Exodus 9



                        THE FIFTH PLAGUE – MURRAIN OF BEASTS


vs. 1-7 – “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.  For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 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.  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.  And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD

shall do this thing in the land.  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. 

And Pharaoh sent” - This time the king had the curiosity to send out and see whether

the Israelites had been spared -  “and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the

Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened” - The plague affected him

less than others had done, rather than more. He was so rich that an affliction which touched

nothing but property seemed a trivial matter What cared he for the sufferings of the

poor beasts, or the ruin of those who depended upon the breeding and feeding of cattle -

and he did not let the people go”.  Hitherto the plagues had been directed rather

against the persons of the Egyptians than against their property. Property had perhaps

suffered somewhat in the preceding plague, if it was really one of the Blatta orientalis;

 but otherwise the various afflictions had caused nothing but pain and annoyance to the

person. Now this was to be changed.  Property was to be made to suffer. It remained to

be seen whether the Pharaoh would be impressed more deeply by calamities which

impoverished his subjects than by those which merely caused them personal annoyance

and suffering. The hand of God was first laid upon the cattle, or rather upon the

domesticated animals in general (v. 3).  These were made to suffer from a murrain”

or epidemic pestilence, which carried off vast numbers. Such visitations are not uncommon

in Egypt, and generally fall with especial force on the Delta, where the existing Pharaoh and

the Hebrew people resided. The miraculous character of the visitation at this time was



ü      By its announcement, and appearance on the day appointed (vs. 3-6);

ü      By its severity (v. 6); and

ü      By its attacking the Egyptian cattle only (v. 7). Pharaoh seems, however,

      to have been almost lees moved by this plague than by any other.



            WELL AS ON MAN, HIMSELF.  (vs. 1-7) - “The whole creation groaneth

            and travaileth in pain together until now”(Romans 8:22). Brutes are to a

            large extent co-partners with man in his sorrows and his wretchedness. But

            brute suffering is the product of man’s sin. Mostly it is directly caused by man.  

            Man not only kills animals for his food, but he chases them for his diversion,      

            mutilates them for his convenience, vivisects them for his supposed benefit. In    

            chasing them, he wounds more than he kills; in mutilating them, he often

            removes parts necessary for their comfort; in vivisecting them, he knowingly      

            makes them suffer excruciating pain. His use of them as beasts of draught and   

            burden is a lighter form of evil than any of these; but in the aggregate it causes,

            perhaps, as much suffering. Again, man makes the horse his companion in

            war, and exposes him to the most hideous wounds, the most horrid deaths.

            Nor does the list of his misdoings as respects the animal world end here.

            To children the wanton torture of insects seems to be a chief delight. For

            the production of certain delicacies of the table, turkeys and other animals

            are made to undergo untold agonies. Slow death is inflicted on calves, to

            make the veal white. Finally, animals are often involved in the Divine

            judgments by which nations are visited for their sins. Much cattle” would

            have perished miserably, if Nineveh had not repented at Jonah’s preaching.

            The beasts endure as much as the men when cities are blockaded.

            Occasionally, as in this plague, the beasts themselves are the direct

            sufferers, and God punishes man through them. No doubt there is a

            mystery in this. The suffering of innocent dumb animals is hard to reconcile

            with the goodness of God. His causing pain to them for man’s fault is even

            more strange. How persons who have a fixed belief that the brute creation

            enjoys no future life, overcome the difficulty, we knew not. But the

            solution of it may, we think, be found in the Scripture which tells of “the

            spirit of the beast which goeth downward” (Ecclesiastes 3:21). If the

            spirit of a beast survives, it may find compensation in another life for what

            it has suffered here. Man’s coldness and deadness with respect to animal

            suffering is as marvelous as anything in his nature and history. “Pharaoh’s

            heart was utterly hard to it. He did not even ask that the plague should be

            removed. The sufferings and miserable death of thousands of beasts made

            not the slightest impression upon him. Probably he did not give their

            sufferings a thought. And even among Christians, is it not much the same?

            How few protest against even such enormities as promiscuous vivisection!

            How few, in grieving over the horrors of war, think of the pain which is

            borne by the animals engaged in it! How few give so much as a sigh to the

            labor, the weariness, the suffering of millions of poor dumb brute beasts

            engaged in ministering to their pleasures, amusements, convenience! We

            grieve bitterly for our own troubles. We have a tear of sympathy, perhaps,

            for the griefs of humanity generally. But for the rest of creation, “groaning

            and travailing in pain together until now,” we have scarcely a thought.

            How different from him who was led to spare Nineveh (Jonah 4:11)

            because therein were “more than six score thousand persons that could

            not discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much  






vs. 8-12 – “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” – (The act

indicated that the plague would come from heaven — i.e. from God)in the sight of

Pharaoh.  And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a

boil breaking forth with blains” - The attempts definitely to determine what exactly

the malady was, seem to be futile — more especially as diseases are continually

changing their forms, and a malady which belongs to the fourteenth or fifteenth

century before our era is almost certain to have been different from any now

prevalent. The word “blains” — now obsolete as a separate word — appears in

chilblains.” – “upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 

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.  And the magicians could not stand before Moses

because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the

Egyptians”.  It is gathered from this that the magicians had, up to this time, been

always in attendance when the miracles were wrought, though they had now for

some time failed to produce any counterfeits of them. On this occasion their

persistency was punished by the sudden falling of the pestilence upon themselves

with such severity that they were forced to quit the royal presence and hasten to their

homes to be nursed.  And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he

hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses”.  Up to this time

the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart has been ascribed to himself, or expressed indefinitely as

a process that was continually going on — now for the first time it is positively

stated that God hardened his heart, as He had threatened that He would (ch. 4:21)

The sixth plague was sent, like the third, without notice given. It was also, like the third,

a plague which inflicted direct injury upon the person. There was a very solemn warning

in it; for the same power that could afflict the body with “boils and blains,” i.e., with a

severe cutaneous disease accompanied by pustulous ulcers — could also (it must have

been felt) smite it with death. It is uncertain what exactly the malady was. Some have

supposed elephantiasis, some “black leprosy,” some merely an eruptive disease such

as is even now common in Egypt during the autumn. But it is, at any rate, evident that

the malady was exceedingly severe“the magicians could not stand before Moses”

because of it (v.11). If it was “the botch of Egypt (Deuteronomy 28:27), as seems

probable, since the name in the Hebrew is the same, it was incurable. Pharaoh and his

people were warned by it that God’s power would be shown on themselves, not in the

way of mere annoyance — as with the earlier plagues — but of serious injury — and

if so, why not of death? Thus, the sixth plague heralded the tenth, and, except the tenth,

was the most severe of all.



      NOT ALWAYS A PUNISHMENT FOR SIN.  (vs. 8-12)  God has many

      weapons in His quiver wherewith to chastise sin. One of them is physical pain.

      He can cause the limbs to ache, the temples to throb, the blood to be inflamed,

      the breathing to labor, the head to be racked, the nerves to thrill and tingle —

      the whole body, from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, to be nothing           

      but a mass of “wounds and bruises, and putrifying sores.” (Isaiah 1:6) - There        

      is no part of our frame, no process, no function, but can be made the seat of an

      intolerable agony. God, for the most part, spares us, in the hope that His

      goodness and long-suffering will lead us to repentance. (Romans 2:4) - He had

      long spared Pharaoh and the Egyptians — had shown them His power in ways

      that annoyed and harassed, but did not seriously hurt. Now He must adopt

      severer measures. So His hand is laid upon their bodies, which are smitten with           

      disease, disfigured, made loathsome to the eye, and racked with physical          

      suffering. Here we may note three things:



            sins have physical consequences attached to them by a natural law, which

            are in the highest degree painful, which injure the health, destroy the

            tissues, produce disease, madness, idiocy. (Take for instance AIDS and

            HIV and some STD’s [sexually transmitted diseases] – CY – 2010)  Men

            know these consequences, but hope that they may individually escape them.

            “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections:  for even their

            women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

            And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman,

            burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that

            which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that RECOMPENCE

            OF ERROR WHICH WAS MEET” - (Romans 1:26-27) - As Moses and

            Aaron warned in vain, so now vain too often are the uplifted voices of God’s

            ministers. Nine-tenths, probably, of the physical suffering in England at the

            present day is caused by those sins of intemperance and uncleanness which

            are the crying evils of our age and country, and which nothing seems able

            to uproot or even seriously to diminish. (WHAT ABOUT THE UNITED

            STATES IN 2010? – CY – 2010)  Children are born now for the most

            part with the seeds of disease in them, which are the consequence of their

            parents’ vices. They lack the physical stamina and the moral vigor which

            they would have possessed, had their parents led good, pious, consistent,

            religious lives. They have unhealthy appetites, desires, cravings, which they

            would not have had but for their parents’ sins. (Crack Babies??? – CY – 2010)

            Too often, to all this is added the force of bad example. Intemperance and        

            uncleanness follow, and the inborn germs of disease are stimulated into

            activity; pain follows pain, agony follows agony. A wretched, life is terminated

            by an early death. If they leave children behind them, their case is even more    

            hopeless. The physical taint is deepened. The moral strength to resist is weaker.            

            Happy is it if God takes the little ones away from the evil to come.



            THE WEALTHY OR THE HIGHLY EDUCATED.  The boil was on the

            magicians.” The taint of uncleanness, the mental weakness which results

            from habits of intemperance afflict the great, the rich, the “upper ten

            thousand,” as surely as their humbler fellow-subjects who herd in courts

            and alleys. There are great families in which it is a well-known fact that

            intemperance has become hereditary. There are others where the heir never

            lives to the age of thirty. No rank — not even royal rank — exempts from

            subjection to hygienic laws. Neither does intellect nor education. It may be

            that the intellectual and highly educated are less likely than others to

            plunge into dissipation and sensual vices. But if, in spite of their higher

            nature, they give the reins to their lower, the same results follow as in the

            case of the least gifted of their fellow-men. Retribution reaches them. They

            receive within themselves the reward of their iniquity.” Their physical

            nature, no less than their moral, is tainted; and pain, suffering, often agony,

            are their portion.



            THEMSELVES. The boil was on the magicians; but we do not hear that

            the magicians submitted themselves, or owned the supremacy of Jehovah.

            So now, those whose sin draws down upon them suffering rarely repent,

            rarely forsake their sin, rarely humble themselves beneath the chastening

            rod of the Almighty. (Consider Revelation 16:8-9) - No doubt drunkards are    

            occasionally reformed and profligates reclaimed. But for one lost sheep thus      

            recovered, how many scores perish in their evil courses, and descend the

             rapid incline which conducts to the gulf of destruction? We are amazed at

            the obstinacy of Pharaoh; but we are most of us just as obstinate. Nothing

            will induce us to give up our pet vices. We cling to them, even when the boil is  

            upon us. If we give them up for a time, we recur to them. If we leave them off

            in act, we dwell fondly upon them in thought and imagination. O hard human

            hearts, that will not yield to God’s discipline of pain, when sent as

            chastisement! What can ye expect, but that chastisement will give place to

            vengeance? Physical suffering is sometimes sent, not to punish, but to

            refine and purify. Job’s comforters supposed that one so afflicted must

            have committed some great crime, or be concealing some habitual vice of a

            grave character. But it was not so. The sufferings of saints are blessing.

            They give a fellowship with Christ, which nothing else can give. They make

            the saint rehearse in thought, over and over again, each step of that

            grievous, yet blessed via dolorosa, along which he went upon His way to

            the Cross of Calvary. They intensify faith and love — they give assurance

            of acceptance (Hebrews 12:6) — they elevate, purify, sanctify. Earth

            has no lovelier sight than that not uncommon one of a crippled sufferer,

            stretched day after day and year after year upon a bed of pain, yet always

            cheerful, always thoughtful for others, always helpful by advice, kind word,

            even (if their strength allows) kind acts. Such Blessed ones live with Christ,

            suffer with Christ, feel themselves to be in Christ; as St. Paul says, they “fill

            up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in their flesh”

            (Colossians 1:24), and “are joyful in their tribulation” (II Corinthians 7:4).



                                    THE SEVENTH PLAGUE – HAIL AND FIRE


vs. 13-26 – “And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and

stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the

Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.  The same message is

constantly repeated in the same words as a token of God’s unchangingness.  (ch. 8:1-20; 9:1;

10:3; “I am the Lord, I change not”; (Malachi 3:6); “with whom there is no

variableness, neither shadow of turning”; (James 1:17).  I will at this time send

all my plagues upon thine heart”. A very emphatic announcement. At this time contrasts

the immediate future with the past, and tells Pharaoh that the hour of mild warnings and slight

plagues is gone by. Now he is to expect something far more terrible God will send “all His

plagues— every worst form of evil — in rapid succession; and will send them “against

his heart”. Each will strike a blow on that perverse and obdurate heart — each will stir his

nature to its inmost depths.  Conscience will wake up and insist on being heard. All the

numerous brood of selfish fears and alarms will bestir themselves. He will tremble, and be

amazed and perplexed. He will forego his pride and humble himself, and beg the Israelites

to be gone, and even entreat that, ere they depart, the leaders whom he has so long opposed,

will give him their blessing (ch. 12:32). “That thou mayest know Pharaoh was

himself to be convinced that the Lord God of Israel was, at any rate, the greatest of all gods.

He was not likely to desert at once and altogether the religion in which he had

been brought up, or to regard its gods as nonexistent. But he might be persuaded of one thing

that Jehovah was far above them. And this he practically acknowledges in vs. 27-28. 

For now I will stretch out my hand” It is generally agreed by modern writers that this

translation fails to give the true sense of the original God does not here announce what He is

going to do, but what He might have done, and would have done, but for certain

considerations. Translate, “For now might I have stretched out my hand, and smitten

thee and thy people with pestilence; and then thou hadst been cut off from

the earth.” Scripture shows that pestilence is always in God’s power, and may at any

time be let loose to scourge His foes, and sweep them into the pit of destruction. (See

Leviticus 26:25; Numbers 11:33; 14:12; 16:46; II Samuel 24:13-15) He had not done

now what He might have done, and what Pharaoh’s obstinacy might well have provoked

him to do; and why? On account of the considerations contained in the next verse.

And in very deed-  Rather, “But truly for this cause have I caused thee to stand,”

 kept thee alive and sustained thee in the position thou occupiest – “for to shew to

thee my power” i.e., to impress thee, if it is possible that thou canst be impressed, with

the greatness of my power, and the foolishness of any attempt to resist it, and also that my

name may be declared throughout all the earth” — i.e., that attention

may be called widely among the neighboring nations to the great truththat there is

really but one God, who alone can deliver, and whom it isimpossible to resist.

As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 

Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such

as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.  Send

therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that  thou hast in the field; for upon

every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought

home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die”.  Human life was

now for the first time threatened. Any herdsmen that remained with the cattle in the

open field and did not seek the shelter of houses or sheds would be smitten by the

huge jagged hailstones with such force that they would be killed outright, or else die

of their wounds.  He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of

Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses”:   It is a new fact

that any of the Egyptians had been brought to “fear the word of Jehovah.” Probably,

the effect of the plagues had been gradually to convince a considerable number, not

so much that Jehovah was the one True God as that He was a great and powerful god,

whose chastisements were to be feared. Consequently there were now a certain

number among the “servants of Pharaoh” who profited by the warning given (v.19),

and housed their cattle and herdsmen, in anticipation of the coming storm. “And he

that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the

field.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven,

that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and

upon every herb of the field, (upon all forms of vegetable life – compare Genesis 1:30;

9:3) throughout the land of Egypt.  And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven:

and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; (some

very peculiar electrical display seems to be intended) and the LORD rained hail upon the

land of Egypt.  So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such

as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.  (It seems

to mean a fire that was not a mere flash, but collected itself into a mass and was seen for

some considerable time)  And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that

was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and

brake every tree of the field.  Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of

Israel were, was there no hail”.  The sixth plague had had no effect at all upon the hard

heart of the Pharaoh, who cared nothing for the physical sufferings of his subjects, and

apparently was not himself afflicted by the malady. Moses was therefore ordered to appear

before him once more, and warn him of further and yet more terrible visitations which were

impending. The long message (vs. 13-19) is without any previous parallel, and

contains matter calculated to make an impression even upon the most callous of

mortals. First there is an announcement that God is about to send all His plagues”

upon king and people (v. 14); then a solemn warning that a pestilence might have been

sent which would have swept both king and people from the face of the earth (v.15);

and finally (v. 18) an announcement of the actual judgment immediately impending,

which is to be a hailstorm of a severity never previously known in Egypt, and but

rarely experienced elsewhere. Pharaoh is moreover told that the whole object of his having

been allowed by God to continue in existence is the glory about to accrue to

His name from the exhibition of His power in the deliverance of His people (v.16).

A peculiar feature of the plague is the warning (v.19) whereby those who believed the

words of Moses, were enabled to escape a great part of the ill effects of the storm. It

is a remarkable indication of the impression made by the previous plagues, that

the warning was taken by a considerable number of the Egyptians, who by this

means saved their cattle and their slaves (v.20). The injury caused by the plague was

very great. The flax and barley crops, which were the most advanced suffered

complete destruction. Men and beasts were wounded by the hail-stones, which might

have been — as hail-stones sometimes are — jagged pieces of ice; and some were

even killed, either by the hail (see Joshua 10:11), or by the lightning which

accompanied it. Even trees were damaged by the force of the storm, which destroyed

the foliage and broke the branches



      “For now might I have stretched out my hand and smitten thee and thy   

      people with pestilence”.   Pharaoh had opposed himself to God so long, had

            shown himself in various ways so wicked, that he well deserved to have

            been stricken with plague and made to perish miserably. He had been

            insolent and blasphemous, when first appealed to in the name of Jehovah

            (ch. 5:2); cruel and vindictive, when he increased the Israelites’ burdens

            (ib. 7-9); hard-hearted, when the taskmasters complained to him (ib. 15-18);   

            obdurate and perverse, in resisting so many signs and wonders wrought for

            the purpose of moving him (chps. 7:10-13, 20-23; 8:5-7, 16-19, 20-24; 9:6-7,

            10-12); pitiless and false, in twice breaking his promises (ch. 8:8-15, 28-32).

            Yet God had spared him. He had “made him to stand” (v.16) — i.e.,

            preserved him in being — and had retained him in his high station, when He

            might readily have caused his overthrow by conspiracy or otherwise. So long-  

            suffering was He, that He even now addressed to him fresh warnings, and

            gave him fresh signs of His power, thus by His goodness striving to lead him

            to repentance.



      DETERMINED SINNER. God can so multiply, and vary, and prolong His

      judgments, that at last the power of endurance, .even in the case of the most

      obdurate sinner, is worn out. First He sends comparatively slight afflictions,

      then more serious ones; finally, if the stubborn will still refuses to bend, He

      visits the offender with “all His plagues” (v. 14). Man cannot triumph over

      God. Kings may oppose their wills to His, but they cannot make Him succumb.            

      He “refrains the spirit of princes,” and shows Himself “wonderful among

      the kings of the earth” (Psalm 76:12).  Unfortunately kings, and even less

      exalted sinners, will rarely learn wisdom till too late. He has to send “all His          

      plagues upon them; whereas, if they had been wise, they might have escaped

      with a light chastisement.




      The fierceness of man turns to God’s praise., He has endowed men with free will,

      and allows them the free exercise of their free will, because, do as they

      like, they cannot thwart His purposes.  Being, as He is, the God of order, and

            not of confusion or anarchy, He could not have allowed free will at all to His     

            creatures, if their employment of it prevented the accomplishment of His own    

            designs and intentions. The message sent by God to Pharaoh through Moses

            adds, that the result is designed. “For this cause have I made thee stand

            (marg.), for to show to thee my power; and that my name may be

            declared throughout all the earth”(v.16). Compare chps.  14:17-18;

            15:14-16; Joshua 2:9-11.



                        GOD GETS PHARAOH’S ATTENTION


vs. 27-35 – “And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto

them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous” - Literally, “Jehovah is the

Just One; and I and my people are the sinners.” The confession seems, at first sight,

ample and satisfactory; but there is perhaps some shifting of sin, that was all his own, upon

the Egyptian “people,” which indicates disingenuousness.  and I and my people are

wicked.  Entreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty

thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.  And

Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad

my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be

any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’s.

The other plagues sufficiently showed that Egypt was Jehovah’s; this, which came

from the open heaven that surrounds and embraces the whole world, indicated that

the entire earth was his. (Comp. Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and the

fullness thereof: the world, and they that dwell therein.”)  But as for thee and thy

servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God.  True fear of God

is shown by obedience to His commands. Pharaoh and his servants had the sort of

fear which devils have — they “also believe and tremble.” (James 2:19) - But they

had not yet that real reverential fear which is joined with love, and has, as its fruit,

obedience. So the event showed. (vs 34, 35.)  And the flax and the barley was

smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the  flax was bolled”.    Flax

blossoms towards the end of January or beginning of February, and the barley comes

into ear about the same time, being commonly cut in March. Barley was employed largely

as the food of horses, and was used also for the manufacture of beer, which was a

common Egyptian beverage. A certain quantity was made by the poorer classes into bread. 

But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up.  And

Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the

LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon

the earth.  And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail  and the thunders

were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart” – Altogether there are

three different Hebrew verbs, which our translators have rendered by “harden,” or

hardened” — kabad, qashah, and khazaq. The first of these, which occurs in chps.

7:14; 8:15, 32; 9:7 and 34, is the weakest of the three, and means to be “dull” or

heavy,” rather than “to be hard.” The second, which appears in chps. 7:3, and 13:15,

is a stronger term, and means “to be hard,” or, in the Hiphil, “to make hard.”  But the

third has the most intensive sense, implying fixed and stubborn resolution. It occurs

in  chps. 4:21; 7:22; 8:19; 9:35; and elsewhere.  He and his servants. Pharaoh’s

servants,” i.e. the officers of his court, still, it would seem, upheld the king in his impious

and mad course, either out of complaisance, or because they were really not yet convinced

of the resistless might of Jehovah. After the eighth plague, we shall find their tone

change (Exodus 10:7).  he  and his servants.  And the heart of Pharaoh was

hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken

by Moses.”  The plague of hail impressed the Pharaoh more than any previous one. It was

the first which had inflicted death on men. It was a most striking and terrible manifestation.

It was quite unlike anything which the Egyptians had ever experienced before (vs. 18, 24).

It was, by manifest miracle, made to fall on the Egyptians only (v. 26). Pharaoh was

therefore more humbled than ever previously. He acknowledged that he “had sinned”

(v. 27); he added a confession that “Jehovah [alone] was righteous, he and his

people wicked” (ibid.). And, as twice before, he expressed his willingness to let the

Israelites take their departure if the plague were removed (v. 28). The ultimate results,

however, were not any better than before. No sooner had Moses prayed to God, and

procured the cessation of the plague, than the king repented of his repentance,

hardened his heart;” and, once more casting his promise to the winds, refused to

permit the Israelites to depart (vs. 33-35). His people joined him in this act of

obduracy (v. 34), perhaps thinking that they had now suffered the worst that could

befall them.  (But they were wrong!)




            MAY BE KNOWN.   It is not always easy to distinguish between a true and

            a mock repentance.  Here was the Pharaoh at this time very visibly — it

            might have seemed deeply — impressed. He was disquieted — he was

            alarmed — he was ready to humble himself — to make confession — to

            promise obedience in the future. In what did his repentance differ from true,

            godly penitence?  What points did it possess in common with such penitence?   

            What points did it lack?



            sinned this time — I and my people are wicked.” Confession of sin is a

            very important point in true penitence. There can be no true penitence

            without it. “I said, I will confess my sin unto the Lord, and so thou

            forgavest the wickedness of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). But it may be made,

            under a sort of compulsion, as a necessity, without the rightful feeling of

            contrition, or sorrow for sin, out of which it should spring, and apart from

            which it is valueless. We may doubt whether Pharaoh’s confession sprang

            from a true, contrite heart. There was a ring of insincerity in it. “I, and my

            people,” he said, “are wicked.” True penitence leads us to confess our own

            sins, not those of others. There was no occasion for introducing the

            mention of his people’s sins, and, as it were, merging his own in theirs. The

            people had not been appealed to, in order that they might say whether the

            Israelites should be allowed to depart or not. They had no doubt many sins

            of their own to answer for; but they had had no part in this particular sin.

            There is a covert self-justification in the introduction of the words “and my

            people,” as if the national sentiment had been too strong for him, and he

            had only “refused to let Israel go” in consequence of it.



      “The Lord is righteous,” or “Jehovah is the righteous one,” was such a full

      and frank acknowledgment of the perfect justice and righteousness of God as

      the heart of man does not very readily make, unless in moments of exaltation.

      We need not suppose that the monarch was insincere in his utterance. He was  

      temporarily lifted up out of himself — so impressed with the power and

      greatness of Jehovah, that he had for the time true thoughts and high thoughts    

      concerning Him. He had doubtless a very insufficient feeling or appreciation of  

      the awful purity and holiness of God; but he did feel His justice. He knew in his

      inmost heart that he had deserved the judgments sent upon him, and meant to    

      acknowledge this. He was willing that God should be “justified in his sayings,            

      and overcome when He was judged” (Romans 3:4). He may not have had an           

      adequate sense of the full meaning of his own words, but he had some sense of

      their meaning, and did not merely repeat, parrot-like, phrases from a ritual.



            APPEAL TO THE MINISTERS OF GOD FOR AID. Pharaoh “sent and

            called for Moses and Aaron.” Not very long before, he had dismissed them

            from his presence as impertinent intruders, with the words, “Get you to

            your burdens” (ch. 5:4). Now he appeals to them for succor. He asks their     

            prayers — “Entreat for me.” Such appeals are constantly made, both by the

            true and by the mock penitent. Reliance on self disappears. God’s ministers

            take their due place as ambassadors for Him and stewards of His mysteries.

            They are asked to intercede for the sinner, to frame a prayer for him, and offer

            it on his behalf. All this is fitting under the circumstances; for lips long     

            unaccustomed to prayer cannot at once offer it acceptably, and intercessory

            prayer is especially valuable at the time when the half-awakened soul feels a      

            yearning towards God, to which, if unassisted, it is unable to give effect.



      AMENDMENT. “I will let you go.” Let but his prayer be granted, let but

            the plague be removed, and the king promises that all his opposition to the

            will of Jehovah shall cease — the children of Israel shall be “let go,” they

            shall not be detained any longer. Amendment of life is the crown and apex

            of repentance, and is rightly first resolved upon, then professed, finally

            practiced by the true penitent. But profession alone is no criterion of the

            nature of the repentance. The sole certain criterion is the result. If the

            resolutions made are kept, if the profession is carried out in act, then the

            repentance is proved to have been genuine; if the reverse is the case, then it

            was spurious. The event, however, can alone show how the case stands.

            Meanwhile, as we must “judge nothing before the time,” (I Corinthians

            4:5) - it would seem to be best that in every case a professed repentance

            should be treated as real when it is put forward, whatever suspicions may be     

            entertained respecting it. No harm is done by treating a mock penitent as if he   

            were a real one. Great harm might be done by a mistaken rejection of a true     




      The sinner who truly repents desires above all things the pardon and removal

      of his sin. He cares little, comparatively, for the removal of its chastisement.

      Sin, which separates him from God, is the great object of his abhorrence; and   

      when he asks the prayers of ministers or other pious persons, he requests them

      to intercede for him, that he may find pardon and cleansing, may have his past   

      sins forgiven, and strength granted him to forsake sin in the future. When           

      Pharaoh, instead of such a prayer as this, asked for nothing but the removal of

      the temporal evil which had been sent upon him as a punishment, it was easy

      for one experienced in the words of man to see that his was not a real, genuine  

      repentance. And this Moses seems to have perceived. “As for thee and thy   

      servants,” he said to the king, “I know that ye will not yet fear the Lord

      God.” I know that the fear which now fills your hearts is not the true fear of

      God — not a dread of His displeasure, but of the pains and sufferings that He

      can inflict. I know that what you seek is not reconcilement with God, but           

      exemption from calamity. You are driven upon your course by alarm and

      terror, not drawn by love. I know that when the affliction is removed you will    

      relapse into your former condition. Some more terrible judgment will be

      needed to make you really yield. Note, then, that the minister, if he possesses    

      spiritual discernment, may generally detect an unreal repentance, and, however

            closely it apes the true, may escape being deceived by it.



"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."