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Moses and Aaron here deal with Pharaoh to get leave of him to
go to worship in the wilderness.
- They demand leave in the name of God, ver. 1.
and he answers their demand with a defiance of God, ver. 2.
- They beg leave in the name of Israel, ver. 3.
and he answers their request with further orders to oppress Israel,
ver. 4 - 9.
These cruel orders were,
- Executed by the task - masters, ver. 10 - 14.
- Complained of to Pharaoh, but in vain, ver. 15 - 19.
- Complained of by the people to Moses, ver. 20, 21.
and by him to God, ver. 22, 23.
1: Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go - Moses, in
treating with the elders of Israel, is directed to call God the God
of their fathers; but, in treating with Pharaoh, they call him the
God of Israel, and it is the first time we find him called so in
scripture. He is called the God of Israel, the person, (Ge 33:20),
but here it is Israel the people. They are just beginning to be formed
into a people when God is called their God. Let my people go - They
were God's people, and therefore Pharaoh ought not to detain them in
bondage. And he expected services and sacrifices from them, and therefore
they must have leave to go where they could freely exercise their religion,
without giving offence to, or receiving offence from, the Egyptians.
2: Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice? - Being summoned to
surrender, he thus hangs out the flag of defiance. Who is Jehovah?
I neither know him nor care for him; neither value nor fear him. It is a
hard name that he never heard of before, but he resolves it shall be no
bugbear to him. Israel was now a despised, oppressed people, and by the
character they bore he makes his estimate of their God, and concludes that
he made no better figure among the gods, than his people did among the
3: We pray thee, let us go three days journey into the desert - And
that on a good errand, and unexceptionable: we will sacrifice to the
Lord our God - As other people do to theirs; lest if we quite cast off his
worship, he fall upon us - With one judgment or other, and then
Pharaoh will lose his vassals.
5: The people are many - Therefore your injury to me is the greater,
in attempting to make them rest from their labours.
6: The task - masters, were Egyptians, the officers were
Israelites employed under them.
7: Straw - To mix with the clay, or to burn the brick with.
8: They are idle - The cities they built for Pharaoh, were
witnesses for them that they were not idle; yet he thus basely misrepresents
them, that he might have a pretence to increase their burdens.
9: Vain words - Those of Moses and Aaron.
14: In thy own people - For if they had given us straw, we should
have fulfilled our task.
21: The Lord look upon you, and judge - They should have humbled
themselves before God, but instead of that they fly in the face of their
best friends. Those that are called to public service for God and their
generation, must expect to be tried not only by the threats of proud
enemies, but by the unjust and unkind censures of unthinking friends.
To put a sword in their hand to slay us - To give them the occasion they
have long sought for.
22: He expostulated with him. He knew not how to reconcile the
providence with the promise, and the commission he had received. Is this
God's coming down to deliver Israel? Must I who hoped to be a blessing
to them become a scourge to them? By this attempt to get them out of the
pit, they are but sunk the farther into it. Wherefore hast thou so
evil entreated this people - Even when God is coming towards his people in
ways of mercy, yet sometimes he takes such methods that they may think
themselves but ill - treated: when they think so, they should go to God by
prayer, and that is the way to have better treatment in God's good time.
Why is it that thou hast sent me - Pharaoh has done evil to this
people, and not one step seems to be taken towards their deliverance. It
cannot but sit very heavy upon the spirits of those whom God employs for
him, to see that their labour doth no good, and much more to see that it
doth hurt, eventually, though not designedly.