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Exodus 9:1-7

1. Then the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

1. Tunc dixit Jehova ad Mosen, Vade ad Pharaonem, et loquere ad eum, Sic dicit Jehova Deus Hebraeorum, Dimitte populum meum ut serviant mihi.

2. For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still,

2. Quod si tu renuis eum dimittere, et adhuc tu retines eos:

3. Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.

3. Ecce, manus Jehovae erit super gregem tuum qui est in agro: in equis, in asinis, in camelis, in armentis et in ovibus pestis gravissima.

4. And the Lord shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel.

4. Et distinguet Jehova inter pecora Israel, et inter pecora AEgypti: ut non moriatur quicquam eorum quae sunt apud filios Israel.

5. And the Lord appointed a set time, saying, Tomorrow the Lord shall do this thing in the land.

5. Et statuit Jehova tempus, dicendo, Cras faciet Jehova rem hanc in terra.

6. And the Lord did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.

6. Fecit itaque Jehova rem hanc postero die: et mortuum est omne pecus AEgypti: de pecore vero filiorum Israel ne unum quidem animal mortuum est.

7. And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.

7. Et misit Pharao: et ecce, ex pecore Israel ne unum quidem animal mortuum erat. Et aggravatum fuit cor Pharaonis, ut non dimitteret populum.

1. Then the Lord said. No complaint or expostulation of Moses is here recounted; and it is possible that he was quiet and silent, whilst God foresaw what it was necessary to do, and even commanded what He would have done. But since he only gives a brief summary of occurrences, we may probably conjecture that, as the evil grew worse, he had recourse from time to time to the remedy. In the denunciation, “the Lord God of the Hebrews” is no unmeaning repetition, that Pharaoh may learn that he, whom he thought to have repelled in the abundance of his pride, was still in the field against him. For God insults his ferocity, and by setting forth his name contemptuously defies his wrath. We have already said that Pharaoh is convicted of sacrilege, both in his oppression of God’s people and in defrauding God Himself of His due honor; therefore those words, “Let my people go, that they may serve me,” have the force of aggravating his sin.

2. But if thou refuse. God again urges him to obedience through fear of punishment, as He usually deals with the froward. Yet he permits him a short space of time for repentance, (as before,) if perchance he may lay aside his perverse determination to refuse. And this Moses now relates more distinctly in the fifth verse, both to show the extreme obstinacy of his malice, because the tyrant mocks at God’s forbearance, and follows his own lust; and also to manifest more clearly from the circumstance of time, that the cattle of Egypt were smitten not by chance but by the hand of God. There is also an implied reproof of his senseless obstinacy, as though Moses said, that God was already enough, and more than enough, provoked; and therefore, unless he should desist, that God had new and more terrible plagues at hand, whereby He would overwhelm him. The murrain is appositely called God’s “hand,” because it arose from His just judgment; for this expression is opposed to natural causes, to the arts and devices of men, and to accidental chances — as if Moses had said that the hand of God would appear in “the very grievous murrain,” that Pharaoh may perceive the Deity to be wroth with him. Moreover, though this might seem a lighter plague than those preceding it, yet it was doubtless more grievous and afflictive to the Egyptians, because it involved much greater injury at a future period. The hand of God had before been adverse to them for a short time, and the evil had been removed together with the infliction; but now the destruction of the cattle will affect them for many years. For this kind of gradation in the judgments of God must be observed, as the Law also denounces against transgressors punishments sevenfold greater, if they do not speedily return into the way. (See Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24, 28.) As to his saying that “all the cattle died,” it is a comprehensive103103     Lat., “synecdochica locutio.” Fr., “s’entend que par ci par la il y eut grande desconfiture;” it means that on every side there was great destruction. expression, for immediately it will appear that a considerable number of animals still remained. But he means that the herds were everywhere destroyed, and the flocks smitten by the murrain; or, if you prefer it, that the murrain was general in its attack, and that it reduced Egypt to a state of poverty by the destruction of their cattle and other animals. Finally, the universal term merely refers to this plague having been a remarkable proof of God’s anger, because the pestilence did not only kill a few animals, as it usually does, but made havoc far and wide of a vast number of herds and flocks.

7. And Pharaoh sent. I leave it undecided, whether he then first sent these inspectors;104104     “It is asked, why he did not do so before? Resp., Because either, first, The roads were impassable on account of the frogs, lice, etc.; or secondly, It did not previously occur to him.” — Menochius in Pol. Syn. it may be, that, in the blindness of his obstinacy he neglected this, until he was reminded by Moses; for we know how the reprobate shut their eyes against the manifest marks of God’s wrath, and willfully indulge in their errors. Certainly there is no doubt that Pharaoh, whilst he seeks to harden himself in every way, deliberately passed over what it was very useful for him to know; but, since he was informed by Moses of the distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites, he is compelled, whether he will or no, to ascertain from actual inspection, what he would have gladly been in ignorance of. But this was no obscure demonstration of God’s paternal favor towards His chosen people; that the contagion should not have affected that part of Egypt, which was fullest of cattle, though it ravaged the whole surrounding neighborhood. Wherefore, the hardness of the king’s wicked heart was all the more base and marvelous, since he was not moved even by this extraordinary circumstance; for it was a token of horrible folly, that, when the matter was examined and discovered by his underlings, he still hardened his heart and would not obey God.

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