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.
We may observe a particular scope and meaning in this calamity, if we consider it in regard to the Egyptians, which would not have existed in respect to any other people. They held in idolatrous reverence almost every animal, but some they held in particular veneration; as the ox, cow, and ram. Among these, Apis and Mnevis are well known; the former being a sacred bull, worshipped at Memphis, as the latter was at Heliopolis. A cow or heifer had the like honours at Momemphis; and the same practice seems to have been adopted in most of the Egyptian nomes. By the infliction of this judgment, the Egyptian deities sank before the God of the Hebrews. See Bryant, pp. 87-93.
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.
a set time
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, 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.
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.
This was a significant command; not only referring to the fiery furnace, which was a type of the slavery of the Israelites, but to a cruel rite common among the Egyptians. They had several cities styled Typhonian, in which at particular seasons they sacrificed men, who were burnt alive; and the ashes of the victim were scattered upwards in the air, with the view, probably, that where any atom of dust was carried, a blessing was entailed. The like, therefore, was done by Moses, though with a different intention, and more certain effect. See Bryant, pp. 93-106.
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.
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.
And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
4:21 7:13,14 Psalms 81:11,12 Revelation 16:10,11 Hardness of heart is a figurative expression, denoting that insensibility of mind upon which neither judgments nor mercies make any abiding impressions; but the conscience being stupefied, the obdurate rebel persists in determined disobedience.
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.
For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.
For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.
And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
raised thee up
Heb. made thee stand. for to.
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.
I will cause
This must have been a circumstance of all others the most incredible to an Egyptian; for in Egypt there fell no rain, the want of which was supplied by dews, and the overflowing of the Nile. The Egyptians must, therefore, have perceived themselves particularly aimed at in these fearful events, especially as they were very superstitious. There seems likewise a propriety in their being punished by fire and water, as they were guilty of the grossest idolatry towards these elements. Scarcely any thing could have distressed the Egyptians more than the destruction of the flax, as the whole nation wore linen garments. The ruin of their barley was equally fatal, both to their trade and to their private advantage. See Bryant, pp. 108-117.
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.
He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses:
And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.
Heb. set not his heart unto.
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, 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; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
the Lord sent
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.
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.
And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.
Intreat 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.
Heb. voices of God.
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.
that the earth
But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God.
And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.
The word pishteh, flax, Mr. Parkhurst thinks may be derived from pashat, to strip, because the substance which we call flax is properly the filaments of the bark or rind of the vegetable, stripped off the stalks. From time immemorial, Egypt was celebrated for the production and manufacture of flax; and hence the linen and fine linen of Egypt, so often spoken of in scripture and ancient authors.
The Hebrew seÛrah, barley, in Arabic shair, and shairat, is so called from its rough, bristly beard, with which the ears are covered and defended; from sa‚r, to stand on end as the hair of the head: hence se‚r, the hair of the head. So its Latin name hordeum is from horreo, to stand on end as the hair. Dr. Pococke has observed that there is a double seed time and harvest in Egypt; rice, India wheat, and a grain called the corn of Damascus, are sown and reaped at a very different time from wheat, barley, and flax. The first are sown in March, before the overflowing of the Nile, and reaped about October; whereas the wheat and barley are sown in November and December, as soon as the Nile has gone off, and reaped before May.
But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up.
not grown up
Heb. hidden, or dark.
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 the thunders
And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, 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.