ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE TENTH PLAGUE.
(1) And the Lord said.—Rather, Now the Lord had said. The passage (Exodus 11:1-3) is parenthetic, and refers to a revelation made to Moses before his present interview with Pharaoh began. The insertion is needed in order to explain the confidence of Moses in regard to the last plague (Exodus 11:5), and the effect it would have on the Egyptians (Exodus 11:8).
When he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.—The word rendered “altogether” belongs to the first clause. Translate, when he shall let you go altogether, he shall assuredly thrust you out hence.
The man Moses.—At first sight there seems a difficulty in supposing Moses to have written thus of himself. “The man” is not a title by which writers of any time or country are in the habit of speaking of themselves; but it is far more difficult to imagine any one but Moses giving him so bald and poor a designation. To other writers he is a “prophet (Deuteronomy 34:10; Luke 24:27; Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37), or “a man of God” (Deuteronomy 33:1; Joshua 14:6; Psalms 90, Title; Ezra 3:2), or “the servant of the Lord” (Joshua 1:1; Hebrews 3:5); never simply “the man.”
Very great.—It has been said that this expression does not comport well with the “meekness” of Moses. But it is the mere statement of a fact, and of one necessary to be stated for the proper understanding of the narrative. Moses, in the course of his long contention as an equal with Pharaoh, had come to be regarded, not only by the courtiers, but by the Egyptians generally, as a great personage—a personage almost on a par with the Pharaoh, whom they revered as a god upon earth. The position to which he had thus attained exerted an important influence on the entire Egyptian people at this time, causing them to be well-inclined towards his countrymen, and willing to make sacrifices in order to help them and obtain their good-will.
About midnight.—The particular night was not specified; and the torment of suspense was thus added to the pain of an unintermittent fear. But the dreadful visitation was to come at the dreadest hour of the twenty-four—midnight. Thus much was placed beyond doubt.
The maidservant that is behind the mill marks the lowest grade in the social scale, as the king that sits upon his throne marks the highest. All alike were to suffer. In every family there was to be one dead (Exodus 12:30).
All the firstborn of beasts.—The aggravation of the calamity by its extension to beasts is very remarkable, and is probably to be connected with the Egyptian animal-worship. At all times there were in Egypt four animals regarded as actual incarnations of deity, and the objects of profound veneration. Three of these were bulls, while one was a white cow. It is not unlikely that all were required to be “firstborns;” in which case the whole of Egypt would have been plunged into a religious mourning on account of their deaths, in addition to the domestic mourning that must have prevailed in each house. The deaths of other sacred animals, and of many pet animals in houses, would have increased the general consternation.
In a great anger.—Heb., in heat of anger: i.e., burning with indignation. Moses had not shown this in his speech, which had been calm and dignified; but he here records what he had felt. For once his acquired “meekness” failed, and the hot natural temper of his youth blazed up. His life had been threatened—he had been ignominiously dismissed—he had been deprived of his right of audience for the future (Exodus 10:28). Under such circumstances, he “did well to be angry.”
Exodus 11:10And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.