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the land was destitute of husbandmen for its cultivation but if any thing escaped destruction from them, it was killed by a distemper, which the men underwent also.
Pharoah did not yet yield to the will of God; but while he gave leave to the husbands to take their wives with them, he insisted that the children should be left behind; God therefore resolved to punish his wickedness with several sorts of calamities, and those worse than the foregoing, which had yet so generally afflicted them; for their bodies had ter
reasoned himself, lest his people should be destroyed, and that the manner of this death was also reproachful. So that he was forced in part to recover himself from his wicked temper to a sounder mind; for he gave leave for the Hebrews themselves to depart. But when the plague thereupon ceased, he thought it proper to require, that they should leave their children and wives behind them, as pledges of their return; whereby he provoked God to be more vehemently angry at him; as if he thought to impose on his providence; and as if it were only Moses, and not God,rible boils, † breaking forth with blains; while who punished the Egyptians for the sake of the Hebrews. For he filled that country full of various sorts of pestilential creatures, with their various properties; such, indeed, as never came into the sight of men before. By their means the men perished themselves, and
lice to signify gnats. The Septuagint call them Kires; but what kind of creatures these were is not so certainly known. Others would have them to be a new species of animals, called analogically by an old name; or if they were lice, that they were such as had wings, and cruelly stung and ulcerated the Egyptians. But upon the supposition that they were no worse than common lice, this was plague enough to the Egyptians, who affected neatness to such a degree, that they bathed themselves every day, and some of them frequently shaved their bodies all over, for fear of such vermin. Those who pretended that these lice were a new species, make this a reason why the magicians could not counterfeit this miracle, because, though they could easily provide the serpents, the blood, and the frogs, yet this sort of animal was now no where to be had; and therefore, as the organs of sight are more liable to be imposed upon than those of feeling, the magicians might impose upon the king and the other spectators with fantastical blood and frogs, but visionary lice could not vex and torment the body: so that now it was time for the enchanters to desist, and to own their inability to mimic Moses any farther. But supposing, that what the magicians did, in the three former miracles, was not illusion and imposition upon the senses, but reality, the true reason why they could proceed no farther was, that God Almighty had laid his restraint and prohibition upon the evil spirits, who had hitherto been subservient to them, that they might not assist them any longer. Le Clerc's Commentary; and Bibliotheca Bibl. in locum. B.
*The word Arob, which we render fly in general, is by the Septuagint called Kovopa, i. e. dog-fly, from its biting; for it fastens its teeth so deep in the flesh, and sticks so very close, that it oftentimes makes cattle run mad; and the congruity of this plague seems to be greater, because one of the Egyptian deities, which they called Anubis, bore the head of a dog. The Psalmist indeed tells us, that God sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them, Ps. Ixxviii, 45. So that according
they were already inwardly consumed; and a great part of the Egyptians perished in this manner. But when the king was not brought to reason by this plague, hail was sent down from heaven; ‡ and such hail as the climate of Egypt had never suffered before, § nor was to him it was not one particular kind, but all sorts of flies, mingled together in one prodigious swarm or conflux. Some translate it a mixture of beasts, which they suppose went into Egypt to infest and destroy the country: but this is not so probable a construction, because the punishments hitherto inflicted were nauseous and troublesome, rather than mortal; though this plague of infinite numbers of small tormentors is so great an one, that God calls it his army, Joel ii. 25. and the Greeks thought fit (as Pliny 1. 20. c. 28. tells us) to have a god to deliver them from it, under the style of Myiagros, or Myiodes, even as Belzebub signifies the lord of god of flies; Bochart, Hier. part 2. B.
The Hebrew word Shechin properly signifies an inflammation, which first makes a tumour or boil (as we translate it), and thence turns a grievous ulcer. Dr. Lightfoot indeed observes, that in the book of Job, chap. ii. 7, 8. where the same word occurs, it signifies only a burning itch, or an inflamed scab; an intolerable dry itch, which Job could not scratch off with his nails, and was therefore forced to make use of a potsherd: but then he confesses that this Shechin here spoken of was more rancorous than that, having blains and ulcers that broke out with it, which Job's had not. So that the Egyptians, according to this, must have been vexed with a triple punishment at once, (a punishment fitly calculated for the mortification of a delicate and a voluptuous people,) aching boils, nauseous ulcers, and a burning itch: and to this that communication of Moses to the people, in case they proved disobedient, does, without all peradventure, allude, The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed, Deut. xxviii. 27. B.
This infection was the more terrible in Egypt, because, according to the account of Herodotus, (1. 3. c. 10,) a very rare thing it was to see any rain, and much more any bail, in that climate; and accordingly he mentions. it as a kind of prodigy, that in the reign of Psammenitus there happened to be a shower in Thebes, which was
it like to that which falls in other climates* in || winter time, but larger than that which falls in the middle of spring to those that dwell in the northern and north-western regions. This hail brake down their boughs laden with fruit. After this a tribe of locusts consumed the seed which was not hurt by the hail: so that to the Egyptians all the hopes of future fruits of the ground were entirely lost.†
One would think the aforementioned calamities might have been sufficient for one that was only foolish, without wickedness, to make him sensible what was for his advantage. But Pharoah, led not so much by his folly as by his wickedness, even when he saw the cause of his miseries, still contested with God, and wilfully deserted the cause of virtue. So he bid Moses to take the Hebrews away, with their wives and children; but to leave their cattle behind, since their own cattle were destroyed. But when Moses said, that never known before in the memory of man, nor ever after, to the age wherein our author wrote. The Psalmist has given us a very poetic description of this judgment: He destroyed the vines with hail, and the sycamore-trees with frost he gave up the cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts, Ps. lxxviii. 47, 48. And from the plain account of Moses, where he mixes thunder, hail, and fire together, Exod. ix. 23. the observation is obvious, that here were no less than three of the elements in confederacy against Pharaoh's obstinacy; the air in the thunder; the water in the hail; and the fire in the lightning; all jointly demonstrating and proclaiming, that the God of Israel was the God of nature. B.
§ Exod. ix. 24.
As to this winter or spring hail near Egypt and Judea, see the like on thunder and lightning there in the note on VI. 5. and Havercamp's note on III. 1.
This is the creature which we properly call the grasshopper and wonderful is the account which several authors give of them. Thevenot, in his Travels, tells us, "That in that part of Scythia, which the Cossacks now inhabit, there are infinite numbers of them, especially in dry seasons, which the north-east winds bring over from Tartary, Circassia, and Mingrelia, which are seldom or never free from them; that they fly in the air all compact together, like a vast cloud, sometimes 15 or 18 miles long, and about 10 or 12 miles broad; so that they quite darken the sky, and make the brightest day obscure; and that wherever they light they devour, all the corn in less than two hours' time, and frequently make a famine in the country. These insects," says he, "live not above six months; and when they are dead, the stench of them so corrupts and infects the air, that it very often breeds dreadful pestilences." God (as we hinted before) calls the locust, the canker-worm, caterpillar, and the palmer-worm, his great army which he sends amongst a wicked and rebellious people, Joel ii. 25. And how
what he desired was unjust, since they were obliged to offer sacrifice to God of those cattle, and the time being prolonged on this account, a thick darkness, without the least light, spread itself over the Egyptians; whereby their sight being obstructed, and their breathing hindered by the thickness of the air, they died miserably; and under a terror lest they should be swallowed up by the dark cloud. Besides this, when the darkness, after three days, and as many nights, was dispatched; and when Pharaoh did not still repent, and let the Hebrews go, Moses came to him, and said, "How long wilt thou be disobedient to the command of God? for he enjoins thee to let the Hebrews go; nor is there any other way of being freed from the calamities you are under, unless you do so." But the king was angry at what he said, and threatened to strike off his head, if he came any more to trouble him about these matters. Hereupon
proper the expression is, in relation to the locust in particular, will appear from the account which Aldrovandus and Fincelius give us of these animals, viz. That in the year of our Lord 852 an infinite number of them was seen to fly over twenty miles in Germany in one day, in the manner of a formed army, divided in several squadrons, and having their quarters apart when they rested; that the captains rested a day's journey before the rest, and chose the most opportune places for their camp; that they never removed until sunrising, at which time they went away in as much order as an army of men could do; that at last, having done great mischief wherever they passed, (after prayers made to God,) they were driven by a violent wind into the Belgic ocean, and there drowned; but that, being cast by the sea upon the shore, they covered 140 acres of land, and caused a great pestilence in the country:' which is enough to shew how dreadful a punishment this was, especially considering that these locusts were such as were never known before; and yet the ordinary locust (as Aristotle and Pliny have described it) was an animal so fierce and formidable, that one single one would kill a serpent by taking it fast by the jaws, and biting it to death, Arist. Hist. Animal. I. 5. c. 23; Pliny's Nat. Hist. 1. 11. c. 9; and Le Clerc's Commentary. B.
The Septuagint, and most translations, render it, a darkness which might be felt, i. e. consisting of black vapours and exhalations, so condensed, that they might be perceived by the organs of touch. But some commentators think that this is carrying the sense too far; since, in such a medium as this, mankind could not live an hour, much less for the space of three days, as the Egyptians are said to have done: and therefore they imagine, that instead of a darkness that may be felt, the Hebrew phrase may signify a darkness wherein men were groping and feeling about for every thing thay wanted. B.
Moses said, he would not speak to him about || part quickly, and others on account of their
OF THE DEPARTURE OF THE HEBREWS FROM EGYPT, UNDER
THE CONDUCT OF MOSES.
THUS the Hebrews went out of Egypt,
When God had signified, that with one more plague he would compel the Egyptians to let the Hebrews go, he commanded Moses to tell the people, that they should have a sacrifice ready; and that they should prepare themselves on the tenth day of the month Xanthicus, against the fourteenth; which month is called by the Egyptians Pharmuthi, and Nisan by the Hebrews; but the Macedonians call it Xanthicus. And that he should carry away the Hebrews, with all they had. Accordingly Moses having got the Hebrews ready for their departure, and having gathered the people into tribes, kept them together in one place. But when the fourteenth day was come, and all were ready to depart, they offered sacrifice, and purified their houses with the blood; using bunches of hyssop for that purpose: and when they had supped, they burnt the remainder of the flesh, as just ready to depart. Whence it is, that we do still offer this sacrifice, in like manner, and call this festival Pasch: which signifies the feast of the Passover; because on that day God passed us over, and sent the plague upon the Egyptians. For the destruction of the firstborn came upon the Egyptians that night; so that many of the Egyptians, who lived near the king's palace, persuaded Pharaoh to They left Egypt in the month of Xanthicus, let the Hebrews go. Accordingly he called on the fifteenth day of the lunar month: four for Moses, and bid them be gone; as suppos-hundred and thirty years after our forefather ing that if once the Hebrews were gone out of Abraham came into Canaan; but two hunthe country, Egypt should be freed from its dred and fifteen years only after Jacob remiseries. They also honored the Hebrews moved into Egyyt. It was the eightieth year with gifts, † some in order to get them to de-of the age of Moses, and of that of Aaron
* Exod. viii. 7.
which, had they not now ceased, they had soon been all
+ These large presents made to the Israelites, of vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, werę, as Josephus truly calls them, gifts really given them; not lent them, as our English falsely renders them. They Why our Masorete copy so groundlessly abridges this were spoils required, not borrowed of them; Gen. xv. account in Exod. xii. 40. as to ascribe four hundred and 14. Exod. iii. 22. xi. 2. Ps. cv. 37. as the same version thirty years to the sole peregrination of the Israelites in falsely renders the Hebrew word here used. Exod. xii. Egypt, when it is clear, even by that Masorete chrono35, 36. God had ordered the Jews to demand these as logy elsewhere, as well as from the express text itself in their pay and reward, during their long and bitter sla- the Samaritan, Septuagint, and Josephus, that they sojourn. very in Egypt; as atonements for the lives of the Egyp-ed in Egypt but half that time, and that by consequence tians; and as the condition of the Jews' departure, and the other half of their peregrination was in the land of the Egyptian deliverance from these terrible judgments; Canaan, before they came into Egypt, is hard to say.