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Exodus 9:8-12

8. And the Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.

8. Tunc dixit Jehova ad Mosen et ad Aharon, Tollite vobis plenos pugillos vestros favillae fornacis, et spargat illam Moses per coelum (vel, per aerem) coram Pharaone.

9. And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.

9. Et erit in pulverem super totam terram AEgypti: et erit super hominem, et super jumentum ulcus producens tumores in tota terra AEgypti.

10. And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast.

10. Tulerunt ergo favillam fornacis, et steterunt coram Pharaone: et sparsit illam Moses per coelum, (vel, per aerem.) Et fuit ulcus tumorem producens in homine et in jumento.

11. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.

11. Et non poterant magi stare coram Mose propter ulcus: quia fuit ulcus in magis ut in omnibus AEgyptiis.

12. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses.

12. Et induravit Jehova cor Pharaonis: et non audivit eos: quemadmodum loquutus fuerat Jehova ad Mosen.

8. And the Lord said unto Moses. God does not now postpone the time of the punishment, but redoubles the plagues in a continuous series; nor does he threaten Pharaoh, but, leaving him, executes the judgment which He decreed; both because it was now more than sufficiently manifested that admonitions were of no avail with him, and also that his desperate wickedness might be reproved in every way. For although I have lately said that all which happened is not fully related, still the narrative of Moses rather leads us to infer, that nothing about the boils was previously told to Pharaoh, but that the ashes105105     Havernick, in his Introduction to the Pentateuch, has a remarkable note on this plague. “The symbolical procedure,” he says, “employed by Moses, Exodus 9:8, etc., is striking, and has never yet been satisfactorily explained. It is, however, made completely intelligible to us by a statement of Manetho in Plutarch, De. Isaiah et Osir. p. 380: καὶ γὰρἐν ᾿Ειληθυίας πο·λει ζῶντας ἀνθρώπους κατεπίμπασαν, ὡς Μανέθων ἱστόρηκε, Τυφωνίους καλοῦντες, καὶ τὴν τέφραν αὐτῶν λικμῶντες ἠφάνιβον, καὶ διέσπειρον. In respect to this we may leave it undecided how far this statement should be connected with the residence of the Hyksos, a conclusion which there is much to favor; here we have only to do with the striking rite mentioned in the notice, which was certainly an ancient mode of expiation, indicating purification, which in antiquity was often symbolized by ashes. (V. Spencer, De legg, rituall., s. 3. diss. 3, c. 1.) We shall thus understand the entire significance, which the procedure had for the Egyptians, inasmuch as a rite which they regarded as sacred in the sense referred to, was here followed by the contrary effect, pollution, as is so expressively indicated by our text.” — Thomson’s Translation, p. 246. Edinburgh, 1850. were sprinkled, when he had no suspicion of anything of the kind. But it did not happen naturally that the heaven was darkened by the dust, and that the disease arose from thence; for how could a few ashes cover the whole air? But by this visible sign the tyrant was taught that the calamity which ensued was inflicted by Moses and Aaron. Moreover, God invested His servants with high and power, when He gave them command over the air, so that they should envelop it in darkness, and poison it with contagion. Hence we gather, that the devil’s are called the princes of the air, not because they govern it according to their will, but only so far as the permission106106     D’y faire leurs efforts. — Fr. to wander in it is accorded to them.

11. And the magicians could not. Since the magicians were now also at hand, doubtless they were possessed by their former folly, so that they stood in readiness, as it were, in case an opportunity of contention should be offered them. And, in fact, since Satan, although ten times conquered, is still perpetually hurried forward with indefatigable obstinacy, so neither do his ministers desist from their madness, notwithstanding they have experienced how unsuccessful are their battles. These enchanters had lately confessed that their art availed no farther, and yet they embolden themselves to try all extremities, until the disease of the boils drives them back in disgrace. Wherefore, that we may not betray our madness by similar audacity, let us learn to give God His full glory by voluntary submission. But that Pharaoh, when not only deprived of their assistance, but even when abandoned, and without their presence, is neither changed nor softened, proves that he was not so much deceived by the impostures of others, as stupefied by his own malice and perversity; although Moses here repeats that “his heart was hardened by God;” because He desired, as if by an opposing barrier, to have an opportunity for manifesting His power. And here their ignorance is refuted, who imagine that God is endued with mere prescience; for when “as the Lord has spoken” is added, He attributes both in conjunction to Himself, viz., the effect as well as the foreknowledge. On this point we shall enlarge a little further on; yet let us remark that at the same time the tyrant was not absolved from crime, for that his hardness of heart was voluntary. The blains, which were epidemic on the cattle, are a proof that they did not all die in the former catastrophe.

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