated passion. But since it may, and often does happen that the faithful, when influenced by pious zeal, still do not sufficiently restrain themselves, nor keep themselves within due bounds, the spirit of gentleness and propriety must be asked of God, which may prevent all excesses. Yet the anger of Moses is a proof to us that God would not have us lazily and coldly perform the duties which He entrusts to us; and, therefore, that nothing is more preposterous than for certain cynics, whilst they jokingly and ridiculously philosophize concerning the doctrines of religion, and sting God’s servants with their laughing and wanton witticisms, to deride their vehemence, which is rather worthy of the highest praise.

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