Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible/Volume 1/Exodus

PrefaceEdit



Moses (the servant of the Lord in writing for him as well as in acting for him—with the pen of God as well as with the rod of God in his hand) having, in the first book of his history, preserved and transmitted the records of the church, while it existed in private families, comes, in this second book, to give us an account of its growth into a great nation; and, as the former furnishes us with the best economics, so this with the best politics. The beginning of the former book shows us how God formed the world for himself; the beginning of this shows us how he formed Israel for himself, and both to show forth his praise, Isa. xliii. 21. There we have the creation of the world in history, here the redemption of the world in type. The Greek translators called this book Exodus (which signifies a departure or going out) because it begins with the story of the going out of the children of Israel from Egypt. Some allude to the names of this and the foregoing book, and observe that immediately after Genesis, which signifies the beginning or original, follows Exodus, which signifies a departure; for a time to be born is immediately succeeded by a time to die. No sooner have we made our entrance into the world than we must think of making our exit, and going out of the world. When we begin to live we begin to die. The forming of Israel into a people was a new creation. As the earth was, in the beginning, first fetched from under water, and then beautified and replenished, so Israel was first by an almighty power made to emerge out of Egyptian slavery, and then enriched with God's law and tabernacle. This book gives us, I. The accomplishment of the promises made before to Abraham (ch. i.-xix.), and then, II. The establishment of the ordinances which were afterwards observed by Israel, ch. xx.-xl. Moses, in this book, begins, like Cæsar, to write his own Commentaries; nay, a greater, a far greater, than Cæsar is here. But henceforward the penman is himself the hero, and gives us the history of those things of which he was himself an eye and ear-witness, et quorum pars magna fuit—and in which he bore a conspicuous part. There are more types of Christ in this book than perhaps in any other book of the Old Testament; for Moses wrote of him, John v. 46. The way of man's reconciliation to God, and coming into covenant and communion with him by a Mediator, is here variously represented; and it is of great use to us for the illustration of the New Testament, now that we have that to assist us in the explication of the Old. We have here, I. God's kindness to Israel, in multiplying them exceedingly, (ver. 1-7). II. The Egyptians' wickedness to them, 1. Oppressing and enslaving them, (ver. 8-14). 2. Murdering their children, (ver. 15-22). Thus whom the court of heaven blessed the country of Egypt cursed, and for that reason.

CHAP. 1.Edit

verses 1-7Edit

The Israelites Oppressed in Egypt. (b. c. 1588.)Edit


1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. 6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. 7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

In these verses we have, 1. A recital of the names of the twelve patriarchs, as they are called, Acts vii. 8. Their names are often repeated in scripture, that they may not sound uncouth to us, as other hard names, but that, by their occurring so frequently, they may become familiar to us; and to show how precious God's spiritual Israel are to him, and how much he delights in them. 2. The account which was kept of the number of Jacob's family, when they went down into Egypt; they were in all seventy souls (v. 5). according to the computation we had, Gen. xlvi. 27. This was just the number of the nations by which the earth was peopled, according to the account given, Gen. x. For when the Most High separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel, as Moses observes, Deut. xxxii. 8. Notice is here taken of this that their increase in Egypt might appear the more wonderful. Note, It is good for those whose latter end greatly increases often to remember how small their beginning was, Job viii. 7. 3. The death of Joseph, v. 6. All that generation by degrees wore off. Perhaps all Jacob's sons died much about the same time; for there was not more than seven years' difference in age between the eldest and the youngest of them, except Benjamin; and, when death comes into a family, sometimes it makes a full end in a little time. When Joseph, the stay of the family, died, the rest went off apace. Note, We must look upon ourselves and our brethren, and all we converse with, as dying and hastening out of the world. This generation passeth away, as that did which went before. 4. The strange increase of Israel in Egypt, v. 7. Here are four words used to express it: They were fruitful, and increased abundantly, like fishes or insects, so that they multiplied; and, being generally healthful and strong, they waxed exceedingly mighty, so that they began almost to outnumber the natives, for the land was in all places filled with them, at least Goshen, their own allotment. Observe, (1.) Though, no doubt, they increased considerably before, yet, it should seem, it was not till after the death of Joseph that it began to be taken notice of as extraordinary. Thus, when they lost the benefit of his protection, God made their numbers their defence, and they became better able than they had been to shift for themselves. If God continue our friends and relations to us while we most need them, and remove them when they can be better spared, let us own that he is wise, and not complain that he is hard upon us. After the death of Christ, our Joseph, his gospel Israel began most remarkably to increase: and his death had an influence upon it; it was like the sowing of a corn of wheat, which, if it die, bringeth forth much fruit, John xii. 24. (2.) This wonderful increase was the fulfillment of the promise long before made unto the fathers. From the call of Abraham, when God first told him he would make of him a great nation, to the deliverance of his seed out of Egypt, it was 430 years, during the first 215 of which they were increased but to seventy, but, in the latter half, those seventy multiplied to 600,000 fighting men. Note, [1.] Sometimes God's providences may seem for a great while to thwart his promises, and to go counter to them, that his people's faith may be tried, and his own power the more magnified. [2.] Though the performance of God's promises is sometimes slow, yet it is always sure; at the end it shall speak, and not lie, Hab. ii. 3.

verses 8-14Edit


8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. 11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. 13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

The land of Egypt here, at length, becomes to Israel a house of bondage, though hitherto it had been a happy shelter and settlement for them. Note, The place of our satisfaction may soon become the place of our affliction, and that may prove the greatest cross to us of which we said, This same shall comfort us. Those may prove our sworn enemies whose parents were our faithful friends; nay, the same persons that loved us may possibly turn to hate us: therefore cease from man, and say not concerning any place on this side heaven, This is my rest for ever. Observe here,
I. The obligations they lay under to Israel upon Joseph's account were forgotten: There arose a new king, after several successions in Joseph's time, who knew not Joseph, v. 8. All that knew him loved him, and were kind to his relations for his sake; but when he was dead he was soon forgotten, and the remembrance of the good offices he had done was either not retained or not regarded, nor had it any influence upon their councils. Note, the best and the most useful and acceptable services done to men are seldom remembered, so as to be recompensed to those that did them, in the notice taken either of their memory, or of their posterity, after their death, Eccl. ix. 5, 15. Therefore our great care should be to serve God, and please him, who is not unrighteous, whatever men are, to forget our work and labour of love, Heb. vi. 10. If we work for men only, our works, at furthest, will die with us; if for God, they will follow us, Rev. xiv. 13. This king of Egypt knew not Joseph; and after him arose one that had the impudence to say, I know not the Lord, ch. v. 2. Note, Those that are unmindful of their other benefactors, it is to be feared, will forget the supreme benefactor, 1 John iv. 20.
II. Reasons of state were suggested for their dealing hardly with Israel, v. 9, 10. 1. They are represented as more and mightier than the Egyptians; certainly they were not so, but the king of Egypt, when he resolved to oppress them, would have them thought so, and looked on as a formidable body. 2. Hence it is inferred that if care were not taken to keep them under they would become dangerous to the government, and in time of war would side with their enemies and revolt from their allegiance to the crown of Egypt. Note, It has been the policy of persecutors to represent God's Israel as a dangerous people, hurtful to kings and provinces, not fit to be trusted, nay, not fit to be tolerated, that they may have some pretence for the barbarous treatment they design them, Ezra iv. 12, &c.; Esth. iii. 8. Observe, The thing they feared was lest they should get them up out of the land, probably having heard them speak of the promise made to their fathers that they should settle in Canaan. Note, The policies of the church's enemies aim to defeat the promises of the church's God, but in vain; God's counsels shall stand. 3. It is therefore proposed that a course be taken to prevent their increase: Come on, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply. Note, (1.) The growth of Israel is the grief of Egypt, and that against which the powers and policies of hell are levelled. (2.) When men deal wickedly, it is common for them to imagine that they deal wisely; but the folly of sin will, at last, be manifested before all men.
III. The method they took to suppress them, and check their growth, v. 11, 13, 14. The Israelites behaved themselves so peaceably and inoffensively that they could not find any occasion of making war upon them, and weakening them by that means: and therefore, 1. They took care to keep them poor, by charging them with heavy taxes, which, some think, is included in the burdens with which they afflicted them. 2. By this means they took an effectual course to make them slaves. The Israelites, it should seem, were much more industrious laborious people than the Egyptians, and therefore Pharaoh took care to find them work, both in building (they built him treasure-cities), and in husbandry, even all manner of service in the field: and this was exacted from them with the utmost rigour and severity. Here are many expressions used, to affect us with the condition of God's people. They had taskmasters set over them, who were directed, not only to burden them, but, as much as might be, to afflict them with their burdens, and contrive how to make them grievous. They not only made them serve, which was sufficient for Pharaoh's profit, but they made them serve with rigour, so that their lives became bitter to them, intending hereby, (1.) To break their spirits, and rob them of every thing in them that was ingenuous and generous. (2.) To ruin their health and shorten their days, and so diminish their numbers. (3.) To discourage them from marrying, since their children would be born to slavery. (4.) To oblige them to desert the Hebrews, and incorporate themselves with the Egyptians. Thus he hoped to cut off the name of Israel, that it might be no more in remembrance. And it is to be feared that the oppression they were under had this bad effect upon them, that it brought over many of them to join with the Egyptians in their idolatrous worship; for we read (Josh. xxiv. 14) that they served other gods in Egypt; and, though it is not mentioned here in this history, yet we find (Ezek. xx. 8) that God had threatened to destroy them for it, even while they were in the land of Egypt: however, they were kept a distinct body, unmingled with the Egyptians, and by their other customs separated from them, which was the Lord's doing, and marvellous.
IV. The wonderful increase of the Israelites, notwithstanding the oppressions they groaned under (v. 12): The more they afflicted them the more they multiplied, sorely to the grief and vexation of the Egyptians. Note, 1. Times of affliction have often been the church's growing times, Sub pondere crescit—Being pressed, it grows. Christianity spread most when it was persecuted: the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. 2. Those that take counsel against the Lord and his Israel do but imagine a vain thing (Ps. ii. 1), and create so much the greater vexation to themselves: hell and earth cannot diminish those whom Heaven will increase.

verses 15-22Edit


15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. 18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? 19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. 20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. 21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. 22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

The Egyptians' indignation at Israel's increase, notwithstanding the many hardships they put upon them, drove them at length to the most barbarous and inhuman methods of suppressing them, by the murder of their children. It was strange that they did not rather pick quarrels with the grown men, against whom they might perhaps find some occasion: to be thus bloody towards the infants, whom all must own to be innocents, was a sin which they had to cloak for. Note, 1. There is more cruelty in the corrupt heart of man than one would imagine, Rom. iii. 15, 16. The enmity that is in the seed of the serpent against the seed of the woman divests men of humanity itself, and makes them forget all pity. One would not think it possible that ever men should be so barbarous and blood-thirsty as the persecutors of God's people have been, Rev. xvii. 6. 2. Even confessed innocence is no defence against the old enmity. What blood so guiltless as that of a child new-born? Yet that is prodigally shed like water, and sucked with delight like milk or honey. Pharaoh and Herod sufficiently proved themselves agents for that great red dragon, who stood to devour the man-child as soon as it was born, Rev. xii. 3, 4. Pilate delivered Christ to be crucified, after he had confessed that he found no fault in him. It is well for us that, though man can kill the body, this is all he can do. Two bloody edicts are here signed for the destruction of all the male children that were born to the Hebrews.
I. The midwives were commanded to murder them. Observe, 1. The orders given them, v. 15, 16. It added much to the barbarity of the intended executions that the midwives were appointed to be the executioners; for it was to make them, not only bloody, but perfidious, and to oblige them to betray a trust, and to destroy those whom they undertook to save and help. Could he think that their sex would admit such cruelty, and their employment such base treachery? Note, Those who are themselves barbarous think to find, or make, others as barbarous. Pharaoh's project was secretly to engage the midwives to stifle the men-children as soon as they were born, and then to lay it upon the difficulty of the birth, or some mischance common in that case, Job iii. 11. The two midwives he tampered with in order hereunto are here named; and perhaps, at this time, which was above eighty years before their going out of Egypt, those two might suffice for all the Hebrew women, at least so many of them as lay near the court, as it is plain by ch. ii. 5, 6, many of them did, and of them he was most jealous. They are called Hebrew midwives, probably not because they were themselves Hebrews (for surely Pharaoh could never expect they should be so barbarous to those of their own nation), but because they were generally made use of by the Hebrews; and, being Egyptians, he hoped to prevail with them. 2. Their pious disobedience to this impious command, v. 17. They feared God, regarded his law, and dreaded his wrath more than Pharaoh's, and therefore saved the men-children alive. Note, If men's commands be any way contrary to the commands of God, we must obey God and not man, Acts iv. 19; v. 29. No power on earth can warrant us, much less oblige us, to sin against God, our chief Lord. Again, Where the fear of God rules in the heart, it will preserve it from the snare which the inordinate fear of man brings. 3. Their justifying themselves in this disobedience, when they were charged with it as a crime, v. 18. They gave a reason for it, which, it seems, God's gracious promise furnished them with—that they came too late to do it, for generally the children were born before they came, v. 19. I see no reason we have to doubt the truth of this; it is plain that the Hebrews were now under an extraordinary blessing of increase, which may well be supposed to have this effect, that the women had very quick and easy labour, and, the mothers and children being both lively, they seldom needed the help of midwives: this these midwives took notice of, and, concluding it to be the finger of God, were thereby emboldened to disobey the king, in favour of those whom Heaven thus favoured, and with this justified themselves before Pharaoh, when he called them to an account for it. Some of the ancient Jews expound it thus, Ere the midwife comes to them they pray to their Father in heaven, and he answereth them, and they do bring forth. Note, God is a readier help to his people in distress than any other helpers are, and often anticipates them with the blessings of his goodness; such deliverances lay them under peculiarly strong obligations. 4. The recompence God gave them for their tenderness towards his people: He dealt well with them, v. 20. Note, God will be behind-hand with none for any kindness done to his people, taking it as done to himself. In particular, he made them houses (v. 21), built them up into families, blessed their children, and prospered them in all they did. Note, The services done for God's Israel are often repaid in kind. The midwives kept up the Israelites' houses, and, in recompence for it, God made them houses. Observe, The recompence has relation to the principle upon which they went: Because they feared God, he made them houses. Note, Religion and piety are good friends to outward prosperity: the fear of God in a house will help to build it up and establish it. Dr. Lightfoot's notion of it is, That, for their piety, they were married to Israelites, and Hebrew families were built up by them.
II. When this project did not take effect, Pharaoh gave public orders to all his people to drown all the male children of the Hebrews, v. 22. We may suppose it was made highly penal for any to know of the birth of a son to an Israelite, and not to give information to those who were appointed to throw him into the river. Note, The enemies of the church have been restless in their endeavours to wear out the saints of the Most High, Dan. vii. 25. But he that sits in heaven shall laugh at them. See Ps. ii. 4.

CHAP. 2.Edit


This chapter begins the story of Moses, that man of renown, famed for his intimate acquaintance with Heaven and his eminent usefulness on earth, and the most remarkable type of Christ, as a prophet, saviour, lawgiver, and mediator, in all the Old Testament. The Jews have a book among them of the life of Moses, which tells a great many stories concerning him, which we have reason to think are mere fictions; what he has recorded concerning himself is what we may rely upon, for we know that his record is true; and it is what we may be satisfied with, for it is what Infinite Wisdom thought fit to preserve and transmit to us. In this chapter we have, I. The perils of his birth and infancy,

ver. 1-4. II. His preservation through those perils, and the preferment of his childhood and youth, ver. 5-10. III. The pious choice of his riper years, which was to own the people of God. 1. He offered them his service at present, if they would accept it, ver. 11-14. 2. He retired, that he might reserve himself for further service hereafter, ver. 15-22. IV. The dawning of the day of Israel's deliverance, ver. 23, &c.

verses 1-4Edit

The Birth of Moses. (b. c. 1571.)Edit


1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

Moses was a Levite, both by father and mother. Jacob left Levi under marks of disgrace (Gen. xlix. 5); and yet, soon after, Moses appears a descendant from him, that he might typify Christ, who came in the likeness of sinful flesh and was made a curse for us. This tribe began to be distinguished from the rest by the birth of Moses, as afterwards it became remarkable in many other instances. Observe, concerning this newborn infant,
I. How he was hidden. It seems to have been just at the time of his birth that the cruel law was made for the murder of all the male children of the Hebrews; and many, no doubt, perished by the execution of it. The parents of Moses had Miriam and Aaron, both older than he, born to them before this edict came out, and had nursed them without that peril: but those that begin the world in peace know not what troubles they may meet with before they have got through it. Probably the mother of Moses was full of anxiety in the expectation of his birth, now that this edict was in force, and was ready to say, Blessed are the barren that never bore, Luke xxiii. 29. Better so than bring forth children to the murderer, Hos. ix. 13. Yet this child proves the glory of his father's house. Thus that which is most our fear often proves, in the issue, most our joy. Observe the beauty of providence: just at the time when Pharaoh's cruelty rose to this height the deliverer was born, though he did not appear for many years after. Note, When men are projecting the church's ruin God is preparing for its salvation. Moses, who was afterwards to bring Israel out of this house of bondage, was himself in danger of falling a sacrifice to the fury of the oppressor, God so ordering it that, being afterwards told of this, he might be the more animated with a holy zeal for the deliverance of his brethren out of the hands of such bloody men. 1. His parents observed him to be a goodly child, more than ordinarily beautiful; he was fair to God, Acts vii. 20. They fancied he had a lustre in his countenance that was something more than human, and was a specimen of the shining of his face afterwards, Exod. xxxiv. 29. Note, God sometimes gives early earnests of his gifts, and manifests himself betimes in those for whom and by whom he designs to do great things. Thus he put an early strength into Samson (Judge xiii. 24, 25), an early forwardness into Samuel (1 Sam. ii. 18), wrought an early deliverance for David (1 Sam. xvii. 37), and began betimes with Timothy, 1 Tim. iii. 15. 2. Therefore they were the more solicitous for his preservation, because they looked upon this as an indication of some kind purpose of God concerning him, and a happy omen of something great. Note, A lively active faith can take encouragement from the least intimation of the divine favour; a merciful hint of Providence will encourage those whose spirits make diligent search, Three months they hid him in some private apartment of their own house, though probably with the hazard of their own lives, had he been discovered. Herein Moses was a type of Christ, who, in his infancy, was forced to abscond, and in Egypt too (Matt. ii. 13), and was wonderfully preserved, when many innocents were butchered. It is said (Heb. xi. 23) that the parents of Moses hid him by faith; some think they had a special revelation to them that the deliverer should spring from their loins; however they had the general promise of Israel's preservation, which they acted faith upon, and in that faith hid their child, not being afraid of the penalty annexed to the king's commandment. Note, Faith in God's promise is so far from superseding that it rather excites and quickens to the use of lawful means for the obtaining of mercy. Duty is ours, events are God's. Again, Faith in God will set us above the ensnaring fear of man.
II. How he was exposed. At three months' end, probably when the searchers came about to look for concealed children, so that they could not hide him any longer (their faith perhaps beginning now to fail), they put him in an ark of bulrushes by the river's brink (v. 3), and set his little sister at some distance to watch what would become of him, and into whose hands he would fall, v. 4. God put it into their hearts to do this, to bring about his own purposes, that Moses might by this means be brought into the hands of Pharaoh's daughter, and that by his deliverance from this imminent danger a specimen might be given of the deliverance of God's church, which now lay thus exposed. Note, 1. God takes special care of the outcasts of Israel (Ps. cxlvii. 2); they are his outcasts, Isa. xvi. 4. Moses seemed quite abandoned by his friends; his own mother durst not own him: but now the Lord took him up and protected him, Ps. xxvii. 10. 2. In times of extreme difficulty it is good to venture upon the providence of God. Thus to have exposed their child while they might have preserved it, would have been to tempt Providence; but, when they could not, it was to trust to Providence. "Nothing venture, nothing win." If I perish, I perish.

verses 5-10Edit

The Deliverance of Moses. (b. c. 1571.)Edit


5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash
herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. 9 And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

Here is, I. Moses saved from perishing. Come see the place where that great man lay when he was a little child; he lay in a bulrush-basket by the river's side. Had he been left to lie there, he must have perished in a little time with hunger, if he had not been sooner washed into the river or devoured by a crocodile. Had he fallen into any other hands than those he did fall into, either they would not, or durst not, have done otherwise than have thrown him straightway into the river; but Providence brings no less a person thither than Pharaoh's daughter, just at that juncture, guides her to the place where this poor forlorn infant lay, and inclines her heart to pity it, which she dares do when none else durst. Never did poor child cry so seasonably, so happily, as this did: The babe wept, which moved the compassion of the princess, as no doubt his beauty did, v. 5, 6. Note, 1. Those are hard-hearted indeed that have not a tender compassion for helpless infancy. How pathetically does God represent his compassion for the Israelites in general considered in this pitiable state! Ezek. xvi. 5, 6. 2. It is very commendable in persons of quality to take cognizance of the distresses of the meanest, and to be helpful and charitable to them. 3. God's care of us in our infancy ought to be often made mention of by us to his praise. Though we were not thus exposed (that we were not was God's mercy) yet many were the perils we were surrounded with in our infancy, out of which the Lord delivered us, Ps. xxii. 9, 10. 4. God often raises up friends for his people even among their enemies. Pharaoh cruelly seeks Israel's destruction, but his own daughter charitably compassionates a Hebrew child, and not only so, but, beyond her intention, preserves Israel's deliverer. O Lord, how wonderful are thy counsels!
II. Moses well provided with a good nurse, no worse than his own dear mother, v. 7-9. Pharaoh's daughter thinks it convenient that he should have a Hebrew nurse (pity that so fair a child should be suckled by a sable Moor), and the sister of Moses, with art and good management, introduces the mother into the place of a nurse, to the great advantage of the child; for mothers are the best nurses, and those who receive the blessings of the breasts with those of the womb are not just if they give them not to those for whose sake they received them: it was also an unspeakable satisfaction to the mother, who received her son as life from the dead, and now could enjoy him without fear. The transport of her joy, upon this happy turn, we may suppose sufficient to betray her to be the true mother (had there been any suspicion of it) to a less discerning eye than that of Solomon, 1 Kings iii. 27.
III. Moses preferred to be the son of Pharaoh's daughter (v. 10), his parents herein perhaps not only yielding to necessity, having nursed him for her, but too much pleased with the honour thereby done to their son; for the smiles of the world are stronger temptations than its frowns, and more difficult to resist. The tradition of the Jews is that Pharaoh's daughter had no child of her own, and that she was the only child of her father, so that when he was adopted for her son he stood fair for the crown: however it is certain he stood fair for the best preferments of the court in due time, and in the meantime had the advantage of the best education and improvements of the court, with the help of which, having a great genius, he became master of all the lawful learning of the Egyptians, Acts vii. 22. Note, 1. Providence pleases itself sometimes in raising the poor out of the dust, to set them among princes, Ps. cxiii. 7, 8. Many who, by their birth, seem marked for obscurity and poverty, by surprising events of Providence are brought to sit at the upper end of the world, to make men know that the heavens do rule. 2. Those whom God designs for great services he find out ways to qualify and prepare beforehand. Moses, by having his education in a court, is the fitter to be a prince and king in Jeshurun; by having his education in a learned court (for such the Egyptian then was) is the fitter to be an historian; and by having his education in the court of Egypt is the fitter to be employed, in the name of God, as an ambassador to that court.
IV. Moses named. The Jews tell us that his father, at his circumcision, called him Joachim, but Pharaoh's daughter called him Moses, Drawn out of the water, so it signifies in the Egyptian language. The calling of the Jewish lawgiver by an Egyptian name is a happy omen to the Gentile world, and gives hopes of that day when it shall be said, Blessed be Egypt my people, Isa. xix. 25. And his tuition at court was an earnest of the performance of that promise, Isa. xlix. 23, Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers.

verses 11-15Edit

Moses Slays an Egyptian; Rebukes a Contentious Hebrew. (b. c. 1533.)Edit


11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. 15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

Moses had now passed the first forty years of his life in the court of Pharaoh, preparing himself for business; and now it was time for him to enter upon action, and,
I. He boldly owns and espouses the cause of God's people: When Moses was grown he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens, v. 11. The best exposition of these words we have from an inspired pen, Heb. xi. 24-26, where we are told that by this he expressed, 1. His holy contempt of the honours and pleasures of the Egyptian court; he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, for he went out. The temptation was indeed very strong. He had a fair opportunity (as we say) to make his fortune, and to have been serviceable to Israel too, with his interest at court. He was obliged, in gratitude as well as interest, to Pharaoh's daughter, and yet he obtained a glorious victory by faith over his temptation. He reckoned it much more his honour and advantage to be a son of Abraham than to be the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 2. His tender concern for his poor brethren in bondage, with whom (though he might easily have avoided it) he chose to suffer affliction; he looked on their burdens as one that not only pitied them, but was resolved to venture with them, and, if occasion were, to venture for them.
II. He gives a specimen of the great things he was afterwards to do for God and his Israel in two little instances, related particularly by Stephen (Acts vii. 23, &c.) with design to show how their fathers had always resisted the Holy Ghost (v. 51), even in Moses himself, when he first appeared as their deliverer, wilfully shutting their eyes against this day-break of their enlargement. He found himself, no doubt, under a divine direction and impulse in what he did, and that he was in an extraordinary manner called of God to do it. Now observe,
1. Moses was afterwards to be employed in plaguing the Egyptians for the wrongs they had done to God's Israel; and, as a specimen of that, he killed the Egyptian who smote the Hebrew (v. 11, 12); probably it was one of the Egyptian taskmasters, whom he found abusing his Hebrew slave, a relation (as some think) of Moses, a man of the same tribe. It was by special warrant from Heaven (which makes not a precedent in ordinary cases) that Moses slew the Egyptian, and rescued his oppressed brother. The Jew's tradition is that he did not slay him with any weapon, but, as Peter slew Ananias and Sapphira, with the word of his mouth. His hiding him in the sand signified that hereafter Pharaoh and all his Egyptians should, under the control of the rod of Moses, be buried in the sand of the Red Sea. His taking care to execute this justice privately, when no man saw, was a piece of needful prudence and caution, it being but an assay; and perhaps his faith was as yet weak, and what he did was with some hesitation. Those who come to be of great faith, yet began with a little, and at first spoke tremblingly.
2. Moses was afterwards to be employed in governing Israel, and as a specimen of this, we have him here trying to end a controversy between two Hebrews, in which he is forced (as he did afterwards for forty years) to suffer their manners. Observe here,
(1.) The unhappy quarrel which Moses observed between two Hebrews, v. 13. It does not appear what was the occasion; but, whatever it was, it was certainly very unseasonable for Hebrews to strive with one another when they were all oppressed and ruled with rigour by the Egyptians. Had they not beating enough from the Egyptians, but they must beat one another? Note, [1.] Even sufferings in common do not always unite God's professing people to one another, so much as one might reasonably expect. [2.] When God raises up instruments of salvation for the church they will find enough to do, not only with oppressing Egyptians, to restrain them, but with quarrelsome Israelites, to reconcile them.
(2.) The way he took of dealing with them; he marked him that caused the division, that did the wrong, and mildly reasoned with him: Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? The injurious Egyptian was killed, the injurious Hebrew was only reprimanded; for what the former did was from a rooted malice, what the latter did we may suppose was only upon a sudden provocation. The wise God makes, and, according to his example, all wise governors make, a difference between one offender and another, according to the several qualities of the same offence. Moses endeavoured to make them friends, a good office; thus we find Christ often reproving his disciples' strifes (Luke ix. 46, &c.; xxii. 24, &c.), for he was a prophet like unto Moses, a healing prophet, a peacemaker, who visited his brethren with a design to slay all enmities. The reproof Moses gave on this occasion may still be of use, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? Note, Smiting our fellows is bad in any, especially in Hebrews, smiting with tongue or hand, either in a way of persecution or in a way of strife and contention. Consider the person thou smitest; it is thy fellow, thy fellow-creature, thy fellow-christian, it is thy fellow-servant, thy fellow-sufferer. Consider the cause, Wherefore smitest? Perhaps it is for no cause at all, or no just cause, or none worth speaking of.
(3.) The ill success of his attempt (v. 14): He said, Who made thee a prince? He that did the wrong thus quarrelled with Moses; the injured party, it should seem, was inclinable enough to peace, but the wrong-doer was thus touchy. Note, It is a sign of guilt to be impatient of reproof; and it is often easier to persuade the injured to bear the trouble of taking wrong than the injurious to bear the conviction of having done wrong. 1 Cor. vi. 7, 8. It was a very wise and mild reproof which Moses gave to this quarrelsome Hebrew, but he could not bear it, he kicked against the pricks (Acts ix. 5), and crossed questions with his reprover. [1.] He challenges his authority: Who made thee a prince? A man needs no great authority for the giving of a friendly reproof, it is an act of kindness; yet this man needs will interpret it an act of dominion, and represents his reprover as imperious and assuming. Thus when people dislike good discourse, or a seasonable admonition, they will call it preaching, as if a man could not speak a work for God and against sin but he took too much upon him. Yet Moses was indeed a prince and a judge, and knew it, and thought the Hebrews would have understood it, and struck in with him; but they stood in their own light, and thrust him away, Acts vii. 25, 27. [2.] He upbraids him with what he had done in killing the Egyptian: Intendest thou to kill me? See what base constructions malice puts upon the best words and actions. Moses, for reproving him is immediately charged with a design to kill him. An attempt upon his sin was interpreted an attempt upon his life; and his having killed the Egyptian was thought sufficient to justify the suspicion; as if Moses made no difference between an Egyptian and a Hebrew. If Moses, to right an injured Hebrew, had put his life in his hand, and slain an Egyptian, he ought therefore to have submitted to him, not only as a friend to the Hebrews, but as a friend that had more than ordinary power and zeal. But he throws that in his teeth as a crime which was bravely done, and was intended as a specimen of the promised deliverance; if the Hebrews had taken the hint, and come in to Moses as their head and captain, it is probable that they would have been delivered now; but, despising their deliverer, their deliverance was justly deferred, and their bondage prolonged forty years, as afterwards their despising Canaan kept them out of it forty years more. I would, and you would not. Note, Men know not what they do, nor what enemies they are to their own interest, when they resist and despise faithful reproofs and reprovers. When the Hebrews strove with Moses, God sent him away into Midian, and they never heard of him for forty years; thus the things that belonged to their peace were hidden from their eyes, because they knew not the day of their visitation. As to Moses, we may look on it as a great damp and discouragement to him. He was now choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God, and embracing the reproach of Christ; and now, at his first setting out, to meet with this affliction and reproach from them was a very sore trial of his resolution. He might have said, "If this be the spirit of the Hebrews, I will go to court again, and be the son of Pharaoh's daughter." Note, First, We must take heed of being prejudiced against the ways and people of God by the follies and peevishness of some particular persons that profess religion. Secondly, It is no new thing for the church's best friends to meet with a great deal of opposition and discouragement in their healing, saving attempts, even from their own mother's children; Christ himself was set at nought by the builders, and is still rejected by those he would save.
(4.) The flight of Moses to Midian, in consequence. The affront given him thus far proved a kindness to him; it gave him to understand that his killing the Egyptian was discovered, and so he had time to make his escape, otherwise the wrath of Pharaoh might have surprised him and taken him off. Note, God can overrule even the strife of tongues, so as, one way or other, to bring good to his people out of it. Information was brought to Pharaoh (and it is well if it was not brought by the Hebrew himself whom Moses reproved) of his killing the Egyptian; warrants are presently out for the apprehending of Moses, which obliged him to shift for his own safety, by flying into the land of Midian, v. 15. [1.] Moses did this out of a prudent care of his own life. If this be his forsaking of Egypt which the apostle refers to as done by faith (Heb. xi. 27), it teaches us that when we are at any time in trouble and danger for doing our duty the grace of faith will be of good use to us in taking proper methods for our own preservation. Yet there it is said, He feared not the wrath of the king; here it is said he feared, v. 14. He did not fear with a fear of diffidence and amazement, which weakens and has torment, but with a fear of diligence, which quickened him to take that way which Providence opened to him for his own preservation. [2.] God ordered it for wise and holy ends. Things were not yet ripe for Israel's deliverance: the measure of Egypt's iniquity was not yet full; the Hebrews were not sufficiently humbled, nor were they yet increased to such a multitude as God designed; Moses is to be further fitted for the service, and therefore is directed to withdraw for the present, till the time to favour Israel, even the set time, should come. God guided Moses to Midian because the Midianites were of the seed of Abraham, and retained the worship of the true God among them, so that he might have not only a safe but a comfortable settlement among them. And through this country he was afterwards to lead Israel, with which (that he might do it the better) he now had opportunity of making himself acquainted. Hither he came, and sat down by a well, tired and thoughtful, at a loss, and waiting to see which way Providence would direct him. It was a great change with him, since he was but the other day at ease in Pharaoh's court: thus God tried his faith, and it was found to praise and honour.

verses 16-22Edit

The Marriage of Moses. (b. c. 1533.)Edit


16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? 19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. 20 And he said unto his daughters, And where
is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Moses here gains a settlement in Midian, just as his father Jacob had gained one in Syria, Gen. xxix. 2, &c. And both these instances should encourage us to trust Providence, and to follow it. Events that seem inconsiderable, and purely accidental, after wards appear to have been designed by the wisdom of God for very good purposes, and of great consequence to his people. A casual transient occurrence has sometimes occasioned the greatest and happiest turns of a man's life. Observe,
I. Concerning the seven daughters of Reuel the priest or prince of Midian. 1. They were humble, and very industrious, according as the employment of the country was: they drew water for their father's flock, v. 16. If their father was a prince, it teaches us that even those who are honourably born, and are of quality and distinction in their country, should yet apply themselves to some useful business, and what their hand finds to do do it with all their might. Idleness can be no one's honour. If their father was a priest, it teaches us that ministers' children should, in a special manner, be examples of humility and industry. 2. They were modest, and would not ask this strange Egyptian to come home with them (though handsome and a great courtier), till their father sent for him. Modesty is the ornament of woman.
II. Concerning Moses. He was taken for an Egyptian (v. 19); and strangers must be content to be the subjects of mistake; but it is observable, 1. How ready he was to help Reuel's daughters to water their flocks. Though bred in learning and at court, yet he knew how to turn his hand to such an office as this when there was occasion; nor had he learned of the Egyptians to despise shepherds. Note, Those that have had a liberal education yet should not be strangers to servile work, because they know not what necessity Providence may put them in of working for themselves, or what opportunity Providence may give them of being serviceable to others. These young women, it seems, met with some opposition in their employment, more than they and their servants could conquer; the shepherds of some neighbouring prince, as some think, or some idle fellows that called themselves shepherds, drove away their flocks; but Moses, though melancholy and in distress, stood up and helped them, not only to get clear of the shepherds, but, when that was done, to water the flocks. This he did, not only in complaisance to the daughters of Reuel (though that also did very well become him), but because, wherever he was, as occasion offered itself, (1.) He loved to be doing justice, and appearing in the defence of such as he saw injured, which every man ought to do as far as it is in the power of his hand to do it. (2.) He loved to be doing good. Wherever the Providence of God casts us we should desire and endeavour to be useful; and, when we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can. And he that is faithful in a little shall be entrusted with more. 2. How well he was paid for his serviceableness. When the young women acquainted their father with the kindnesses they had received from this stranger, he sent to invite him to his house, and made much of him, v. 20. Thus God will recompense the kindnesses which are at any time shown to his children; they shall in no wise lose their reward. Moses soon recommended himself to the esteem and good affection of this prince of Midian, who took him into his house, and, in process of time, married one of his daughters to him (v. 21), by whom he had a son, whom he called Gershom, a stranger there (v. 22), that if ever God should give him a home of his own he might keep in remembrance the land in which he had been a stranger. Now this settlement of Moses in Midian was designed by Providence, (1.) To shelter him for the present. God will find hiding-places for his people in the day of their distress; nay, he will himself be to them a little sanctuary, and will secure them, either under heaven or in heaven. But, (2.) It was also designed to prepare him for the great services he was further designed for. His manner of life in Midian, where he kept the flock of his father-in-law (having none of his own to keep), would be of use to him, [1.] To inure him to hardship and poverty, that he might learn how to want as well as how to abound. Those whom God intends to exalt he first humbles. [2.] To inure him to contemplation and devotion. Egypt accomplished him as a scholar, a gentleman, a statesman, a soldier, all which accomplishments would be afterwards of use to him; but yet he lacked one thing, in which the court of Egypt could not befriend him. He that was to do all by divine revelation must know, by a long experience, what it was to live a life of communion with God; and in this he would be greatly furthered by the solitude and retirement of a shepherd's life in Midian. By the former he was prepared to rule in Jeshurun, but by the latter he was prepared to converse with God in Mount Horeb, near which mount he had spent much of his time. Those that know what it is to be alone with God in holy exercises are acquainted with better delights than ever Moses tasted in the court of Pharaoh.

verses 23-25Edit

Cry of the Oppressed Israelites. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

Here is, 1. The continuance of the Israelites' bondage in Egypt, v. 23. Probably the murdering of their infants did not continue; this part of their affliction attended only the period immediately connected with the birth of Moses, and served to signalize it. The Egyptians now were content with their increase, finding that Egypt was enriched by their labour; so that they might have them for slaves, they cared not how many they were. On this therefore they were intent, to keep them all at work, and make the best hand they could of their labour. When one Pharaoh died, another rose up in his place that was governed by the same maxims, and was as cruel to Israel as his predecessors. If there was sometimes a little relaxation, yet it presently revived again with as much rigour as ever; and probably, as the more Israel were oppressed the more they multiplied, so the more they multiplied the more they were oppressed. Note, Sometimes God suffers the rod of the wicked to lie very long and very heavily on the lot of the righteous. If Moses, in Midian, at any time began to think how much better his condition might have been had he staid among the courtiers, he must of himself think this also, how much worse it would have been if he had had his lot with brethren: it was a great degradation to him to be keeping sheep in Midian, but better so than making brick in Egypt. The consideration of our brethren's afflictions would help to reconcile us to our own. 2. The preface to their deliverance at last. (1.) They cried, v. 23. Now, at last, they began to think of God under their troubles, and to return to him from the idols they had served, Ezek. xx. 8. Hitherto they had fretted at the instruments of their trouble, but God was not in all their thoughts. Thus hypocrites in heart heap up wrath; they cry not when he binds them, Job xxxvi. 13. But before God unbound them he put it into their hearts to cry unto him, as it is explained, Num. xx. 16. Note, It is a good sign that God is coming towards us with deliverance when he inclines and enables us to cry to him for it. (2.) God heard, v. 24, 25. The name of God is here emphatically prefixed to four different expressions of a kind intention towards them. [1.] God heard their groaning; that is, he made it to appear that he took notice of their complaints. The groans of the oppressed cry aloud in the ears of the righteous God, to whom vengeance belongs, especially the groans of God's spiritual Israel; he knows the burdens they groan under and the blessings they groan after, and that the blessed Spirit, by these groanings, makes intercession in them. [2.] God remembered his covenant, which he seemed to have forgotten, but of which he is ever mindful. This God had an eye to, and not to any merit of theirs, in what he did for them. See Lev. xxvi. 42. (3.) God looked upon the children of Israel. Moses looked upon them and pitied them (v. 11); but now God looked upon them and helped them. (4.) God had a respect unto them, a favourable respect to them as his own. The frequent repetition of the name of God here intimates that now we are to expect something great, Opus Deo dignum—A work worthy of God. His eyes, which run to and fro through the earth, are now fixed upon Israel, to show himself strong, to show himself a God in their behalf.

CHAP. 3.Edit


As prophecy had ceased for many ages before the coming of Christ, that the revival and perfection of it in that great prophet might be the more remarkable, so vision had ceased

(for aught that appears) among the patriarchs for some ages before the coming of Moses, that God's appearances to him for Israel's salvation might be the more welcome; and in this chapter we have God's first appearance to him in the bush and the conference between God and Moses in that vision. Here is, I. The discovery God was pleased to make of his glory to Moses at the bush, to which Moses was forbidden to approach too near, ver. 1-5. II. A general declaration of God's grace and good-will to his people, who were beloved for their fathers' sakes, ver. 6. III. A particular notification of God's purpose concerning the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. 1. He assures Moses it should now be done, ver. 7-9. 2. He gives him a commission to act in it as his ambassador both to Pharaoh, (ver. 10) and to Israel, ver. 16. 3. He answers the objection Moses made of his own unworthiness, ver. 11, 12. 4. He gives him full instructions what to say both to Pharaoh and to Israel, ver. 13-18. 5. He tells him beforehand what the issue would be, ver. 19, &c.

verses 1-6Edit

The Burning Bush. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush
was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
The years of the life of Moses are remarkably divided into three forties: the first forty he spent as a prince in Pharaoh's court, the second a shepherd in Midian, the third a king in Jeshurun; so changeable is the life of men, especially the life of good men. He had now finished his second forty, when he received his commission to bring Israel out of Egypt. Note, Sometimes it is long before God calls his servants out of that work which of old he designed them for, and has been graciously preparing them for. Moses was born to be Israel's deliverer, and yet not a word is said of it to him till he is eighty years of age. Now observe,
I. How this appearance of God to him found him employed. He was keeping the flock (tending sheep) near mount Horeb, v. 1. This was a poor employment for a man of his parts and education, yet he rests satisfied with it, and thus learns meekness and contentment to a high degree, for which he is more celebrated in sacred writ than for all his other learning. Note, 1. In the calling to which we are called we should abide, and not be given to change. 2. Even those that are qualified for great employments and services must not think it strange if they be confined to obscurity; it was the lot of Moses before them, who foresaw nothing to the contrary but that he should die, as he had lived a great while, a poor despicable shepherd. Let those that think themselves buried alive be content to shine like lamps in their sepulchres, and wait till God's time come for setting them on a candlestick. Thus employed Moses was, when he was honoured with this vision. Note, (1.) God will encourage industry. The shepherds were keeping their flocks when they received the tidings of our Saviour's birth, Luke ii. 8. Satan loves to find us idle; God is well pleased when he find us employed. (2.) Retirement is a good friend to our communion with God. When we are alone, the Father is with us. Moses saw more of God in a desert than ever he had seen in Pharaoh's court.
II. What the appearance was. To his great surprise he saw a bush burning, when he perceived no fire either from earth or heaven to kindle it, and, which was more strange, it did not consume, v. 2. It was an angel of the Lord that appeared to him; some think, a created angel, who speaks in the language of him that sent him; others, the second person, the angel of the covenant, who is himself Jehovah. It was an extraordinary manifestation of the divine presence and glory; what was visible was produced by the ministry of an angel, but he heard God in it speaking to him. 1. He saw a flame of fire; for our God is a consuming fire. When Israel's deliverance out of Egypt was promised to Abraham, he saw a burning lamp, which signified the light of joy which that deliverance should cause (Gen. xv. 17); but now it shines brighter, as a flame of fire, for God in that deliverance brought terror and destruction to his enemies, light and heat to his people, and displayed his glory before all. See Isa. x. 17. 2. This fire was not in a tall and stately cedar, but in a bush, a thorny bush, so the word signifies; for God chooses the weak and despised things of the world (such as Moses, now a poor shepherd), with them to confound the wise; he delights to beautify and crown the humble. 3. The bush burned, and yet was not consumed, an emblem of the church now in bondage in Egypt, burning in the brick-kilns, yet not consumed; perplexed, but not in despair; cast down, but not destroyed.
III. The curiosity Moses had to enquire into this extraordinary sight: I will turn aside and see, v. 3. He speaks as one inquisitive and bold in his enquiry; whatever it was, he would, if possible, know the meaning of it. Note, Things revealed belong to us, and we ought diligently to enquire into them.
IV. The invitation he had to draw near, yet with a caution not to come too near, nor rashly.
1. God gave him a gracious call, to which he returned a ready answer, v. 4. When God saw that he took notice of the burning bush, and turned aside to see it, and left his business to attend it, then God called to him. If he had carelessly neglected it as an ignis fatuus—a deceiving meteor, a thing not worth taking notice of, it is probable that God would have departed, and said nothing to him; but, when he turned aside, God called to him. Note, Those that would have communion with God must attend upon him, and approach to him, in those ordinances wherein he is pleased to manifest himself, and his power and glory, though it be in a bush; they must come to the treasure, though in an earthen vessel. Those that seek God diligently shall find him, and find him their bountiful rewarder. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. God called him by name, Moses, Moses. This which he heard could not but surprise him much more than what he saw. The word of the Lord always went along with the glory of the Lord, for every divine vision was designed for divine revelation, Job iv. 16, &c.; xxxii. 14-15. Divine calls are then effectual, (1.) When the Spirit of God makes them particular, and calls us by name. The word calls, Ho, every one! The Spirit, by the application of that, calls, Ho, such a one! I know thee by name, Exod. xxxiii. 12. (2.) When we return an obedient answer to them, as Moses here, " Here am I, what saith my Lord unto his servant? Here am I, not only to hear what is said, but to do what I am bidden."
2. God gave him a needful caution against rashness and irreverence in his approach, (1.) He must keep his distance; draw near, but not too near; so near as to hear, but not so near as to pry. His conscience must be satisfied, but not his curiosity; and care must be taken that familiarity do not breed contempt. Note, In all our approaches to God, we ought to be deeply affected with the infinite distance there is between us and God, Eccl. v. 2. Or this may be taken as proper to the Old-Testament dispensation, which was a dispensation of darkness, bondage, and terror, from which the gospel happily frees us, giving us boldness to enter into the holiest, and inviting us to draw near. (2.) He must express his reverence, and his readiness to obey: Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, as a servant. Putting off the shoe was then what putting off the hat is now, a token of respect and submission. "The ground, for the present, is holy ground, made so by this special manifestation of the divine presence, during the continuance of which it must retain this character; therefore tread not on that ground with soiled shoes." Keep thy foot, Eccl. v. 1. Note, We ought to approach to God with a solemn pause and preparation; and, though bodily exercise alone profits little, yet we ought to glorify God with our bodies, and to express our inward reverence by a grave and reverent behaviour in the worship of God, carefully avoiding everything that looks light, and rude, and unbecoming the awfulness of the service.
V. The solemn declaration God made of his name, by which he would be known to Moses: I am the God of thy father, v. 6. 1. He lets him know that it is God who speaks to him, to engage his reverence and attention, his faith and obedience; for this is enough to command all these: I am the Lord. Let us always hear the word as the word of God, 1 Thess. ii. 13. 2. He will be known as the God of his father, his pious father Amram, and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his ancestors, and the ancestors of all Israel, for whom God was now about to appear. By this God designed, (1.) To instruct Moses in the knowledge of another world, and to strengthen his belief of a future state. Thus it is interpreted by our Lord Jesus, the best expositor of scripture, who from this proves that the dead are raised, against the Sadducees. Moses, says he, showed it at the bush (Luke xx. 37), that is, God there showed it to him, and in him to us, Matt. xxii. 31, &c. Abraham was dead, and yet God is the God of Abraham; therefore Abraham's soul lives, to which God stands in relation; and, to make his soul completely happy, his body must live again in due time. This promise made unto the fathers, that God would be their God, must include a future happiness; for he never did anything for them in this world sufficient to answer to the vast extent and compass of that great word, but, having prepared for them a city, he is not ashamed to be called their God, Heb. xi. 16; and see Acts xxvi. 6, 7; xxiv. 15. (2.) To assure Moses of the fulfillment of all those particular promises made to the fathers. He may confidently expect this, for by these words it appears that God remembered his covenant, ch. ii. 24. Note, [1.] God's covenant-relation to us as our God is the best support in the worst of times, and a great encouragement to our faith in particular promises. [2.] When we are conscious to ourselves of our own great unworthiness we may take comfort from God's relation to our fathers, 2 Chron. xx. 6.
VI. The solemn impression this made upon Moses: He hid his face, as one both ashamed and afraid to look upon God. Now that he knew it was a divine light his eyes were dazzled with it; he was not afraid of a burning bush till he perceived that God was in it. Yea, though God called himself the God of his father, and a God in covenant with him, yet he was afraid. Note, 1. The more we see of God the more cause we shall see to worship him with reverence and godly fear. 2. Even the manifestations of God's grace and covenant-love should increase our humble reverence of him.

verses 7-10Edit

Compassion of God for the Israelites. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which
are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Now that Moses had put off his shoes (for, no doubt, he observed the orders given him, v. 5), and covered his face, God enters upon the particular business that was now to be concerted, which was the bringing of Israel out of Egypt. Now, after forty years of Israel's bondage and Moses's banishment, when we may suppose both he and they began to despair, they of being delivered and he of delivering them, at length, the time has come, even the year of the redeemed. Note, God often comes for the salvation of his people when they have done looking for him. Shall he find faith? Luke xviii. 8.
Here is, I. The notice God takes of the afflictions of Israel (v. 7, 9): Seeing I have seen, not only, I have surely seen, but I have strictly observed and considered the matter. Three things God took cognizance of:—1. Their sorrows, v. 7. It is likely they were not permitted to make a remonstrance of their grievances to Pharaoh, nor to seek relief against their task-masters in any of his courts, nor scarcely durst complain to one another; but God observed their tears. Note, Even the secret sorrows of God's people are known to him. 2. Their cry: I have heard their cry (v. 7), it has come unto me, v. 9. Note, God is not deaf to the cries of his afflicted people. 3. The tyranny of their persecutors: I have seen the oppression, v. 9. Note, As the poorest of the oppressed are not below God's cognizance, so the highest and greatest of their oppressors are not above his check, but he will surely visit for these things.
II. The promise God makes of their speedy deliverance and enlargement: I have come down to deliver them, v. 8. 1. It denotes his resolution to deliver them, and that his heart was upon it, so that it should be done speedily and effectually, and by methods out of the common road of providence: when God does something very extraordinary he is said to come down to do it, as Isa. lxiv. 1. 2. This deliverance was typical of our redemption by Christ, in which the eternal Word did indeed come down from heaven to deliver us: it was his errand into the world. He promises also their happy settlement in the land of Canaan, that they should exchange bondage for liberty, poverty for plenty, labour for rest, and the precarious condition of tenants at will for the ease and honour of lords proprietors. Note, Whom God by his grace delivers out of a spiritual Egypt he will bring to a heavenly Canaan.
III. The commission he gives to Moses in order hereunto, v. 10. He is not only sent as a prophet to Israel, to assure them that they should speedily be delivered (even that would have been a great favour), but he is sent as an ambassador to Pharaoh, to treat with him, or rather as a herald at arms, to demand their discharge, and to denounce war in case of refusal; and he is sent as a prince to Israel, to conduct and command them. Thus is he taken from following the ewes great with young, to a pastoral office much more noble, as David, Ps. lxxviii. 71. Note, God is the fountain of power, and the powers that be are ordained of him as he pleases. The same hand that now fetched a shepherd out of a desert, to be the planter of a Jewish church, afterwards fetched fishermen from their ships, to be the planters of the Christian church, That the excellency of the power might be of God.

verses 11-15Edit

Instructions Given to Moses. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. 13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this
is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
God, having spoken to Moses, allows him also a liberty of speech, which he here improves; and,
I. He objects his own insufficiency for the service he was called to (v. 11): Who am I? He thinks himself unworthy of the honour, and not par negotio—equal to the task. He thinks he wants courage, and therefore cannot go to Pharaoh, to make a demand which might cost the demandant his head: he thinks he wants skill, and therefore cannot bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt; they are unarmed, undisciplined, quite dispirited, utterly unable to help themselves; it is morally impossible to bring them out. 1. Moses was incomparably the fittest of any man living for this work, eminent for learning, wisdom, experience, valour, faith, holiness; and yet he says, Who am I? Note, The more fit any person is for service commonly the less opinion he has of himself: see Judg. ix. 8, &c. 2. The difficulties of the work were indeed very great, enough to startle the courage and stagger the faith of Moses himself. Note, Even wise and faithful instruments may be much discouraged at the difficulties that lie in the way of the church's salvation. 3. Moses had formerly been very courageous when he slew the Egyptian, but now his heart failed him; for good men are not always alike bold and zealous. 4. Yet Moses is the man that does it at last; for God gives grace to the lowly. Modest beginnings are very good presages.
II. God answers this objection, v. 12. 1. He promises him his presence: Certainly I will be with thee, and that is enough. Note, Those that are weak in themselves may yet do wonders, being strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; and those that are most diffident of themselves may be most confident in God. God's presence puts an honour upon the worthless, wisdom and strength into the weak and foolish, makes the greatest difficulties dwindle to nothing, and is enough to answer all objections. 2. He assures him of success, and that the Israelites should serve God upon this mountain. Note, (1.) Those deliverances are most valuable which open to us a door of liberty to serve God. (2.) If God gives us opportunity and a heart to serve him, it is a happy and encouraging earnest of further favours designed us.
III. He begs instructions for the executing of his commission, and has them, thoroughly to furnish him. He desires to know by what name God would at this time make himself known, v. 13.
1. He supposes the children of Israel would ask him, What is his name? This they would ask either, (1.) To perplex Moses: he foresaw difficulty, not only in dealing with Pharaoh, to make him willing to part with them, but in dealing with them, to make them willing to remove. They would be scrupulous and apt to cavil, would bid him produce his commission, and probably this would be the trial: "Does he know the name of God? Has he the watch-word?" Once he was asked, Who made thee a judge? Then he had not his answer ready, and he would not be nonplussed so again, but would be able to tell in whose name he came. Or, (2.) For their own information. It is to be feared that they had grown very ignorant in Egypt, by reason of their hard bondage, want of teachers, and loss of the sabbath, so that they needed to be told the first principles of the oracles of God. Or this question, What is his name? amounted to an enquiry into the nature of the dispensation they were now to expect: "How will God in it be known to us, and what may we depend upon from him?"
2. He desires instructions what answer to give them: " What shall I say to them? What name shall I vouch to them for the proof of my authority? I must have something great and extraordinary to say to them; what must it be? If I must go, let me have full instructions, that I may not run in vain." Note, (1.) It highly concerns those who speak to people in the name of God to be well prepared beforehand. (2.) Those who would know what to say must go to God, to the word of his grace and to the throne of his grace, for instructions, Ezek. ii. 7; iii. 4, 10, 17. (3.) Whenever we have any thing to do with God, it is desirable to know, and our duty to consider, what is his name.
IV. God readily gives him full instructions in this matter. Two names God would now be known by:—
1. A name that denotes what he is in himself (v. 14): I am that I am. This explains his name Jehovah, and signifies, (1.) That he is self-existent; he has his being of himself, and has no dependence upon any other: the greatest and best man in the world must say, By the grace of God I am what I am; but God says absolutely—and it is more than any creature, man or angel, can say— I am that I am. Being self-existent, he cannot but be self-sufficient, and therefore all-sufficient, and the inexhaustible fountain of being and bliss. (2.) That he is eternal and unchangeable, and always the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever; he will be what he will be and what he is; see Rev. i. 8. (3.) That we cannot by searching find him out. This is such a name as checks all bold and curious enquiries concerning God, and in effect says, Ask not after my name, seeing it is secret, Judg. xiii. 18; Prov. xxx. 4. Do we ask what is God? Let it suffice us to know that he is what he is, what he ever was, and ever will be. How little a portion is heard of him! Job xxvi. 14. (4.) That he is faithful and true to all his promises, unchangeable in his word as well as in his nature, and not a man that he should lie. Let Israel know this, I AM hath sent me unto you.
2. A name that denotes what he is to his people. Lest that name I AM should amuse and puzzle them, he is further directed to make use of another name of God more familiar and intelligible: The Lord God of your fathers hath sent me unto you (v. 15): Thus God had made himself know to him (v. 6), and thus he must make him known to them, (1.) That he might revive among them the religion of their fathers, which, it is to be feared, was much decayed and almost lost. This was necessary to prepare them for deliverance, Ps. lxxx. 19. (2.) That he might raise their expectations of the speedy performance of the promises made unto their fathers. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are particularly named, because with Abraham the covenant was first made, and with Isaac and Jacob often expressly renewed; and these three were distinguished from their brethren, and chosen to be the trustees of the covenant, when their brethren were rejected. God will have this to be his name for ever, and it has been, is, and will be, his name, by which his worshippers know him, and distinguish him from all false gods; see 1 Kings xviii. 36. Note, God's covenant-relation to his people is what he will be ever mindful of, what he glories in, and what he will have us never forget, but give him the glory of: if he will have this to be his memorial unto all generations, we have all the reason in the world to make it so with us, for it is a precious memorial.

verses 16-22Edit


16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: 17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. 18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the
Lord our God. 19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: 22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
Moses is here more particularly instructed in his work, and informed beforehand of his success. 1. He must deal with the elders of Israel, and raise their expectation of a speedy removal to Canaan, v. 16, 17. He must repeat to them what God had said to him, as a faithful ambassador. Note, That which ministers have received of the Lord they must deliver to his people, and keep back nothing that is profitable. Lay an emphasis on that, v. 17: " I have said, I will bring you up; that is enough to satisfy them, I have said it:" hath he spoken, and will he not make it good? With us saying and doing are two things, but they are not so with God, for he is in one mind and who can turn him? "I have said it, and all the world cannot gainsay it. My counsel shall stand." His success with the elders of Israel would be good; so he is told (v. 18): They shall hearken to thy voice, and not thrust thee away as they did forty years ago. He who, by his grace, inclines the heart, and opens the ear, could say beforehand, They shall hearken to thy voice, having determined to make them willing in this day of power. 2. He must deal with the king of Egypt (v. 18), he and the elders of Israel, and in this they must not begin with a demand, but with a humble petition; that gentle and submissive method must be first tried, even with one who, it was certain, would not be wrought upon by it: We beseech thee, let us go. Moreover, they must only beg leave of Pharaoh to go as far as Mount Sinai to worship God, and say nothing to him of going quite away to Canaan; the latter would have been immediately rejected, but the former was a very modest and reasonable request, and his denying it was utterly inexcusable and justified them in the total deserting of his kingdom. If he would not give them leave to go and sacrifice at Sinai, justly did they go without leave to settle in Canaan. Note, The calls and commands which God sends to sinners are so highly reasonable in themselves, and delivered to them in such a gentle winning way, that the mouth of the disobedient must needs be for ever stopped. As to his success with Pharaoh, Moses is here told, (1.) That petitions, and persuasions, and humble remonstrances, would not prevail with him, no, nor a mighty hand stretched out in signs and wonders: I am sure he will not let you go, v. 19. Note, God sends his messengers to those whose hardness and obstinacy he certainly knows and foresees, that it may appear he would have them turn and live. (2.) That plagues should compel him to it: I will smite Egypt, and then he will let you go, v. 20. Note, Those will certainly be broken by the power of God's hand that will not bow to the power of his word; we may be sure that when God judges he will overcome. (3.) That his people should be more kind to them, and furnish them at their departure with abundance of plate and jewels, to their great enriching: I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, v. 21, 22. Note, [1.] God sometimes makes the enemies of his people, not only to be at peace with them, but to be kind to them. [2.] God has many ways of balancing accounts between the injured and the injurious, of righting the oppressed, and compelling those that have done wrong to make restitution; for he sits in the throne judging right.

CHAP. 4.Edit


This chapter, I. Continues and concludes God's discourse with Moses at the bush concerning this great affair of bringing Israel out of Egypt. 1. Moses objects the people's unbelief (ver. 1), and God answers that objection by giving him a power to work miracles, (1.) To turn his rod into a serpent, and then into a rod again,

ver. 2-5. (2.) To make his hand leprous, and then whole again, ver. 6-8. (3.) To turn the water into blood, ver. 9. 2. Moses objects his own slowness of speech (ver. 10), and begs to be excused (ver. 13); but God answers this objection, (1.) By promising him his presence, ver. 11, 12. (2.) By joining Aaron in commission with him, ver. 14-16. (3.) By putting an honour upon the very staff in his hand, ver. 17. II. It begins Moses's execution of his commission. 1. He obtains leave of his father-in-law to return into Egypt, ver. 18. 2. He receives further instructions and encouragements from God, ver. 19, 21-23. 3. He hastens his departure, and takes his family with him, ver. 20. 4. He meets with some difficulty in the way about the circumcising of his son, ver. 24-26. 5. He has the satisfaction of meeting his brother Aaron, ver. 27, 28. 6. He produces his commission before the elders of Israel, to their great joy, ver. 29-31. And thus the wheels were set a going towards that great deliverance.

verses 1-9Edit

The Objections of Moses Overruled. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee. 2 And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. 4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: 5 That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. 6 And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand
was leprous as snow. 7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. 8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. 9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

It was a very great honour that Moses was called to when God commissioned him to bring Israel out of Egypt; yet he is with difficulty persuaded to accept the commission, and does it at last with great reluctance, which we should rather impute to a humble diffidence of himself and his own sufficiency than to any unbelieving distrust of God and his word and power. Note, Those whom God designs for preferment he clothes with humility; the most fit for service are the least forward.
I. Moses objects that in all probability the people would not hearken to his voice (v. 1), that is, they would not take his bare word, unless he showed them some sign, which he had not been yet instructed to do. This objection cannot be justified, because it contradicts what God had said (ch. iii. 18), They shall hearken to thy voice. If God says, They will, does it become Moses to say, They will not? Surely he means, "Perhaps they will not at first, or some of them will not." If there should be some gainsayers among them who would question his commission, how should he deal with them? And what course should he take to convince them? He remembered how they had once rejected him, and feared it would be so again. Note, 1. Present discouragements often arise from former disappointments. 2. Wise and good men have sometimes a worse opinion of people than they deserve. Moses said (v. 1), They will not believe me; and yet he was happily mistaken, for it is said (v. 31), The people believed; but then the signs which God appointed in answer to this objection were first wrought in their sight.
II. God empowers him to work miracles, directs him to three particularly, two of which were now immediately wrought for his own satisfaction. Note, True miracles are the most convincing external proofs of a divine mission attested by them. Therefore our Saviour often appealed to his works (as John v. 36), and Nicodemus owns himself convinced by them, John iii. 2. And here Moses, having a special commission given him as a judge and lawgiver to Israel, has this seal affixed to his commission, and comes supported by these credentials.
1. The rod in his hand is made the subject of a miracle, a double miracle: it is but thrown out of his hand and it becomes a serpent; he resumes it and it becomes a rod again, v. 2-4. Now, (1.) Here was a divine power manifested in the change itself, that a dry stick should be turned into a living serpent, a lively one, so formidable a one that Moses himself, on whom, it should seem, it turned in some threatening manner, fled from before it, though we may suppose, in that desert, serpents were no strange things to him; but what was produced miraculously was always the best and strongest of the kind, as the water turned to wine: and, then, that this living serpent should be turned into a dry stick again, this was the Lord's doing. (2.) Here was an honour put upon Moses, that this change was wrought upon his throwing it down and taking it up, without any spell, or charm, or incantation: his being empowered thus to act under God, out of the common course of nature and providence, was a demonstration of his authority, under God, to settle a new dispensation of the kingdom of grace. We cannot imagine that the God of truth would delegate such a power as this to an impostor. (3.) There was a significancy in the miracle itself. Pharaoh had turned the rod of Israel into a serpent, representing them as dangerous (ch. i. 10), causing their belly to cleave to the dust, and seeking their ruin; but now they should be turned into a rod again: or, thus Pharaoh had turned the rod of government into the serpent of oppression, from which Moses had himself fled into Midian; but by the agency of Moses the scene was altered again. (4.) There was a direct tendency in it to convince the children of Israel that Moses was indeed sent of God to do what he did, v. 5. Miracles were for signs to those that believed not, 1 Cor. xiv. 22.
2. His hand itself is next made the subject of a miracle. He puts it once into his bosom, and takes it out leprous; he puts it again into the same place, and takes it out well, v. 6, 7. This signified, (1.) That Moses, by the power of God, should bring sore diseases upon Egypt, and that, at his prayer, they should be removed. (2.) That whereas the Israelites in Egypt had become leprous, polluted by sin, and almost consumed by oppression (a leper is as one dead, Num. xii. 12), by being taken into the bosom of Moses they should be cleansed and cured, and have all their grievances redressed. (3.) That Moses was not to work miracles by his own power, nor for his own praise, but by the power of God and for his glory; the leprous hand of Moses does forever exclude boasting. Now it was supposed that, if the former sign did not convince, this latter would. Note, God is willing more abundantly to show the truth of his word, and is not sparing in his proofs; the multitude and variety of the miracles corroborate the evidence.
3. He is directed, when he shall come to Egypt, to turn some of the water of the river into blood, v. 9. This was done, at first, as a sign, but, not gaining due credit with Pharaoh, the whole river was afterwards turned into blood, and then it became a plague. He is ordered to work this miracle in case they would not be convinced by the other two. Note, Unbelief shall be left inexcusable, and convicted of a wilful obstinacy. As to the people of Israel, God had said (ch. iii. 18), They shall hearken; yet he appoints these miracles to be wrought for their conviction, for he that has ordained the end has ordained the means.

verses 10-17Edit


10 And Moses said unto the Lord , O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord ? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. 13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. 14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. 15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. 17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

Moses still continues backward to the service for which God had designed him, even to a fault; for now we can no longer impute it to his humility and modesty, but must own that here was too much of cowardice, slothfulness, and unbelief in it. Observe here,
I. How Moses endeavours to excuse himself from the work.
1. He pleads that he was no good spokesman: O my Lord! I am not eloquent, v. 10. He was a great philosopher, statesman, and divine, and yet no orator; a man of a clear head, great thought, and solid judgment, but had not a voluble tongue, or ready utterance, and therefore he thought himself unfit to speak before great men about great affairs, and in danger of being run down by the Egyptians. Observe, (1.) We must not judge of men by the readiness and fluency of their discourse. Moses was mighty in word (Acts vii. 22), and yet not eloquent: what he said was strong and nervous, and to the purpose, and distilled as the dew (Deut. xxxii. 2), though he did not deliver himself with that readiness, ease, and elegance, that some do, who have not the tenth part of his sense. St. Paul's speech was contemptible, 2 Cor. x. 10. A great deal of wisdom and true worth is concealed by a slow tongue. (2.) God is pleased sometimes to make choice of those as his messengers who have fewest of the advantages of art or nature, that his grace in them may appear the more glorious. Christ's disciples were no orators, till the Spirit made them such.
2. When this plea was overruled, and all his excuses were answered, he begged that God would send somebody else on this errand and leave him to keep sheep in Midian (v. 13): "Send by any hand but mine; thou canst certainly find one much more fit." Note, An unwilling mind will take up with a sorry excuse rather than none, and is willing to devolve those services upon others that have any thing of difficulty or danger in them.
II. How God condescends to answer all his excuses. Though the anger of the Lord was kindled against him (v. 14), yet he continued to reason with him, till he had overcome him. Note, Even self-diffidence, when it grows into an extreme—when it either hinders us from duty or clogs us in duty, or when it discourages our dependence upon the grace of God—is very displeasing to him. God justly resents our backwardness to serve him, and has reason to take it ill; for he is such a benefactor as is before-hand with us, and such a rewarder as will not be behind-hand with us. Note further, God is justly displeased with those whom yet he does not reject: he vouchsafes to reason the case even with his froward children, and overcomes them, as he did Moses here, with grace and kindness.
1. To balance the weakness of Moses, he here reminds him of his own power, v. 11. (1.) His power in that concerning which Moses made the objection: Who has made man's mouth? Have not I the Lord? Moses knew that God made man, but he must be reminded now that God made man's mouth. An eye to God as Creator would help us over a great many of the difficulties which lie in the way of our duty, Ps. cxxiv. 8. God, as the author of nature, has given us the power and faculty of speaking; and from him, as the fountain of gifts and graces, comes the faculty of speaking well, the mouth and wisdom (Luke xxi. 15), the tongue of the learned (Isa. l. 4); he pours grace into the lips, Ps. xlv. 2. (2.) His power in general over the other faculties. Who but God makes the dumb and the deaf, the seeing and the blind? [1.] The perfections of our faculties are his work, he makes the seeing; he formed the eye (Ps. xciv. 9); he opens the understanding, the eye of the mind, Luke xxiv. 45. [2.] Their imperfections are from him too; he make the dumb, and deaf, and blind. Is there any evil of this kind, and the Lord has not done it? No doubt he has, and always in wisdom and righteousness, and for his own glory, John ix. 3. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were made deaf and blind spiritually, as Isa. vi. 9, 10. But God knew how to manage them, and get himself honour upon them.
2. To encourage him in this great undertaking, he repeats the promise of his presence, not only in general, I will be with thee (ch. iii. 12), but in particular, " I will be with thy mouth, so that the imperfection in thy speech shall be no prejudice to thy message." It does not appear that God did immediately remove the infirmity, whatever it was; but he did that which was equivalent, he taught him what to say, and then let the matter recommend itself: if others spoke more gracefully, none spoke more powerfully. Note, Those whom God employs to speak for him ought to depend upon him for instructions, and it shall be given them what they shall speak, Matt. x. 19.
3. He joins Aaron in commission with him. He promises that Aaron shall meet him opportunely, and that he will be glad to see him, they having not seen one another (it is likely) for many years, v. 14. He directs him to make use of Aaron as his spokesman, v. 16. God might have laid Moses wholly aside, for his backwardness to be employed; but he considered his frame, and ordered him an assistant. Observe, (1.) Two are better than one, Eccl. iv. 9. God will have his two witnesses (Rev. xi. 3), that out of their mouths every word may be established. (2.) Aaron was the brother of Moses, divine wisdom so ordering it, that their natural affection one to another might strengthen their union in the joint execution of their commission. Christ sent his disciples two and two, and some of the couples were brothers. (3.) Aaron was the elder brother, and yet he was willing to be employed under Moses in this affair, because God would have it so. (4.) Aaron could speak well, and yet was far inferior to Moses in wisdom. God dispenses his gifts variously to the children of men, that we may see our need one of another, and each may contribute something to the good of the body, 1 Cor. xii. 21. The tongue of Aaron, with the head and heart of Moses, would make one completely fit for this embassy. (5.) God promises, I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth. Even Aaron, that could speak well, yet could not speak to purpose unless God was with his mouth; without the constant aids of divine grace the best gifts will fail.
4. He bids him take the rod with him in his hand (v. 17), to intimate that he must bring about his undertaking rather by acting than by speaking; the signs he should work with this rod might abundantly supply the want of eloquence; one miracle would do him better service than all the rhetoric in the world. Take this rod, the rod he carried as a shepherd, that he might not be ashamed of that mean condition out of which God called him. This rod must be his staff of authority, and must be to him in stead both of sword and sceptre.

verses 18-23Edit

Moses Returns in Egypt. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. 19 And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. 20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. 21 And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. 22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord , Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Here, I. Moses obtains leave of his father-in-law to return into Egypt, v. 18. His father-in-law had been kind to him when he was a stranger, and therefore he would not be so uncivil as to leave his family, nor so unjust as to leave his service, without giving him notice. Note, The honour of being admitted into communion with God, and of being employed for him, does not exempt us from the duties of our relations and callings in this world. Moses said nothing to his father-in-law (for aught that appears) of the glorious manifestation of God to him; such favours we are to be thankful for to God, but not to boast of before men.
II. He receives from God further encouragements and directions in his work. After God had appeared to him in the bush to settle a correspondence, it should seem, he often spoke to him, as there was occasion, with less overwhelming solemnity. And, 1. He assures Moses that the coasts were clear. Whatever new enemies he might make by his undertaking, his old enemies were all dead, all that sought his life, v. 19. Perhaps some secret fear of falling into their hands was at the bottom of Moses's backwardness to go to Egypt, though he was not willing to own it, but pleaded unworthiness, insufficiency, want of elocution, &c. Note, God knows all the temptations his people lie under, and how to arm them against their secret fears, Ps. cxlii. 3. 2. He orders him to do the miracles, not only before the elders of Israel, but before Pharaoh, v. 21. There were some alive perhaps in the court of Pharaoh who remembered Moses when he was the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and had many a time called him a fool for deserting the honours of that relation; but he is now sent back to court, clad with greater powers than Pharaoh's daughter could have advanced him to, so that it might appear he was no loser by his choice: this wonder-working rod did more adorn the hand of Moses than the sceptre of Egypt could have done. Note, Those that look with contempt upon worldly honours shall be recompensed with the honour that cometh from God, which is the true honour. 3. That Pharaoh's obstinacy might be no surprise nor discouragement to him, God tells him before that he would harden his heart. Pharaoh had hardened his own heart against the groans and cries of the oppressed Israelites, and shut up the bowels of his compassion from them; and now God, in a way of righteous judgment, hardens his heart against the conviction of the miracles, and the terror of the plagues. Note, Ministers must expect with many to labour in vain: we must not think it strange if we meet with those who will not be wrought upon by the strongest arguments and fairest reasonings; yet our judgment is with the Lord. 4. Words are put into his mouth with which to address Pharaoh, v. 22, 23. God had promised him (v. 12), I will teach thee what thou shalt say; and here he does teach him. (1.) He must deliver his message in the name of the great Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord; this is the first time that preface is used by any man which afterwards is used so frequently by all the prophets: whether Pharaoh will hear, or whether he will forbear, Moses must tell him, Thus saith the Lord. (2.) He must let Pharaoh know Israel's relation to God, and God's concern for Israel. Is Israel a servant? is he a home-born slave? Jer. ii. 14. "No, Israel is my son, my firstborn, precious in my sight, honourable, and dear to me, not to be thus insulted and abused." (3.) He must demand a discharge for them: " Let my son go; not only my servant whom thou hast no right to detain, but my son whose liberty and honour I am very jealous for. It is my son, my son that serves me, and therefore must be spared, must be pleaded for," Mal. iii. 17. (4.) He must threaten Pharaoh with the death of the first-born of Egypt, in case of a refusal: I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. As men deal with God's people, let them expect to be themselves dealt with; with the froward he will wrestle.
III. Moses addresses himself to this expedition. When God had assured him (v. 19) that the men were dead who sought his life, immediately it follows (v. 20), he took his wife, and his sons, and set out for Egypt. Note, Though corruption may object much against the services God calls us to, yet grace will get the upper hand, and will be obedient to the heavenly vision.

verses 24-31Edit

The Circumcision of the Son of Moses. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. 27 And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. 28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the
Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. 29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: 30 And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Moses is here going to Egypt, and we are told,
I. How God met him in anger, v. 24-26. This is a very difficult passage of story; much has been written, and excellently written, to make it intelligible; we will try to make it improving. Here is,
1. The sin of Moses, which was neglecting to circumcise his son. This was probably the effect of his being unequally yoked with a Midianite, who was too indulgent of her child, while Moses was too indulgent of her. Note, (1.) We have need to watch carefully over our own hearts, lest fondness for any relation prevail above our love to God, and take us off from our duty to him. It is charged upon Eli that he honoured his sons more than God (1 Sam. ii. 29); and see Matt. x. 37. (2.) Even good men are apt to cool in their zeal for God and duty when they have long been deprived of the society of the faithful: solitude has its advantages, but they seldom counterbalance the loss of Christian communion.
2. God's displeasure against him. He met him, and, probably by a sword in an angel's hand, sought to kill him. This was a great change; very lately God was conversing with him, and lodging a trust in him, as a friend; and now he is coming forth against him as an enemy. Note, (1.) Omissions are sins, and must come into judgment, and particularly the contempt and neglect of the seals of the covenant; for it is a sign that we undervalue the promises of the covenant, and are displeased with the conditions of it. He that has made a bargain, and is not willing to seal and ratify it, one may justly suspect, neither likes it nor designs to stand to it. (2.) God takes notice of, and is much displeased with, the sins of his own people. If they neglect their duty, let them expect to hear of it by their consciences, and perhaps to feel from it by cross providences: for this cause many are sick and weak, as some think Moses was here.
3. The speedy performance of the duty for the neglect of which God had now a controversy with him. His son must be circumcised; Moses is unable to circumcise him; therefore, in this case of necessity, Zipporah does it, whether with passionate words (expressing her dislike of the ordinance itself, or at least the administration of it to so young a child, and in a journey), as to me it seems, or with proper words—solemnly expressing the espousal of the child to God by the covenant of circumcision (as some read it) or her thankfulness to God for sparing her husband, giving him a new life, and thereby giving her, as it were, a new marriage to him, upon her circumcising her son (as others read it)—I cannot determine: but we learn, (1.) That when God discovers to us what is amiss in our lives we must give all diligence to amend it speedily, and particularly return to the duties we have neglected. (2.) The putting away of our sins is indispensably necessary to the removal of God's judgements. This is the voice of every rod, it calls to us to return to him that smites us.
4. The release of Moses thereupon: So he let him go; the distemper went off, the destroying angel withdrew, and all was well: only Zipporah cannot forget the fright she was in, but will unreasonably call Moses a bloody husband, because he obliged her to circumcise the child; and, upon this occasion (it is probable), he sent them back to his father-in-law, that they might not create him any further uneasiness. Note, (1.) When we return to God in a way of duty he will return to us in a way of mercy; take away the cause, and the effect will cease. (2.) We must resolve to bear it patiently, if our zeal for God and his institutions be misinterpreted and discouraged by some that should understand themselves, and us, and their duty, better, as David's zeal was misinterpreted by Michal; but if this be to be vile, if this be to be bloody, we must be yet more so. (3.) When we have any special service to do for God we should remove as far from us as we can that which is likely to be our hindrance. Let the dead bury their dead, but follow thou me.
II. How Aaron met him in love, v. 27, 28. 1. God sent Aaron to meet him, and directed him where to find him, in the wilderness that lay towards Midian. Note, The providence of God is to be acknowledged in the comfortable meeting of relations and friends. 2. Aaron made so much haste, in obedience to his God, and in love to his brother, that he met him in the mount of God, the place where God had met with him. 3. They embraced one another with mutual endearments. The more they saw of God's immediate direction in bringing them together the more pleasant their interview was: they kissed, not only in token of brotherly affection, and in remembrance of ancient acquaintance, but as a pledge of their hearty concurrence in the work to which they were jointly called. 4. Moses informed his brother of the commission he had received, with all the instructions and credentials affixed to it, v. 28. Note, What we know of God we should communicate for the benefit of others; and those that are fellow-servants to God in the same work should use a mutual freedom, and endeavour rightly and fully to understand one another.
III. How the elders of Israel met him in faith and obedience. When Moses and Aaron first opened their commission in Egypt, said what they were ordered to say, and, to confirm it, did what they were ordered to do, they met with a better reception than they promised themselves, v. 29-31. 1. The Israelites gave credit to them: The people believed, as God had foretold (ch. iii. 18), knowing that no man could do those works that they did, unless God were with him. They gave glory to God: They bowed their heads and worshipped, therein expressing not only their humble thankfulness to God, who had raised them up and sent them a deliverer, but also their cheerful readiness to observe orders, and pursue the methods of their deliverance.

CHAP. 5.Edit


Moses and Aaron are here dealing with Pharaoh, to get leave of him to go and worship in the wilderness. I. They demand leave in the name of God (ver. 1), and he answers their demand with a defiance of God,

ver. 2. II. They beg leave in the name of Israel (ver. 3), and he answers their request with further orders to oppress Israel, ver. 4-9. These cruel orders were, 1. Executed by the task-masters, ver. 10-14. 2. Complained of to Pharaoh, but in vain, ver. 15-19. 3. Complained of by the people to Moses ver. 20, 21), and by him to God, ver. 22, 23.

verses 1-2Edit

Sufferings of the Israelites Increased. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the
Lord , that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord , neither will I let Israel go.
Moses and Aaron, having delivered their message to the elders of Israel, with whom they found good acceptance, are now to deal with Pharaoh, to whom they come in peril of their lives— Moses particularly, who perhaps was out-lawed for killing the Egyptian forty years before, so that if any of the old courtiers should happen to remember that against him now it might cost him his head. Their message itself was displeasing, and touch Pharaoh both in his honour and in his profit, two tender points; yet these faithful ambassadors boldly deliver it, whether he will hear or whether he will forbear.
I. Their demand is piously bold: Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, v. 1. Moses, in treating with the elders of Israel, is directed to call God the God of their fathers; but, in treating with Pharaoh, they call him the God of Israel, and it is the first time we find him called so in scripture: he is called the God of Israel, the person (Gen. xxxiii. 20); but here it is Israel, the people. They are just beginning to be formed into a people when God is called their God. Moses, it is likely, was directed to call him so, at least it might be inferred from ch. ix. 22, Israel is my son. In this great name they deliver their message: Let my people go. 1. They were God's people, and therefore Pharaoh ought not to detain them in bondage. Note, God will own his own people, though ever so poor and despicable, and will find a time to plead their cause. "The Israelites are slaves in Egypt, but they are my people," says God, "and I will not suffer them to be always trampled upon." See Isa. lii. 4, 5. 2. He expected services and sacrifices from them, and therefore they must have leave to go where they could freely exercise their religion, without giving offence to, or receiving offence from, the Egyptians. Note, God delivers his people out of the hand of their enemies, that they may serve him, and serve him cheerfully, that they may hold a feast to him, which they may do, while they have his favour and presence, even in a wilderness, a dry and barren land.
II. Pharaoh's answer is impiously bold: Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? v. 2. Being summoned to surrender, he thus hangs out the flag of defiance, hectors Moses and the God that sends him, and peremptorily refuses to let Israel go; he will not treat about it, nor so much as bear the mention of it. Observe, 1. How scornfully he speaks of the God of Israel: " Who is Jehovah? I neither know him nor care for him, neither value him nor fear him:" it is a hard name that he never heard of before, but he resolves it shall be no bug-bear to him. Israel was now a despised oppressed people, looked on as the tail of the nation, and, by the character they bore, Pharaoh makes his estimate of their God, and concludes that he made no better a figure among the gods than his people did among the nations. Note, Hardened persecutors are more malicious against God himself than they are against his people. See Isa. xxxvii. 23. Again, Ignorance and contempt of God are at the bottom of all the wickedness that is in the world. Men know not the Lord, or have very low and mean thoughts of him, and therefore they obey not his voice, nor will let any thing go for him. 2. How proudly he speaks of himself: " That I should obey his voice; I, the king of Egypt, a great people, obey the God of Israel, a poor enslaved people? Shall I, that rule the Israel of God, obey the God of Israel? No, it is below me; I scorn to answer his summons." Note, Those are the children of pride that are the children of disobedience, Job xli. 34; Eph. v. 6. Proud men think themselves too good to stoop even to God himself, and would not be under control, Jer. xliii. 2. Here is the core of the controversy: God must rule, but man will not be ruled. "I will have my will done," says God: "But I will do my own will," says the sinner. 3. How resolutely he denies the demand: Neither will I let Israel go. Note, Of all sinners none are so obstinate, nor so hardly persuaded to leave their sin, as persecutors are.

verses 3-9Edit


3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. 4 And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. 5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. 6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, 7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. 9 Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.

Finding that Pharaoh had no veneration at all for God, Moses and Aaron next try whether he had any compassion for Israel, and become humble suitors to him for leave to go and sacrifice, but in vain.
I. Their request is very humble and modest, v. 3. They make no complaint of the rigour they were ruled with. They plead that the journey they designed was not a project formed among themselves, but that their God had met with them, and called them to it. They beg with all submission: We pray thee. The poor useth entreaties; though God may summon princes that oppress, it becomes us to beseech and make supplication to them. What they ask is very reasonable, only for a short vacation, while they went three days' journey into the desert, and that on a good errand, and unexceptionable: " We will sacrifice unto the Lord our God, as other people do to theirs;" and, lastly, they give a very good reason, "Lest, if we quite cast off his worship, he fall upon us with one judgment or other, and then Pharaoh will lose his vassals."
II. Pharaoh's denial of their request is very barbarous and unreasonable, v. 4-9.
1. His suggestions were very unreasonable. (1.) That the people were idle, and that therefore they talked of going to sacrifice. The cities they built for Pharaoh, and the other fruit of their labours, were witnesses for them that they were not idle; yet he thus basely misrepresents them, that he might have a pretence to increase their burdens. (2.) That Moses and Aaron made them idle with vain words, v. 9. God's words are here called vain words; and those that called them to the best and most needful business are accused of making them idle. Note, The malice of Satan has often represented the service and worship of God as fit employment for those only that have nothing else to do, and the business only of the idle; whereas indeed it is the indispensable duty of those that are most busy in the world.
2. His resolutions hereupon were most barbarous. (1.) Moses and Aaron themselves must get to their burdens (v. 4); they are Israelites, and, however God had distinguished them from the rest, Pharaoh makes no difference: they must share in the common slavery of their nation. Persecutors have always taken a particular pleasure in putting contempt and hardship upon the ministers of the churches. (2.) The usual tale of bricks must be exacted, without the usual allowance of straw to mix with the clay, or to burn the bricks with, that thus more work might be laid upon the men, which if they performed, they would be broken with labour; and, if not, they would be exposed to punishment.

verses 10-14Edit


10 And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw. 11 Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished. 12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw. 13 And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw. 14 And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?

Pharaoh's orders are here put in execution; straw is denied, and yet the work not diminished. 1. The Egyptian task-masters were very severe. Pharaoh having decreed unrighteous decrees, the task-masters were ready to write the grievousness that he had prescribed, Isa. x. 1. Cruel princes will never want cruel instruments to be employed under them, who will justify them in that which is most unreasonable. These task-masters insisted upon the daily tasks, as when there was straw, v. 13. See what need we have to pray that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, 2 Thess. iii. 2. The enmity of the serpent's seed against the seed of the woman is such as breaks through all the laws of reason, honour, humanity, and common justice. 2. The people hereby were dispersed throughout all the land of Egypt, to gather stubble, v. 12. By this means Pharaoh's unjust and barbarous usage of them came to be known to all the kingdom, and perhaps caused them to be pitied by their neighbours, and made Pharaoh's government less acceptable even to his own subjects: good-will is never got by persecution. 3. The Israelite-officers were used with particular harshness, v. 14. Those that were the fathers of the houses of Israel paid dearly for their honour; for from them immediately the service was exacted, and they were beaten when it was not performed. See here, (1.) What a miserable thing slavery is, and what reason we have to be thankful to God that we are a free people, and not oppressed. Liberty and property are valuable jewels in the eyes of those whose services and possessions lie at the mercy of an arbitrary power. (2.) What disappointments we often meet with after the raising of our expectations. The Israelites were now lately encouraged to hope for enlargement, but behold greater distresses. This teaches us always to rejoice with trembling. (3.) What strange steps God sometimes takes in delivering his people; he often brings them to the utmost straits when he is just ready to appear for them. The lowest ebbs go before the highest tides; and very cloudy mornings commonly introduce the fairest days, Deut. xxxii. 36. God's time to help is when things are at the worst; and Providence verifies the paradox, The worse the better.

verses 15-23Edit


15 Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants? 16 There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants
are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people. 17 But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the Lord . 18 Go therefore now,
and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks. 19 And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil
case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task. 20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: 21 And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. 22 And Moses returned unto the Lord , and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou
so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.

It was a great strait that the head-workmen were in, when they must either abuse those that were under them or be abused by those that were over them; yet, it should seem, rather than they would tyrannize, they would be tyrannized over; and they were so. In this evil case (v. 19), observe,
I. How justly they complained to Pharaoh: They came and cried unto Pharaoh, v. 15. Whither should they go with a remonstrance of their grievances but to the supreme power, which is ordained for the protection of the injured? As bad as Pharaoh was his oppressed subjects had liberty to complain to him; there was no law against petitioning: it was a very modest, but moving, representation that they made of their condition (v. 16): Thy servants are beaten (severely enough, no doubt, when things were in such a ferment), and yet the fault is in thy own people, the task-masters, who deny us what is necessary for carrying on our work. Note, It is common for those to be most rigorous in blaming others who are most blameworthy themselves. But what did they get by this complaint? It did but make bad worse. 1. Pharaoh taunted them (v. 17); when they were almost killed with working, he told them they were idle: they underwent the fatigue of industry, and yet lay under the imputation of slothfulness, while nothing appeared to ground the charge upon but this, that they said, Let us go and do sacrifice. Note, It is common for the best actions to be mentioned under the worst names; holy diligence in the best business is censured by many as a culpable carelessness in the business of the world. It is well for us that men are not to be our judges, but a God who knows what the principles are on which we act. Those that are diligent in doing sacrifice to the Lord will, with God, escape the doom of the slothful servant, though, with men, they do not. 2. He bound on their burdens: Go now and work. v. 18. Note, wickedness proceedeth from the wicked; what can be expected from unrighteous men but more unrighteousness?
II. How unjustly they complained of Moses and Aaron: The Lord look upon you, and judge, v. 21. This was not fair. Moses and Aaron had given sufficient evidence of their hearty good-will to the liberties of Israel; and yet, because things succeed not immediately as they hoped, they are reproached as accessaries to their slavery. They should have humbled themselves before God, and taken to themselves the shame of their sin, which turned away good things from them; but, instead of this, they fly in the face of their best friends, and quarrel with the instruments of their deliverance, because of some little difficulties and obstructions they met with in effecting it. Note, Those that are called out to public service for God and their generation must expect to be tried, not only by the malicious threats of proud enemies, but by the unjust and unkind censures of unthinking friends, who judge only by outward appearance and look but a little way before them. Now what did Moses do in this strait? It grieved him to the heart that the event did not answer, but rather contradict, his expectation; and their upbraidings were very cutting, and like a sword in his bones; but, 1. He returned to the Lord (v. 22), to acquaint him with it, and to represent the case to him: he knew that what he had said and done was by divine direction; and therefore what blame is laid upon him for it he considers as reflecting upon God, and, like Hezekiah, spreads it before him as interested in the cause, and appeals to him. Compare this with Jer. xx. 7-9. Note, When we find ourselves, at any time, perplexed and embarrassed in the way of our duty, we ought to have recourse to God, and lay open our case before him by faithful and fervent prayer. If we retreat, let us retreat to him, and no further. 2. He expostulated with him, v. 22, 23. He knew not how to reconcile the providence with the promise and the commission which he had received. "Is this God's coming down to deliver Israel? Must I, who hoped to be a blessing to them, become a scourge to them? By this attempt to get them out of the pit, they are but sunk the deeper into it." Now he asks, (1.) Wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? Note, Even when God is coming towards his people in ways of mercy, he sometimes takes such methods as that they may think themselves but ill treated. The instruments of deliverance, when they aim to help, are found to hinder, and that becomes a trap which, it was hoped, would have been for their welfare, God suffering it to be so that we may learn to cease from man, and may come off from a dependence upon second causes. Note, further, When the people of God think themselves ill treated, they should go to God by prayer, and plead with him, and that is the way to have better treatment in God's good time. (2.) Why is it thou hast sent me? Thus, [1.] He complains of his ill success: "Pharaoh has done evil to this people, and not one step seems to be taken towards their deliverance." Note, It cannot but sit very heavily upon the spirits of those whom God employs for him to see that their labour does no good, and much more to see that it does hurt eventually, though not designedly. It is uncomfortable to a good minister to perceive that his endeavours for men's conviction and conversion do but exasperate their corruptions, confirm their prejudices, harden their hearts, and seal them up under unbelief. This makes them go in the bitterness of their souls, as the prophet, Ezek. 3. 14. Or, [2.] He enquires what was further to be done: Why hast thou sent me? that is, "What other method shall I take in pursuance of my commission?" Note, Disappointments in our work must not drive us from our God, but still we must consider why we are sent.

CHAP. 6.Edit


Much ado there was to bring Moses to his work, and when the ice was broken, some difficulty having occurred in carrying it on, there was no less ado to put him forward in it. Witness this chapter, in which, I. God satisfies Moses himself in an answer to his complaints in the close of the foregoing chapter,

ver. 1. II. He gives him fuller instructions than had yet been given him what to say to the children of Israel, for their satisfaction (ver. 2-8), but to little purpose, ver. 9. III. He sends him again to Pharaoh, ver. 10, 11. But Moses objects against (ver. 12), upon which a very strict charge is given to him and his brother to execute their commission with vigour, ver. 13. IV. Here is an abstract of the genealogy of the tribes of Reuben and Simeon, to introduce that of Levi, that the pedigree of Moses and Aaron might be cleared (ver. 14-25), and then the chapter concludes with a repetition of so much of the preceding story as was necessary to make way for the following chapter.

verses 1-9Edit

The Promise of Deliverance. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. 2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord : 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. 4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. 5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the
Lord , and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the
Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord . 9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.

Here, I. God silences Moses's complaints with the assurance of success in this negotiation, repeating the promise made him in ch. iii. 20, After that, he will let you go. When Moses was at his wit's end, wishing he had staid in Midian, rather than have come to Egypt to make bad worse—when he was quite at a loss what to do— Then the Lord said unto Moses, for the quieting of his mind, " Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh (v. 1); now that the affair has come to a crisis, things are as bad as they can be, Pharaoh is in the height of pride and Israel in the depth of misery, now is my time to appear." See Ps. xii. 5, Now will I arise. Note, Man's extremity is God's opportunity of helping and saving. Moses had been expecting what God would do; but now he shall see what he will do, shall see his day at length, Job xxiv. 1. Moses had been trying what he could do, and could effect nothing. "Well," says God, "now thou shalt see what I will do; let me alone to deal with this proud man," Job xl. 12, 13. Note, Then the deliverance of God's church will be accomplished, when God takes the work into his own hands. With a strong hand, that is, being forced to it by a strong hand, he shall let them go. Note, As some are brought to their duty by the strong hand of God's grace, who are made willing in the day of his power, so others by the strong hand of his justice, breaking those that would not bend.
II. He gives him further instructions, that both he and the people of Israel might be encouraged to hope for a glorious issue of this affair. Take comfort,
1. From God's name, Jehovah, v. 2, 3. He begins with this, I am Jehovah, the same with, I am that I am, the fountain of being, and blessedness, and infinite perfection. The patriarchs knew this name, but they did not know him in this matter by that which this name signifies. God would now be known by his name Jehovah, that is, (1.) A God performing what he had promised, and so inspiring confidence in his promises. (2.) A God perfecting what he had begun, and finishing his own work. In the history of the creation, God is never called Jehovah till the heavens and the earth were finished, Gen. ii. 4. When the salvation of the saints is completed in eternal life, then he will be known by his name Jehovah (Rev. xxii. 13); in the meantime they shall find him, for their strength and support, El-shaddai, a God all-sufficient, a God that is enough and will be so, Mic. vii. 20.
2. From his covenant: I have established my covenant, v. 4. Note, The covenants God makes he establishes; they are made as firm as the power and truth of God can make them. We may venture our all upon this bottom.
3. From his compassions (v. 5): I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel; he means their groaning on occasion of the late hardships put upon them. Note, God take notice of the increase of his people's calamities, and observes how their enemies grow upon them.
4. From his present resolutions, v. 6-8. Here is line upon line, to assure them that they should be brought triumphantly out of Egypt (v. 6), and should be put in possession of the land of Canaan (v. 8): I will bring you out. I will rid you. I will redeem you. I will bring you into the land of Canaan, and I will give it to you. Let man take the shame of his unbelief, which needs such repetitions; and let God have the glory of his condescending grace, which gives us such repeated assurances for our satisfaction.
5. From his gracious intentions in all these, which were great, and worthy of him, v. 7. (1.) He intended their happiness: I will take you to me for a people, a peculiar people, and I will be to you a God; more than this we need not ask, we cannot have, to make us happy. (2.) He intended his own glory: You shall know that I am the Lord. God will attain his own ends, nor shall we come short of them if we make them our chief end too. Now, one would think, these good words, and comfortable words, should have revived the drooping Israelites, and cause them to forget their misery; but, on the contrary, their miseries made them regardless of God's promises (v. 9): They harkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit. That is, [1.] They were so taken up with their troubles that they did not heed him. [2.] They were so cast down with their late disappointment that they did not believe him. [3.] They had such a dread of Pharaoh's power and wrath that they durst not themselves move in the least towards their deliverance. Note, First, Disconsolate spirits often put from them the comforts they are entitled to, and stand in their own light. See Isa. xxviii. 12. Secondly, Strong passions oppose strong consolations. By indulging ourselves in discontent and fretfulness, we deprive ourselves of the comfort we might have both from God's word and from his providence, and must thank ourselves if we go comfortless.

verses 10-13Edit


10 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 11 Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 12 And Moses spake before the Lord , saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who
am of uncircumcised lips? 13 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

Here, I. God sends Moses the second time to Pharaoh (v. 11) upon the same errand as before, to command him, at his peril, that he let the children of Israel go. Note, God repeats his precepts before he begins his punishments. Those that have often been called in vain to leave their sins must yet be called again and again, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, Ezek. iii. 11. God is said to hew sinners by his prophets (Hos. vi. 5), which denotes the repetition of the strokes. How often would I have gathered you?
II. Moses makes objections, as one discouraged, and willing to give up the cause, v. 12. He pleads, 1. The unlikelihood of Pharaoh's hearing: " Behold the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; they give no heed, no credit, to what I have said; how then can I expect that Pharaoh should hear me? If the anguish of their spirit makes them deaf to that which would compose and comfort them, much more will the anger of his spirit, his pride and insolence, make him deaf to that which will but exasperate and provoke him." If God's professing people hear not his messengers, how can it be thought that his professed enemy should? Note, The frowardness and untractableness of those that are called Christians greatly discourage ministers, and make them ready to despair of success in dealing with those that are atheistical and profane. We would be instrumental to unite Israelites, to refine and purify them, to comfort and pacify them; but, if they hearken not to us, how shall we prevail with those in whom we cannot pretend to such an interest? But with God all things are possible. 2. He pleads the unreadiness and infirmity of his own speaking: I am of uncircumcised lips; it is repeated, v. 30. He was conscious to himself that he had not the gift of utterance, had no command of language; his talent did not lie that way. To this objection God had given a sufficient answer before, and therefore he ought not to have insisted upon it, for the sufficiency of grace can supply the defects of nature at any time. Note, Though our infirmities ought to humble us, yet they ought not to discourage us from doing our best in any service we have to do for God. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
III. God again joins Aaron in commission with Moses, and puts an end to the dispute by interposing his own authority, and giving them both a solemn charge, upon their allegiance to their great Lord, to execute it with all possible expedition and fidelity. When Moses repeats his baffled arguments, he shall be argued with no longer, but God gives him a charge, and Aaron with him, both to the children of Israel and to Pharaoh, v. 13. Note, God's authority is sufficient to answer all objections, and binds us to obedience, without murmuring or disputing, Phil. ii. 14. Moses himself has need to be charged, and so has Timothy, 1 Tim. vi. 13; 2 Tim. iv. 1.

verses 14-30Edit

Genealogies of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


14 These be the heads of their fathers' houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben. 15 And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman: these
are the families of Simeon. 16 And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi
were an hundred thirty and seven years. 17 The sons of Gershon; Libni, and Shimi, according to their families. 18 And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years. 19 And the sons of Merari; Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according to their generations. 20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years. 21 And the sons of Izhar; Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri. 22 And the sons of Uzziel; Mishael, and Elzaphan, and Zithri. 23 And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 24 And the sons of Korah; Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph: these are the families of the Korhites. 25 And Eleazar Aaron's son took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bare him Phinehas: these are the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families. 26 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the Lord said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies. 27 These are they which spake to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt: these
are that Moses and Aaron. 28 And it came to pass on the day when the Lord spake unto Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 That the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I am the
Lord : speak thou unto Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say unto thee. 30 And Moses said before the Lord , Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?

I. We have here a genealogy, not an endless one, such as the apostle condemns (1 Tim. i. 4), for it ends in those two great patriots Moses and Aaron, and comes in here to show that they were Israelites, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh whom they were sent to deliver, raised up unto them of their brethren, as Christ also should be, who was to be the prophet and priest, the Redeemer and lawgiver, of the people of Israel, and whose genealogy also, like this, was to be carefully preserved. The heads of the houses of three of the tribes are here named, agreeing with the accounts we had, Gen. 46. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, are thus dignified here by themselves for this reason, because they were left under marks of infamy by their dying father, Reuben for his incest and Simeon and Levi for their murder of the Shechemites; and therefore Moses would put this particular honour upon them, to magnify God's mercy in their repentance and remission, as a pattern to those that should afterwards believe: the two former seem rather to be mentioned only for the sake of a third, which was Levi, from whom Moses and Aaron descended, and all the priests of the Jewish church. Thus was the tribe of Levi distinguished betimes. Observe here, 1. That Kohath, from whom Moses and Aaron, and all the priests, derived their pedigree, was a younger son of Levi, v. 16. Note, The grants of God's favours do not go by seniority of age and priority of birth, but the divine sovereignty often prefers the younger before the elder, so crossing hands. 2. That the ages of Levi, Kohath, and Amram, the father, grandfather, and great grandfather, of Moses, are here recorded; they all lived to a great age, Levi to 137, Kohath to 133, and Amram to 137. Moses himself came much short of them, and fixed seventy or eighty for the ordinary stretch of human life (Ps. xc. 10); for now that God's Israel was multiplied and had become a great nation, and divine revelation was by the hand of Moses committed to writing and no longer trusted to tradition, the two great reasons for the long lives of the patriarchs had ceased, and therefore henceforward fewer years must serve men. 3. That Aaron married Elisheba (the same name with that of the wife of Zecharias, Elizabeth, as Miriam is the same with Mary), daughter of Amminadab, one of the chief of the fathers of the tribe of Judah; for the tribes of Levi and Judah often intermarried, v. 23. 4. It must not be omitted that Moses has recorded the marriage of his father Amram with Jochebed his own aunt (v. 20); and it appears by Num. xxvi. 59 that it must be taken strictly for his father's own sister, at least by the half blood. This marriage was afterwards forbidden as incestuous (Lev. xviii. 12), which might be looked upon as a blot upon his family, though before that law; yet Moses does not conceal it, for he sought not his own praise, but wrote with a sincere regard to truth, whether it smiled or frowned upon him. 5. He concludes it with a particular mark of honour on the persons he is writing of, though he himself was one of them, v. 26, 27. These are that Moses and Aaron whom God pitched upon to be his plenipotentiaries in this treaty. These were those to whom God spoke (v. 26), and who spoke to Pharaoh on Israel's behalf, v. 27. Note, Communion with God and serviceableness to his church are things that, above any other, put true honour upon men. Those are great indeed with whom God converses and whom he employs on his service. Such were that Moses and Aaron; and something of this honour have all his saints, who are made to our God kings and priests.
II. In the close of the chapter Moses returns to his narrative, from which he had broken off somewhat abruptly (v. 13), and repeats, 1. The charge God had given him to deliver his message to Pharaoh (v. 29): Speak all that I say unto thee, as a faithful ambassador. Note, Those that go on God's errand must not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. 2. His objection against it, v. 30. Note, Those that have at any time spoken unadvisedly with their lips ought often to reflect upon it with regret, as Moses seems to do here.

CHAP. 7.Edit


In this chapter, I. The dispute between God and Moses finishes, and Moses applies himself to the execution of his commission, in obedience to God's command, ver. 1-7. II. The dispute between Moses and Pharaoh begins, and a famous trial of skill it was. Moses, in God's name, demands Israel's release; Pharaoh denies it. The contest is between the power of the great God and the power of a proud prince; and it will be found, in the issue, that when God judgeth he will overcome. 1. Moses confirms the demand he had made to Pharaoh, by a miracle, turning his rod into a serpent; but Pharaoh hardens his heart against this conviction, ver. 8-13. 2. He chastises his disobedience by a plague, the first of the ten, turning the waters into blood; but Pharaoh hardens his heart against this correction, ver. 14, &c.


verses 1-7Edit

Moses Receives a Fresh Commission. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. 2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord , when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. 6 And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

Here, I. God encourages Moses to go to Pharaoh, and at last silences all his discouragements. 1. He clothes him with great power and authority (v. 1): I have made thee a god to Pharaoh; that is, my representative in this affair, as magistrates are called gods, because they are God's vicegerents. He was authorized to speak and act in God's name and stead, and, under the divine direction, was endued with a divine power to do that which is above the ordinary power of nature, and invested with a divine authority to demand obedience from a sovereign prince and punish disobedience. Moses was a god, but he was only a made god, not essentially one by nature; he was no god but by commission. He was a god, but he was a god only to Pharaoh; the living and true God is a God to all the world. It is an instance of God's condescension, and an evidence that his thoughts towards us are thoughts of peace, that when he treats with men he treats by men, whose terror shall not make us afraid. 2. He again nominates him an assistant, his brother Aaron, who was not a man of uncircumcised lips, but a notable spokesman: "He shall be thy prophet," that is, "he shall speak from thee to Pharaoh, as prophets do from God to the children of men. Thou shalt, as a god, inflict and remove the plagues, and Aaron, as a prophet, shall denounce them, and threaten Pharaoh with them." 3. He tells him the worst of it, that Pharaoh would not hearken to him, and yet the work should be done at last, Israel should be delivered and God therein would be glorified, v. 4, 5. The Egyptians, who would not know the Lord, should be made to know him. Note, It is, and ought to be, satisfaction enough to God's messengers that, whatever contradiction and opposition may be given them, thus far they shall gain their point, that God will be glorified in the success of their embassy, and all his chosen Israel will be saved, and then they have no reason to say that they have laboured in vain. See here, (1.) How God glorifies himself; he makes people know that he is Jehovah. Israel is made to know it by the performance of his promises to them (ch. vi. 3), and the Egyptians are made to know it by the pouring out of his wrath upon them. Thus God's name is exalted both in those that are saved and in those that perish. (2.) What method he takes to do this: he humbles the proud, and exalts the poor, Luke i. 51, 52. If God stretch out his hand to sinners in vain, he will at last stretch out his hand upon them; and who can bear the weight of it?
II. Moses and Aaron apply themselves to their work without further objection: They did as the Lord commanded them, v. 6. Their obedience, all things considered, was well worthy to be celebrated, as it is by the Psalmist (Ps. cv. 28), They rebelled not against his word, namely, Moses and Aaron, whom he mentions, v. 26. Thus Jonah, though at first he was very averse, at length went to Nineveh. Notice is taken of the age of Moses and Aaron when they undertook this glorious service. Aaron the elder (and yet the inferior in office) was eighty-three, Moses was eighty; both of them men of great gravity and experience, whose age was venerable, and whose years might teach wisdom, v. 7. Joseph, who was to be only a servant to Pharaoh, was preferred at thirty years old; but Moses, who was to be a god to Pharaoh, was not so dignified until he was eighty years old. It was fit that he should long wait for such an honour, and be long in preparing for such a service.

verses 8-13Edit

Magicians of Egypt. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


8 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

The first time that Moses made his application to Pharaoh, he produced his instructions only; now he is directed to produce his credentials, and does accordingly. 1. It is taken for granted that Pharaoh would challenge these demandants to work a miracle, that, by a performance evidently above the power of nature, they might prove their commission from the God of nature. Pharaoh will say, Show a miracle; not with any desire to be convinced, but with the hope that none will be wrought, and then he would have some colour for his infidelity. 2. Orders are therefore given to turn the rod into a serpent, according to the instructions, ch. iv. 3. The same rod that was to give the signal of the other miracles is now itself the subject of a miracle, to put a reputation upon it. Aaron cast his rod to the ground, and instantly it became a serpent, v. 10. This was proper, not only to affect Pharaoh with wonder, but to strike a terror upon him. Serpents are hurtful dreadful animals; the very sight of one, thus miraculously produced, might have softened his heart into a fear of that God by whose power it was produced. This first miracle, though it was not a plague, yet amounted to the threatening of a plague. If it made not Pharaoh feel, it made him fear; and this is God's method of dealing with sinners—he comes upon them gradually. 3. This miracle, though too plain to be denied, is enervated, and the conviction of it taken off, by the magicians' imitation of it, v. 11, 12. Moses had been originally instructed in the learning of the Egyptians, and was suspected to have improved himself in magical arts in his long retirement; the magicians are therefore sent for, to vie with him. And some think those of that profession had a particular spite against the Hebrews ever since Joseph put them all to shame, by interpreting a dream which they could make nothing of, in remembrance of which slur put on their predecessors these magicians withstood Moses, as it is explained, 2 Tim. iii. 8. Their rods became serpents, real serpents; some think, by the power of God, beyond their intention or expectation, for the hardening of Pharaoh's heart; others think, by the power of evil angels, artfully substituting serpents in the room of the rods, God permitting the delusion to be wrought for wise and holy ends, that those might believe a lie who received not the truth: and herein the Lord was righteous. Yet this might have helped to frighten Pharaoh into a compliance with the demands of Moses, that he might be freed from these dreadful unaccountable phenomena, with which he saw himself on all sides surrounded. But to the seed of the serpent these serpents were no amazement. Note, God suffers the lying spirit to do strange things, that the faith of some may be tried and manifested (Deut. xiii. 3; 1 Cor. xi. 19), that the infidelity of others may be confirmed, and that he who is filthy may be filthy still, 2 Cor. iv. 4. 4. Yet, in this contest, Moses plainly gains the victory. The serpent which Aaron's rod was turned into swallowed up the others, which was sufficient to have convinced Pharaoh on which side the right lay. Note, Great is the truth, and will prevail. The cause of God will undoubtedly triumph at last over all competition and contradiction, and will reign alone, Dan. ii. 44. But Pharaoh was not wrought upon by this. The magicians having produced serpents, he had this to say, that the case between them and Moses was disputable; and the very appearance of an opposition to truth, and the least head made against it, serve those for a justification of their infidelity who are prejudiced against the light and love of it.

verses 14-25Edit

The Plagues of Egypt. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. 15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand. 16 And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. 17 Thus saith the Lord , In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord : behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which
are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river. 19 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and
that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. 24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that the
Lord had smitten the river.
Here is the first of the ten plagues, the turning of the water into blood, which was, 1. A dreadful plague, and very grievous. The very sight of such vast rolling streams of blood, pure blood no doubt, florid and high-colored, could not but strike a horror upon people: much more afflictive were the consequences of it. Nothing more common than water: so wisely has Providence ordered it, and so kindly, that that which is so needful and serviceable to the comfort of human life should be cheap, and almost everywhere to be had; but now the Egyptians must either drink blood, or die for thirst. Fish was much of their food (Num. xi. 5), but the changing of the waters was the death of the fish; it was a pestilence in that element (v. 21): The fish died. In the general deluge they escaped, because perhaps they had not then contributed so much to the luxury of man as they have since; but in this particular judgment they perished (Ps. cv. 29): He slew their fish; and when another destruction of Egypt, long afterwards, is threatened, the disappointment of those that make sluices and ponds for fish is particularly noticed, Isa. xix. 10. Egypt was a pleasant land, but the noisome stench of dead fish and blood, which by degrees would grow putrid, now rendered it very unpleasant. 2. It was a righteous plague, and justly inflicted upon the Egyptians. For, (1.) Nilus, the river of Egypt, was their idol; they and their land derived so much benefit from it that they served and worshipped it more than the Creator. The true fountain of the Nile being unknown to them, they paid all their devotions to its streams: here therefore God punished them, and turned that into blood which they had turned into a god. Note, That creature which we idolize God justly removes from us, or embitters to us. He makes that a scourge to us which we make a competitor with him. (2.) They had stained the river with the blood of the Hebrews' children, and now God made that river all bloody. Thus he gave them blood to drink, for they were worthy, Rev. xvi. 6. Note, Never any thirsted after blood, but, sooner or later, they had enough of it. 3. It was a significant plague. Egypt had a great dependence upon their river (Zech. xiv. 18), so that in smiting the river they were warned of the destruction of all the productions of their country, till it came at last to their firstborn; and this red river proved a direful omen of the ruin of Pharaoh and all his forces in the Red Sea. This plague of Egypt is alluded to in the prediction of the ruin of the enemies of the New-Testament church, Rev. xvi. 3, 4. But there the sea, as well as the rivers and fountains of water, is turned into blood; for spiritual judgments reach further, and strike deeper, than temporal judgments do. And, lastly, let me observe in general concerning this plague that one of the first miracles Moses wrought was turning water into blood, but one of the first miracles our Lord Jesus wrought was turning water into wine; for the law was given by Moses, and it was a dispensation of death and terror; but grace and truth, which, like wine, make glad the heart, came by Jesus Christ. Observe,
I. Moses is directed to give Pharaoh warning of this plague. "Pharaoh's heart is hardened (v. 14), therefore go and try what this will do to soften it," v. 15. Moses perhaps may not be admitted into Pharaoh's presence-chamber, or the room of state where he used to give audience to ambassadors; and therefore he is directed to meet him by the river's brink, whither God foresaw he would come in the morning, either for the pleasure of a morning's walk or to pay his morning devotions to the river: for thus all people will walk, every one in the name of his god; they will not fail to worship their god every morning. There Moses must be ready to give him a new summons to surrender, and, in case of a refusal, to tell him of the judgment that was coming upon that very river on the banks of which they were now standing. Notice is thus given him of it beforehand, that they might have no colour to say it was a chance, or to attribute it to any other cause, but that it might appear to be done by the power of the God of the Hebrews, and as a punishment upon him for his obstinacy. Moses is expressly ordered to take the rod with him, that Pharaoh might be alarmed at the sight of that rod which had so lately triumphed over the rods of the magicians. Now learn hence, 1. That the judgments of God are all known to himself beforehand. He knows what he will do in wrath as well as in mercy. Every consumption is a consumption determined, Isa. x. 23. 2. That men cannot escape the alarms of God's wrath, because they cannot go out of the hearing of their own consciences: he that made their hearts can make his sword to approach them. 3. That God warns before he wounds; for he is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
II. Aaron (who carried the mace) is directed to summon the plague by smiting the river with his rod, v. 19, 20. It was done in the sight of Pharaoh and his attendants; for God's true miracles were not performed, as Satan's lying wonders were, by those that peeped and muttered: truth seeks no corners. An amazing change was immediately wrought; all the waters, not only in the rivers but in all their ponds, were turned into blood. 1. See here the almighty power of God. Every creature is that to us which he makes it to be, water or blood. 2. See the mutability of all things under the sun, and what changes we may meet with in them. That which is water to-day may be blood to-morrow; what is always vain may soon become vexatious. A river, at the best, is transient; but divine justice can quickly make it malignant. 3. See what mischievous work sin makes. if the things that have been our comforts prove our crosses, we must thank ourselves: it is sin that turns our waters into blood.
III. Pharaoh endeavours to confront the miracle, because he resolves not to humble himself under the plague. He sends for the magicians, and, by God's permission, they ape the miracle with their enchantments (v. 22), and this serves Pharaoh for an excuse not to set his heart to this also (v. 23), and a pitiful excuse it was. Could they have turned the river of blood into water again, this would have been something to the purpose; then they would have proved their power, and Pharaoh would have been obliged to them as his benefactors. But for them, when there was such scarcity of water, to turn more of it into blood, only to show their art, plainly intimates that the design of the devil is only to delude his devotees and amuse them, not to do them any real kindness, but to keep them from doing a real kindness to themselves by repenting and returning to their God.
IV. The Egyptians, in the meantime, are seeking for relief against the plague, digging round about the river for water to drink, v. 24. Probably they found some, with much ado, God remembering mercy in the midst of wrath; for he is full of compassion, and would not let the subjects smart too much for the obstinacy of their prince.
V. The plague continued seven days (v. 25), and, in all that time, Pharaoh's proud heart would not let him so much as desire Moses to intercede for the removal of it. Thus the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath; they cry not when he binds them (Job xxxvi. 13); and then no wonder that his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

CHAP. 8.Edit


Three more of the plagues of Egypt are related in this chapter, I. That of the frogs, which is, 1. Threatened,

ver. 1-4. 2. Inflicted, ver. 5, 6. 3. Mimicked by the magicians, ver. 7. 4. Removed, at the humble request of Pharaoh (ver. 8-14), who yet hardens his heart, and, notwithstanding his promise while the plague was upon him (ver. 8), refuses to let Israel go, ver. 15. II. The plague of lice (ver. 16, 17), by which, 1. The magicians were baffled (ver. 18, 19), and yet, 2. Pharaoh was hardened, ver. 19. III. That of flies. 1. Pharaoh is warned of it before (ver. 20, 21), and told that the land of Goshen should be exempt from this plague, ver. 22, 23. 2. The plague is brought, ver. 24. 3. Pharaoh treats with Moses about the release of Israel, and humbles himself, ver. 25-29. 4. The plague is thereupon removed (ver. 31), and Pharaoh's heart hardened, ver. 32.

verses 1-15Edit

The Plagues of Egypt. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the
Lord , Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: 4 And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. 5 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. 6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7 And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. 8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the Lord , that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord . 9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses,
that they may remain in the river only? 10 And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. 12 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the
Lord because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields. 14 And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the
Lord had said.
Pharaoh is here first threatened and then plagued with frogs, as afterwards, in this chapter, with lice and flies, little despicable inconsiderable animals, and yet by their vast numbers rendered sore plagues to the Egyptians. God could have plagued them with lions, or bears, or wolves, or with vultures or other birds of prey; but he chose to do it by these contemptible instruments. 1. That he might magnify his own power. He is Lord of the hosts of the whole creation, has them all at his beck, and makes what use he pleases of them. Some have thought that the power of God is shown as much in the making of an ant as in the making of an elephant; so is his providence in serving his own purposes by the least creatures as effectually as by the strongest, that the excellency of the power, in judgment as well as mercy, may be of God, and not of the creature. See what reason we have to stand in awe of this God, who, when he pleases, can arm the smallest parts of the creation against us. If God be our enemy, all the creatures are at war with us. 2. That he might humble Pharaoh's pride, and chastise his insolence. What a mortification must it needs be to this haughty monarch to see himself brought to his knees, and forced to submit, by such despicable means! Every child is, ordinarily, able to deal with those invaders, and can triumph over them; yet now so numerous were their troops, and so vigorous their assaults, that Pharaoh, with all his chariots and horsemen, could make no head against them. Thus he poureth contempt upon princes that offer contempt to him and his sovereignty, and makes those who will not own him above them to know that, when he pleases, he can make the meanest creature to insult them and trample upon them. As to the plague of frogs we may observe,
I. How it was threatened. Moses, no doubt, attended the divine Majesty daily for fresh instructions, and (perhaps while the river was yet blood) he is here directed to give notice to Pharaoh of another judgment coming upon him, in case he continue obstinate: If thou refuse to let them go, it is at thy peril, v. 1, 2. Note, God does not punish men for sin unless they persist in it. If he turn not, he will whet his sword (Ps. vii. 12), which implies favour if he turn. So here, If thou refuse, I will smite thy borders, intimating that if Pharaoh complied the controversy should immediately be dropped. The plague threatened, in case of refusal, was formidably extensive. Frogs were to make such an inroad upon them as should make them uneasy in their houses, in their beds, and at their tables; they should not be able to eat, nor drink, nor sleep in quietness, but, wherever they were, should be infested by them, v. 3, 4. Note, 1. God's curse upon a man will pursue him wherever he goes, and lie heavily upon him whatever he does. See Deut. xxviii. 16, &c. 2. There is no avoiding divine judgments when they invade with commission.
II. How it was inflicted. Pharaoh not regarding the alarm, nor being at all inclined to yield to the summons, Aaron is ordered to draw out the forces, and with his outstretched arm and rod to give the signal of battle. Dictum factum—No sooner said then done; the host is mustered, and, under the direction and command of an invisible power, shoals of frogs invade the land, and the Egyptians, with all their art and all their might, cannot check their progress, nor so much as give them a diversion. Compare this with that prophecy of an army of locusts and caterpillars, Joel ii. 2, &c.; and see Isa. xxxiv. 16, 17. Frogs came up, at the divine call, and covered the land. Note, God has many ways of disquieting those that live at ease.
III. How the magicians were permitted to imitate it, v. 7. They also brought up frogs, but could not remove those that God sent. The unclean spirits which came out of the mouth of the dragon are said to be like frogs, which go forth to the kings of the earth, to deceive them (Rev. xvi. 13), which probably alludes to these frogs, for it follows the account of the turning of the waters into blood. The dragon, like the magicians, intended by them to deceive, but God intended by them to destroy those that would be deceived.
IV. How Pharaoh relented under this plague: it was the first time he did so, v. 8. He begs of Moses to intercede for the removal of the frogs, and promises fair that he will let the people go. He that a little while ago had spoken with the utmost disdain both of God and Moses is now glad to be beholden to the mercy of God and the prayers of Moses. Note, Those that bid defiance to God and prayer in a day of extremity will, first or last, be made to see their need of both, and will cry, Lord, Lord, Matt. vii. 22. Those that have bantered prayer have been brought to beg it, as the rich man that had scorned Lazarus courted him for a drop of water.
V. How Moses fixes the time with Pharaoh, and then prevails with God by prayer for the removal of the frogs. Moses, to show that his performances had no dependence upon the conjunctions or oppositions of the planets, or the luckiness of any one hour more than another, bids Pharaoh name his time. Nellum occurrit tempus regi—No time fixed on by the king shall be objected to, v. 9. Have thou this honour over me, tell me against when I shall entreat for thee. This was designed for Pharaoh's conviction, that, if his eyes were not opened by the plague, they might by the removal of it. So various are the methods God takes to bring men to repentance. Pharaoh sets the time for to-morrow, v. 10. And why not immediately? Was he so fond of his guests that he would have them stay another night with him? No, but probably he hoped that they would go away of themselves, and then he should get clear of the plague without being obliged either to God or Moses. However, Moses joins issue with him upon it: " Be it according to thy word, it shall be done just when thou wouldst have it done, that thou mayest know that, whatever the magicians pretend to, there is none like unto the Lord our God. None has such a command as he has over all the creatures, nor is any one so ready to forgive those that humble themselves before him." Note, The great design both of judgments and mercies is to convince us that there is none like the Lord our God, none so wise, so mighty, so good, no enemy so formidable, no friend so desirable, so valuable. Moses, hereupon, applies to God, prays earnestly to him, to remand the frogs, v. 12. Note, We must pray for our enemies and persecutors, even the worst as Christ did. In answer to the prayer of Moses, the frogs that came up one day perished the next, or the next but one. They all died (v. 13), and, that it might appear that they were real frogs, their dead bodies were left to be raked together in heaps, so that the smell of them became offensive, v. 14. Note, The great Sovereign of the world makes what use he pleases of the lives and deaths of his creatures; and he that gives a being, to serve one purpose, may, without wrong to his justice, call for it again immediately, to serve another purpose.
VI. What was the issue of this plague (v. 15): When Pharaoh saw there was a respite, without considering either what he had lately felt or what he had reason to fear, he hardened his heart. Note, 1. Till the heart is renewed by the grace of God, the impressions made by the force of affliction do not abide; the convictions wear off, and the promises that were extorted are forgotten. Till the disposition of the air is changed, what thaws in the sun will freeze again in the shade. 2. God's patience is shamefully abused by impenitent sinners. The respite he gives them, to lead them to repentance, they are hardened by; and while he graciously allows them a truce, in order to the making of their peace, they take that opportunity to rally again the baffled forces of an obstinate infidelity. See Eccl. viii. 11; Ps. lxxviii. 34, &c.

verses 16-19Edit


16 And the Lord said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17 And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

Here is a short account of the plague of lice. It does not appear that any warning was given of it before. Pharaoh's abuse of the respite granted to him might have been a sufficient warning to him to expect another plague: for if the removal of an affliction harden us, and so we lose the benefit of it, we may conclude it goes away with a purpose to return or to make room for a worse. Observe,
I. How this plague of lice was inflicted on the Egyptians, v. 16, 17. The frogs were produced out of the waters, but these live out of the dust of the earth; for out of any part of the creation God can fetch a scourge, with which to correct those that rebel against him. He has many arrows in his quiver. Even the dust of the earth obeys him. " Fear not then, thou worm Jacob, for God can use thee as a threshing instrument, if he please," Isa. xli. 14, 15. These lice, no doubt, were extremely vexatious, as well as scandalous, to the Egyptians. Though they had respite, they had respite but awhile, Rev. xi. 14. The second woe was past, but behold the third woe came very quickly.
II. How the magicians were baffled by it, v. 18. They attempted to imitate it, but they could not. When they failed in this, it should seem they attempted to remove it; for it follows, So there were lice upon man and beast, in spite of them. This forced them to confess themselves overpowered: This is the finger of God (v. 19); that is, "This check and restraint put upon us must needs be from a divine power." Note, 1. God has the devil in a chain, and limits him both as a deceiver and as a destroyer; hitherto he shall come, but no further. The devil's agents when God permitted them, could do great things; but when he laid an embargo upon them, though but with his finger, they could do nothing. The magicians' inability, in this less instance, showed whence they had their ability in the former instances which seemed greater, and that they had no power against Moses but what was given them from above. 2. Sooner or later God will extort, even from his enemies, an acknowledgment of his own sovereignty and over-ruling power. It is certain they must all (as we say) knock under at last, as Julian the apostate did, when his dying lips confessed, Thou hast overcome me, O thou Galilean! God will not only be too hard for all opposers, but will force them to own it.
III. How Pharaoh, notwithstanding this, was made more and more obstinate (v. 19); even those that had deceived him now said enough to undeceive him, and yet he grew more and more obstinate. Even the miracles and the judgments were to him a savour of death unto death. Note, Those that are not made better by God's word and providences are commonly made worse by them.

verses 20-32Edit


20 And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord , Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be. 24 And the Lord did so; and there came a grievous swarm
of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies. 25 And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. 26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God, as he shall command us. 28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the
Lord your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me. 29 And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the
Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord . 30 And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord . 31 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

Here is the story of the plague of flies, in which we are told,
I. How it was threatened, like that of frogs, before it was inflicted. Moses is directed (v. 20) to rise early in the morning, to meet Pharaoh when he came forth to the water, and there to repeat his demands. Note, 1. Those that would bring great things to pass for God and their generation must rise early, and redeem time in the morning. Pharaoh was early up at his superstitious devotions to the river; and shall we be for more sleep and more slumber when any service is to be done which would pass well in our account in the great day? 2. Those that would approve themselves God's faithful servants must not be afraid of the face of man. Moses must stand before Pharaoh, proud as he was, and tell him that which was in the highest degree humbling, must challenge him (if he refused to release his captives) to engage with any army of flies, which would obey God's orders of Pharaoh would not. See a similar threatening, Isa. vii. 18, The Lord will hiss (or whistle) for the fly and the bee, to come and serve his purposes.
II. How the Egyptians and the Hebrews were to be remarkably distinguished in this plague, v. 22, 23. It is probable that this distinction had not been so manifest and observable in any of the foregoing plagues as it was to be in this. Thus, as the plague of lice was made more convincing than any before it, by its running the magicians aground, so was this, by the distinction made between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. Pharaoh must be made to know that God is the Lord in the midst of the earth; and by this it will be known beyond dispute. 1. Swarms of flies, which seem to us to fly at random, shall be manifestly under the conduct of an intelligent mind, while they are above the direction of any man. "Hither they shall go," says Moses, "and thither they shall not come;" and the performance is punctually according to this appointment, and both, compared, amount to a demonstration that he that said it and he that did it was the same, even a Being of infinite power and wisdom. 2. The servants and worshippers of the great Jehovah shall be preserved from sharing in the common calamities of the place they live in, so that the plague which annoys all their neighbours shall not approach them; and this shall be an incontestable proof that God is the Lord in the midst of the earth. Put both these together, and it appears that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the earth, and through the air too, to direct that which to us seems most casual, to serve some great designed end, that he may show himself strong on the behalf of those whose hearts are upright with him, 2 Chron. xvi. 9. Observe how it is repeated: I will put a division between my people and thy people v. 23. Note, The Lord knows those that are his, and will make it appear, perhaps in this world, certainly in the other, that he has set them apart for himself. A day will come when you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked (Mal. iii. 18), the sheep and the goats (Matt. xxv. 32; Ezek. xxxiv. 17), though now intermixed.
III. How it was inflicted, the day after it was threatened: There came a grievous swarm of flies (v. 24), flies of divers sorts, and such as devoured them, Ps. lxxviii. 45. The prince of the power of the air has gloried in being Beelzebub—the god of flies; but here it is proved that even in that he is a pretender and a usurper, for even with swarms of flies God fights against his kingdom and prevails.
IV. How Pharaoh, upon this attack, sounded a parley, and entered into a treaty with Moses and Aaron about a surrender of his captives: but observe with what reluctance he yields.
1. He is content they should sacrifice to their God, provided they would do it in the land of Egypt, v. 25. Note, God can extort a toleration of his worship, even from those that are really enemies to it. Pharaoh, under the smart of the rod, is content they should do sacrifice, and will allow liberty of conscience to God's Israel, even in his own land. But Moses will not accept his concession; he cannot do it, v. 26. It would be an abomination to God should they offer the Egyptian sacrifices, and an abomination to the Egyptians should they offer to God their own sacrifices, as they ought; so that they could not sacrifice in the land without incurring the displeasure either of their God or of their task-masters; therefore he insists: We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, v. 27. Note, Those that would offer an acceptable sacrifice to God must, (1.) Separate themselves from the wicked and profane; for we cannot have fellowship both with the Father of lights and with the works of darkness, both with Christ and with Belial, 2 Cor. vi. 14, &c.; Ps. xxvi. 4, 6. (2.) They must retire from the distractions of the world, and get as far as may be from the noise of it. Israel cannot keep the feast of the Lord either among the brick-kilns or among the flesh-pots of Egypt; no, We will go into the wilderness, Hos. ii. 14; Cant. vii. 11. (3.) They must observe the divine appointment: "We will sacrifice as God shall command us, and not otherwise." Though they were in the utmost degree of slavery to Pharaoh, yet in the worship of God, they must observe his commands and not Pharaoh's.
2. When this proposal is rejected, he consents for them to go into the wilderness, provided they do not go very far away, not so far but that he might fetch them back again, v. 28. It is probable he had heard of their design upon Canaan, and suspected that if once they left Egypt they would never come back again; and therefore, when he is forced to consent that they shall go (the swarms of flies buzzing the necessity in his ears), yet he is not willing that they should go out of his reach. Thus some sinners who, in a pang of conviction, part with their sins, yet are loth they should go very far away; for, when the fright is over, they will return to them again. We observe here a struggle between Pharaoh's convictions and his corruptions; his convictions said, "Let them go;" his corruptions said, "Yet not very far away:" but he sided with his corruptions against his convictions, and this was his ruin. This proposal Moses so far accepted as that he promised the removal of this plague upon it, v. 29. See here, (1.) How ready God is to accept sinners' submissions. Pharaoh does but say, Entreat for me (though it is with regret that he humbles so far), and Moses promises immediately, I will entreat the Lord for thee, that Pharaoh might see what the design of the plague was, not to bring him to ruin, but to bring him to repentance. With what pleasure did God say (1 Kings xxi. 29), Seest thou how Ahab humbles himself? (2.) What need we have to be admonished that we be sincere in our submission: But let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more. Those that deal deceitfully are justly suspected, and must be cautioned not to return again to folly, after God has once more spoken peace. Be not deceived, God is not mocked; if we think to put a cheat upon God by a counterfeit repentance, and a fraudulent surrender of ourselves to him, we shall prove, in the end, to have put a fatal cheat upon our own souls.
Lastly, The issue of all was that God graciously removed the plague (v. 30, 31), but Pharaoh perfidiously returned to his hardness, and would not let the people go, v. 32. His pride would not let him part with such a flower of his crown as his dominion over Israel was, nor his covetousness with such a branch of his revenue as their labours were. Note, Reigning lusts break through the strongest bounds, and make men impudently presumptuous and scandalously perfidious. Let not sin therefore reign; for, if it do, it will betray and hurry us to the grossest absurdities.

CHAP. 9.Edit


In this chapter we have an account of three more of the plagues of Egypt. I. Murrain among the cattle, which was fatal to them, ver. 1-7. II. Boils upon man and beast, ver. 8-12. III. Hail, with thunder and lightning. 1. Warning is given of this plague, ver. 13-21. 2. It is inflicted, to their great terror,

ver. 22-26. 3. Pharaoh, in a fright, renews his treaty with Moses, but instantly breaks his word, ver. 27, &c.

verses 1-7Edit

The Plagues of Egypt. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


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. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 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. 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. 5 And the Lord appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the
Lord shall do this thing in the land. 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. 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.

Here is, I. Warning given of another plague, namely, the murrain of beasts. When Pharaoh's heart was hardened, after he had seemed to relent under the former plague, then Moses is sent to tell him there is another coming, to try what that would do towards reviving the impressions of the former plagues. Thus is the wrath of God revealed from heaven, both in his word and in his works, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. 1. Moses puts Pharaoh in a very fair way to prevent it: Let my people go, v. 1. This was still the demand. God will have Israel released; Pharaoh opposes it, and the trial is, whose word shall stand. See how jealous God is for his people. When the year of his redeemed has come, he will give Egypt for their ransom; that kingdom shall be ruined, rather than Israel shall not be delivered. See how reasonable God's demands are. Whatever he calls for, it is but his own: They are my people, therefore let them go. 2. He describes the plague that should come, if he refused, v. 2, 3. The hand of the Lord immediately, without the stretching out of Aaron's hand, is upon the cattle, many of which, some of all kinds, should die by a sort of pestilence. This was greatly to the loss of the owners: they had made Israel poor, and now God would make them poor. Note, The hand of God is to be acknowledged even in the sickness and death of cattle, or other damage sustained in them; for a sparrow falls not to the ground without our Father. 3. As an evidence of the special hand of God in it, and of his particular favour to his own people, he foretells that none of their cattle should die, though they breathed in the same air and drank of the same water with the Egyptians' cattle: The Lord shall sever, v. 4. Note, When God's judgments are abroad, though they may fall both on the righteous and the wicked, yet God makes such a distinction that they are not the same to the one that they are to the other. See Isa. xxvii. 7. The providence of God is to be acknowledged with thankfulness in the life of the cattle, for he preserveth man and beast, Ps. xxxvi. 6. 4. To make the warning the more remarkable, the time is fixed (v. 5): To-morrow it shall be done. We know not what any day will bring forth, and therefore we cannot say what we will do to-morrow, but it is not so with God.
II. The plague itself inflicted. The cattle died, v. 6. Note, The creature is made subject to vanity by the sin of man, being liable, according to its capacity, both to serve his wickedness and to share in his punishment, as in the universal deluge. Rom. viii. 20, 22. Pharaoh and the Egyptians sinned; but the sheep, what had they done? Yet they are plagued. See Jer. xii. 4, For the wickedness of the land, the beasts are consumed. The Egyptians afterwards, and (some think) now, worshipped their cattle; it was among them that the Israelites learned to make a god of a calf: in this therefore the plague here spoken of meets with them. Note, What we make an idol of it is just with God to remove from us, or embitter to us. See Isa. xix. 1.
III. The distinction put between the cattle of the Egyptians and the Israelites' cattle, according to the word of God: Not one of the cattle of the Israelites died, v. 6, 7. Does God take care of oxen? Yes, he does; his providence extends itself to the meanest of his creatures. But it is written also for our sakes, that, trusting in God, and making him our refuge, we may not be afraid of the pestilence that walketh in darkness, no, not though thousands fall at our side, Ps. xci. 6, 7. Pharaoh sent to see if the cattle of the Israelites were infected, not to satisfy his conscience, but only to gratify his curiosity, or with design, by way of reprisal, to repair his own losses out of their stocks; and, having no good design in the enquiry, the report brought to him made no impression upon him, but, on the contrary, his heart was hardened. Note, To those that are wilfully blind, even those methods of conviction which are ordained to life prove a savour of death unto death.

verses 8-12Edit


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

Observe here, concerning the plague of boils and blains,
I. When they were not wrought upon by the death of their cattle, God sent a plague that seized their own bodies, and touched them to the quick. If less judgments do not do their work, God will send greater. Let us therefore humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and go forth to meet him in the way of his judgments, that his anger may be turned away from us.
II. The signal by which this plague was summoned was the sprinkling of warm ashes from the furnace, towards heaven (v. 8, 10), which was to signify the heating of the air with such an infection as should produce in the bodies of the Egyptians sore boils, which would be both noisome and painful. Immediately upon the scattering of the ashes, a scalding dew came down out of the air, which blistered wherever it fell. Note, Sometimes God shows men their sin in their punishment; they had oppressed Israel in the furnaces, and now the ashes of the furnace are made as much a terror to them as ever their task-masters had been to the Israelites.
III. The plague itself was very grievous—a common eruption would be so, especially to the nice and delicate, but these eruptions were inflammations, like Job's. This is afterwards called the botch of Egypt (Deut. xxviii. 27), as if it were some new disease, never heard of before, and known ever after by that name, Note, Sores in the body are to be looked upon as the punishments of sin, and to be hearkened to as calls to repentance.
IV. The magicians themselves were struck with these boils, v. 11. 1. Thus they were punished, (1.) For helping to harden Pharaoh's heart, as Elymas for seeking to pervert the right ways of the Lord; God will severely reckon with those that strengthen the hands of the wicked in their wickedness. (2.) For pretending to imitate the former plagues, and making themselves and Pharaoh sport with them. Those that would produce lice shall, against their wills, produce boils. Note, It is ill jesting with God's judgments, and more dangerous than playing with fire. Be you not mockers, lest your bands be made strong. 2. Thus they were shamed in the presence of their admirers. How weak were their enchantments, which could not so much as secure themselves! The devil can give no protection to those that are in confederacy with him. 3. Thus they were driven from the field. Their power was restrained before (ch. viii. 18), but they continued to confront Moses, and confirm Pharaoh in his unbelief, till now, at length, they were forced to retreat, and could not stand before Moses, to which the apostle refers (2 Tim. iii. 9) when he says that their folly was made manifest unto all men.
V. Pharaoh continued obstinate, for now the Lord hardened his heart, v. 12. Before, he had hardened his own heart, and resisted the grace of God; and now God justly gave him up to his own heart's lusts, to a reprobate mind, and strong delusions, permitting Satan to blind and harden him, and ordering every thing, henceforward, so as to make him more and more obstinate. Note, Wilful hardness is commonly punished with judicial hardness. If men shut their eyes against the light, it is just with God to close their eyes. Let us dread this as the sorest judgment a man can be under on this side hell.

verses 13-21Edit


13 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. 14 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. 15 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. 16 And in very deed for this
cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18 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. 19 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. 20 He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21 And he that regarded not the word of the
Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field.
Here is, I. A general declaration of the wrath of God against Pharaoh for his obstinacy. Though God has hardened his heart (v. 12), yet Moses must repeat his applications to him; God suspends his grace and yet demands obedience, to punish him for requiring bricks of the children of Israel when he denied them straw. God would likewise show forth a pattern of long-suffering, and how he waits to be gracious to a rebellious and gainsaying people Six times the demand had been made in vain, yet Moses must make it the seventh time: Let my people go, v. 13. A most dreadful message Moses is here ordered to deliver to him, whether he will hear or whether he will forbear. 1. He must tell him that he is marked for ruin, that he now stands as the butt at which God would shoot all the arrows of his wrath, v. 14, 15. "Now I will send all my plagues." Now that no place is found for repentance in Pharaoh, nothing can prevent his utter destruction, for that only would have prevented it. Now that God begins to harden his heart, his case is desperate. "I will send my plagues upon thy heart, not only temporal plagues upon thy body, but spiritual plagues upon thy soul." Note, God can send plagues upon thy soul." Note, God can send plagues upon the heart, either by making it senseless or by making it hopeless—and these are the worst plagues. Pharaoh must now expect no respite, no cessation of arms, but to be followed with plague upon plague, till he is utterly consumed. Note, When God judges he will overcome; none ever hardened his heart against him and prospered. 2. He must tell him that he is to remain in history a standing monument of the justice and power of God's wrath (v. 16): " For this cause have I raised thee up to the throne at this time, and made thee to stand the shock of the plagues hitherto, to show in thee my power." Providence ordered it so that Moses should have a man of such a fierce and stubborn spirit as he was to deal with; and every thing was so managed in this transaction as to make it a most signal and memorable instance of the power God has to humble and bring down the proudest of his enemies. Every thing concurred to signalize this, that God's name (that is, his incontestable sovereignty, his irresistible power, and his inflexible justice) might be declared throughout all the earth, not only to all places, but through all ages while the earth remains. Note, God sometimes raises up very bad men to honour and power, spares them long, and suffers them to grow insufferably insolent, that he may be so much the more glorified in their destruction at last. See how the neighbouring nations, at that time, improved the ruin of Pharaoh to the glory of God. Jethro said upon it, Now know I that the Lord is greater than all gods, ch. xviii. 11. The apostle illustrates the doctrine of God's sovereignty with this instance, Rom. ix. 17. To justify God in these resolutions, Moses is directed to ask him (v. 17), As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people? Pharaoh was a great king; God's people were poor shepherds at the best, and now poor slaves; and yet Pharaoh shall be ruined if he exalt himself against them, for it is considered as exalting himself against God. This was not the first time that God reproved kings for their sakes, and let them know that he would not suffer his people to be trampled upon and insulted, no, not by the most powerful of them.
II. A particular prediction of the plague of hail (v. 18), and a gracious advice to Pharaoh and his people to send for their servants and cattle out of the field, that they might be sheltered from the hail, v. 19. Note, When God's justice threatens ruin his mercy, at the same time, shows us a way of escape from it, so unwilling is he that any should perish. See here what care God took, not only to distinguish between Egyptians and Israelites, but between some Egyptians and others. If Pharaoh will not yield, and so prevent the judgment itself, yet an opportunity is given to those that have any dread of God and his word to save themselves from sharing in the judgment. Note, Those that will take warning may take shelter; and those that will not may thank themselves if they fall by the overflowing scourge, and the hail which will sweep away the refuge of lies, Isa. xxviii. 17. See the different effect of this warning. 1. Some believed the things that were spoken, and they feared, and housed their servants and cattle (v. 20), like Noah (Heb. xi. 7), and it was their wisdom. Even among the servants of Pharaoh there were some that trembled at God's word; and shall not the sons of Israel dread it? But, 2. Others believed not: though, whatever plague Moses had hitherto foretold, the event exactly answered to the prediction; and though, if they had had any reason to question this, it would have been no great damage to them to have kept their cattle in the house for one day, and so, supposing it a doubtful case, to have chosen the surer side; yet they were so foolhardy as in defiance to the truth of Moses, and the power of God (of both which they had already had experience enough, to their cost), to leave their cattle in the field, Pharaoh himself, it is probable, giving them an example of the presumption, v. 21. Note, Obstinate infidelity, which is deaf to the fairest warnings and the wisest counsels, leaves the blood of those that perish upon their own heads.

verses 22-35Edit


22 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. 23 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. 24 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. 25 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. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27 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. 28 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. 29 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. 30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the Lord God. 31 And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax
was bolled. 32 But the wheat and the rye were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33 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. 34 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. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses.

The threatened plague of hail is here summoned by the powerful hand and rod of Moses (v. 22, 23), and it obeys the summons, or rather the divine command; for fire and hail fulfil God's word, Ps. cxlviii. 8. And here we are told,
I. What desolations it made upon the earth. The thunder, and fire from heaven (or lightning), made it both the more dreadful and the more destroying, v. 23, 24. Note, God makes the clouds, not only his store-houses whence he drops fatness on his people, but his magazines whence, when he pleases, he can draw out a most formidable train of artillery, with which to destroy his enemies. He himself speaks of the treasures of hail which he hath reserved against the day of battle and war, Job xxxviii. 22, 23. Woeful havoc this hail made in the land of Egypt. It killed both men and cattle, and battered down, not only the herbs, but the trees, v. 25. The corn that was above ground was destroyed, and that only preserved which as yet had not come up, v. 31, 32. Note, God has many ways of taking away the corn in the season thereof (Hos. ii. 9), either by a secret blasting, or a noisy hail. In this plague the hot thunderbolts, as well as the hail, are said to destroy their flocks, Ps. lxxviii. 47, 48; and see Ps. cv. 32, 33. Perhaps David alludes to this when, describing God's glorious appearances for the discomfiture of his enemies, he speaks of the hailstones and coals of fire he threw among them, Ps. xviii. 12, 13. And there is a plan reference to it on the pouring out of the seventh vial, Rev. xvi. 21. Notice is here taken (v. 26) of the land of Goshen's being preserved from receiving any damage by this plague. God has the directing of the pregnant clouds, and causes it to rain or hail on one city and not on another, either in mercy or in judgment.
II. What a consternation it put Pharaoh in. See what effect it had upon him, 1. He humbled himself to Moses in the language of a penitent, v. 27, 28. No man could have spoken better. He owns himself on the wrong side in his contest with the God of the Hebrews: " I have sinned in standing it out so long." He owns the equity of God's proceedings against him: The Lord is righteous, and must be justified when he speaks, though he speak in thunder and lightning. He condemns himself and his land: " I and my people are wicked, and deserve what is brought upon us." He begs the prayers of Moses: " Entreat the Lord for me, that this direful plague may be removed." And, lastly, he promises to yield up his prisoners: I will let you go. What could one desire more? And yet his heart was hardened all this while. Note, The terror of the rod often extorts penitent acknowledgments from those who have no penitent affections; under the surprise and smart of affliction, they start up, and say that which is pertinent enough, not because they are deeply affected, but because they know that they should be and that it is meet to be said. 2. Moses, hereupon, becomes an intercessor for him with God. Though he had all the reason in the world to think that he would immediately repent of his repentance, and told him so (v. 30), yet he promises to be this friend in the court of heaven. Note, Even those whom we have little hopes of, yet we should continue to pray for, and to admonish, 1 Sam. xii. 23. Observe, (1.) The place Moses chose for his intercession. He went out of the city (v. 33), not only for privacy in his communion with God, but to show that he durst venture abroad into the field, notwithstanding the hail and lightning which kept Pharaoh and his servants withindoors, knowing that every hail-stone had its direction from his God, who meant him no hurt. Note, Peace with God makes men thunderproof, for thunder is the voice of their Father. (2.) The gesture: He spread abroad his hands unto the Lord—an outward expression of earnest desire and humble expectation. Those that come to God for mercy must stand ready to receive it. (3.) The end Moses aimed at in interceding for him: That thou mayest know, and be convinced, that the earth is the Lord's (v. 29), that is, that God has a sovereign dominion over all the creatures, that they all are ruled by him, and therefore that thou oughtest to be so. See what various methods God uses to bring men to their proper senses. Judgments are sent, judgments removed, and all for the same end, to make men know that he Lord reigns. (4.) The success of it. [1.] He prevailed with God, v. 33. But, [2.] He could not prevail with Pharaoh: He sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, v. 34, 35. The prayer of Moses opened and shut heaven, like Elias's (Jam. v. 17, 18), and such is the power of God's two witnesses (Rev. xi. 6); yet neither Moses nor Elias, nor those two witnesses, could subdue the hard hearts of men. Pharaoh was frightened into a compliance by the judgment, but, when it was over, his convictions vanished, and his fair promises were forgotten. Note, Little credit is to be given to confessions upon the rack. Note also, Those that are not bettered by judgments and mercies are commonly made worse.

CHAP. 10.Edit


The eighth and ninth of the plagues of Egypt, that of locusts and that of darkness, are recorded in this chapter. I. Concerning the plague of locusts, 1. God instructs Moses in the meaning of these amazing dispensations of his providence, ver. 1, 2. 2. He threatens the locusts, ver. 3-6. 3. Pharaoh, at the persuasion of his servants, is willing to treat again with Moses (ver. 7-9), but they cannot agree, ver. 10, 11. 4. The locusts come,

ver. 12-15. 5. Pharaoh cries Peccavi—I have offended (ver. 16, 17), whereupon Moses prays for the removal of the plague, and it is done; but Pharaoh's heart is still hardened, ver. 18-20. II. Concerning the plague of darkness, 1. It is inflicted, ver. 21-23. 2. Pharaoh again treats with Moses about a surrender, but the treaty breaks off in a heat, ver. 26, &c.

verses 1-11Edit

The Plagues of Egypt. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these my signs before him: 2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I
am the Lord . 3 And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. 4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: 5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: 6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. 7 And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? 8 And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the Lord your God:
but who are they that shall go? 9 And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the Lord . 10 And he said unto them, Let the
Lord be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. 11 Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord ; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.

Here, I. Moses is instructed. We may well suppose that he, for his part, was much astonished both at Pharaoh's obstinacy and at God's severity, and could not but be compassionately concerned for the desolations of Egypt, and at a loss to conceive what this contest would come to at last. Now here God tells him what he designed, not only Israel's release, but the magnifying of his own name: That thou mayest tell in thy writings, which shall continue to the world's end, what I have wrought in Egypt, v. 1, 2. The ten plagues of Egypt must be inflicted, that they may be recorded for the generations to come as undeniable proofs, 1. Of God's overruling power in the kingdom of nature, his dominion over all the creatures, and his authority to use them either as servants to his justice or sufferers by it, according to the counsel of his will. 2. Of God's victorious power over the kingdom of Satan, to restrain the malice and chastise the insolence of his and his church's enemies. These plagues are standing monuments of the greatness of God, the happiness of the church, and the sinfulness of sin, and standing monitors to the children of men in all ages not to provoke the Lord to jealousy nor to strive with their Maker. The benefit of these instructions to the world sufficiently balances the expense.
II. Pharaoh is reproved (v. 3): Thus saith the Lord God of the poor, despised, persecuted, Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? Note, It is justly expected from the greatest of men that they humble themselves before the great God, and it is at their peril if they refuse to do it. This has more than once been God's quarrel with princes. Belshazzar did not humble his heart, Dan. v. 22. Zedekiah humbled not himself before Jeremiah, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 12. Those that will not humble themselves God will humble. Pharaoh had sometimes pretended to humble himself, but no account was made of it, because he was neither sincere nor constant in it.
III. The plague of locusts is threatened, v. 4-6. The hail had broken down the fruits of the earth, but these locusts should come and devour them: and not only so, but they should fill their houses, whereas the former inroads of these insects had been confined to their lands. This should be much worse than all the calamities of that king which had ever been known. Moses, when he had delivered his message, not expecting any better answer than he had formerly, turned himself and went out from Pharaoh, v. 6. Thus Christ appointed his disciples to depart from those who would not receive them, and to shake off the dust of their feet for a testimony against them; and ruin is not far off from those who are thus justly abandoned by the Lord's messengers, 1 Sam. xv. 27, &c.
IV. Pharaoh's attendants, his ministers of state, or privy-counsellors, interpose, to persuade him to come to some terms with Moses, v. 7. They, as in duty bound, represent to him the deplorable condition of the kingdom ( Egypt is destroyed), and advise him by all means to release his prisoners ( Let the men go); for Moses, they found, would be a snare to them till it was done, and it were better to consent at first than to be compelled at last. The Israelites had become a burdensome stone to the Egyptians, and now, at length, the princes of Egypt were willing to be rid of them, Zech. xii. 3. Note, It is a thing to be regretted (and prevented, if possible) that a whole nation should be ruined for the pride and obstinacy of its princes, Salus populi suprema lex—To consult the welfare of the people is the first of laws.
V. A new treaty is, hereupon, set on foot between Pharaoh and Moses, in which Pharaoh consents for the Israelites to go into the wilderness to do sacrifice; but the matter in dispute was who should go, v. 8. 1. Moses insists that they should take their whole families, and all their effects, along with them, v. 9. Note, Those that serve God must serve him with all they have. Moses pleads, "We must hold a feast, therefore we must have our families to feast with, and our flocks and herds to feast upon, to the honour of God." 2. Pharaoh will by no means grant this: he will allow the men to go, pretending that this was all they desired, though this matter was never yet mentioned in any of the former treaties; but, for the little ones, he resolves to keep them as hostages, to oblige them to return, v. 10, 11. In a great passion he curses them, and threatens that, if they offer to remove their little ones, they will do it at their peril. Note, Satan does all he can to hinder those that serve God themselves from bringing their children in to serve him. He is a sworn enemy to early piety, knowing how destructive it is to the interests of his kingdom; whatever would hinder us from engaging our children to the utmost in God's service, we have reason to suspect the hand of Satan in it. 3. The treaty, hereupon, breaks off abruptly; those that before went out from Pharaoh's presence (v. 6) were now driven out. Those will quickly hear their doom that cannot bear to hear their duty. See 2 Chron. xxv. 16. Quos Deus destruet eos dementat—Whom God intends to destroy he delivers up to infatuation. Never was man so infatuated to his own ruin as Pharaoh was.

verses 12-20Edit


12 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left. 13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. 15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. 16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. 17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the Lord your God, that he may take away from me this death only. 18 And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord . 19 And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.

Here is, I. The invasion of the land by the locusts— God's great army, Joel ii. 11. God bids Moses stretch out his hand (v. 12), to beckon them, as it were (for they came at a call), and he stretched forth his rod, v. 13. Compare ch. ix. 22, 23. Moses ascribes it to the stretching out, not of his own hand, but the rod of God, the instituted sign of God's presence with him. The locusts obey the summons, and fly upon the wings of the wind, the east wind, and caterpillars without number, as we are told, Ps. cv. 34, 35. A formidable army of horse and foot might more easily have been resisted than this host of insects. Who then is able to stand before the great God?
II. The desolations they made in it (v. 15): They covered the face of the earth, and ate up the fruit of it. The earth God has given to the children of men; yet, when God pleases, he can disturb their possession and send locusts and caterpillars to force them out. Herbs grow for the service of man; yet, when God pleases, those contemptible insects shall not only be fellow-commoners with him, but shall plunder him, and eat the bread out of his mouth. Let our labour be, not for the habitation and meat which thus lie exposed, but for those which endure to eternal life, which cannot be thus invaded, nor thus corrupted.
III. Pharaoh's admission, hereupon, v. 16, 17. He had driven Moses and Aaron from him (v. 11), telling them (it is likely) he would have no more to do with them. But now he calls for them again in all haste, and makes court to them with as much respect as before he had dismissed them with disdain. Note, The day will come when those who set at nought their counsellors, and despise all their reproofs, will be glad to make an interest in them and engage them to intercede on their behalf. The foolish virgins court the wise to give them of their oil; and see Ps. cxli. 6. 1. Pharaoh confesses his fault: I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. He now sees his own folly in the slights and affronts he had put on God and his ambassadors, and seems at least, to repent of it. When God convinces men of sin, and humbles them for it, their contempt of God's ministers, and the word of the Lord in their mouths, will certainly come into the account, and lie heavily upon their consciences. Some think that when Pharaoh said, "The Lord your God," he did in effect say, "The Lord shall not be my God." Many treat with God as a potent enemy, whom they are willing not to be at war with, but care not for treating with him as their rightful prince, to whom they are willing to submit with loyal affection. True penitents lament sin as committed against God, even their own God, to whom they stand obliged. 2. He begs pardon, not of God, as penitents ought, but of Moses, which was more excusable in him, because, by a special commission, Moses was made a god to Pharaoh, and whosesoever sins he remitted they were forgiven; when he prays, Forgive this once, he, in effect, promises not to offend in like manner any more, yet seems loth to express that promise, nor does he say any thing particularly of letting the people go. Note, Counterfeit repentance commonly cheats men with general promises and is loth to covenant against particular sins. 3. He entreats Moses and Aaron to pray for him. There are those who, in distress, implore the help of other persons' prayers, but have no mind to pray for themselves, showing thereby that they have no true love to God, nor any delight in communion with him. Pharaoh desires their prayers that this death only might be taken away, not this sin: he deprecates the plague of locusts, not the plague of a hard heart, which yet was much the more dangerous.
IV. The removal of the judgment, upon the prayer of Moses, v. 18, 19. This was, 1. As great an instance of the power of God as the judgment itself. An east wind brought the locusts, and now a west wind carried them off. Note, Whatever point of the compass the wind is in, it is fulfilling God's word, and turns about by his counsel. The wind bloweth where it listeth, as it respects any control of ours; not so as it respects the control of God: he directeth it under the whole heaven. 2. It was as great a proof of the authority of Moses, and as firm a ratification of his commission and his interest in that God who both makes peace and creates evil, Isa. xlv. 7. Nay, hereby he not only commanded the respect, but recommended himself to the good affections of the Egyptians, inasmuch as, while the judgment came in obedience to his summons, the removal of it was in answer to his prayers. He never desired the woeful day, though he threatened it. His commission indeed ran against Egypt, but his intercession was for it, which was a good reason why they should love him, though they feared him. 3. It was also as strong an argument for their repentance as the judgment itself; for by this it appeared that God is ready to forgive, and swift to show mercy. If he turn away a particular judgment, as he did often from Pharaoh, or defer it, as in Ahab's case, upon the profession of repentance and the outward tokens of humiliation, what will he do if we be sincere, and how welcome will true penitents be to him! O that this goodness of God might lead us to repentance!
V. Pharaoh's return to his impious resolution again not to let the people go (v. 20), through the righteous hand of God upon him, hardening his heart, and confirming him in his obstinacy. Note, Those that have often baffled their convictions, and stood it out against them, forfeit the benefit of them, and are justly given up to those lusts of their own hearts which (how strong soever their convictions) prove too strong for them.

verses 21-29Edit


21 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. 24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the Lord ; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. 25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the
Lord our God. 26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the Lord our God; and we know not with what we must serve the Lord , until we come thither. 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. 28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die. 29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.

Here is, I. The plague of darkness brought upon Egypt, and a most dreadful plague it was, and therefore is put first of the ten in Ps. cv. 28, though it was one of the last; and in the destruction of the spiritual Egypt it is produced by the fifth vial, which is poured out upon the seat of the beast, Rev. xvi. 10. His kingdom was full of darkness. Observe particularly concerning this plague, 1. That it was a total darkness. We have reason to think, not only that the lights of heaven were clouded, but that all their fires and candles were put out by the damps or clammy vapours which were the cause of this darkness; for it is said (v. 23), They saw not one another. It is threatened to the wicked (Job xviii. 5, 6) that the spark of his fire shall not shine (even the sparks of his own kindling, as they are called, Isa. l. 11), and that the light shall be dark in his tabernacle. Hell is utter darkness. The light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee, Rev. xviii. 23. 2. That it was darkness which might be felt (v. 21), felt in its causes by their fingers' ends (so thick were the fogs), felt in its effects, some think, by their eyes, which were pricked with pain, and made the more sore by their rubbing them. Great pain is spoken of as the effect of that darkness, Rev. xvi. 10, which alludes to this. 3. No doubt it astonished and terrified them. The cloud of locusts, which had darkened the land (v. 15), was nothing to this. The tradition of the Jews is that in this darkness they were terrified by the apparitions of evil spirits, or rather by dreadful sounds and murmurs which they made, or (which is no less frightful) by the horrors of their own consciences; and this is the plague which some think is intended (for, otherwise, it is not mentioned at all there) Ps. lxxviii. 49, He poured upon them the fierceness of his anger, by sending evil angels among them; for to those to whom the devil has been a deceiver he will, at length, be a terror. 4. It continued three days, six nights (says bishop Hall) in one; so long they were imprisoned by those chains of darkness, and the most lightsome palaces were perfect dungeons. No man rose from his place, v. 23. They were all confined to their houses; and such a terror seized them that few of them had the courage to go from the chair to the bed, or from the bed to the chair. Thus were they silent in darkness, 1 Sam. ii. 9. Now Pharaoh had time to consider, if he would have improved it. Spiritual darkness is spiritual bondage; while Satan blinds men's eyes that they see not, he binds them hands and feet that they work not for God, nor move towards heaven. They sit in darkness. 5. It was a righteous thing with God thus to punish them. Pharaoh and his people had rebelled against the light of God's word, which Moses spoke to them; justly therefore are they punished with darkness, for they loved it and chose it rather. The blindness of their minds brings upon them this darkness of the air. Never was mind so blinded as Pharaoh's, never was air so darkened as Egypt's. The Egyptians by their cruelty would have extinguished the lamp of Israel, and quenched their coal; justly therefore does God put out their lights. Compare it with the punishment of the Sodomites, Gen. xix. 11. Let us dread the consequences of sin; if three days' darkness was so dreadful, what will everlasting darkness be? 6. The children of Israel, at the same time, had light in their dwellings (v. 23), not only in the land of Goshen, where most of them dwelt, but in the habitations of those who were dispersed among the Egyptians: for that some of them were thus dispersed appears from the distinction afterwards appointed to be put on their door-posts, ch. xii. 7. This is an instance, (1.) Of the power of God above the ordinary power of nature. We must not think that we share in common mercies as a matter of course, and therefore that we owe no thanks to God for them; he could distinguish, and withhold that from us which he grants to other. He does indeed ordinarily make his sun to shine on the just and unjust; but he could make a difference, and we must own ourselves indebted to his mercy that he does not. (2.) Of the particular favour he bears to his people: they walk in the light when others wander endlessly in thick darkness; wherever there is an Israelite indeed, though in this dark world, there is light, there is a child of light, one for whom light is sown, and whom the day-spring from on high visits. When God made this difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians, who would not have preferred the poorest cottage of an Israelite to the finest palace of an Egyptian? There is still a real difference, though not so discernible a one, between the house of the wicked, which is under a curse, and the habitation of the just, which is blessed, Prov. iii. 33. We should believe in that difference, and govern ourselves accordingly. Upon Ps. cv. 28, He sent darkness and made it dark, and they rebelled not against his word, some ground a conjecture that, during these three days of darkness, the Israelites were circumcised, in order to their celebrating the passover which was now approaching, and that the command which authorized this was the word against which they rebelled not; for their circumcision, when they entered Canaan, is spoken of as a second general circumcision, Josh. v. 2. During these three days of darkness to the Egyptians, if God had so pleased, the Israelites, by the light which they had, might have made their escape, and without asking leave of Pharaoh; but God would bring them out with a high hand, and not by stealth, nor in haste, Isa. lii. 12.
II. Here is the impression made upon Pharaoh by this plague, much like that of the foregoing plagues. 1. It awakened him so far that he renewed the treaty with Moses and Aaron, and now, at length, consented that they should take their little ones with them, only he would have their cattle left in pawn, v. 24. It is common for sinners thus to bargain with God Almighty. Some sins they will leave, but not all; they will leave their sins for a time, but they will not bid them a final farewell; they will allow him some share in their hearts, but the world and the flesh must share with him: thus they mock God, but they deceive themselves. Moses resolves not to abate in his terms: Our cattle shall go with us, v. 26. Note, The terms of reconciliation are so fixed that though men dispute them ever so long they cannot possibly alter them, nor bring them lower. We must come up to the demands of God's will, for we cannot expect he should condescend to the provisos of our lusts. God's messengers must always be bound up by that rule (Jer. xv. 19), Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them. Moses gives a very good reason why they must take their cattle with them; they must go to do sacrifice, and therefore they must take wherewithal. What numbers and kinds of sacrifices would be required they did not yet know, and therefore they must take all they had. Note, With ourselves, and our children, we must devote all our worldly possessions to the service of God, because we know not what use God will make of what we have, nor in what way we may be called upon to honour God with it. 2. Yet it exasperated him so far that, when he might not make his own terms, he broke off the conference abruptly, and took up a resolution to treat no more. Wrath now came upon him to the utmost, and he became outrageous beyond all bounds, v. 28. Moses is dismissed in anger, forbidden the court upon pain of death, forbidden so much as to meet Pharaoh any more, as he had been used to do, by the river's side: In that day thou seest my face, thou shalt die. Prodigious madness! Had he not found that Moses could plague him without seeing his face? Or had he forgotten how often he had sent for Moses as his physician to heal him and ease him of his plagues? and must he now be bidden to come near him no more? Impotent malice! To threaten him with death who was armed with such a power, and at whose mercy he had so often laid himself. What will not hardness of heart and contempt of God's word and commandments bring men to? Moses takes him at his word (v. 29): I will see thy face no more, that is, "after this time;" for this conference did not break off till ch. xi. 8, when Moses went out in a great anger, and told Pharaoh how soon he would change his mind, and his proud spirit would come down, which was fulfilled (ch. xii. 31), when Pharaoh became a humble supplicant to Moses to depart. So that, after this interview, Moses came no more, till he was sent for. Note, When men drive God's word from them he justly permits their delusions, and answers them according to the multitude of their idols. When the Gadarenes desired Christ to depart, he presently left them.

CHAP. 11.Edit


Pharaoh had told Moses to get out of his presence

(ch. x. 28), and Moses had promised this should be the last time he would trouble him, yet he resolves to say out what he had to say, before he left him; accordingly, we have in this chapter, I. The instructions God had given to Moses, which he was now to pursue (ver. 1, 2), together with the interest Israel and Moses had in the esteem of the Egyptians, ver. 3. II. The last message Moses delivered to Pharaoh, concerning the death of the firstborn, ver. 4-8. III. A repetition of the prediction of Pharaoh's hardening his heart, (ver. 9), and the event answering to it, ver. 10.

verses 1-3Edit

The Plagues of Egypt. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether. 2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold. 3 And the
Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people.
Here is, I. The high favour Moses and Israel were in with God. 1. Moses was a favourite of Heaven, for God will not hide from him the thing he will do. God not only makes him his messenger to deliver his errands, but communicates to him his purpose (as the man of his counsel) that he would bring one plague more, and but one, upon Pharaoh, by which he would complete the deliverance of Israel, v. 1. Moses longed to see an end of this dreadful work, to see Egypt no more plagued and Israel no more oppressed: "Well," says God, "now it is near an end; the warfare shall shortly be accomplished, the point gained; Pharaoh shall be forced to own himself conquered, and to give up the cause." After all the rest of the plagues, God says, I will bring one more. Thus, after all the judgments executed upon sinners in this world, still there is one more reserved to be brought on them in the other world, which will completely humble those whom nothing else would humble. 2. The Israelites were favourites of Heaven; for God himself espouses their injured cause, and takes care to see them paid for all their pains in serving the Egyptians. This was the last day of their servitude; they were about to go away, and their masters, who had abused them in their work, would not have defrauded them of their wages, and have sent them away empty; while the poor Israelites were so fond of liberty that they would be satisfied with that, without pay, and would rejoice to get that upon any terms: but he that executeth righteousness and judgment for the oppressed provided that the labourers should not lose their hire, and ordered them to demand it now at their departure (v. 2), in jewels of silver and jewels of gold, to prepare for which God, by the plagues, had now made the Egyptians as willing to part with them upon any terms as, before, the Egyptians, by their severities, had made them willing to go upon any terms. Though the patient Israelites were content to lose their wages, yet God would not let them go without them. Note, One way or other, God will give redress to the injured, who in a humble silence commit their cause to him; and he will see to it that none be losers at last by their patient suffering any more than by their services.
II. The high favour Moses and Israel were in with the Egyptians, v. 3. 1. Even the people that has been hated and despised now came to be respected; the wonders wrought on their behalf put an honour upon them and made them considerable. How great do they become for whom God thus fights! Thus the Lord gave them favour in the sight of the Egyptians, by making it appear how much he favoured them: he also changed the spirit of the Egyptians towards them, and made them to be pitied of their oppressors, Ps. cvi. 46. 2. The man Moses was very great. How could it be otherwise when they saw what power he was clothed with, and what wonders were wrought by his hand? Thus the apostles, though otherwise despicable men, came to be magnified, Acts v. 13. Those that honour God he will honour; and with respect to those that approve themselves faithful to him, how meanly soever they may pass through this world, there is a day coming when they will look great, very great, in the eyes of all the world, even theirs who now look upon them with the utmost contempt. Observe, Though Pharaoh hated Moses, there were those of Pharaoh's servants that respected him. Thus in Caesar's household, even Nero's, there were some that had an esteem for blessed Paul, Phil. i. 13.

verses 4-10Edit


4 And Moses said, Thus saith the Lord , About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. 6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. 7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. 8 And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger. 9 And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. 10 And 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.

Warning is here given to Pharaoh of the last and conquering plague which was now to be inflicted. This was the death of all the first-born in Egypt at once, which had been first threatened (ch. iv. 23, I will slay thy son, thy first-born), but is last executed; less judgments were tried, which, if they had done the work would have prevented this. See how slow God is to wrath, and how willing to be met with in the way of his judgments, and to have his anger turned away, and particularly how precious the lives of men are in his eyes: if the death of their cattle had humbled and reformed them, their children would have been spared; but, if men will not improve the gradual advances of divine judgments, they must thank themselves if they find, in the issue, that the worst was reserved for the last. 1. The plague itself is here particularly foretold, v. 4-6. The time is fixed—about midnight, the very next midnight, the dead time of the night; when they were all asleep, all their first-born should sleep the sleep of death, not silently and insensibly, so as not to be discovered till morning, but so as to rouse the families at midnight to stand by and see them die. The extent of this plague is described, v. 5. The prince that was to succeed in the throne was not too high to be reached by it, nor were the slaves at the mill too low to be taken notice of. Moses and Aaron were not ordered to summon this plague; no I will go out, saith the Lord, v. 4. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; what is hell but this? 2. The special protection which the children of Israel should be under, and the manifest difference that should be put between them and the Egyptians. While angels drew their swords against the Egyptians, there should not so much as a dog bark at any of the children of Israel, v. 7. An earnest was hereby given of the difference which shall be put in the great day between God's people and his enemies: did men know what a difference God puts, and will put to eternity, between those that serve him and those that serve him not, religion would not seem to them such an indifferent thing as they make it, nor would they act in it with so much indifference as they do. 3. The humble submission which Pharaoh's servants should make to Moses, and how submissively they should request him to go (v. 8): They shall come down, and bow themselves. Note, The proud enemies of God and his Israel shall be made to fall under at last (Rev. iii. 9), and shall be found liars to them, Deut. xxxiii. 29. When Moses had thus delivered his message, it is said, He went out from Pharaoh in a great anger, though he was the meekest of all the men of the earth. Probably he expected that the very threatening of the death of the firstborn would have induced Pharaoh to comply, especially as Pharaoh had complied so far already, and had seen how exactly all Moses's predictions hitherto were fulfilled. But it had not that effect; his proud heart would not yield, no, not to save all the firstborn of his kingdom: no marvel that men are not deterred from vicious courses by the prospects given them of eternal misery in the other world, when the imminent peril they run of the loss of all that is dear to them in this world will not frighten them. Moses, hereupon, was provoked to a holy indignation, being grieved (as our Saviour afterwards) for the hardness of his heart, Mark iii. 5. Note, It is a great vexation to the spirits of good ministers to see people deaf to all the fair warnings given them, and running headlong upon ruin, notwithstanding all the kind methods taken to prevent it. Thus Ezekiel went in the bitterness of his spirit (Ezek. iii. 14), because God had told him that the house of Israel would not hearken to him, v. 7. To be angry at nothing but sin is the way not to sin in anger. Moses, having thus adverted to the disturbance which Pharaoh's obstinacy gave him, (1.) Reflects upon the previous notice God had given him of this (v. 9): The Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken to you. The scripture has foretold the incredulity of those who should hear the gospel, that it might not be a surprise nor stumbling-block to us, John xii. 37, 38; Rom. x. 16. Let us think never the worse of the gospel of Christ for the slights men generally put upon it, for we were told before what cold entertainment it would meet with. (2.) He recapitulates all he had said before to this purport (v. 10), that Moses did all these wonders, as they are here related, before Pharaoh (he himself was an eye-witness of them), and yet he could not prevail, which was a certain sign that God himself had, in a way of righteous judgment, hardened his heart. Thus the Jews' rejection of the gospel of Christ was so gross an absurdity that it might easily be inferred from it that God had given them the spirit of slumber, Rom. xi. 8.

CHAP. 12.Edit


This chapter gives an account of one of the most memorable ordinances, and one of the most memorable providences, of all that are recorded in the Old Testament. I. Not one of all the ordinances of the Jewish church was more eminent than that of the passover, nor is any one more frequently mentioned in the New Testament; and we have here an account of the institution to it. The ordinance consisted of three parts:—1. The killing and eating of the paschal lamb, ver. 1-6, 8-11. 2. The sprinkling of the blood upon the door-posts, spoken of as a distinct thing (Heb. xi. 28), and peculiar to this first passover (ver. 7), with the reason for it, ver. 13. 3. The feast of unleavened bread for seven days following; this points rather at what was to be done afterwards, in the observance of this ordinance, ver. 14-20. This institution is communicated to the people, and they are instructed in the observance, (1.) Of this first passover,

ver. 21-23. (2.) Of the after passovers, ver. 24-27. And the Israelites' obedience to these orders, ver. 28. II. Not one of all the providences of God concerning the Jewish church was more illustrious, or is more frequently mentioned, than the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt. 1. The firstborn of the Egyptians are slain, ver. 29, 30. 2. Orders are given immediately for their discharge, ver. 31-33. 3. They begin their march. (1.) Loaded with their own effects, ver. 34. (2.) Enriched with the spoils of Egypt, ver. 35, 36. (3.) Attended with a mixed multitude, ver. 37, 38. (4.) Put to their shifts for present supply, ver. 39. The event is dated, ver. 40-42. Lastly, A recapitulation in the close, [1.] Of this memorable ordinance, with some additions, ver. 43-49. [2.] Of this memorable providence, ver. 50, 51.

verses 1-20Edit

The Appointment of the Passover; the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it
shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth
day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take
it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike
it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread;
and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord 's passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord . 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. 15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. 16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. 17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. 19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. 20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

Moses and Aaron here receive of the Lord what they were afterwards to deliver to the people concerning the ordinance of the passover, to which is prefixed an order for a new style to be observed in their months (v. 1, 2): This shall be to you the beginning of months. They had hitherto begun their year from the middle of September, but henceforward they were to begin it from the middle of March, at least in all their ecclesiastical computations. Note, It is good to begin the day, and begin the year, and especially to begin our lives, with God. This new calculation began the year with the spring, which reneweth the face of the earth, and was used as a figure of the coming of Christ, Cant. ii. 11, 12. We may suppose that, while Moses was bringing the ten plagues upon the Egyptians, he was directing the Israelites to prepare for their departure at an hour's warning. Probably he had by degrees brought them near together from their dispersions, for they are here called the congregation of Israel (v. 3), and to them as a congregation orders are here sent. Their amazement and hurry, it is easy to suppose, were great; yet now they must apply themselves to the observance of a sacred rite, to the honour of God. Note, When our heads are fullest of care, and our hands of business, yet we must not forget our religion, nor suffer ourselves to be indisposed for acts of devotion.
I. God appointed that on the night wherein they were to go out of Egypt they should, in each of their families, kill a lamb, or that two or three families, if they were small, should join for a lamb. The lamb was to be got ready four days before and that afternoon they were to kill it (v. 6) as a sacrifice; not strictly, for it was not offered upon the altar, but as a religious ceremony, acknowledging God's goodness to them, not only in preserving them from, but in delivering them by, the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians. See the antiquity of family-religion; and see the convenience of the joining of small families together for religious worship, that it may be made the more solemn.
II. The lamb so slain they were to eat, roasted (we may suppose, in its several quarters), with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, because they were to eat it in haste (v. 11), and to leave none of it until the morning; for God would have them to depend upon him for their daily bread, and not to take thought for the morrow. He that led them would feed them.
III. Before they ate the flesh of the lamb, they were to sprinkle the blood upon the doorposts, v. 7. By this their houses were to be distinguished from the houses of the Egyptians, and so their first-born secured from the sword of the destroying angel, v. 12, 13. Dreadful work was to be made this night in Egypt; all the first-born both of man and beast were to be slain, and judgment executed upon the gods of Egypt. Moses does not mention the fulfillment, in this chapter, yet he speaks of it Num. xxxiii. 4. It is very probable that the idols which the Egyptians worshipped were destroyed, those of metal melted, those of wood consumed, and those of stone broken to pieces, whence Jethro infers (ch. xviii. 11), The Lord is greater than all gods. The same angel that destroyed their first-born demolished their idols, which were no less dear to them. For the protection of Israel from this plague they were ordered to sprinkle the blood of the lamb upon the door-posts, their doing which would be accepted as an instance of their faith in the divine warnings and their obedience to the divine precepts. Note, 1. If in times of common calamity God will secure his own people, and set a mark upon them; they shall be hidden either in heaven or under heaven, preserved either from the stroke of judgments or at least from the sting of them. 2. The blood of sprinkling is the saint's security in times of common calamity; it is this that marks them for God, pacifies conscience, and gives them boldness of access to the throne of grace, and so becomes a wall of protection round them and a wall of partition between them and the children of this world.
IV. This was to be annually observed as a feast of the Lord in their generations, to which the feast of unleavened bread was annexed, during which, for seven days, they were to eat no bread but what was unleavened, in remembrance of their being confined to such bread, of necessity, for many days after they came out of Egypt, v. 14-20. The appointment is inculcated for their better direction, and that they might not mistake concerning it, and to awaken those who perhaps in Egypt had grown generally very stupid and careless in the matters of religion to a diligent observance of the institution. Now, without doubt, there was much of the gospel in this ordinance; it is often referred to in the New Testament, and, in it, to us is the gospel preached, and not to them only, who could not stedfastly look to the end of these things, Heb. iv. 2; 2 Cor. iii. 13.
1. The paschal lamb was typical. Christ is our Passover, 1 Cor. v. 7. (1.) It was to be a lamb; and Christ is the Lamb of God (John i. 29), often in the Revelation called the Lamb, meek and innocent as a lamb, dumb before the shearers, before the butchers. (2.) It was to be a male of the first year (v. 5), in its prime; Christ offered up himself in the midst of his days, not in infancy with the babes of Bethlehem. It denotes the strength and sufficiency of the Lord Jesus, on whom our help was laid. (3.) It was to be without blemish (v. 5), denoting the purity of the Lord Jesus, a Lamb without spot, 1 Pet. i. 19. The judge that condemned him (as if his trial were only like the scrutiny that was made concerning the sacrifices, whether they were without blemish or no) pronounced him innocent. (4.) It was to be set apart four days before (v. 3, 6), denoting the designation of the Lord Jesus to be a Saviour, both in the purpose and in the promise. It is very observable that as Christ was crucified at the passover, so he solemnly entered into Jerusalem four days before, the very day that the paschal lamb was set apart. (5.) It was to be slain, and roasted with fire (v. 6-9), denoting the exquisite sufferings of the Lord Jesus, even unto death, the death of the cross. The wrath of God is as fire, and Christ was made a curse for us. (6.) It was to be killed by the whole congregation between the two evenings, that is, between three o'clock and six. Christ suffered in the end of the world (Heb. ix. 26), by the hand of the Jews, the whole multitude of them (Luke xxiii. 18), and for the good of all his spiritual Israel. (7.) Not a bone of it must be broken (v. 46), which is expressly said to be fulfilled in Christ (John xix. 33, 36), denoting the unbroken strength of the Lord Jesus.
2. The sprinkling of the blood was typical. (1.) It was not enough that the blood of the lamb was shed, but it must be sprinkled, denoting the application of the merits of Christ's death to our souls; we must receive the atonement, Rom. v. 11. (2.) It was to be sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop (v. 22) dipped in the basin. The everlasting covenant, like the basin, in the conservatory of this blood, the benefits and privileges purchased by it are laid up for us there; faith is the bunch of hyssop by which we apply the promises to ourselves and the benefits of the blood of Christ laid up in them. (3.) It was to be sprinkled upon the door-posts, denoting the open profession we are to make of faith in Christ, and obedience to him, as those that are not ashamed to own our dependence upon him. The mark of the beast may be received on the forehead or in the right hand, but the seal of the Lamb is always in the forehead, Rev. vii. 3. There is a back-way to hell, but no back-way to heaven; no, the only way to this is a high-way, Isa. xxxv. 8. (4.) It was to be sprinkled upon the lintel and the sideposts, but not upon the threshold (v. 7), which cautions us to take heed of trampling under foot the blood of the covenant, Heb. x. 29. It is precious blood, and must be precious to us. (5.) The blood, thus sprinkled, was a means of the preservation of the Israelites from the destroying angel, who had nothing to do where the blood was. If the blood of Christ be sprinkled upon our consciences, it will be our protection from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the damnation of hell, Rom. viii. 1.
3. The solemnly eating of the lamb was typical of our gospel-duty to Christ. (1.) The paschal lamb was killed, not to be looked upon only, but to be fed upon; so we must by faith make Christ ours, as we do that which we eat, and we must receive spiritual strength and nourishment from him, as from our food, and have delight and satisfaction in him, as we have in eating and drinking when we are hungry or thirsty: see John vi. 53-55. (2.) It was to be all eaten; those that by faith feed upon Christ must feed upon a whole Christ; they must take Christ and his yoke, Christ and his cross, as well as Christ and his crown. Is Christ divided? Those hat gather much of Christ will have nothing over. (3.) It was to be eaten immediately, not deferred till morning, v. 10. To-day Christ is offered, and is to be accepted while it is called to-day, before we sleep the sleep of death. (4.) It was to be eaten with bitter herbs (v. 8), in remembrance of the bitterness of their bondage in Egypt. We must feed upon Christ with sorrow and brokenness of heart, in remembrance of sin; this will give an admirable relish to the paschal lamb. Christ will be sweet to us if sin be bitter. (5.) It was to be eaten in a departing posture (v. 11); when we feed upon Christ by faith we must absolutely forsake the rule and dominion of sin, shake off Pharaoh's yoke; and we must sit loose to the world, and every thing in it, forsake all for Christ, and reckon it no bad bargain, Heb. xiii. 13, 14.
4. The feast of unleavened bread was typical of the Christian life, 1 Cor. v. 7, 8. Having received Christ Jesus the Lord, (1.) We must keep a feast in holy joy, continually delighting ourselves in Christ Jesus; no manner of work must be done (v. 16), no care admitted or indulged, inconsistent with, or prejudicial to, this holy joy: if true believers have not a continual feast, it is their own fault. (2.) It must be a feast of unleavened bread, kept in charity, without the leaven of malice, and insincerity, without the leaven of hypocrisy. The law was very strict as to the passover, and the Jews were so in their usages, that no leaven should be found in their houses, v. 19. All the old leaven of sin must be put far from us, with the utmost caution and abhorrence, if we would keep the feast of a holy life to the honour of Christ. (3.) It was by an ordinance for ever (v. 17); as long as we live, we must continue feeding upon Christ and rejoicing in him, always making thankful mention of the great things he has done for us.

verses 21-28Edit

The Passover. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that
is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord 's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the
Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
I. Moses is here, as a faithful steward in God's house, teaching the children of Israel to observe all things which God had commanded him; and no doubt he gave the instructions as largely as he received them, though they are not so largely recorded. It is here added,
1. That this night, when the first-born were to be destroyed, no Israelite must stir out of doors till morning, that is, till towards morning, when they would be called to march out of Egypt, v. 22. Not but that the destroying angel could have known an Israelite from an Egyptian in the street; but God would intimate to them that their safety was owing to the blood of sprinkling; if they put themselves from under the protection of that, it was at their peril. Those whom God has marked for himself must not mingle with evil doers: see Isa. xxvi. 20, 21. They must not go out of the doors, lest they should straggle and be out of the way when they should be summoned to depart: they must stay within, to wait for the salvation of the Lord, and it is good to do so.
2. That hereafter they should carefully teach their children the meaning of this service, v. 26, 27. Observe,
(1.) The question which the children would ask concerning this solemnity (which they would soon take notice of in the family): " What mean you by this service? What is he meaning of all this care and exactness about eating this lamb, and this unleavened bread, more than about common food? Why such a difference between this meal and other meals?" Note, [1.] It is a good thing to see children inquisitive about the things of God; it is to be hoped that those who are careful to ask for the way will find it. Christ himself, when a child, heard and asked questions, Luke ii. 46. [2.] It concerns us all rightly to understand the meaning of those holy ordinances wherein we worship God, what is the nature and what the end of them, what is signified and what intended, what is the duty expected from us in them and what are the advantages to be expected by us. Every ordinance has a meaning; some ordinances, as sacraments, have not their meaning so plain and obvious as others have; therefore we are concerned to search, that we may not offer the blind for sacrifice, but may do a reasonable service. If either we are ignorant of, or mistake about, the meaning of holy ordinances, we can neither please God nor profit ourselves.
(2.) The answer which the parents were to return to this question (v. 27): You shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, that is, "By the killing and sacrificing of this lamb, we keep in remembrance the work of wonder and grace which God did for our fathers, when," [1.] "To make way for our deliverance out of bondage, he slew the firstborn of the Egyptians, so compelling them to sign our discharge;" and, [2.] "Though there were with us, even with us, sins against the Lord our God, for which the destroying angel, when he was abroad doing execution, might justly have destroyed our first-born too, yet God graciously appointed and accepted the family-sacrifice of a lamb, instead of the first-born, as, of old, the ram instead of Isaac, and in every house where the lamb was slain the first-born were saved." The repetition of this solemnity in the return of every year was designed, First, To look backward as a memorial, that in it they might remember what great things God had done for them and their fathers. The word pesach signifies a leap, or transition; it is a passing over; for the destroying angel passed over the houses of the Israelites, and did not destroy their first-born. When God brings utter ruin upon his people he says, I will not pass by them any more (Amos vii. 8; viii. 2), intimating how often he had passed by them, as now when the destroying angel passed over their houses. Note, 1. Distinguishing mercies lay under peculiar obligations. When a thousand fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand, and yet we are preserved, and have our lives given us for a prey, this should greatly affect us, Ps. xci. 7. In war or pestilence, if the arrow of death have passed by us, passed over us, hit the next to us and just missed us, we must not say it was by chance that we were preserved but by the special providence of our God. 2. Old mercies to ourselves, or to our fathers, must not be forgotten, but be had in everlasting remembrance, that God may be praised, our faith in him encouraged, and our hearts enlarged in his service. Secondly, It was designed to look forward as an earnest of the great sacrifice of the Lamb of God in the fulness of time, instead of us and our first-born. We were obnoxious to the sword of the destroying angel, but Christ our passover was sacrificed for us, his death was our life, and thus he was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, from the foundation of the Jewish church: Moses kept the passover by faith in Christ, for Christ was the end of the law for righteousness.
II. The people received these instructions with reverence and ready obedience. 1. They bowed the head and worshipped (v. 27): they hereby signified their submission to this institution as a law, and their thankfulness for it as a favour and privilege. Note, When God gives law to us, we must give honour to him; when he speaks, we must bow our heads and worship. 2. They went away and did as they were commanded, v. 23. Here was none of that discontent and murmuring among them which we read of, ch. v. 20, 21. The plagues of Egypt had done them good, and raised their expectations of a glorious deliverance, which before they despaired of; and now they went forth to meet it in the way appointed. Note, The perfecting of God's mercies to us must be waited for in a humble observance of his institutions.

verses 29-36Edit

The Death of the Firstborn. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the
Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord , as ye have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. 33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. 34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

Here we have, I. The Egyptians' sons, even their first-born, slain, v. 29, 30. If Pharaoh would have taken the warning which was given him of this plague, and would thereupon have released Israel, what a great many dear and valuable lives might have been preserved! But see what obstinate infidelity brings upon men. Observe, 1. The time when this blow was given: It was at midnight, which added to the terror of it. The three preceding nights were made dreadful by the additional plague of darkness, which might be felt, and doubtless disturbed their repose; and now, when they hoped for one quiet night's rest, at midnight was the alarm given. When the destroying angel drew his sword against Jerusalem, it was in the day-time (2 Sam. xxiv. 15), which made it the less frightful; but the destruction of Egypt was by a pestilence walking in darkness, Ps. xci. 6. Shortly there will be an alarming cry at midnight, Behold, the bridegroom cometh. 2. On whom the plague fastened—on their first-born, the joy and hope of their respective families. They had slain the Hebrews' children, and now God slew theirs. Thus he visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children; and he is not unrighteous who taketh vengeance. 3. How far it reached—from the throne to the dungeon. Prince and peasant stand upon the same level before God's judgments, for there is no respect of persons with him; see Job xxxiv. 19, 20. Now the slain of the Lord were many; multitudes, multitudes, fall in this valley of decision, when the controversy between God and Pharaoh was to be determined. 4. What an outcry was made upon it: There was a great cry in Egypt, universal lamentation for their only son (with many), and with all for their first-born. If any be suddenly taken ill in the night, we are wont to call up neighbours; but the Egyptians could have no help, no comfort, from their neighbours, all being involved in the same calamity. Let us learn hence, (1.) To tremble before God, and to be afraid of his judgments, Ps. cxix. 120. Who is able to stand before him, or dares resist him? (2.) To be thankful to God for the daily preservation of ourselves and our families: lying so much exposed, we have reason to say, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed."
II. God's sons, even his first-born, released; this judgment conquered Pharaoh, and obliged him to surrender at discretion, without capitulating. Men had better come up to God's terms at first, for he will never come down to theirs, let them object as long as they will. Now Pharaoh's pride is abased, and he yields to all that Moses had insisted on: Serve the Lord as you have said (v. 31), and take your flocks as you have said, v. 32. Note, God's word will stand, and we shall get nothing by disputing it, or delaying to submit to it. Hitherto the Israelites were not permitted to depart, but now things had come to the last extremity, in consequence of which, 1. They are commanded to depart: Rise up, and get you forth, v. 31. Pharaoh had told Moses he should see his face no more; but now he sent for him. Those will seek God early in their distress who before had set him at defiance. Such a fright he was now in that he gave orders by night for their discharge, fearing lest, if he delayed any longer, he himself should fall next; and that he sent them out, not as men hated (as the pagan historians have represented this matter), but as men feared, is plainly discovered by his humble request to them (v. 32): " Bless me also; let me have your prayers, that I may not be plagued for what is past, when you are gone." Note, Those that are enemies to God's church are enemies to themselves, and, sooner or later, they will be made to see it. 2. They are hired to depart by the Egyptians; they cried out (v. 33), We be all dead men. Note, When death comes into our houses, it is seasonable for us to think of our own mortality. Are our relations dead? It is easy to infer thence that we are dying, and, in effect, already dead men. Upon this consideration they were urgent with the Israelites to be gone, which gave great advantage to the Israelites in borrowing their jewels, v. 35, 36. When the Egyptians urged them to be gone, it was easy for them to say that the Egyptians had kept them poor, that they could not undertake such a journey with empty purses, but, that, if they would give them wherewithal to bear their charges, they would be gone. And this the divine Providence designed in suffering things to come to this extremity, that they, becoming formidable to the Egyptians, might have what they would, for asking; the Lord also, by the influence he has on the minds of people, inclined the hearts of the Egyptians to furnish them with what they desired, they probably intending thereby to make atonement, that the plagues might be stayed, as the Philistines, when they returned the ark, sent a present with it for a trespass-offering, having an eye to this precedent, 1 Sam. vi. 3, 6. The Israelites might receive and keep what they thus borrowed, or rather required, of the Egyptians, (1.) As justly as servants receive wages from their masters for work done, and sue for it if it be detained. (2.) As justly as conquerors take the spoils of their enemies whom they have subdued; Pharaoh was in rebellion against the God of the Hebrews, by which all that he had was forfeited. (3.) As justly as subjects receive the estates granted to them by their prince. God is the sovereign proprietor of the earth, and the fulness thereof; and, if he take from one and give to another, who may say unto him, What doest thou? It was by God's special order and appointment that the Israelites did what they did, which was sufficient to justify them, and bear them out; but what they did will by no means authorize others (who cannot pretend to any such warrant) to do the same. Let us remember, [1.] That the King of kings can do no wrong. [2.] That he will do right to those whom men injure, Ps. cxlvi. 7. Hence it is that the wealth of the sinner often proves to be laid up for the just, Prov. xiii. 22; Job xxvii. 16, 17.

verses 37-42Edit

Departure of the Israelites. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. 40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt,
was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.

Here is the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt; having obtained their dismission, they set forward without delay, and did not defer to a more convenient season. Pharaoh was now in a good mind; but they had reason to think he would not long continue so, and therefore it was no time to linger. We have here an account, 1. Of their number, about 600,000 men (v. 37), besides women and children, which I think, we cannot suppose to make less than 1,200 000 more. What a vast increase was this, to arise from seventy souls in little more than 200 years' time! See the power and efficacy of that blessing, when God commands it, Be fruitful and multiply. This was typical of the multitudes that were brought into the gospel church when it was first founded; so mightily grew the word of God, and prevailed. 2. Of their retinue (v. 38): A mixed multitude went up with them, hangers on to that great family, some perhaps willing to leave their country, because it was laid waste by the plagues, and to seek their fortune, as we say, with the Israelites; others went out of curiosity, to see the solemnities of Israel's sacrifice to their God, which had been so much talked of, and expecting to see some glorious appearances of their God to them in the wilderness, having seen such glorious appearances of their God for them in the field of Zoan, Ps. lxxviii. 12. Probably the greatest part of this mixed multitude were but a rude unthinking mob, that followed the crowd they knew not why; we afterwards find that they proved a snare to them (Num. xi. 4), and it is probable that when, soon afterwards, they understood that the children of Israel were to continue forty years in the wilderness, they quitted them, and returned to Egypt. Note, There were always those among the Israelites that were not Israelites, and there are still hypocrites in the church, who make a deal of mischief, but will be shaken off at last. 3. Of their effects. They had with them flocks and herds, even very much cattle. This is taken notice of because it was long before Pharaoh would give them leave to remove their effects, which were chiefly cattle, Gen. xlvi. 32. 4. Of the provision made for the camp, which was very poor and slender. They brought some dough with them out of Egypt in their knapsacks, v. 34. They had prepared to bake, the next day, in order to their removal, understanding it was very near; but, being hastened away sooner than they thought of, by some hours, they took the dough as it was, unleavened; when they came to Succoth, their first stage, they baked unleavened cakes, and, though these were of course insipid, yet the liberty they were brought into made this the most joyful meal they had ever eaten in their lives. Note, The servants of God must not be slaves to their appetites, nor solicitous to wind up all the delights of sense to their highest pitch. We should be willing to take up with dry bread, nay, with unleavened bread, rather than neglect or delay any service we have to do for God, as those whose meat and drink it is to do his will. 5. Of the date of this great event: it was just 430 years from the promise made to Abraham (as the apostle explains it, Gal. iii. 17) at his first coming into Canaan, during all which time the children of Israel, that is, the Hebrews, the distinguished chosen seed, were sojourners in a land that was not theirs, either Canaan or Egypt. So long the promise God made to Abraham of a settlement lay dormant and unfulfilled, but now, at length, it revived, and things began to work towards the accomplishment of it. The first day of the march of Abraham's seed towards Canaan was just 430 years (it should seem to a day) from the promise made to Abraham, Gen. xii. 2, I will make of thee a great nation. See how punctual God is to his time; though his promises be not performed quickly, they will be accomplished in their season. 6. Of the memorableness of it: It is a night to be much observed, v. 42. (1.) The providences of that first night were very observable; memorable was the destruction of the Egyptians, and the deliverance of the Israelites by it; God herein made himself taken notice of. (2.) The ordinances of that night, in the annual return of it, were to be carefully observed: This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. Note, The great things God does for his people are not to be a nine days' wonder, as we say, but the remembrance of them is to be perpetuated throughout all ages, especially the work of our redemption by Christ. This first passover-night was a night of the Lord much to be observed; but the last passover-night, in which Christ was betrayed (and in which the passover, with the rest of the ceremonial institutions, was superseded and abolished), was a night of the Lord much more to be observed, when a yoke heavier than that of Egypt was broken from off our necks, and a land better than that of Canaan set before us. That was a temporal deliverance to be celebrated in their generation; this is an eternal redemption to be celebrated in the praises of glorious saints, world without end.

verses 43-51Edit

Directions Concerning the Passover. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


43 And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44 But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord , let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. 50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51 And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

Some further precepts are here given concerning the passover, as it should be observed in times to come.
I. All the congregation of Israel must keep it, v. 47. All that share in God's mercies should join in thankful praises for them. Though it was observed in families apart, yet it is looked upon as the act of the whole congregation; for the smaller communities constituted the greater. The New-Testament passover, the Lord's supper, ought not to be neglected by any who are capable of celebrating it. He is unworthy the name of an Israelite that can contentedly neglect the commemoration of so great a deliverance. 1. No stranger that was uncircumcised might be admitted to eat of it, v. 43, 45, 48. None might sit at the table but those that came in by the door; nor may any now approach to the improving ordinance of the Lord's supper who have not first submitted to the initiating ordinance of baptism. We must be born again by the word ere we can be nourished by it. Nor shall any partake of the benefit of Christ's sacrifice, or feast upon it, who are not first circumcised in heart, Col. ii. 11. 2. Any stranger that was circumcised might be welcome to eat of the passover, even servants, v. 44. If, by circumcision, they would make themselves debtors to the law in its burdens, they were welcome to share in the joy of its solemn feasts, and not otherwise. Only it is intimated (v. 48) that those who were masters of families must not only be circumcised themselves, but have all their males circumcised, too. If in sincerity, and with that zeal which the thing required and deserves, we give up ourselves to God, we shall, with ourselves, give up all we have to him, and do our utmost that all ours may be his too. Here is an early indication of favour to the poor Gentiles, that the stranger, if circumcised, stands upon the same level with the home-born Israelite. One law for both, v. 49. This was a mortification to the Jews, and taught them that it was their dedication to God, not their descent from Abraham, that entitled them to their privileges. A sincere proselyte was as welcome to the passover as a native Israelite, Isa. lvi. 6, 7.
II. In one house shall it be eaten (v. 46), for good-fellowship sake, that they might rejoice together, and edify one another in the eating of it. None of it must be carried to another place, nor left to another time; for God would not have them so taken up with care about their departure as to be indisposed to take the comfort of it, but to leave Egypt, and enter upon a wilderness, with cheerfulness, and, in token of that, to eat a good hearty meal. The papists' carrying their consecrated host from house to house is not only superstitious in itself, but contrary to this typical law of the passover, which directed that no part of the lamb should be carried abroad.
The chapter concludes with a repetition of the whole matter, that the children of Israel did as they were bidden, and God did for them as he promised (v. 50, 51); for he will certainly be the author of salvation to those that obey him.

CHAP. 13.Edit


In this chapter we have, I. The commands God gave to Israel, 1. To sanctify all their firstborn to him, ver. 1, 2. 2. To be sure to remember their deliverance out of Egypt (v. 3, 4), and, in remembrance of it, to keep the feast of unleavened bread, ver. 5-7. 3. To transmit the knowledge of it with all possible care to their children, ver. 8-10. 4. To set apart unto God the firstlings of their cattle, (ver. 11-13), and to explain that also to their children,

ver. 14-16. II. The care God took of Israel, when he had brought them out of Egypt. 1. Choosing their way for them, ver. 17, 18. 2. Guiding them in the way, ver. 20-22. And III. Their care of Joseph's bones, ver. 19.

verses 1-10Edit

The Sanctification of the Firstborn. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. 3 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 4 This day came ye out in the month Abib. 5 And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the Lord . 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. 8 And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that
which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord 's law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt. 10 Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.

Care is here taken to perpetuate the remembrance,
I. Of the preservation of Israel's firstborn, when the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain. In memory of that distinguishing favour, and in gratitude for it, the firstborn, in all ages, were to be consecrated to God, as his peculiars (v. 2), and to be redeemed, v. 13. God, who by the right of creation is proprietor and sovereign of all the creatures, here lays claim in particular to the firstborn of the Israelites, by right of protection: Sanctify to me all the firstborn. The parents were not to look upon themselves as interested in their firstborn, till they had first solemnly presented them to God, recognized his title to them, and received them back, at a certain rate, from him again. Note, 1. That which is by special distinguishing mercy spared to us should be in a peculiar manner dedicated to God's honour; at least some grateful acknowledgment, in works of piety and charity, should be made, when our lives, or the lives of our children, have been given us for a prey. 2. God, who is the first and best, should have the first and best, and to him we should resign that which is most dear to us, and most valuable. The firstborn were the joy and hope of their families. Therefore they shall be mine, says God. By this it will appear that we love God best (as we ought) if we are willing to part with that to him which we love best in this world. 3. It is the church of the firstborn that is sanctified to God, Heb. xii. 23. Christ it the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. viii. 29), and, by virtue of their union with him, all that are born again, and born from above, are accounted as firstborn. There is an excellency of dignity and power belonging to them; and, if children, then heirs.
II. The remembrance of their coming out of Egypt must also be perpetuated: " Remember this day, v. 3. Remember it by a good token, as the most remarkable day of your lives, the birthday of your nation, or the day of its coming of age, to be no longer under the rod." Thus the day of Christ's resurrection is to be remembered, for in it we were raised up with Christ out of death's house of bondage. The scripture tells us not expressly what day of the year Christ rose (as Moses told the Israelites what day of the year they were brought out of Egypt, that they might remember it yearly), but very particularly what day of the week it was, plainly intimating that, as the more valuable deliverance, and of greater importance, it should be remembered weekly. Remember it, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out. Note, The more of God and his power appears in any deliverance, the more memorable it is. Now, that it might be remembered,
1. They must be sure to keep the feast of unleavened bread, v. 5-7. It was not enough that they remembered it, but they must celebrate the memorial of it in that way which God had appointed, and use the instituted means of preserving the remembrance of it. So, under the gospel, we must not only remember Christ, but do this in remembrance of him. Observe, How strict the prohibition of leaven is (v. 7); not only no leaven must be eaten, but none must be seen, no, not in all their quarters. Accordingly, the Jews' usage was, before the feast of the passover, to cast all the leavened bread out of their houses: they burnt it, or buried it, or broke it small and scattered it in the wind; they searched diligently with lighted candles in all the corners of their houses, lest any leaven should remain. The care and strictness enjoined in this matter were designed, (1.) To make the feast the more solemn, and consequently the more taken notice of by their children, who would ask, "Why is so much ado made?" (2.) To teach us how solicitous we should be to put away from us all sin, 1 Cor. v. 7.
2. They must instruct their children in the meaning of it, and relate to them the story of their deliverance out of Egypt, v. 8. Note, (1.) Care must be taken betimes to instruct children in the knowledge of God. Here is an ancient law for catechising. (2.) It is particularly of great use to acquaint children betimes with the stories of the scripture, and to make them familiar to them. (3.) It is a debt we owe to the honour of God, and to the benefit of our children's souls, to tell them of the great works God has done for his church, both those which we have seen with our eyes done in our day and which we have heard with our ears and our fathers have told us: Thou shalt show thy son in that day (the day of the feast) these things. When they were celebrating the ordinance, they must explain it. Every thing is beautiful in its season. The passover is appointed for a sign, and for a memorial, that the Lord's law may be in thy mouth. Note, We must retain the remembrance of God's works, that we may remain under the influence of God's law. And those that have God's law in their heart should have it in their mouth, and be often speaking of it, the more to affect themselves and to instruct others.

verses 11-16Edit

God's Claim upon the Firstborn. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


11 And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, 12 That thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males
shall be the Lord 's. 13 And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. 14 And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: 15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16 And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt.

Here we have,
I. Further directions concerning the dedicating of their firstborn to God. 1. The firstlings of their cattle were to be dedicated to God, as part of their possessions. Those of clean beasts—calves, lambs, and kids—if males, were to be sacrificed, Exod. xxii. 30; Num. xviii. 17, 18. Those of unclean beasts, as colts, were to be redeemed with a lamb, or knocked on the head. For whatsoever is unclean (as we all are by nature), if it be not redeemed, will be destroyed, v. 11, 13. 2. The firstborn of their children were to be redeemed, and by no means sacrificed, as the Gentiles sacrificed their children to Moloch. The price of the redemption of the firstborn was fixed by the law (Num. xviii. 16) at five shekels. We were all obnoxious to the wrath and curse of God; by the blood of Christ we are redeemed, that we may be joined to the church of the firstborn. They were to redeem their children, as well as the firstlings of the unclean beasts, for our children are by nature polluted. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
II. Further directions concerning the catechising of their children, and all those of the rising generation, from time to time, in this matter. It is supposed that, when they saw all the firstlings thus devoted, they would ask the meaning of it, and their parents and teachers must tell them (v. 14-16) that God's special propriety in their firstborn, and all their firstlings, was founded in his special preservation of them from the sword of the destroying angel. Being thus delivered, they must serve him. Note, 1. Children should be directed and encouraged to ask their parents questions concerning the things of God, a practice which would be perhaps of all others the most profitable way of catechising; and parents must furnish themselves with useful knowledge, that they may be ready always to give an answer to their enquiries. If ever the knowledge of God cover the earth, as the waters do the sea, the fountains of family-instruction must first be broken up. 2. We should all be able to show cause for what we do in religion. As sacraments are sanctified by the word, so they must be explained and understood by it. God's service is reasonable, and it is then acceptable when we perform it intelligently, knowing what we do and why we do it. 3. It must be observed how often it is said in this chapter that by strength of hand (v. 3, 14, 16), with a strong hand (v. 9), the Lord brought them out of Egypt. The more opposition is given to the accomplishment of God's purposes the more is his power magnified therein. It is a strong hand that conquers hard hearts. Sometimes God is said to work deliverance not by might nor power (Zech. iv. 6), not by such visible displays of his power as that recorded here. 4. Their posterity that should be born in Canaan are directed to say, The Lord brought us out of Egypt, v. 14, 16. Mercies to our fathers are mercies to us; we reap the benefit of them, and therefore must keep up a grateful remembrance of them. We stand upon the bottom of former deliverances, and were in the loins of our ancestors when they were delivered. Much more reason have we to say that in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we were redeemed.

verses 17-22Edit

The Pillar of Fire and Fire. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18 But God led the people about,
through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. 19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. 20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

Here is, I. The choice God made of their way, v. 17, 18. He was their guide. Moses gave them direction but as he received it from the Lord. Note, The way of man is not in himself, Jer. x. 23. He may devise his way, and design it; but, after all, it is God that directs his steps, Prov. xvi. 9. Man proposes, but God disposes, and in his disposal we must acquiesce, and set ourselves to follow providence. There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was a short cut from the north of Egypt to the south of Canaan, perhaps about four or five days' journey; the other was much further about, through the wilderness, and that was the way in which God chose to lead his people Israel, v. 18. 1. There were many reasons why God led them through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red Sea. The Israelites were to be humbled and proved in the wilderness, Deut. viii. 2. God had given it to Moses for a sign (ch. iii. 12), You shall serve God in this mountain. They had again and again told Pharaoh that they must go three days' journey into the wilderness to do sacrifice, and therefore it was requisite that they should bend their march that way, else they would justly have been exclaimed against as notorious dissemblers. Before they entered the lists with their enemies, matters must be settled between them and their God, laws must be given, ordinances instituted, covenants sealed, and the original contract ratified, for the doing of which it was necessary that they should retire into the solitudes of a wilderness, the only closet for such a crowd; the high road would be no proper place for these transactions. It is said (Deut. xxxii. 10), He led them about, some hundreds of miles about, and yet (Ps. cvii. 7), He led them forth by the right way. God's way is the right way, though it seem about. If we think he leads not his people the nearest way, yet we may be sure he leads them the best way, and so it will appear when we come to our journey's end. Judge nothing before the time. 2. There was one reason why God did not lead them the nearest way, which would have brought them after a few days' march to the land of the Philistines (for it was that part of Canaan that lay next to Egypt), namely, because they were not as yet fit for war, much less for war with the Philistines, v. 17. Their spirits were broken with slavery; it was not easy for them to turn their hands of a sudden from the trowel to the sword. The Philistines were formidable enemies, too fierce to be encountered by raw recruits; it was more suitable that they should begin with the Amalekites, and be prepared for the wars of Canaan by experiencing the difficulties of the wilderness. Note, God proportions his people's trials to their strength, and will not suffer them to be tempted above what they are able, 1 Cor. x. 13. That promise, if compared with the foregoing verses, will seem to refer to this event, as an instance of it. God knows our frame, and considers our weakness and faintheartedness, and by less trials will prepare us for greater. God is said to bring Israel out of Egypt as the eagle brings up her young ones (Deut. xxxii. 11), teaching them by degrees to fly. Orders being thus given which way they should go, we are told, (1.) That they went up themselves, not as a confused rout, but in good order, rank and file: they went up harnessed, v. 18. They went up by five in a rank (so some), in five squadrons, so others. They marched like an army with banners, which added much to their strength and honour. (2.) That they took the bones of Joseph along with them (v. 19), and probably the bones of the rest of Jacob's sons, unless (as some think) they had been privately carried to Canaan (Acts vii. 16), severally as they died. Joseph had particularly appointed that his bones should be carried up when God should visit the (Gen. l. 25, 26), so that their carrying up his bones was not only a performance of the oath their fathers had sworn to Joseph, but an acknowledgment of the performance of God's promise to them by Joseph that he would visit them and bring them out of the land of Egypt, and an encouragement to their faith and hope that he would fulfil the other part of the promise, which was to bring them to Canaan, in expectation of which they carried these bones with them while they wandered in the desert. They might think, "Joseph's bones must rest at last, and then we shall." Moses is said to take these bones with him. Moses was now a very great man; so had Joseph been in his day, yet he was now but a box full of dry bones; this was all that remained of him in this world, which might serve for a monitor to Moses to remember his mortality. I have said, You are gods; it was said so to Moses expressly (ch. vii. 1); but you shall die like men.
II. Here is the guidance they were blessed with in the way: The Lord went before them in a pillar, v. 21, 22. In the first two stages it was enough that God directed Moses whither to march: he knew the country and the road well enough; but now that they had come to the edge of the wilderness (v. 20) they would have occasion for a guide; and a very good guide they had, one that was infinitely wise, kind, and faithful: The Lord went before them, the shechinah (or appearance of the divine Majesty, which was typical of Christ) or a previous manifestation of the eternal Word, which, in the fulness of time, was to be made flesh, and dwell among us. Christ was with the church in the wilderness, 1 Cor. x. 9. Now their King passed before them, even the Lord on the head of them, Mic. ii. 13. Note, Those whom God brings into a wilderness he will not leave nor lose there, but will take care to lead them through it; we may well think it was a very great satisfaction to Moses and the pious Israelites to be sure that they were under divine guidance. Those needed not to fear missing their way who were thus led, nor being lost who were thus directed; those needed not to fear being benighted who were thus illuminated, nor being robbed who were thus protected. Those who make the glory of God their end, and the word of God their rule, the Spirit of God the guide of their affections, and the providence of God the guide of their affairs, may be confident that the Lord goes before them, as truly as he went before Israel in the wilderness, though not so sensibly; we must live by faith. 1. They had sensible evidences of God's going before them. They all saw an appearance from heaven of a pillar, which in the bright day appeared cloudy, and in the dark night appeared fiery. We commonly see that that which is a flame in the night is a smoke in the day; so was this. God gave them this ocular demonstration of his presence, in compassion to the infirmity of their faith, and in compliance with that infant state of the church, which needed to be thus lisped to in their own language; but blessed are those that have not seen and yet have believed God's gracious presence with them, according to his promise. 2. They had sensible effects of God's going before them in this pillar. For, (1.) It led the way in that vast howling wilderness, in which there was no road, no track, no way-mark, of which they had no maps, through which they had no guides. When they marched, this pillar went before them, at the rate that they could follow, and appointed the place of their encampment, as Infinite Wisdom saw fit, which both eased them from care, and secured them from danger, both in moving and in resting. (2.) It sheltered them by day from the heat, which, at some times of the year, was extreme. (3.) It gave them light by night when they had occasion for it, and at all times made their camp pleasant and the wilderness they were in less frightful.
III. These were constant standing miracles (v. 22): He took not away the pillar of cloud; no, not when they seemed to have less occasion for it, travelling through inhabited countries, no, not when they murmured and were provoking; it never left them, till it brought them to the borders of Canaan. It was a cloud which the wind could not scatter. This favour is acknowledged with thankfulness long afterwards, Neh. ix. 19; Ps. lxxviii. 14. There was something spiritual in this pillar of cloud and fire. 1. The children of Israel were baptized unto Moses in this cloud, which, some think, distilled dew upon them, 1 Cor. x. 2. By coming under this cloud, they signified their putting themselves under the divine guidance and command by the ministry of Moses. Protection draws allegiance; this cloud was the badge of God's protection, and so became the bond of their allegiance. Thus they were initiated, and admitted under that government, now when they were entering upon the wilderness. 2. Some make this cloud a type of Christ. The cloud of his human nature was a veil to the light and fire of his divine nature; we find him (Rev. x. 1) clothed with a cloud, and his feet as pillars of fire. Christ is our way, the light of our way and the guide of it. 3. It signified the special guidance and protection which the church of Christ is under in this world. God himself is the keeper of Israel, and he neither slumbers nor sleeps, Ps. cxxi. 4; Isa. xxvii. 3. There is a defence created, not only on Sion's assemblies, but on every dwelling-place in Sion. See Isa. iv. 5, 6. Nay, every Israelite indeed is hidden under the shadow of God's wings (Ps. xvii. 8); angels, whose ministry was made use of in this cloud, are employed for their good, and pitch their tents about them. Happy art thou, O Israel! who is like unto thee, O people?

CHAP. 14.Edit


The departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt (which was indeed the birth of the Jewish church) is made yet more memorable by further works of wonder, which were wrought immediately upon it. Witness the records of this chapter, the contents whereof, together with a key to it, we have, Heb. xi. 29. "They passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned;" and this they did by faith, which intimates that there was something typical and spiritual in it. Here is, I. The extreme distress and danger that Israel was in at the Red Sea. 1. Notice was given of it to Moses before, ver. 1-4. 2. The cause of it was Pharaoh's violent pursuit of them, ver. 5-9. 3. Israel was in a great consternation upon it, ver. 10-12. 4. Moses endeavours to encourage them, ver. 13, 14. II. The wonderful deliverance that God wrought for them out of this distress. 1. Moses is instructed concerning it,

ver. 15-18. 2. Lines that could not be forced are set between the camp of Israel and Pharaoh's camp, ver. 19, 20. 3. By the divine power the Red Sea is divided (ver. 31), and is made, (1.) A lane to the Israelites, who marched safely through it, ver. 22, 29. But, (2.) To the Egyptians it was made, [1.] An ambush into which they were drawn, ver. 23-25. And, [2.] A grave in which they were all buried, ver. 26-28. III. The impressions this made upon the Israelites, ver. 30, 31.

verses 1-9Edit

The Israelites Pursued by Pharaoh. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. 4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the
Lord . And they did so. 5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? 6 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: 7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. 9 But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses
and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon.
We have here,
I. Instructions given to Moses concerning Israel's motions and encampments, which were so very surprising that if Moses had not express orders about them before they would scarcely have been persuaded to follow the pillar of cloud and fire. That therefore there might be no scruple nor dissatisfaction about it, Moses is told before, 1. Whither they must go, v. 1, 2. They had got to the edge of the wilderness (ch. xiii. 20), and a stage or two more would have brought them to Horeb, the place appointed for their serving God; but, instead of going forward, they are ordered to turn short off, on the right hand from Canaan, and to march towards the Red Sea. Where they were, at Etham, there was no sea in their way to obstruct their passage: but God himself orders them into straits, which might give them an assurance that when his purposes were served he would without fail bring them out of those straits. Note, God sometimes raises difficulties in the way of the salvation of his people, that he may have the glory of subduing them, and helping his people over them. 2. What God designed in these strange orders. Moses would have yielded an implicit obedience, though God had given him no reason; but shall he hide from Moses the thing that he does? No, Moses shall know, (1.) That Pharaoh has a design to ruin Israel, v. 3. (2.) That therefore God has a design to ruin Pharaoh, and he takes this way to effect it, v. 4. Pharaoh's sagacity would conclude that Israel was entangled in the wilderness and so would become an easy prey to him; and, that he might be the more apt to think so, God orders them into yet greater entanglements; also, by turning them so much out of their road, he amazes him yet more, and gives him further occasion to suppose that they were in a state of embarrassment and danger. And thus (says God) I will be honoured upon Pharaoh. Note, [1.] All men being made for the honour of their Maker, those whom he is not honoured by he will be honoured upon. [2.] What seems to tend to the church's ruin is often overruled to the ruin of the church's enemies, whose pride and malice are fed by Providence, that they may be ripened for destruction.
II. Pharaoh's pursuit of Israel, in which, while he gratifies his own malice and revenge, he is furthering the accomplishment of God's counsels concerning him. It was told him that the people fled, v. 5. Such a fright was he in, when he gave them leave to go, that when the fright was a little over he either forgot, or would not own, that they departed with his consent, and therefore was willing that it should be represented to him as a revolt from their allegiance. Thus what may easily be justified is easily condemned, by putting false colours upon it. Now, hereupon,
1. He reflects upon it with regret that he had connived at their departure. He and his servants, though it was with the greatest reason in the world that they had let Israel go, yet were now angry with themselves for it: Why have we done thus? (1.) It vexed them that Israel had their liberty, that they had lost the profit of their labours, and the pleasure of chastising them. It is meat and drink to proud persecutors to trample upon the saints of the Most High, and say to their souls, Bow down, that we may go over; and therefore it vexes them to have their hands tied. Note, The liberty of God's people is a heavy grievance to their enemies, Esth. v. 12, 13; Acts v. 17, 33. (2.) It aggravated the vexation that they themselves had consented to it, thinking now that they might have hindered it, and that they needed not to have yielded, though they had stood it out to the last extremity. Thus God makes men's envy and rage against his people a torment to themselves, Ps. cxii. 10. It was well done to let Israel go, and what they would have reflected on with comfort if they had done it from an honest principle; but doing it by constraint, they called themselves a thousand fools for doing it, and passionately wished it undone again. Note, It is very common, but very absurd and criminal, for people to repent of their good deeds; their justice and charity, and even their repentance, are repented of. See an instance somewhat like this, Jer. xxxiv. 10, 11.
2. He resolves, if possible, either to reduce them or to be revenged on them; in order to this, he levies an army, musters all his force of chariots and horsemen, v. 17, 18 (for, it should seem, he took no foot with him, because the king's business required haste), and thus he doubts not but he shall re-enslave them, v. 6, 7. It is easy to imagine what a rage Pharaoh was now in, roaring like a lion disappointed of his prey, how his proud heart aggravated the affront, swelled with indignation, scorned to be baffled, longed to be revenged: and now all the plagues are as if they had never been. He has quite forgotten the sorrowful funerals of his firstborn, and can think of nothing but making Israel feel his resentments; now he thinks he can be too hard for God himself; for, otherwise, could he have hoped to conquer a people so dear to him? God gave him up to these passions of his own heart, and so hardened it. It is said (v. 8), The children of Israel went out with a high hand, that is, with a great deal of courage and bravery, triumphing in their release, and resolved to break through the difficulties that lay in their way. But the Egyptians (v. 9) pursued after them. Note, Those that in good earnest set their faces heaven-ward, and will live godly in Christ Jesus, must expect to be set upon by Satan's temptations and terrors. He will not tamely part with any out of his service, nor go out without raging, Mark ix. 26.

verses 10-14Edit


10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord . 11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For
it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the
Lord , which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

We have here, I. The fright that the children of Israel were in when they perceived that Pharaoh pursued them, v. 10. They knew very well the strength and rage of the enemy, and their own weakness; numerous indeed they were, but all on foot, unarmed, undisciplined, disquieted by long servitude, and (which was worst of all) now penned up by the situation of their camp, so that they could not make their escape. On the one hand was Pi-hahiroth, a range of craggy rocks impassable; on the other hand were Migdol and Baalzephon, which, some think were forts and garrisons upon the frontiers of Egypt; before them was the sea; behind them were the Egyptians: so that there was no way open for them but upwards, and thence their deliverance came. Note, We may be in the way of our duty, following God and hastening towards heaven, and yet may be in great straits, troubled on every side, 2 Cor. iv. 8. In this distress, no marvel that the children of Israel were sorely afraid; their father Jacob was so in a like case (Gen. xxxii. 7); when without are fightings, it cannot be otherwise but that within are fears: what therefore was the fruit of this fear? According as that was, the fear was good or evil. 1. Some of them cried out unto the Lord; their fear set them a praying, and that was a good effect of it. God brings us into straits that he may bring us to our knees. 2. Others of them cried out against Moses; their fear set them a murmuring, v. 11, 12. They give up themselves for lost; and as if God's arm were shortened all of a sudden, and he were not as able to work miracles to-day as he was yesterday, they despair of deliverance, and can count upon nothing but dying in the wilderness. How inexcusable was their distrust! Did they not see themselves under the guidance and protection of a pillar from heaven? And can almighty power fail them, or infinite goodness be false to them? Yet this was not the worst; they quarrel with Moses for bringing them out of Egypt, and, in quarrelling with him, fly in the face of God himself, and provoke him to wrath whose favour was now the only succour they had to flee to. As the Egyptians were angry with themselves for the best deed they ever did, so the Israelites were angry with God for the greatest kindness that was ever done them; so gross are the absurdities of unbelief. They here express, (1.) A sordid contempt of liberty, preferring servitude before it, only because it was attended with some difficulties. A generous spirit would have said, "If the worst come to the worst," as we say, "It is better to die in the field of honour than to live in the chains of slavery;" nay, under God's conduct, they could not miscarry, and therefore they might say, "Better live God's freemen in the open air of a wilderness than the Egyptians' bondmen in the smoke of the brick-kilns." But because, for the present, they are a little embarrassed, they are angry that they were not left buried alive in their house of bondage. (2.) Base ingratitude to Moses, who had been the faithful instrument of their deliverance. They condemn him, as if he had dealt hardly and unkindly with them, whereas it was evident, beyond dispute, that whatever he did, and however it issued, it was by direction from their God, and with design for their good. What they had said in a former ferment (when they hearkened not to Moses for anguish of spirit), they repeat and justify in this: We said in Egypt, Let us alone; and it was ill-said, yet more excusable, because then they had not had so much experience as they had now of God's wonderful appearances in their favour. But they had as soon forgotten the miracles of mercy as the Egyptians had forgotten the miracles of wrath; and they, as well as the Egyptians, hardened their hearts, at last, to their own ruin; as Egypt after ten plagues, so Israel after ten provocations, of which this was the first (Num. xiv. 22), were sentenced to die in the wilderness.
II. The seasonable encouragement that Moses gave them in this distress, v. 13, 14. He answered not these fools according to their folly. God bore with the provocation they gave to him, and did not (as he might justly have done) chose their delusions, and bring their fears upon them; and therefore Moses might well afford to pass by the affront they put upon him. Instead of chiding them, he comforts them, and with an admirable presence and composure of mind, not disheartened either by the threatenings of Egypt or the tremblings of Israel, stills their murmuring, with the assurance of a speedy and complete deliverance: Fear you not. Note, It is our duty and interest, when we cannot get out of our troubles, yet to get above our fears, so that they may only serve to quicken our prayers and endeavours, but may not prevail to silence our faith and hope. 1. He assures them that God would deliver them, that he would undertake their deliverance, and that he would effect it in the utter ruin of their pursuers: The Lord shall fight for you. This Moses was confident of himself, and would have them to be so, though as yet he knew not how or which way it would be brought to pass. God had assured him that Pharaoh and his host should be ruined, and he comforts them with the same comforts wherewith he had been comforted. 2. He directs them to leave it to God, in a silent expectation of the event: " Stand still, and think not to save yourselves either by fighting or flying; wait God's orders, and observe them; be not contriving what course to take, but follow your leader; wait God's appearances, and take notice of them, that you may see how foolish you are to distrust them. Compose yourselves, by an entire confidence in God, into a peaceful prospect of the great salvation God is now about to work for you. Hold your peace; you need not so much as give a shout against the enemy, as Josh. vi. 16. The work shall be done without any concurrence of yours." Note, (1.) If God himself bring his people into straits, he will himself discover a way to bring them out again. (2.) In times of great difficulty and great expectation, it is our wisdom to keep our spirits calm, quiet, and sedate; for then we are in the best frame both to do our own work and to consider the work of God. Your strength is to sit still (Isa. xxx. 7), for the Egyptians shall help in vain, and threaten to hurt in vain.

verses 15-20Edit

The Pillar of Cloud. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord , when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

We have here,
I. Direction given to Israel's leader.
1. What he must do himself. He must, for the present, leave off praying, and apply himself to his business (v. 15): Wherefore cryest thou unto me? Moses, though he was assured of a good issue to the present distress, yet did not neglect prayer. We read not of one word he said in prayer, but he lifted up to God his heart, the language of which God well understood and took notice of. Moses's silent prayers of faith prevailed more with God than Israel's loud outcries of fear, v. 10. Note, (1.) Praying, if of the right kind, is crying to God, which denotes it to be the language both of a natural and of an importunate desire. (2.) To quicken his diligence. Moses had something else to do besides praying; he was to command the hosts of Israel, and it was now requisite that he should be at his post. Every thing is beautiful in its season.
2. What he must order Israel to do. Speak to them, that they go forward. Some think that Moses had prayed, not so much for their deliverance (he was assured of that) as for the pardon of their murmurings, and that God's ordering them to go forward was an intimation of the pardon. There is no going forward with any comfort but in the sense of our reconciliation to God. Moses had bidden them stand still, and expect orders from God; and now orders are given. They thought they must have been directed either to the right hand or to the left. "No," says God, "speak to them to go forward, directly to the sea-side;" as if there had lain a fleet of transport-ships ready for them to embark in. Note, When we are in the way of our duty, though we met with difficulties, we must go forward, and not stand in mute astonishment; we must mind present work and then leave the even to God, use means and trust him with the issue.
3. What he might expect God to do. Let the children of Israel go as far as they can upon dry ground, and then God will divide the sea, and open a passage for them through it, v. 16-18. God designs, not only to deliver the Israelites, but to destroy the Egyptians; and the plan of his counsels is accordingly. (1.) He will show favour to Israel; the waters shall be divided for them to pass through, v. 16. The same power could have congealed the waters for them to pass over; but Infinite Wisdom chose rather to divide the waters for them to pass through; for that way of salvation is always pitched upon which is most humbling. Thus it is said, with reference to this (Isa. lxiii. 13, 14), He led them through the deep, as a beast goes down into the valley, and thus made himself a glorious name. (2.) He will get him honour upon Pharaoh. If the due rent of honour be not paid to the great landlord, by and from whom we have and hold our beings and comforts, he will distrain for it, and recover it. God will be a loser by no man. In order to this, it is threatened: I, behold I, will harden Pharaoh's heart, v. 17. The manner of expression is observable: I, behold I, will do it. "I, that may do it;" so it is the language of his sovereignty. We may not contribute to the hardening of any man's heart, nor withhold any thing that we can do towards the softening of it; but God's grace is his own, he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will be hardeneth. "I, that can do it;" so it is the language of his power; none but the Almighty can make the heart soft (Job xxiii. 16), nor can any other being make it hard. "I, that will do it;" for it is the language of his justice; it is a righteous thing with God to put those under the impressions of his wrath who have long resisted the influences of his grace. It is spoken in a way of triumph over this obstinate and presumptuous rebel: " I even I, will take an effectual course to humble him; he shall break that would not bend." It is an expression like that (Isa. i. 24), Ah, I will ease me of my adversaries.
II. A guard set upon Israel's camp where it now lay most exposed, which was in the rear, v. 19, 20. The angel of God, whose ministry was made use of in the pillar of cloud and fire, went from before the camp of Israel, where they did not now need a guide (there was no danger of missing their way through the sea, nor needed they any other word of command than to go forward), and it came behind them, where now they needed a guard (the Egyptians being just ready to seize the hindmost of them), and so was a wall of partition between them. There it was of use to the Israelites, not only to protect them, but to light them through the sea, and, at the same time, it confounded the Egyptians, so that they lost sight of their prey just when they were ready to lay hands on it. The word and providence of God have a black and dark side towards sin and sinners, but a bright and pleasant side towards those that are Israelites indeed. That which is a savour of life unto life to some is a savour of death unto death to others. This was not the first time that he who in the beginning divided between light and darkness (Gen. i. 4), and still forms both (Isa. xlv. 7), had, at the same time, allotted darkness to the Egyptians and light to the Israelites, a specimen of the endless distinction which will be made between the inheritance of the saints in light and that utter darkness which for ever will be the portion of hypocrites. God will separate between the precious and the vile.

====The Destruction of the Egyptians. (b. c. 1491.)====

verses 21-31Edit


21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry
ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians. 26 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. 27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. 29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord , and believed the Lord , and his servant Moses.

We have here the history of that work of wonder which is so often mentioned both in the Old and New Testament, the dividing of the Red Sea before the children of Israel. It was the terror of the Canaanites (Josh. ii. 9, 10), the praise and triumph of the Israelites, Ps. cxiv. 3; cvi. 9; cxxxvi. 13, 14. It was a type of baptism, 1 Cor. x. 1, 2. Israel's passage through it was typical of the conversion of souls (Isa. xi. 15), and the Egyptians' perdition in it was typical of the final ruin of all impenitent sinners, Rev. xx. 14. Here we have,
I. An instance of God's almighty power in the kingdom of nature, in dividing the sea, and opening a passage through the waters. It was a bay, or gulf, or arm of the sea, two or three leagues over, which was divided, v. 21. The instituted sign made use of was Moses's stretching out his hand over it, to signify that it was done in answer to his prayer, for the confirmation of his mission, and in favour to the people whom he led. The natural sign was a strong east wind, signifying that it was done by the power of God, whom the winds and the seas obey. If there be any passage in the book of Job which has reference to the miracles wrought for Israel's deliverance out of Egypt, it is that in Job xxvi. 12, He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smileth through Rahab (so the word is), that is, Egypt. Note, God can bring his people through the greatest difficulties, and force a way where he does not find it. The God of nature has not tied himself to its laws, but, when he pleases, dispenses with them, and then the fire does not burn, nor the water flow.
II. An instance of his wonderful favour to his Israel. They went through the sea to the opposite shore, for I cannot suppose, with some, that they fetched a compass, and came out again on the same side, v. 22. They walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea, v. 29. And the pillar of cloud, that glory of the Lord, being their rearward (Isa. lviii. 8), that the Egyptians might not charge them in the flank, the waters were a wall to them (it is twice mentioned) on their right hand and on their left. Moses and Aaron, it is probable, ventured first into this untrodden path, and then all Israel after them; and this march through the paths of the great waters would make their march afterwards, through the wilderness, less formidable. Those who had followed God through the sea needed not to fear following him whithersoever he led them. This march through the sea was in the night, and not a moon-shiny night, for it was seven days after the full moon, so that they had no light but what they had from the pillar of cloud and fire. This made it the more awful; but where God leads us he will light us; while we follow his conduct, we shall not want his comforts.
This was done, and recorded, in order to encourage God's people in all ages to trust in him in the greatest straits. What cannot he do who did this? What will not he do for those that fear and love him who did this for these murmuring unbelieving Israel is, who yet were beloved for their fathers' sake, and for the sake of a remnant among them? We find the saints, long afterwards, making themselves sharers in the triumphs of this march (Ps. lxvi. 6): They went through the flood on foot; there did we rejoice in him: and see how this work of wonder is improved, Ps. lxxvii. 11, 16, 19.
III. An instance of his just and righteous wrath upon his and his people's enemies, the Egyptians. Observe here, 1. How they were infatuated. In the heat of their pursuit, they went after the Israelites into the midst of the sea, v. 23. "Why," thought they, "may not we venture where Israel did?" Once or twice the magicians of Egypt had done what Moses did, with their enchantments; Pharaoh remembered this, but forgot how they were nonplussed at last. They were more advantageously provided with chariots and horses, while the Israelites were on foot. Pharaoh had said, I know not the Lord; and by this it appeared he did not, else he would not have ventured thus. None so bold as those that are blind. Rage against Israel made them thus daring and inconsiderate: they had long hardened their own hearts; and now God hardened them to their ruin, and hid from their eyes the things that belonged to their peace and safety. Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird (Prov. i. 17); yet so blind where the Egyptians that they hastened to the snare, Prov. vii. 23. Note, The ruin of sinners is brought on by their own presumption, which hurries them headlong into the pit. They are self-destroyers. 2. How they were troubled and perplexed, v. 24, 25. For some hours they marched through the divided waters as safely and triumphantly as Israel did, not doubting but, that, in a little time, they should gain their point. But, in the morning watch, the Lord looked upon the host of the Egyptians, and troubled them. Something or other they saw or heard from the pillar of cloud and fire which put them into great consternation, and gave them an apprehension of their ruin before it was brought upon them. Now it appeared that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and that God has ways to frighten sinners into despair, before he plunges them into destruction. He cuts off the spirit of princes, and is terrible to the kings of the earth. (1.) They had hectored and boasted as if the day were their own; but now they were troubled and dismayed, struck with a panic-fear. (2.) They had driven furiously; but now they drove heavily, and found themselves plugged and embarrassed at every step; the way grew deep, their hearts grew sad, their wheels dropped off, and the axle-trees failed. Thus can God check the violence of those that are in pursuit of his people. (3.) They had been flying upon the back of Israel, as the hawk upon the trembling dove; but now they cried, Let us flee from the face of Israel, which had become to them like a torch of fire in a sheaf, Zech. xii. 6. Israel has now, all of a sudden, become as much a terror to them as they had been to Israel. They might have let Israel alone and would not; now they would flee from the face of Israel and cannot. Men will not be convinced, till it is too late, that those who meddle with God's people meddle to their own hurt; when the Lord shall come with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment, the mighty men will in vain seek to shelter themselves under rocks and mountains from the face of Israel and Israel's King, Rev. vi. 15. Compare with this story, Job xxvii. 20, &c. 3. How they were all drowned. As soon as ever the children of Israel had got safely to the shore, Moses was ordered to stretch out his hand over the sea, and thereby give a signal to the waters to close again, as before, upon he word of command, they had opened to the right and the left, v. 29. He did so, and immediately the waters returned to their place, and overwhelmed all the host of the Egyptians, v. 27, 28. Pharaoh and his servants, who had hardened one another in sin, now fell together, and not one escaped. An ancient tradition says that Pharaoh's magicians, Jannes and Jambres, perished with the rest, as Balaam with the Midianites whom he had seduced, Num. xxxi. 8. And now, (1.) God avenged upon the Egyptians the blood of the firstborn whom they had drowned: and the principal is repaid with interest, it is recompensed double, full-grown Egyptians for newborn Israelites; thus the Lord is righteous, and precious is his people's blood in his sight, Ps. lxxii. 14. (2.) God reckoned with Pharaoh for all his proud and insolent conduct towards Moses his ambassador. Mocking the messengers of the Lord, and playing the fool with them, bring ruin without remedy. Now God got him honour upon Pharaoh, looking upon that proud man, and abasing him, Job. xl. 12. Come and see the desolations he made, and write it, not in water, but with an iron pen in the rock for ever. Here lies that bloody tyrant who bade defiance to his Maker, to his demands, threatenings, and judgments; a rebel to God, and a slave to his own barbarous passions; perfectly lost to humanity, virtue, and all true honour; here he lies, buried in the deep, a perpetual monument of divine justice. Here he went down to the pit, though he was the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, Ezek. xxxi. 18.
IV. Here is the notice which the Israelites took of this wonderful work which God wrought for them, and the good impressions which it made upon them for the present.
1. They saw the Egyptians dead upon the sands, v. 30. Providence so ordered it that the next tide threw up the dead bodies, (1.) For the greater disgrace of the Egyptians. Now the beasts and birds of prey were called to eat the flesh of the captains and mighty men, Rev. xix. 17, 18. The Egyptians were very nice and curious in embalming and preserving the bodies of their great men, but here the utmost contempt is poured upon all the grandees of Egypt; see how they lie, heaps upon heaps, as dung upon the face of the earth. (2.) For the greater triumph of the Israelites, and to affect them the more with their deliverance; for the eye affects the heart. See Isa. lxvi. 24, They shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me. Probably they stripped the slain and, having borrowed jewels of their neighbours before, which (the Egyptians having by this hostile pursuit of them broken their faith with them) henceforward they were not under any obligation to restore, they now got arms from them, which, some think, they were not before provided with. Thus, when God broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, he gave him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness, Ps. lxxiv. 14.
2. The sight of this great work greatly affected them, and now they feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses, v. 31. Now they were ashamed of their distrusts and murmurings, and, in the good mind they were in, they would never again despair of help from Heaven, no, not in the greatest straits; they would never again quarrel with Moses, nor talk of returning to Egypt. They were now baptized unto Moses in the sea, 1 Cor. x. 2. This great work which God wrought for them by the ministry of Moses bound them effectually to follow his directions, under God. This confirmed their faith in the promises that were yet to be fulfilled; and, being brought thus triumphantly out of Egypt, they did not doubt that they should be in Canaan shortly, having such a God to trust to, and such a mediator between them and him. O that there had been such a heart in them as now there seemed to be! Sensible mercies, when they are fresh, make sensible impressions; but with many these impressions soon wear off: while they see God's works, and feel the benefit of them, they fear him and trust in him; but they soon forget his works, and then they slight him. How well were it for us if we were always in as good a frame as we are in sometimes!

CHAP. 15.Edit


In this chapter, I. Israel looks back upon Egypt with a song of praise for their deliverance. Here is, 1. The song itself, ver. 1-19. 2. The solemn singing of it, ver. 20, 21. II. Israel marches forward in the wilderness

(ver. 22), and there, 1. Their discontent at the waters of Marah (ver. 23, 24), and the relief granted them, ver. 25, 26. 2. Their satisfaction in the waters of Elim, ver. 27.

verses 1-21Edit

Triumphant Song of the Israelites. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord , and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord , for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. 2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. 3 The
Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name. 4 Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. 5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. 6 Thy right hand, O Lord , is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord , hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. 8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. 9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. 10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. 11 Who is like unto thee,
O Lord , among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? 12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. 13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. 14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. 15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. 16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord , till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. 17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance,
in the place, O Lord , which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. 18 The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. 19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. 20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord , for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

Having read how that complete victory of Israel over the Egyptians was obtained, here we are told how it was celebrated; those that were to hold their peace while the deliverance was in working (ch. xiv. 14) must not hold their peace now that it was wrought; the less they had to do then the more they had to do now. If God accomplishes deliverance by his own immediate power, it redounds so much the more to his glory. Moses, no doubt by divine inspiration, indited this song, and delivered it to the children of Israel, to be sung before they stirred from the place where they saw the Egyptians dead upon the shore. Observe, 1. They expressed their joy in God, and thankfulness to him, by singing; it is almost natural to us thus to give vent to our joy and the exultations of our spirit. By this instance it appears that the singing of psalms, as an act of religious worship, was used in the church of Christ before the giving of the ceremonial law, and therefore was no part of it, nor abolished with it. Singing is as much the language of holy joy as praying is of holy desire. 2. Moses, who had gone before them through the sea, goes before them in the song, and composes it for them. Note, Those that are active in public services should not be neuters in public praises. 3. When the mercy was fresh, and they were much affected with it, then they sang this song. Note, When we have received special mercy from God, we ought to be quick and speedy in our returns of praise to him, before time and the deceitfulness of our own hearts efface the good impressions that have been made. David sang his triumphant song in the day that the Lord delivered him, 2 Sam. xxii. 1. Bis dat qui cito dat—He gives twice who gives quickly. 4. When they believed the Lord (ch. xiv. 31) then they sang this song: it was a song of faith; this connection is observed (Ps. cvi. 12): Then believed they his words, they sang his praise. If with the heart man believes, thus confession must be made. Here is,
I. The song itself; and,
1. We may observe respecting this song, that it is, (1.) An ancient song, the most ancient that we know of. (2.) A most admirable composition, the style lofty and magnificent, the images lively and proper, and the whole very moving. (3.) It is a holy song, consecrated to the honour of God, and intended to exalt his name and celebrate his praise, and his only, not in the least to magnify any man: holiness to the Lord is engraven in it, and to him they made melody in the singing of it. (4.) It is a typical song. The triumphs of the gospel church, in the downfall of its enemies, are expressed in the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb put together, which are said to be sung upon a sea of glass, as this was upon the Red Sea, Rev. xv. 2, 3.
2. Let us observe what Moses chiefly aims at in this song.
(1.) He gives glory to God, and triumphs in him; this is first in his intention (v. 1): I will sing unto the Lord. Note, All our joy must terminate in God, and all our praises be offered up to him, the Father of lights and Father of mercies, for he hath triumphed. Note, All that love God triumph in his triumphs; what is his honour should be our joy. Israel rejoiced in God, [1.] As their own God, and therefore their strength, song, and salvation, v. 2. Happy therefore the people whose God is the Lord; they need no more to make them happy. They have work to do, temptations to grapple with, and afflictions to bear, and are weak in themselves; but he strengthens them: his grace is their strength. They are often in sorrow, upon many accounts, but in him they have comfort, he is their song; sin, and death, and hell, threaten them, but he is, and will be, their salvation: See Isa. xii. 2. [2.] As their fathers' God. This they take notice of, because, being conscious to themselves of their own unworthiness and provocations, they had reason to think that what God had now done for them was for their fathers' sake, Deut. iv. 37. Note, The children of the covenant ought to improve their fathers' relation to God as their God for comfort, for caution, and for quickening. [3.] As a God of infinite power (v. 3): The Lord is a man of war, that is, well able to deal with all those that strive with their Maker, and will certainly be too hard for them. [4.] As a God of matchless and incomparable perfection, v. 11. This is expressed, First, More generally: Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods! This is pure praise, and a high expression of humble adoration.—It is a challenge to all other gods to compare with him: "Let them stand forth, and pretend their utmost; none of them dare make the comparison." Egypt was notorious for the multitude of its gods, but the God of the Hebrews was too hard for them and baffled them all, Num. xxxviii. 4; Deut. xxxii. 23-39. The princes and potentates of the world are called gods, but they are feeble and mortal, none of them all comparable to Jehovah, the almighty and eternal God.—It is confession of his infinite perfection, as transcendent and unparalleled. Note, God is to be worshipped and adored as a being of such infinite perfection that there is none like him, nor any to be compared with him, as one that in all things has and must have the pre-eminence, Ps. lxxxix. 6. Secondly, More particularly, 1. He is glorious in holiness; his holiness is his glory. It is that attribute which angels adore, Isa. vi. 3. His holiness appeared in the destruction of Pharaoh, his hatred of sin, and his wrath against obstinate sinners. It appeared in the deliverance of Israel, his delight in the holy seed, and his faithfulness to his own promise. God is rich in mercy—this is his treasure, glorious in holiness—this is his honour. Let us always give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 2. He is fearful in praises. That which is the matter of our praise, though it is joyful to the servants of God, is dreadful and very terrible to his enemies, Ps. lxvi. 1-3. Or it directs us in the manner of our praising God; we should praise him with a humble holy awe, and serve the Lord with fear. Even our spiritual joy and triumph must be balanced with a religious fear. 3. He is doing wonders, wondrous to all, being above the power and out of the common course of nature; especially wondrous to us, in whose favour they are wrought, who are so unworthy that we had little reason to expect them. They were wonders of power and wonders of grace; in both God was to be humbly adored.
(2.) He describes the deliverance they were now triumphing in, because the song was intended, not only to express and excite their thankfulness for the present, but to preserve and perpetuate the remembrance of this work of wonder to after-ages. Two things were to be taken notice of:—
[1.] The destruction of the enemy; the waters were divided, v. 8. The floods stood upright as a heap. Pharaoh and all his hosts were buried in the waters. The horse and his rider could not escape (v. 1), the chariots, and the chosen captains (v. 4); they themselves went into the sea, and they were overwhelmed, v. 19. The depths, the sea, covered them, and the proud waters went over the proud sinners; they sank like a stone, like lead (v. 5, 10), under the weight of their own guilt and God's wrath. Their sin had made them hard like a stone, and now they justly sink like a stone. Nay, the earth itself swallowed them (v. 12); their dead bodies sank into the sands upon which they were thrown up, which sucked them in. Those whom the Creator fights against the whole creation is at war with. All this was the Lord's doing, and his only. It was an act of his power: Thy right hand, O Lord, not ours, has dashed in pieces the enemy, v. 6. It was with the blast of thy nostrils (v. 8), and thy wind (v. 10), and the stretching out of thy right hand, v. 12. It was an instance of his transcendent power—in the greatness of thy excellency; and it was the execution of his justice: Thou sentest forth thy wrath, v. 7. This destruction of the Egyptians was made the more remarkable by their pride and insolence, and their strange assurance of success: The enemy said, I will pursue, v. 9. Here is, First, Great confidence. When they pursue, they do not question but they shall overtake; and, when they overtake, they do not question but they shall overcome, and obtain so decisive a victory as to divide the spoil. Note, It is common for men to be most elevated with the hope of success when they are upon the brink of ruin, which makes their ruin so much the sorer. See Isa. xxxvii. 24, 25. Secondly, Great cruelty—nothing but killing, and slaying, and destroying, and this will satisfy his lust; and a barbarous lust that is which so much blood must be the satisfaction of. Note, It is a cruel hatred with which the church is hated; its enemies are bloody men. This is taken notice of here to show, 1. That God resists the proud, and delights to humble those who lift up themselves; he that says, "I will, and I will, whether God will or no," shall be made to know that wherein he deals proudly God is above him. 2. That those who thirst for blood shall have enough of it. Those who love to be destroying shall be destroyed; for we know who has said, Vengeance is mine, I will repay.
[2.] The protection and guidance of Israel (v. 13): Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people, led them forth out of the bondage Egypt, led them forth out of the perils of the Red Sea, v. 19. But the children of Israel went on dry land. Note, The destruction of the wicked serves for a foil to set off the salvation of Israel, and to make it the more illustrious, Isa. xlv. 13-15.
(3.) He sets himself to improve this wonderful appearance of God for them. [1.] In order to quicken them to serve God: in consideration of this, I will prepare him habitation, v. 2. God having preserved them, and prepared a covert for them under which they had been safe and easy, they resolve to spare no cost nor pains for the erecting of a tabernacle to his honour, and there they will exalt him, and mention, to his praise, the honour he had got upon Pharaoh. God had now exalted them, making them great and high, and therefore they will exalt him, by speaking of his infinite height and grandeur. Note, Our constant endeavour should be, by praising his name and serving his interests, to exalt God; and it is an advancement to us to be so employed. [2.] In order to encourage them to trust in God. So confident is this Psalmist of the happy issue of the salvation which was so gloriously begun that he looks upon it as in effect finished already: " Thou hast guided them to thy holy habitation, v. 13. Thou hast thus put them into the way to it, and wilt in due time bring them to the end of that way," for God's work is perfect; or, " Thou hast guided them to attend thy holy habitation in heaven with their praises." Note, Those whom God takes under his direction he will guide to his holy habitation in faith now, and in fruition shortly. Two ways this great deliverance was encouraging:— First, It was such an instance of God's power as would terrify their enemies, and quite dishearten them, v. 14-16. The very report of the overthrow of the Egyptians would be more than half the over throw of all their other enemies; it would sink their spirits, which would go far towards the sinking of their powers and interests; he Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, and Canaanites (with each of which nations Israel was to grapple), would be alarmed by it, would be quite dispirited, and would conclude it was in vain to fight against Israel, when a God of such power fought for them. It had this effect; the Edomites were afraid of them (Deut. ii. 4), so were the Moabites (Num. xxii. 3), and the Canaanites, Josh. ii. 9, 10; v. 1. Thus God sent his fear before them (ch. xxiii. 27), and cut off the spirit of princes. Secondly, It was such a beginning of God's favour to them as gave them an earnest of he perfection of his kindness. This was but in order to something further: Thou shalt bring them in, v. 17. If he thus bring them out of Egypt, notwithstanding their unworthiness, and the difficulties that lay in the way of their escape, doubtless he will bring them into Canaan; for has he begun ( so begun), and will he not make an end? Note, Our experiences of God's power and favour should be improved for the support of our expectations. "Thou hast, therefore, not only thou canst, but we trust thou wilt," is good arguing. Thou wilt plant them in the place which thou has made for thee to dwell in. Note, It is good dwelling where God dwells, in his church on earth (Ps. xxvii. 4), in his church in heaven, John xvii. 24. Where he says, "This is my rest for ever," we should say, "Let it be ours." Lastly, The great ground of the encouragement which they draw from this work of wonder is, The Lord shall reign for ever and ever, v. 18. They had now seen an end of Pharaoh's reign; but time itself shall not put a period to Jehovah's reign, which, like himself, is eternal, and not subject to change. Note, It is the unspeakable comfort of all God's faithful subjects, not only that he does reign universally and with an incontestable sovereignty, but that he will reign eternally, and there shall be no end of his dominion.
II. The solemn singing of this song, v. 20, 21. Miriam (or Mary, it is the same name) presided in an assembly of the women, who (according to the softness of their sex, and the common usage of those times for expressing joy, with timbrels and dances) sang this song. Moses led the psalm, and gave it out for the men, and then Miriam for the women. Famous victories were wont to be applauded by the daughters of Israel (1 Sam. xviii. 6, 7); so was this. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, it is said (Micah vi. 4), He sent before them Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, though we read not of any thing memorable that Miriam did but this. But those are to be reckoned great blessings to a people who assist them, and go before them, in praising God.

verses 22-27Edit

The Waters of Marah. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. 23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they
were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? 25 And he cried unto the Lord ; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, 26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the
Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. 27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

It should seem, it was with some difficulty that Moses prevailed with Israel to leave that triumphant shore on which they sang the foregoing song. They were so taken up with the sight, or with the song, or with the spoiling of the dead bodies, that they cared not to go forward, but Moses with much ado brought them from the Red Sea into a wilderness. The pleasures of our way to Canaan must not retard our progress, but quicken it, though we have a wilderness before us. Now here we are told,
I. That in the wilderness of Shur they had no water, v. 22. This was a sore trial to the young travellers, and a diminution to their joy; thus God would train them up to difficulties. David, in a dry and thirsty land where no water is, reaches forth towards God, Ps. lxiii. 1.
II. That at Marah they had water, but it was bitter, so that though they had been three days without water they could not drink it, because it was extremely unpleasant to the taste or was likely to be prejudicial to their health, or was so brackish that it rather increased their thirst than quenched it, v. 23. Note, God can embitter that to us from which we promise ourselves most satisfaction, and often does so in the wilderness of this world, that our wants and disappointments in the creature may drive us to the Creator, in whose favour alone true comfort is to be had. Now in this distress, 1. The people fretted and quarrelled with Moses, as if he had done ill by them. What shall we drink? is all their clamour, v. 24. Note, The greatest joys and hopes are soon turned into the greatest griefs and fears with those that live by sense only, and not by faith. 2. Moses prayed: He cried unto the Lord, v. 25. The complaints which they brought to him he brought to God, on whom, notwithstanding his elevation, Moses owned a constant dependence. Note, It is the greatest relief of the cares of magistrates and ministers, when those under their charge make them uneasy, that they may have recourse to God by prayer: he is the guide of the church's guides and to him, as the Chief Shepherd, the under-shepherds must upon all occasions apply. 3. God provided graciously for them. He directed Moses to a tree, which he cast into the waters, in consequence of which, all of a sudden, they were made sweet. Some think this wood had a peculiar virtue in it for this purpose, because it is said, God showed him the tree. God is to be acknowledged, not only in the creating of things useful for man, but in discovering their usefulness. Or perhaps this was only a sign, and not at all a means, of the cure, any more than the brazen serpent, or Elisha's casting one cruse full of salt into the waters of Jericho. Some make this tree typical of the cross of Christ, which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction to all the faithful, and enables them to rejoice in tribulation. The Jews' tradition is that the wood of this tree was itself bitter, yet it sweetened the waters of Marah; the bitterness of Christ's sufferings and death alters the property of ours. 4. Upon this occasion, God came upon terms with them, and plainly told them, now that they had got clear of the Egyptians, and had entered into the wilderness, that they were upon their good behaviour, and that according as they carried themselves so it would be well or ill with them: There he made a statute and an ordinance, and settled matters with them. There he proved them, that is, there he put them upon the trial, admitted them as probationers for his favour. In short, he tells them, v. 26, (1.) What he expected from them, and that was, in one word, obedience. They must diligently hearken to his voice, and give ear to his commandments, that they might know their duty, and not transgress through ignorance; and they must take care in every thing to do that which was right in God's sight, and to keep all his statutes. They must not think, now that they were delivered from their bondage in Egypt, that they had no lord over them, but were their own masters; no, therefore they must look upon themselves as God's servants, because he had loosed their bonds, Ps. cxvi. 16; Luke i. 74, 75. (2.) What they might then expect from him: I will put none of these diseases upon thee, that is, "I will not bring upon thee any of the plagues of Egypt." This intimates that, if they were rebellious and disobedient, the very plagues which they had seen inflicted upon their enemies should be brought upon them; so it is threatened, Deut. xxviii. 60. God's judgments upon Egypt, as they were mercies to Israel, opening the way to their deliverance, so they were warnings to Israel, and designed to awe them into obedience. Let not the Israelites think, because God had thus highly honoured them in the great things he had done for them, and had proclaimed them to all the world his favourites, that therefore he would connive at their sins and let them do as they would. No, God is no respecter of persons; a rebellious Israelite shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian; and so they found, to their cost, before the got to Canaan. "But, if thou wilt be obedient, thou shalt be safe and happy;" the threatening is implied only, but the promise is expressed: " I am the Lord that healeth thee, and will take care of thy comfort wherever thou goest." Note, God is the great physician. If we be kept well, it is he that keeps us; if we be made well, it is he that restores us; he is our life, and the length of our days.
III. That at Elim they had good water, and enough of it, v. 27. Though God may, for a time, order his people to encamp by the waters of Marah, yet that shall not always be their lot. See how changeable our condition is in this world, from better to worse, from worse to better. Let us therefore learn both how to be abased and how to abound, to rejoice as though we rejoiced not when we are full, and to weep as though we wept not when we are emptied. Here were twelve wells for their supply, one for every tribe, that they might not strive for water, as their fathers had sometimes done; and, for their pleasure, there were seventy palm-trees, under the shadow of which their great men might repose themselves. Note, God can find places of refreshment for his people even in the wilderness of this world, wells in the valley of Baca, lest they should faint in their mind with perpetual fatigue: yet, whatever our delights may be in the land of our pilgrimage, we must remember that we do but encamp by them for a time, that here we have no continuing city.

CHAP. 16.Edit


This chapter gives us an account of the victualling of the camp of Israel. I. Their complaint for want of bread, ver. 1-3. II. The notice God gave them beforehand of the provision he intended to make for them, ver. 4-12. III. The sending of the manna, ver. 13-15. IV. The laws and orders concerning the manna. 1. That they should gather it daily for their daily bread, ver. 16-21. 2. That they should gather a double portion on the sixth day, ver. 22-26. 3. That they should expect none on the seventh day, ver. 27-31. 4. That they should preserve a pot of it for a memorial, ver. 32,

&c.

verses 1-12Edit

The Israelites Murmur for Bread. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. 4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. 6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: 7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord ; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord : and what are we, that ye murmur against us? 8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord . 9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord : for he hath heard your murmurings. 10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.

The host of Israel, it seems, took along with them out of Egypt, when they came thence on the fifteenth day of the first month, a month's provisions, which, by the fifteenth day of the second month, was all spent; and here we have,
I. Their discontent and murmuring upon that occasion, v. 2, 3. The whole congregation, the greatest part of them, joined in this mutiny; it was not immediately against God that they murmured, but (which was equivalent) against Moses and Aaron, God's vicegerents among them. 1. They count upon being killed in the wilderness—nothing less, at the first appearance of disaster. If the Lord had been pleased to kill them, he could easily have done that in the Red Sea; but then he preserved them, and now could as easily provide for them. It argues great distrust of God, and of his power and goodness, in every distress and appearance of danger to despair of life, and to talk of nothing but being speedily killed. 2. They invidiously charge Moses with a design to starve them when he brought them out of Egypt; whereas what he had done was both by order from God and with a design to promote their welfare. Note, It is no new thing for the greatest kindnesses to be misinterpreted and basely represented as the greatest injuries. The worst colours are sometimes put upon the best actions. Nay, 3. They so far undervalue their deliverance that they wish they had died in Egypt, nay, and died by the hand of the Lord too, that is, by some of the plagues which cut off the Egyptians, as if it were not the hand of the Lord, but of Moses only, that brought them into this hungry wilderness. It is common for people to say of that pain, or sickness, or sore, of which they see not the second causes, "It is what pleases God," as if that were not so likewise which comes by the hand of man, or some visible accident. Prodigious madness! They would rather die by the fleshpots of Egypt, where they found themselves with provision, than live under the guidance of the heavenly pillar in a wilderness and be provided for by the hand of God! they pronounce it better to have fallen in the destruction of God's enemies than to bear the fatherly discipline of his children! We cannot suppose that they had any great plenty in Egypt, how largely soever they now talk of the flesh-pots; nor could they fear dying for want in the wilderness, while they had their flocks and herds with them. But discontent magnifies what is past, and vilifies what is present, without regard to truth or reason. None talk more absurdly than murmurers. Their impatience, ingratitude, and distrust of God, were so much the worse in that they had lately received such miraculous favours, and convincing proofs both that God could help them in the greatest exigencies and that really he had mercy in store for them. See how soon they forgot his works, and provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea, Ps. cvi. 7-13. Note, Experiences of God's mercies greatly aggravate our distrusts and murmurings.
II. The care God graciously took for their supply. Justly he might have said, "I will rain fire and brimstone upon these murmurers, and consume them;" but, quite contrary, he promises to rain bread upon them. Observe,
1. How God makes known to Moses his kind intentions, that he might not be uneasy at their murmurings, nor be tempted to wish he had let them alone in Egypt. (1.) He takes notice of the people's complaints: I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, v. 12. As a God of pity, he took cognizance of their necessity, which was the occasion of their murmuring; as a just and holy God, he took cognizance of their base and unworthy reflections upon his servant Moses, and was much displeased with them. Note, When we begin to fret and be uneasy, we ought to consider that God hears all our murmurings, though silent, and only the murmurings of the heart. Princes, parents, masters, do not hear all the murmurs of their inferiors against them, and it is well they do not, for perhaps they could not bear it; but God hears, and yet bears. We must not think, because God does not immediately take vengeance on men for their sins, that therefore he does not take notice of them; no, he hears the murmurings of Israel, and is grieved with this generation, and yet continues his care of them, as the tender parent of the froward child. (2.) He promises them a speedy, sufficient, and constant supply, v. 4. Man being made out of the earth, his Maker has wisely ordered him food out of the earth, Ps. civ. 14. But the people of Israel, typifying the church of the first-born that are written in heaven, and born from above, and being themselves immediately under the direction and government of heaven, receiving their charters, laws, and commissions, from heaven, from heaven also received their food: their law being given by the disposition of angels, they did also eat angels' food. See what God designed in making this provision for them: That I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no. [1.] Thus he tried whether they would trust him, and walk in the law of faith or no, whether they could live from hand to mouth, and (though now uneasy because their provisions were spent) could rest satisfied with the bread of the day in its day, and depend upon God for fresh supplies to-morrow. [2.] Thus he tried whether they would serve him, and be always faithful to so good a Master, that provided so well for his servants; and hereby he made it appear to all the world, in the issue, what an ungrateful people they were, whom nothing could affect with a sense of obligation. Let favour be shown to them, yet will they not learn righteousness, Isa. xxvi. 10.
2. How Moses made known these intentions to Israel, as God ordered him. Here Aaron was his prophet, as he had been to Pharaoh. Moses directed Aaron what to speak to the congregation of Israel (v. 9); and some think that, while Aaron was giving a public summons to the congregation to come near before the Lord, Moses retired to pray, and that the appearance of the glory of the Lord (v. 10) was in answer to his prayer. They are called to come near, as Isa. i. 18, Come, and let us reason together. Note, God condescends to give even murmurers a fair hearing; and shall we then despise the cause of our inferiors when they contend with us? Job xxxi. 13. (1.) He convinces them of the evil of their murmurings. They thought they reflected only upon Moses and Aaron, but here they are told that God was struck at through their sides. This is much insisted on (v. 7, 8): " Your murmurings are not against us, then we would have been silent, but against the Lord; it was he that led you into these straits, and not we." Note, When we murmur against those who are instruments of any uneasiness to us, whether justly or unjustly, we should do well to consider how much we reflect upon God by it; men are but God's hand. Those that quarrel with the reproofs and convictions of the word, and are angry with their ministers when they are touched in a tender part, know not what they do, for therein they strive with their Maker. Let this for ever stop the mouth of murmuring, that it is daring impiety to murmur at God, because he is God; and gross absurdity to murmur at men, because they are but men. (2.) He assures them of the supply of their wants, that since they had harped upon the flesh-pots so much they should for once have flesh in abundance that evening, and bread the next morning, and so on every day thenceforward, v. 8, 12. Many there are of whom we say that they are better fed than taught; but the Israelites were thus fed, that they might be taught. He led him about, he instructed him (Deut. xxxii. 10); and, as to this instance, see Deut. viii. 3, He fed thee with manna, that thou mightest know that man doth not live by bread only. And, besides this, here are two things mentioned, which he intended to teach them by sending them manna:—[1.] By this you shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt, v. 6. That they were brought out of Egypt was plain enough; but so strangely sottish and short-sighted were they that they said it was Moses that brought them out, v. 3. Now God sent them manna, to prove that it was no less than infinite power and goodness that brought them out, and this could perfect what was begun. If Moses only had brought them out of Egypt, he could not thus have fed them; they must therefore own that that was the Lord's doing, because this was so, and both were marvellous in their eyes; yet, long afterwards, they needed to be told that Moses gave them not this bread from heaven, John vi. 32. [2.] By this you shall know that I am the Lord your God, v. 12. This gave proof of his power as the Lord, and his particular favour to them as their God. When God plagued the Egyptians, it was to make them know that he was the Lord; when he provided for the Israelites, it was to make them know that he was their God.
3. How God himself manifested his glory, to still the murmurings of the people, and to put a reputation upon Moses and Aaron, v. 10. While Aaron was speaking, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The cloud itself, one would think, was enough both to strike an awe upon them and to give encouragement to them; yet, in a few days, it had grown so familiar to them that it made no impression upon them, unless it shone with an unusual brightness. Note, What God's ministers say to us is then likely to do us good when the glory of God shines in with it upon our souls.

verses 13-21Edit

Manna Rained from Heaven. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. 14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it
was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. 16 This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which
are in his tents. 17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. 18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. 19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. 21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

Now they begin to be provided for by the immediate hand of God.
I. He makes them a feast, at night, of delicate fowl, feathered fowl (Ps. lxxviii. 27), therefore not locusts, as some think; quails, or pheasants, or some wild fowl, came up, and covered the camp, so tame that they might take up as many of them as they pleased. Note, God gives us of the good things of this life, not only for necessity, but for delight, that we may not only serve him, but serve him cheerfully.
II. Next morning he rained manna upon them, which was to be continued to them for their daily bread. 1. That which was provided for them was manna, which descended from the clouds, so that, in some sense, they might be said to live upon the air. It came down in dew that melted, and yet was itself of such a consistency as to serve for nourishing strengthening food, without any thing else. They called it manna, manhu, "What is this?" Either, "What a poor thing this is!" despising it: or, "What a strange thing this is!" admiring it: or, "It is a portion, no matter what it is; it is that which our God has allotted us, and we will take it and be thankful," v. 14, 15. It was pleasant food; the Jews say that it was palatable to all, however varied their tastes. It was wholesome food, light of digestion, and very necessary (Dr. Grew says) to cleanse them from disorders with which he thinks it probable that they were, in the time of their bondage, more or less infected, which disorders a luxurious diet would have made contagious. By this spare and plain diet we are all taught a lesson of temperance, and forbidden to desire dainties and varieties. 2. They were to gather it every morning (v. 21), the portion of a day in his day, v. 4. Thus they must live upon daily providence, as the fowls of the air, of which it is said, That which thou givest them they gather (Ps. civ. 28); not to-day for to-morrow: let the morrow take thought for the things of itself. To this daily raining and gathering of manna our Saviour seems to allude when he teaches us to pray, Give us this day our daily bread. We are hereby taught, (1.) Prudence and diligence in providing food convenient for ourselves and our household. What God graciously gives we must industriously gather; with quietness working, and eating our own bread, not the bread either of idleness or deceit. God's bounty leaves room for man's duty; it did so even when manna was rained: they must not eat till they have gathered. (2.) Contentment and satisfaction with a sufficiency. They must gather, every man according to his eating; enough is as good as a feast, and more than enough is as bad as a surfeit. Those that have most have, for themselves, but food, and raiment, and mirth; and those that have least generally have these: so that he who gathers much has nothing over, and he who gathers little has no lack. There is not so great a disproportion between one and another in the comforts and enjoyments of the things of this life as there is in the property and possession of the things themselves. (3.) Dependence upon Providence: Let no man leave till morning (v. 19), but let them learn to go to bed and sleep quietly, though they have not a bit of bread in their tent, nor in all their camp, trusting that God, with the following day, will bring them their daily bread." It was surer and safer in God's store-house than in their own, and would thence come to them sweeter and fresher. Read with this, Matt. vi. 25, Take no thought for your life, &c. See here the folly of hoarding. The manna that was laid up by some (who thought themselves wiser and better managers than their neighbours, and who would provide in case it should fail next day), putrefied, and bred worms, and became good for nothing. Note, That proves to be most wasted which is covetously and distrustfully spared. Those riches are corrupted, James v. 2, 3. Let us set ourselves to think, [1.] Of that great power of God which fed Israel in the wilderness, and made miracles their daily bread. What cannot this God do, who prepared a table in the wilderness, and furnished it richly even for those who questioned whether he could or no? Ps. lxxviii. 19, 20. Never was there such a market of provisions as this, where so many hundred thousand men were daily furnished, without money and without price. Never was there such an open house kept as God kept in the wilderness for forty years together, nor such free and plentiful entertainment given. The feast which Ahasuerus made, to show the riches of his kingdom, and the honour of his majesty, was nothing to this, Esth. i. 4. It is said (v. 21), When the sun waxed hot, it melted; as if what was left were drawn up by the heat of the sun into the air to be the seed of the next day's harvest, and so from day to day. [2.] Of that constant providence of God which gives food to all flesh, for his mercy endures for ever, Ps. cxxxvi. 25. He is a great house-keeper that provides for all the creatures. The same wisdom, power, and goodness that now brought food daily out of the clouds, are employed in the constant course of nature, bringing food yearly out of the earth, and giving us all things richly to enjoy.

verses 22-31Edit


22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one
man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow
is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord : bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the
Lord : to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27 And it came to pass, that there went out
some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. 28 And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. 31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it
was like wafers made with honey.
We have here, 1. A plain intimation of the observing of a seventh day sabbath, not only before the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai, but before the bringing of Israel out of Egypt, and therefore, from the beginning, Gen. ii. 3. If the sabbath had now been first instituted, how could Moses have understood what God said to him (v. 5), concerning a double portion to be gathered on the sixth day, without making any express mention of the sabbath? And how could the people so readily take the hint (v. 22), even to the surprise of the rulers, before Moses had declared that it was done with a regard to the sabbath, if they had not had some knowledge of the sabbath before? The setting apart of one day in seven for holy work, and, in order to that, for holy rest, was a divine appointment ever since God created man upon the earth, and the most ancient of positive laws. The way of sabbath-sanctification is the good old way. 2. The double provision which God made for the Israelites, and which they were to make for themselves, on the sixth day: God gave them on the sixth day the bread of two days, v. 29. Appointing them to rest on the seventh day, he took care that they should be no losers by it; and none ever will be losers by serving God. On that day they were to fetch in enough for two days, and to prepare it, v. 23. The law was very strict, that they must bake and seeth, the day before, and not on the sabbath day. This does not now make it unlawful for us to dress meat on the Lord's day, but directs us to contrive our family affairs so that they may hinder us as little as possible in the work of the sabbath. Works of necessity, no doubt, are to be done on that day; but it is desirable to have as little as may be to do of things necessary to the life that now is, that we may apply ourselves the more closely to the one thing needful. That which they kept of for their food on the sabbath day did not putrefy, v. 24. When they kept it in opposition to a command (v. 20) it stank; when they kept it in obedience to a command it was sweet and good; for every thing is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 3. The intermission of the manna on the seventh day. God did not send it then, and therefore they must not expect it, nor go out to gather, v. 25, 26. This showed that it was not produced by natural causes, and that it was designed for a confirmation of the divine authority of the law which was to be given by Moses. Thus God took an effectual course to make them remember the sabbath day; they could not forget it, nor the day of preparation for it. Some, it seems, went out on the seventh day, expecting to find manna (v. 27); but they found none, for those that will find must seek in the appointed time: seek the Lord while he may be found. God, upon this occasion, said to Moses, How long refuse you to keep my commandments? v. 28. Why did he say this to Moses? He was not disobedient. No, but he was the ruler of a disobedient people, and God charges it upon him that he might the more warmly charge it upon them, and might take care that their disobedience should not be through any neglect or default of his. It was for going out to seek for manna on he seventh day that they were thus reproved. Note, (1.) Disobedience, even in a small matter, is very provoking. (2.) God is jealous for the honour of his sabbaths. If walking out on the sabbath to seek for food was thus reproved, walking out on that day purely to find our own pleasure cannot be justified.

verses 32-36Edit

A Pot of Manna Preserved. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord , to be kept for your generations. 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. 35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. 36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.

God having provided manna to be his people's food in the wilderness, and to be to them a continual feast, we are here told, 1. How the memory of it was preserved. An omer of this manna was laid up in a golden pot, as we are told (Heb. ix. 4), and kept before the testimony, or the ark, when it was afterwards made, v. 32-34. The preservation of this manna from waste and corruption was a standing miracle, and therefore the more proper memorial of this miraculous food. "Posterity shall see the bread," says God, " wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness," see what sort of food it was, and how much each man's daily proportion of it was, that it may appear they were neither kept to hard fare nor to short allowance, and then judge between God and Israel, whether they had any cause given them to murmur and find fault with their provisions, and whether they and their seed after them had not a great deal of reason gratefully to won God's goodness to them. Note, Eaten bread must not be forgotten. God's miracles and mercies are to be had in everlasting remembrance, for our encouragement to trust in him at all times. 2. How the mercy of it was continued as long as they had occasion for it. The manna never ceased till they came to the borders of Canaan, where there was bread enough and to spare, v. 35. See how constant the care of Providence is; seedtime and harvest fail not, while the earth remains. Israel was very provoking in the wilderness, yet the manna never failed them: thus still God causes his rain to fall on the just and unjust. The manna is called spiritual meat (1 Cor. x. 3), because it was typical of spiritual blessings in heavenly things. Christ himself is the true manna, the bread of life, of which this was a figure, John vi. 49-51. The word of God is the manna by which our souls are nourished, Matt. iv. 4. The comforts of the Spirit are hidden manna, Rev. ii. 17. These come from heaven, as the manna did, and are the support and comfort of the divine life in the soul, while we are in the wilderness of this world. It is food for Israelites, for those only that follow the pillar of cloud and fire. It is to be gathered; Christ in the word is to be applied to the soul, and the means of grace are to be used. We must every one of us gather for ourselves, and gather in the morning of our opportunities, which if we let slip, it may be too late to gather. The manna they gathered must not be hoarded up, but eaten; those that have received Christ must by faith live upon him, and not receive his grace in vain. There was manna enough for all, enough for each, and none had too much; so in Christ there is a complete sufficiency, and no superfluity. But those that did eat manna hungered again, died at last, and with many of them God was not well-pleased; whereas those that feed on Christ by faith shall never hunger, and shall die no more, and with them God will be for ever well pleased. The Lord evermore give us this bread!

CHAP. 17.Edit


Two passages of story are recorded in this chapter, I. The watering of the host of Israel. 1. In the wilderness they wanted water, ver. 1. 2. In their want they chided Moses, ver. 2, 3. 3. Moses cried to God,

ver. 4. 4. God ordered him to smite the rock, and fetch water out of that; Moses did so, ver. 5, 6. 5. The place named from it, ver. 7. II. The defeating of the host of Amalek. 1. The victory obtained by the prayer of Moses, ver. 8-12. 2. By the sword of Joshua, ver. 13. 3. A record kept of it, ver. 14, 16. And these things which happened to them are written for our instruction in our spiritual journey and warfare.

verses 1-7Edit

The Israelites Murmur for Water. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord , and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord ? 3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? 4 And Moses cried unto the Lord , saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. 5 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord , saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?

Here is, I. The strait that the children of Israel were in for want of water; once before the were in the like distress, and now, a second time, v. 1. They journeyed according to the commandment of the Lord, led by the pillar of cloud and fire, and yet they came to a place where there was no water for them to drink. Note, We may be in the way of our duty, and yet may meet with troubles, which Providence brings us into for the trial of our faith, and that God may be glorified in our relief.
II. Their discontent and distrust in this strait. It is said (v. 3), They thirsted there for water. If they had no water to drink, they must needs thirst; but this intimates, not only that they wanted water and felt the inconvenience of that want, but that their passion sharpened their appetites and they were violent and impatient in their desire; their thirst made them outrageous. Natural desires, and those that are most craving, have need to be kept under the check and control of religion and reason. See what was the language of this inordinate desire. 1. They challenged Moses to supply them (v. 2): Give us water, that we may drink, demanding it as a debt, and strongly suspecting that he was not able to discharge it. Because they were supplied with bread, they insist upon it that they must be supplied with water too; and indeed to those that by faith and prayer live a life of dependence upon God one favour is an earnest of another, and may be humbly pleaded; but the unthankful and unbelieving have reason to think that the abuse of former favours is the forfeiture of further favours: Let not them think that they shall receive any thing (Jam. i. 7), yet they are ready to demand every thing. 2. They quarrelled with him for bringing them out of Egypt, as if, instead of delivering them, he designed to murder them, than which nothing could be more base and invidious, v. 3. Many that have not only designed well, but done well, for their generation, have had their best services thus misconstrued, and their patience thereby tried, by unthinking unthankful people. To such a degree their malice against Moses rose that they were almost ready to stone him, v. 4. Many good works he had shown them; and for which of these would they stone him? John x. 32. Ungoverned passions, provoked by the crossing of unbridled appetites, sometimes make men guilty of the greatest absurdities, and act like madmen, that cast firebrands, arrows, and death, among their best friends. 3. They began to question whether God were with them or not: They tempted the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not? v. 7. Is Jehovah among us by that name by which he made himself known to us in Egypt?" They question his essential presence—whether there was a God or not; his common providence—whether that God governed the world; and his special promise—whether he would be as good as his word to them. This is called their tempting God, which signifies, not only a distrust of God in general, but a distrust of him after they had received such proofs of his power and goodness, for the confirmation of his promise. They do, in effect, suppose that Moses was an impostor, Aaron a deceiver, the pillar of cloud and fire a mere sham and illusion, which imposed upon their senses, that long series of miracles which had rescued them, served them, and fed them, a chain of cheats, and the promise of Canaan a banter upon them; it was all so, if the Lord was not among them. Note, It is a great provocation to God for us to question his presence, providence, or promise, especially for his Israel to do it, who are so peculiarly bound to trust him.
III. The course that Moses took, when he was thus set upon, and insulted. 1. He reproved the murmurers (v. 2): Why chide you with me? Observe how mildly he answered them; it was well that he was a man of extraordinary meekness, else their tumultuous conduct would have made him lose the possession of himself: it is folly to answer passion with passion, for that makes bad worse; but soft answers turn away wrath. He showed them whom their murmurings reflected upon, and that the reproaches they cast on him fell on God himself: You tempt the Lord; that is, "By distrusting his power, you try his patience, and so provoke his wrath." 2. He made his complaint to God (v. 4): Moses cried unto the Lord. This servant came, and showed his Lord all these things, Luke xiv. 21. When men unjustly censure us and quarrel with us, it will be a great relief to us to go to God, and by prayer lay the case before him and leave it with him: if men will not hear us, God will; if their bad conduct towards us ruffle our spirits, God's consolations will compose them. Moses begs of God to direct him what he should do, for he was utterly at a loss; he could not of himself either supply their want or pacify their tumult; God only could do it. He pleads his own peril: " They are almost ready to stone me; Lord, if thou hast any regard to the life of thy poor servant, interpose now."
IV. God's gracious appearance for their relief, v. 5, 6. He orders Moses to go on before the people, and venture himself in his post, though they spoke of stoning him. He must take his rod with him, not (as God might justly have ordered) to summon some plague or other to chastise them for their distrust and murmuring, but to fetch water for their supply. O the wonderful patience and forbearance of God towards provoking sinners! He loads those with benefits that make him to serve with their sins, maintains those that are at war with him, and reaches out the hand of his bounty to those that lift up the heel against him. Thus he teaches us, if our enemy hunger, to feed him, and if he thirst, as Israel did now, to give him drink, Rom. xii. 20; Matt. v. 44, 45. Will he fail those that trust him, when he was so liberal even to those that tempted him? If God had only shown Moses a fountain of water in the wilderness, as he did Hagar not far hence (Gen. xxi. 19), that would have been a great favour; but that he might show his power as well as his pity, and make it a miracle of mercy, he gave them water out of a rock. He directed Moses whither to go, and appointed him to take some of the elders of Israel with him, to be witnesses of what was done, that they might themselves be satisfied, and might satisfy others, of the certainty of God's presence with them. He promised to meet him there in the cloud of glory (to encourage him), and ordered him to smite the rock; Moses obeyed, and immediately water came out of the rock in great abundance, which ran throughout the camp in streams and rivers (Ps. lxxviii. 15, 16), and followed them wherever they went in that wilderness: it is called a fountain of waters, Ps. cxiv. 8. God showed the care he took of his people in giving them water when they wanted it; he showed his power in fetching the water out of a rock; and he put an honour upon Moses in appointing the water to flow out upon his smiting the rock. This fair water, that came out of the rock, is called honey and oil (Deut. xxxii. 13), because the people's thirst made it doubly pleasant; coming when they were in extreme want, it was like honey and oil to them. It is probable that the people digged canals for the conveyance of it, and pools for the reception of it, in like manner as, long afterwards, passing through the valley of Baca, they made it a well, Ps. lxxxiv. 6; Num. xxi. 18. Let this direct us to live in a dependence, 1. Upon God's providence, even in the greatest straits and difficulties. God can open fountains for our supply where we least expect them, waters in the wilderness (Isa. xliii. 20), because he makes a way in the wilderness, v. 19. Those who, in this wilderness, keep to God's way, may trust him to provide for them. While we follow the pillar of cloud and fire, surely goodness and mercy shall follow us, like the water out of the rock. 2. Upon Christ's grace: That rock was Christ, 1 Cor. x. 4. The graces and comforts of the Spirit are compared to rivers of living water, John vii. 38, 39; iv. 14. These flow from Christ, who is the rock smitten by the law of Moses, for he was made under the law. Nothing will supply the needs, and satisfy the desires, of a soul, but water out of this rock, this fountain opened. The pleasures of sense are puddle-water; spiritual delights are rock-water, so pure, so clear, so refreshing—rivers of pleasure.
V. A new name was, upon this occasion, given to the place, preserving the remembrance, not of the mercy of their supply (the water that followed them was sufficient to do that), but of the sin of their murmuring— Massah, temptation, because they tempted God; Meribah, strife, because they chid with Moses, v. 7. There was thus a remembrance kept of sin, both for the disgrace of the sinners themselves (sin leaves a blot upon the name) and for warning to their seed to take heed of sinning after the similitude of their transgression.

verses 8-16Edit

The Conflict with Amalek; The Defeat of Amalek. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. 10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands
were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse
it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. 15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: 16 For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn
that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
We have here the story of the war with Amalek, which, we may suppose, was the first that was recorded in the book of the wars of the Lord, Num. xxi. 14. Amalek was the first of the nations that Israel fought with, Num. xxiv. 20. Observe,
I. Amalek's attempt: They came out, and fought with Israel, v. 8. The Amalekites were the posterity of Esau, who hated Jacob because of the birthright and blessing, and this was an effort of the hereditary enmity, a malice that ran in the blood, and perhaps was now exasperated by the working of the promise towards an accomplishment. Consider this, 1. As Israel's affliction. They had been quarrelling with Moses (v. 2), and now God sends Amalekites to quarrel with them; wars abroad are the just punishment of strifes and discontents at home. 2. As Amalek's sin; so it is reckoned, Deut. xxv. 17, 18. They did not boldly front them as a generous enemy, but without any provocation given by Israel, or challenge given to them, basely fell upon their rear, and smote those that were faint and feeble and could neither make resistance nor escape. Herein they bade defiance to that power which had so lately ruined the Egyptians; but in vain did they attack a camp guarded and victualled by miracles: verily they knew not what they did.
II. Israel's engagement with Amalek, in their own necessary defence against the aggressors. Observe,
1. The post assigned to Joshua, of whom this is the first mention: he is nominated commander-in-chief in this expedition, that he might be trained up to the services he was designed for after the death of Moses, and be a man of war from his youth. He is ordered to draw out a detachment of choice men from the thousands of Israel and to drive back the Amalekites, v. 9. When the Egyptians pursued them Israel must stand still and see what God would do; but now it was required that they should bestir themselves. Note, God is to be trusted in the use of means.
2. The post assumed by Moses: I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand, v. 9. See how God qualifies his people for, and calls them to, various services for the good of his church: Joshua fights, Moses prays, and both minister to Israel. Moses went up to the top of the hill, and placed himself, probably, so as to be seen by Israel; there he held up the rod of God in his hand, that wonder-working rod which had summoned the plagues of Egypt, and under which Israel had passed out of the house of bondage. This rod Moses held up to Israel, to animate them; the rod was held up as the banner to encourage the soldiers, who might look up, and say, "Yonder is the rod, and yonder the hand that used it, when such glorious things were wrought for us." Note, It tends much to the encouragement of faith to reflect upon the great things God has done for us, and review the monuments of his favours. Moses also held up this rod to God, by way of appeal to him: "Is not the battle the Lord's? Is not he able to help, and engaged to help? Witness this rod, the voice of which, thus held up, is (Isa. li. 9, 10), Put on strength, O arm of the Lord; art not thou it that hath cut Rahab?" Moses was not only a standard-bearer, but an intercessor, pleading with God for success and victory. Note, When the host goes forth against the enemy earnest prayers should be made to the God of hosts for his presence with them. It is here the praying legion that proves the thundering legion. There, in Salem, in Sion where prayers were made, there the victory was won, there broke the arrows of the bow, Ps. lxxvi. 2, 3. Observe, (1.) How Moses was tired (v. 12): His hands were heavy. The strongest arm will fail with being long extended; it is God only whose hand is stretched out still. We do not find that Joshua's hands were heavy in fighting, but Moses's hands were heavy in praying. The more spiritual any service is the more apt we are to fail and flag in it. Praying work, if done with due intenseness of mind and vigour of affection, will be found hard work, and, though the spirit be willing, the flesh will be weak. Our great Intercessor in heaven faints not, nor is he weary, though he attends continually to this very thing. (2.) What influence the rod of Moses had upon the battle (v. 11): When Moses held up his hand in prayer (so the Chaldee explains it) Israel prevailed, but, when he let down his hand from prayer, Amalek prevailed. To convince Israel that the hand of Moses (with whom they had just now been chiding) contributed more to their safety than their own hands, his rod than their sword, the success rises and falls as Moses lifts up or lets down his hands. It seems, the scale wavered for some time, before it turned on Israel's side. Even the best cause must expect disappointments as an alloy to its successes; though the battle be the Lord's, Amalek may prevail for a time. The reason was, Moses let down his hands. Note, The church's cause is, commonly, more or less successful according as the church's friends are more or less strong in faith and fervent in prayer. (3.) The care that was taken for the support of Moses. When he could not stand any longer he sat down, not in a chair of state, but upon a stone (v. 12); when he could not hold up his hands, he would have them held up. Moses, the man of God, is glad of the assistance of Aaron his brother, and Hur, who, some think, was his brother-in-law, the husband of Miriam. We should not be shy either of asking help from others or giving help to others, for we are members one of another. Moses's hands, thus stayed, were steady till the going down of the sun; and, though it was with much ado that he held out, yet his willing mind was accepted. No doubt it was a great encouragement to the people to see Joshua before them in the field of battle and Moses above them upon the top of the hill: Christ is both to us—our Joshua, the captain of our salvation who fights our battles, and our Moses, who, in the upper world, ever lives making intercession, that our faith fail not.
III. The defeat of Amalek. Victory had hovered awhile between the camps; sometimes Israel prevailed and sometimes Amalek, but Israel carried the day, v. 13. Though Joshua fought with great disadvantages—his soldiers undisciplined, ill-armed, long inured to servitude, and apt to murmur; yet by them God wrought a great salvation, and made Amalek pay dearly for his insolence. Note, Weapons formed against God's Israel cannot prosper long, and shall be broken at last. The cause of God and his Israel will be victorious. Though God gave the victory, yet it is said, Joshua discomfited Amalek, because Joshua was a type of Christ, and of the same name, and in him it is that we are more than conquerors. It was his arm alone that spoiled principalities and powers, and routed all their force.
IV. The trophies of this victory set up. 1. Moses took care that God should have the glory of it (v. 15); instead of setting up a triumphal arch, to the honour of Joshua (though it had been a laudable policy to put marks of honour upon him), he builds an altar to the honour of God, and we may suppose it was not an altar without sacrifice; but that which is most carefully recorded is the inscription upon the altar, Jehovah-nissi—The Lord is my banner, which probably refers to the lifting up of the rod of God as a banner in this action. The presence and power of Jehovah were the banner under which they enlisted, by which they were animated and kept together, and therefore which they erected in the day of their triumph. In the name of our God we must always lift up our banners, Ps. xx. 5. It is fit that he who does all the work should have all the praise. 2. God took care that posterity should have the comfort and benefit of it: " Write this for a memorial, not in loose papers, but in a book, write it, and then rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, let him be entrusted with this memorial, to transmit it to the generations to come." Moses must now begin to keep a diary or journal of occurrences; it is the first mention of writing that we find in scripture, and perhaps the command was not given till after the writing of the law upon the tables of stone: "Write it in perpetuam rei memoriam—that the event may be had in perpetual remembrance; that which is written remains." (1.) "Write what has been done, what Amalek has done against Israel; write in gall their bitter hatred, write in blood their cruel attempts, let them never be forgotten, nor yet what God has done for Israel in saving them from Amalek. Let ages to come know that God fights for his people, and he that touches them touches the apple of his eye." (2.) Write what shall be done. [1.] That in process of time Amalek shall be totally ruined and rooted out (v. 14), that he shall be remembered only in history." Amalek would have cut off the name of Israel, that it might be no more in remembrance (Ps. lxxxiii. 4, 7); and therefore God not only disappoints him in this, but cuts off his name. "Write it for the encouragement of Israel, whenever the Amalekites are an annoyance to them, that Israel will at last undoubtedly triumph in the fall of Amalek." This sentence was executed in part by Saul (1 Sam. xv), and completely by David (ch. xxx.; 2 Sam. i. 1; viii. 12); after his time we never read so much as of the name of Amalek. [2.] This is the meantime God would have a continual controversy with him (v. 16): Because his hand is upon the throne of the Lord, that is, against the camp of Israel in which the Lord ruled, which was the place of his sanctuary, and is therefore called a glorious high throne from the beginning (Jer. xvii. 12); therefore the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. This was written for direction to Israel never to make any league with the Amalekites, but to look upon them as irreconcilable enemies, doomed to ruin. Amalek's destruction was typical of the destruction of all the enemies of Christ and his kingdom. Whoever make war with the Lamb, the Lamb will overcome them.

CHAP. 18.Edit


This chapter is concerning Moses himself, and the affairs of his own family. I. Jethro his father-in-law brings to him his wife and children, ver. 1-6. II. Moses entertains his father-in-law with great respect (ver. 7), with good discourse (ver. 8-11), with a sacrifice and a feast, ver. 12. III. Jethro advises him about the management of his business as a judge in Israel, to take inferior judges in to his assistance (ver. 13-23), and Moses, after some time, takes his counsel (ver. 24-26), and so they part, ver. 27.


verses 1-6Edit

Jethro's Visit to Moses. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt; 2 Then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back, 3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land: 4 And the name of the other
was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh: 5 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God: 6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.

This incident may very well be allowed to have happened as it is placed here, before the giving of the law, and not, as some place it, in connection with what is recorded, Num. x. 11, 29, &c. Sacrifices were offered before; in these mentioned here (v. 12) it is observable that Jethro is said to take them, not Aaron. And as to Jethro's advising Moses to constitute judges under him, though it is intimate (v. 13) that the occasion of his giving that advice was on the morrow, yet it does not follow but that Moses's settlement of that affair might be some time after, when the law was given, as it is placed, Deut. i. 9. It is plain that Jethro himself would not have him make this alteration in the government till he had received instructions from God about it (v. 23), which he did not till some time after. Jethro comes,
I. To congratulate the happiness of Israel, and particularly the honour of Moses his son-in-law; and now Jethro thinks himself well paid for all the kindness he had shown to Moses in his distress, and his daughter better matched than he could have expected. Jethro could not but hear what all the country rang of, the glorious appearances of God for his people Israel (v. 1); and he comes to enquire, and inform himself more fully thereof (see Ps. cxi. 2), and to rejoice with them as one that had a true respect both for them and for their God. Though he, as a Midianite, was not to share with them in the promised land, yet he shared with them in the joy of their deliverance. We may thus make the comforts of others our own, by taking pleasure, as God does, in the prosperity of the righteous.
II. To bring Moses's wife and children to him. It seems, he had sent them back, probably from the inn where his wife's aversion to the circumcision of her son had like to have cost him his life (ch. iv. 25); fearing lest they should prove a further hindrance, he sent them home to his father-in-law. He foresaw what discouragements he was likely to meet with in the court of Pharaoh, and therefore would not take any with him in his own family. He was of that tribe that said to his father, I have not known him, when service was to be done for God, Deut. xxxiii. 9. Thus Christ's disciples, when they were to go upon an expedition not much unlike that of Moses, were to forsake wife and children, Matt. xix. 29. But though there might be reason for the separation that was between Moses and his wife for a time, yet they must come together again, as soon as ever they could with any convenience. It is the law of the relation. You husbands, dwell with your wives, 1 Pet. iii. 7. Jethro, we may suppose, was glad of his daughter's company, and fond of her children, yet he would not keep her from her husband, nor them from their father, v. 5, 6. Moses must have his family with him, that while he ruled the church of God he might set a good example of prudence in family-government, 1 Tim. iii. 5. Moses had now a great deal both of honour and care put upon him, and it was fit that his wife should be with him to share with him in both. Notice is taken of the significant names of his two sons. 1. The eldest was called Gershom (v. 3), a stranger, Moses designing thereby, not only a memorial of his own condition, but a memorandum to his son of his condition also: for we are all strangers upon earth, as all our fathers were. Moses had a great uncle almost of the same name, Gershon, a stranger; for though he was born in Canaan (Gen. xlvi. 11), yet even there the patriarchs confessed themselves strangers. 2. The other he called Eliezer (v. 4), My God a help, as we translate it; it looks back to his deliverance from Pharaoh, when he made his escape, after the slaying of the Egyptian; but, if this was (as some think) the son that was circumcised at the inn as he was going, I would rather translate it so as to look forward, which the original will bear, The Lord is my help, and will deliver me from the sword of Pharaoh, which he had reason to expect would be drawn against him when he was going to fetch Israel out of bondage. Note, When we are undertaking any difficult service for God and our generation, it is good for us to encourage ourselves in God as our help: he that has delivered does and will deliver.

verses 7-12Edit


7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of
their welfare; and they came into the tent. 8 And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord , who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. 12 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God.

Observe here, I. The kind greeting that took place between Moses and his father-in-law, v. 7. Though Moses was a prophet of the Lord, a great prophet, and king in Jeshurun, yet he showed a very humble respect to his father-in-law. However God in his providence is pleased to advance us, we must make conscience of giving honour to whom honour is due, and never look with disdain upon our poor relations. Those that stand high in the favour of God are not thereby discharged from the duty they owe to men, nor will that justify them in a stately haughty carriage. Moses went out to meet Jethro, did homage to him, and kissed him. Religion does not destroy good manners. They asked each other of their welfare. Even the kind How-do-you-do's that pass between them are taken notice of, as the expressions and improvements of mutual love and friendship.
II. The narrative that Moses gave his father-in-law of the great things God had done for Israel, v. 8. This was one thing Jethro came for, to know more fully and particularly what he had heard the general report of. Note, Conversation concerning God's wondrous works is profitable conversation; it is good, and to the use of edifying, Ps. cv. 2. Compare Ps. cxlv. 11, 12. Asking and telling news, and discoursing of it, are not only an allowable entertainment of conversation, but are capable of being tuned to a very good account, by taking notice of God's providence, and the operations and tendencies of that providence, in all occurrences.
III. The impressions this narrative made upon Jethro. 1. He congratulated God's Israel: Jethro rejoiced, v. 9. He not only rejoiced in the honour done to his son-in-law, but in all the goodness done to Israel, v. 9. Note, Public blessings are the joy of public spirits. While the Israelites were themselves murmuring, notwithstanding all God's goodness to them, here was a Midianite rejoicing. This was not the only time that the faith of the Gentiles shamed the unbelief of the Jews; see Matt. viii. 10. Standers-by were more affected with the favours God had shown to Israel than those were that received them. 2. He gave the glory to Israel's God (v. 10): " Blessed be Jehovah" (for by that name he is now known), " who hath delivered you, Moses and Aaron, out of the hand of Pharaoh, so that though he designed your death he could not effect it, and by your ministry has delivered the people." Note, Whatever we have the joy of God must have the praise of. 3. His faith was hereby confirmed, and he took this occasion to make a solemn profession of it: Now know I that Jehovah is greater than all gods, v. 11. Observe, (1.) The matter of his faith: that the God of Israel is greater than all pretenders, all false and counterfeit-deities, that usurp divine honours; he silences them, subdues them, and is too hard for them all, and therefore is himself the only living and true God. He is also higher than all princes and potentates (who are called gods), and has both an incontestable authority over them and an irresistible power to control and over-rule them; he manages them all as he pleases, and gets honour upon them, how great soever they are. (2.) The confirmation and improvement of his faith: Now know I; he knew it before, but now he knew it better; his faith great up to a full assurance, upon this fresh evidence. Those obstinately shut their eyes against the clearest light who do not know that the Lord is greater than all gods. (3.) The ground and reason upon which he built it: For wherein they dealt proudly, the magicians, and the idols which the Egyptians worshipped, or Pharaoh and his grandees (they both opposed God and set up in competition with him), he was above them. The magicians were baffled, the idols shaken, Pharaoh humbled, his powers broken, and, in spite of all their confederacies, God's Israel was rescued out of their hands. Note, Sooner or later, God will show himself above those that by their proud dealings contest with him. He that exalts himself against God shall be abased.
IV. The expressions of their joy and thankfulness. They had communion with each other both in a feast and in a sacrifice, v. 12. Jethro, being hearty in Israel's interests, was cheerfully admitted though a Midianite, into fellowship with Moses and the elders of Israel, forasmuch as he also was a son of Abraham, though of a younger house. 1. They joined in a sacrifice of thanksgiving: Jethro took burnt offerings for God, and probably offered them himself, for he was a priest in Midian, and a worshipper of the true God, and the priesthood was not yet settled in Israel. Note, Mutual friendship is sanctified by joint-worship. It is a very good thing for relations and friends, when they come together, to join in the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, as those that meet in Christ the centre of unity. 2. They joined in a feast of rejoicing, a feast upon the sacrifice. Moses, upon this occasion, invited his relations and friends to an entertainment in his own tent, a laudable usage among friends, and which Christ himself, not only warranted, but recommended, by his acceptance of such invitations. This was a temperate feast: They did eat bread; this bread, we may suppose, was manna. Jethro must see and taste that bread from heaven, and, though a Gentile, is as welcome to it as any Israelite; the Gentiles still are so to Christ the bread of life. It was a feast kept after a godly sort: They did eat bread before God, soberly, thankfully, in the fear of God; and their table-talk was such as became saints. Thus we must eat and drink to the glory of God, behaving ourselves at our tables as those who believe that God's eye is upon us.

verses 13-27Edit

Jethro's Advice to Moses. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: 16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest
is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing
is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: 20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place
such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be,
that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.

Here is, I. The great zeal and industry of Moses as a magistrate.
1. Having been employed to redeem Israel out of the house of bondage, herein he is a further type of Christ, that he is employed as a lawgiver and a judge among them. (1.) He was to answer enquiries, to acquaint them with the will of God in doubtful cases, and to explain the laws of God that were already given them, concerning the sabbath, the man, &c., beside the laws of nature, relating both to piety and equity, v. 15. They came to enquire of God; and happy it was for them that they had such an oracle to consult: we are ready to wish, many a time, that we had some such certain way of knowing God's mind when we are at a loss what to do. Moses was faithful both to him that appointed him and to those that consulted him, and made them know the statutes of God and his laws, v. 16. His business was, not to make laws, but to make known God's laws; his place was but that of a servant. (2.) He was to decide controversies, and determine matters in variance, judging between a man and his fellow, v. 16. And, if the people were as quarrelsome one with another as they were with God, no doubt he had a great many causes brought before him, and the more because their trials put them to no expense, nor was the law costly to them. When a quarrel happened in Egypt, and Moses would have reconciled the contenders, they asked, Who made thee a prince and a judge? But now it was past dispute that God had made him one; and they humbly attend him whom they had then proudly rejected.
2. Such was the business Moses was called to, and it appears that he did it, (1.) With great consideration, which, some think, is intimated in his posture: he sat to judge (v. 13), composed and sedate. (2.) With great condescension to the people, who stood by him, v. 14. He was very easy of access; the meanest Israelite was welcome himself to bring his cause before him. (3.) With great constancy and closeness of application. [1.] Though Jethro, his father-in-law, was with him, which might have given him a good pretence for a vacation (he might have adjourned the court for that day, or at least have shortened it), yet he sat, even the next day after his coming, from morning till evening. Note, Necessary business must always take place of ceremonious attentions. It is too great a compliment to our friends to prefer the enjoyment of their company before our duty to God, which ought to be done, while yet the other is not left undone. [2.] Though Moses was advanced to great honour, yet he did not therefore take his case and throw upon others the burden of care and business; no, he thought his preferment, instead of discharging him from service, made it more obligatory upon him. Those think of themselves above what is meet who think it below them to do good. It is the honour even of angels themselves to be serviceable. [3.] Though the people had been provoking to him, and were ready to stone him (ch. xvii. 4), yet still he made himself the servant of all. Note, Though others fail in their duty to us, yet we must not therefore neglect ours to them. [4.] Though he was an old man, yet he kept to his business from morning to night, and made it his meat and drink to do it. God had given him great strength both of body and mind, which enabled him to go through a great deal of work with ease and pleasure; and, for the encouragement of others to spend and be spent in the service of God, it proved that after all his labours his natural force was not diminished. Those that wait on the Lord and his service shall renew their strength.
II. The great prudence and consideration of Jethro as a friend.
1. He disliked the method that Moses took, and was so free with him as to tell him so, v. 14, 17, 18. He thought it was too much business for Moses to undertake alone, that it would be a prejudice to his health and too great a fatigue to him, and also that it would make the administration of justice tiresome to the people; and therefore he tells him plainly, It is not good. Note, There may be over-doing even in well-doing, and therefore our zeal must always be governed by discretion, that our good may not be evil spoken of. Wisdom is profitable to direct, that we may neither content ourselves with less than our duty nor over-task ourselves with that which is beyond our strength.
2. He advised him to such a model of government as would better answer the intention, which was, (1.) That he should reserve to himself all applications to God (v. 19): Be thou for them to God-ward; that was an honour in which it was not fit any other should share with him, Num. xii. 6-8. Also whatever concerned the whole congregation in general must pass through his hand, v. 20. But, (2.) That he should appoint judges in the several tribes and families, who should try causes between man and man, and determine them, which would be done with less noise, and more despatch, than in the general assembly wherein Moses himself presided. Thus they must be governed as a nation by a king as supreme, and inferior magistrates sent and commissioned by him, 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. Thus many hands would make light work, causes would be sooner heard, and the people eased by having justice thus brought to their tent-doors. Yet, (3.) An appeal might lie, if there were just cause for it, from these inferior courts to Moses himself; at least if the judges were themselves at a loss: Every great matter they shall bring unto thee, v. 22. Thus that great man would be the more serviceable by being employed only in great matters. Note, Those whose gifts and stations are most eminent may yet be greatly furthered in their work by the assistance of those that are every way their inferiors, whom therefore they should not despise. The head has need of the hands and feet, 1 Cor. xii. 21. Great men should not only study to be useful themselves, but contrive how to make others useful, according as their capacity is. Such is Jethro's advice, by which it appears that though Moses excelled him in prophecy he excelled Moses in politics; yet,
3. He adds two qualifications to his counsel:—(1.) That great care should be taken in the choice of the persons who should be admitted into this trust (v. 21); they must be able men, &c. It was requisite that they should be men of the very best character, [1.] For judgment and resolution— able men, men of good sense, that understood business, and bold men, that would not be daunted by frowns or clamours. Clear heads and stout hearts make good judges. [2.] For piety and religion— such as fear God, as believe there is a God above them, whose eye is upon them, to whom they are accountable, and of whose judgment they stand in awe. Conscientious men, that dare not do a base thing, though they could do it ever so secretly and securely. The fear of God is that principle which will best fortify a man against all temptations to injustice, Neh. v. 15; Gen. xlii. 18. [3.] For integrity and honesty— men of truth, whose word one may take, and whose fidelity one may rely upon, who would not for a world tell a lie, betray a trust, or act an insidious part. [4.] For noble and generous contempt of worldly wealth— hating covetousness, not only not seeking bribes nor aiming to enrich themselves, but abhorring the thought of it; he is fit to be a magistrate, and he alone, who despiseth the gain of oppressions, and shaketh his hands from the holding of bribes, Isa. xxxiii. 15. (2.) That he should attend God's direction in the case (v. 23): If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so. Jethro knew that Moses had a better counsellor than he was, and to his counsel he refers him. Note, Advice must be given with a humble submission to the word and providence of God, which must always overrule.
Now Moses did not despise this advice because it came from one not acquainted, as he was, with the words of God and the visions of the Almighty; but he hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, v. 24. When he came to consider the thing, he saw the reasonableness of what his father-in-law proposed and resolved to put it in practice, which he did soon afterwards, when he had received directions from God in the matter. Note, Those are not so wise as they would be thought to be who think themselves too wise to be counselled; for a wise man (one who is truly so) will hear, and will increase learning, and not slight good counsel, though given by an inferior. Moses did not leave the election of the magistrates to the people, who had already done enough to prove themselves unfit for such a trust; but he chose them, and appointed them, some for greater, others for less division, the less probably subordinate to the greater. We have reason to value government as a very great mercy, and to thank God for laws and magistrates, so that we are not like the fishes of the sea, where the greater devour the less.
III. Jethro's return to his own land, v. 27. No doubt he took home with him the improvements he had made in the knowledge of God, and communicated them to his neighbours for their instruction. It is supposed that the Kenites (mentioned in 1 Sam. xv. 6) were the posterity of Jethro (compare Judg. i. 16), and they are there taken under special protection, for the kindness their ancestor here showed to Israel. The good-will shown to God's people, even in the smallest instances, shall in no wise lose its reward, but shall be recompensed, at furthest, in the resurrection.

CHAP. 19.Edit


This chapter introduces the solemnity of the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai, which was one of the most striking appearances of the divine glory that ever was in this lower world. We have here, I. The circumstances of time and place,

ver. 1, 2. II. The covenant between God and Israel settled in general. The gracious proposal God made to them (ver. 3-6), and their consent to the proposal, ver. 7, 8. III. Notice given three days before of God's design to give the law out of a thick cloud, ver. 9. Orders given to prepare the people to receive the law (ver. 10-13), and care taken to execute those orders, ver. 14, 15. IV. A terrible appearance of God's glory upon mount Sinai, ver. 16-20. V. Silence proclaimed, and strict charges given to the people to observe decorum while God spoke to them, ver. 21, &c.

verses 1-8Edit

The Covenant of Sinai. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and the
Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. 7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the
Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord .
Here is, I. The date of that great charter by which Israel was incorporated. 1. The time when it bears date (v. 1)— in the third month after they came out of Egypt. It is computed that the law was given just fifty days after their coming out of Egypt, in remembrance of which the feast of Pentecost was observed the fiftieth day after the passover, and in compliance with which the Spirit was poured out upon the apostles at the feast of pentecost, fifty days after the death of Christ. In Egypt they had spoken of a three days' journey into the wilderness to the place of their sacrifice (ch. v. 3), but it proved to be almost a two months' journey; so often are we out in the calculation of times, and things prove longer in the doing than we expected. 2. The place whence it bears date—from Mount Sinai, a place which nature, not art, had made eminent and conspicuous, for it was the highest in all that range of mountains. Thus God put contempt upon cities, and palaces, and magnificent structures, setting up his pavilion on the top of a high mountain, in a waste and barren desert, there to carry on this treaty. It is called Sinai, from the multitude of thorny bushes that overspread it.
II. The charter itself. Moses was called up the mountain (on the top of which God had pitched his tent, and at the foot of which Israel had pitched theirs), and was employed as the mediator, or rather no more than the messenger of the covenant: Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel, v. 3. Here the learned bishop Patrick observes that the people are called by the names both of Jacob and Israel, to remind them that those who had lately been as low as Jacob when he went to Padan-aram had now grown as great as God made him when he came thence (justly enriched with the spoils of him that had oppressed him) and was called Israel. Now observe, 1. That the maker, and first mover, of the covenant, is God himself. Nothing was said nor done by this stupid unthinking people themselves towards this settlement; no motion made, no petition put up for God's favour, but this blessed charter was granted ex mero motu—purely out of God's own good-will. Note, In all our dealings with God, free grace anticipates us with the blessings of goodness, and all our comfort is owing, not to our knowing God, but rather to our being known of him, Gal. iv. 9. We love him, visit him, and covenant with him, because he first loved us, visited us, and covenanted with us. God is the Alpha, and therefore must be the Omega. 2. That the matter of the covenant is not only just and unexceptionable, and such as puts no hardship upon them, but kind and gracious, and such as gives them the greatest privileges and advantages imaginable. (1.) He reminds them of what he had done for them, v. 4. He had righted them, and avenged them upon their persecutors and oppressors: " You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, how many lives were sacrificed to Israel's honour and interests:" He had given them unparalleled instances of his favour to them, and his care of them: I bore you on eagles' wings, a high expression of the wonderful tenderness God had shown for them. It is explained, Deut. xxxii. 11, 12. It denotes great speed. God not only came upon the wing for their deliverance (when the set time was come, he rode on a cherub, and did fly), but he hastened them out, as it were, upon the wing. He did it also with great ease, with the strength as well as with the swiftness of an eagle: those that faint not, nor are weary, are said to mount up with wings as eagles, Isa. xl. 31. Especially, it denotes God's particular care of them and affection to them. Even Egypt, that iron furnace, was the nest in which these young ones were hatched, where they were first formed as the embryo of a nation; when, by the increase of their numbers, they grew to some maturity, they were carried out of that nest. Other birds carry their young in their talons, but the eagle (they say) upon her wings, so that even those archers who shoot flying cannot hurt the young ones, unless they first shoot through the old one. Thus, in the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud and fire, the token of God's presence, interposed itself between the Israelites and their pursuers (lines of defence which could not be forced, a wall which could not be penetrated): yet this was not all; their way so paved, so guarded, was glorious, but their end much more so: I brought you unto myself. They were brought not only into a state of liberty and honour, but into covenant and communion with God. This, this was the glory of their deliverance, as it is of ours by Christ, that he died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. This God aims at in all the gracious methods of his providence and grace, to bring us back to himself, from whom we have revolted, and to bring us home to himself, in whom alone we can be happy. He appeals to themselves, and their own observation and experience, for the truth of what is here insisted on: You have seen what I did; so that they could not disbelieve God, unless they would first disbelieve their own eyes. They saw how all that was done was purely the Lord's doing. It was not they that reached towards God, but it was he that brought them to himself. Some have well observed that the Old-Testament church is said to be borne upon eagles' wings, denoting the power of that dispensation, which was carried on with a high hand an out-stretched arm; but the New-Testament church is said to be gathered by the Lord Jesus, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings (Matt. xxiii. 37), denoting the grace and compassion of that dispensation, and the admirable condescension and humiliation of the Redeemer. (2.) He tells them plainly what he expected and required from them in one word, obedience (v. 5), that they should obey his voice indeed and keep his covenant. Being thus saved by him, that which he insisted upon was that they should be ruled by him. The reasonableness of this demand is, long after, pleaded with them, that in the day he brought them out of the land of Egypt this was the condition of the covenant, Obey my voice (Jer. vii. 23); and this he is said to protest earnestly to them, Jer. xi. 4, 7. Only obey indeed, not in profession and promise only, not in pretence, but in sincerity. God had shown them real favours, and therefore required real obedience. (3.) He assures them of the honour he would put upon them, and the kindness he would show them, in case they did thus keep his covenant (v. 5, 6): Then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me. He does not specify any one particular favour, as giving them the land of Canaan, or the like, but expresses it in that which was inclusive of all happiness, that he would be to them a God in covenant, and they should be to him a people. [1.] God here asserts his sovereignty over, and propriety in, the whole visible creation: All the earth is mine. Therefore he needed them not; he that had so vast a dominion was great enough, and happy enough, without concerning himself for so small a demesne as Israel was. All nations on the earth being his, he might choose which he pleased for his peculiar, and act in a way of sovereignty. [2.] He appropriates Israel to himself, First, As a people dear unto him. You shall be a peculiar treasure; not that God was enriched by them, as a man is by his treasure, but he was pleased to value and esteem them as a man does his treasure; they were precious in his sight and honourable (Isa. xliii. 4); he set his love upon them (Deut. vii. 7), took them under his special care and protection, as a treasure that is kept under lock and key. He looked upon the rest of the world but as trash and lumber in comparison with them. By giving them divine revelation, instituted ordinances, and promises inclusive of eternal life, by sending his prophets among them, and pouring out his Spirit upon them, he distinguished them from, and dignified them above, all people. And this honour have all the saints; they are unto God a peculiar people (Tit. ii. 14), his when he makes up his jewels. Secondly, As a people devoted to him, to his honour and service (v. 6), a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. All the Israelites, if compared with other people, were priests unto God, so near were they to him (Ps. cxlviii. 14), so much employed in his immediate service, and such intimate communion they had with him. When they were first made a free people it was that they might sacrifice to the Lord their God, as priests; they were under God's immediate government, and the tendency of the laws given them was to distinguish them from others, and engage them for God as a holy nation. Thus all believers are, through Christ, made to our God kings and priests (Rev. i. 6), a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, 1 Pet. ii. 9.
III. Israel's acceptance of this charter, and consent to the conditions of it. 1. Moses faithfully delivered God's message to them (v. 7): He laid before their faces all those words; he not only explained to them what God had given him in charge, but he put it to their choice whether they would accept these promises upon these terms or no. His laying it to their faces denotes his laying it to their consciences. 2. They readily agreed to the covenant proposed. They would oblige themselves to obey the voice of God, and take it as a great favour to be made a kingdom of priests to him. They answered together as one man, nemine contradicente—without a dissentient voice (v. 8): All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. Thus they strike the bargain, accepting the Lord to be to them a God, and giving up themselves to be to him a people. O that there had been such a heart in them! 3. Moses, as a mediator, returned the words of the people to God, v. 8. Thus Christ, the Mediator between us and God, as a prophet reveals God's will to us, his precepts and promises, and then as a priest offers up to God our spiritual sacrifices, not only of prayer and praise, but of devout affections and pious resolutions, the work of his own Spirit in us. Thus he is that blessed days-man who lays his hand upon us both.

verses 9-15Edit

The Approach of God Announced. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


9 And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord . 10 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, 11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai. 12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. 14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.

Here, I. God intimates to Moses his purpose of coming down upon Mount Sinai, in some visible appearance of his glory, in a thick cloud (v. 9); for he said that he would dwell in the thick darkness (2 Chron. vi. 1), and make this his pavilion (Ps. xviii. 11), holding back the face of his throne when he set it upon Mount Sinai, and spreading a cloud upon it, Job xxvi. 9. This thick cloud was to prohibit curious enquiries into things secret, and to command an awful adoration of that which was revealed. God would come down in the sight of all the people (v. 11); though they should see no manner of similitude, yet they should see so much as would convince them that God was among them of a truth. And so high was the top of Mount Sinai that it is supposed that not only the camp of Israel, but even the countries about, might discern some extraordinary appearance of glory upon it, which would strike a terror upon them. It seems also to have been particularly intended to put an honour upon Moses: That they may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever, v. 9. Thus the correspondence was to be first settled by a sensible appearance of the divine glory, which was afterwards to be carried on more silently by the ministry of Moses. In like manner, the Holy Ghost descended visibly upon Christ at his baptism, and all that were present heard God speak to him (Matt. iii. 17), that afterwards, without the repetition of such visible tokens, they might believe him. So likewise the Spirit descended in cloven tongues upon the apostles (Acts ii. 3), that they might be believed. Observe, When the people had declared themselves willing to obey the voice of God, then God promised they should hear his voice; for, if any man be resolved to do his will, he shall know it, John vii. 17.
II. He orders Moses to make preparation for this great solemnity, giving him two days' time for it.
1. He must sanctify the people (v. 10), as Job, before this, sent and sanctified his sons, Job i. 5. He must raise their expectation by giving them notice what God would do, and assist their preparation by directing them what they must do. " Sanctify them," that is, "Call them off from their worldly business, and call them to religious exercises, meditation and prayer, that they may receive the law from God's mouth with reverence and devotion. Let them be ready," v. 11. Note, When we are to attend upon God in solemn ordinances it concerns us to sanctify ourselves, and to get ready beforehand. Wandering thoughts must be gathered in, impure affections abandoned, disquieting passions suppressed, nay, and all cares about secular business, for the present, dismissed and laid by, that our hearts may be engaged to approach unto God. Two things particularly prescribed as signs and instances of their preparation:—(1.) In token of their cleansing themselves from all sinful pollutions, that they might be holy to God, they must wash their clothes (v. 10), and they did so (v. 14); not that God regards our clothes; but while they were washing their clothes he would have them think of washing their souls by repentance from the sins they had contracted in Egypt and since their deliverance. It becomes us to appear in clean clothes when we wait upon great men; so clean hearts are required in our attendance on the great God, who sees them as plainly as men see our clothes. This is absolutely necessary to our acceptably worshipping God. See Ps. xxvi. 6; Isa. i. 16-18; Heb. x. 22. (2.) In token of their devoting themselves entirely to religious exercises, upon this occasion, they must abstain even from lawful enjoyments during these three days, and not come at their wives, v. 15. See 1 Cor. vii. 5.
2. He must set bounds about the mountain, v. 12, 13. Probably he drew a line, or ditch, round at the foot of the hill, which none were to pass upon pain of death. This was to intimate, (1.) That humble awful reverence which ought to possess the minds of all those that worship God. We are mean creatures before a great Creator, vile sinners before a holy righteous Judge; and therefore a godly fear and shame well become us, Heb. xii. 28; Ps. ii. 11. (2.) The distance at which worshippers were kept, under that dispensation, which we ought to take notice of, that we may the more value our privilege under the gospel, having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Heb. x. 19.
3. He must order the people to attend upon the summons that should be given (v. 13): " When the trumpet soundeth long then let them take their places at the foot of the mount, and so sit down at God's feet," as it is explained, Deut. xxxiii. 3. Never was so great a congregation called together, and preached to, at once, as this was here. No one man's voice could have reached so many, but the voice of God did.

verses 16-25Edit

The Divine Presence on Mount Sinai. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18 And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses
up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. 21 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord , sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them. 23 And Moses said unto the Lord , The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. 24 And the Lord said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the Lord , lest he break forth upon them. 25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.

Now, at length, comes that memorable day, that terrible day of the Lord, that day of judgment, in which Israel heard the voice of the Lord God speaking to them out of the midst of the fire, and lived, Deut. iv. 33. Never was there such a sermon preached, before nor since, as this which was here preached to the church in the wilderness. For,
I. The preacher was God himself (v. 18): The Lord descended in fire, and (v. 20), The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai. The shechinah, or glory of the Lord, appeared in the sight of all the people; he shone forth from mount Paran with ten thousands of his saints (Deut. xxxiii. 2), that is, attended, as the divine Majesty always is, by a multitude of the holy angels, who were both to grace the solemnity and to assist at it. Hence the law is said to be given by the disposition of angels, Acts vii. 53.
II. The pulpit (or throne rather) was mount Sinai, hung with a thick cloud (v. 16), covered with smoke (v. 18), and made to quake greatly. Now it was that the earth trembled at the presence of the Lord, and the mountains skipped like rams (Ps. cxiv. 4, 7), that Sinai itself, though rough and rocky, melted from before the Lord God of Israel, Judg. v. 5. Now it was that the mountains saw him, and trembled (Hab. iii. 10), and were witnesses against a hard-hearted unmoved people, whom nothing would influence.
III. The congregation was called together by the sound of a trumpet, exceedingly loud (v. 16), and waxing louder and louder, v. 19. This was done by the ministry of the angels, and we read of trumpets sounded by angels, Rev. viii. 6. It was the sound of the trumpet that made all the people tremble, as those who knew their own guilt, and who had reason to expect that the sound of this trumpet was to them the alarm of war.
IV. Moses brought the hearers to the place of meeting, v. 17. He that had led them out of the bondage of Egypt now led them to receive the law from God's mouth. Public persons are indeed public blessings when they lay out themselves in their places to promote the public worship of God. Moses, at the head of an assembly worshipping God, was as truly great as Moses at the head of an army in the field.
V. The introductions to the service were thunders and lightnings, v. 16. These were designed to strike an awe upon the people, and to raise and engage their attention. Were they asleep? The thunders would awaken them. Were they looking another way? The lightnings would engage them to turn their faces towards him that spoke to them. Thunder and lightning have natural causes, but the scripture directs us in a particular manner to take notice of the power of God, and his terror, in them. Thunder is the voice of God, and lightning the fire of God, proper to engage the senses of sight and hearing, those senses by which we receive so much of our information.
VI. Moses is God's minister, who is spoken to, to command silence, and keep the congregation in order: Moses spoke, v. 19. Some think it was now that he said, I exceedingly fear and quake (Heb. xii. 21); but God stilled his fear by his distinguishing favour to him, in calling him up to the top of the mount (v. 20), by which also he tried his faith and courage. No sooner had Moses got up a little way towards the top of the mount than he was sent down again to keep the people from breaking through to gaze, v. 21. Even the priests or princes, the heads of the houses of their fathers, who officiated for their respective families, and therefore are said to come near to the Lord at other times, must now keep their distance, and conduct themselves with a great deal of caution. Moses pleads that they needed not to have any further orders given them, effectual care being taken already to prevent any intrusions, v. 23. But God, who knew their wilfulness and presumption, and what was now in the hearts of some of them, hastens him down with this in charge, that neither the priests nor the people should offer to force the lines that were set, to come up unto the Lord, but Moses and Aaron on, the men whom God delighted to honour. Observe, 1. What it was that God forbade them—breaking through to gaze; enough was provided to awaken their consciences, but they were not allowed to gratify their vain curiosity. They might see, but not gaze. Some of them, probably, were desirous to see some similitude, that they might know how to make an image of God, which he took care to prevent, for they saw no manner of similitude, Deut. iv. 5. Note, In divine things we must not covet to know more than God would have us know; and he has allowed us as much as is good for us. A desire of forbidden knowledge was the ruin of our first parents. Those that would be wise above what is written, and intrude into those things which they have not seen, need this admonition, that they break not through to gaze. 2. Under what penalty it was forbidden: Lest the Lord break forth upon them (v. 22-24), and many of them perish. Note, (1.) The restraints and warnings of the divine law are all intended for our good, and to keep us out of that danger into which we should otherwise, by our own folly, run ourselves. (2.) It is at our peril if we break the bounds that God has set us, and intrude upon that which he has not allowed us; the Bethshemites and Uzzah paid dearly for their presumption. And, even when we are called to approach God, we must remember that he is in heaven and we upon earth, and therefore it behoves us to exercise reverence and godly fear.

CHAP. 20.Edit


All things being prepared for the solemn promulgation of the divine law, we have, in this chapter, I. The ten commandments, as God himself spoke them upon Mount Sinai

(ver. 1-17), as remarkable a portion of scripture as any in the Old Testament. II. The impressions made upon the people thereby, ver. 18-21. III. Some particular instructions which God gave privately to Moses, to be by him communicated to the people, relating to his worship, ver. 22, &c.

verses 1-11Edit

The Ten Commandments. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day
is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Here is, I. The preface of the law-writer, Moses: God spoke all these words, v. 1. The law of the ten commandments is, 1. A law of God's making. They are enjoined by the infinite eternal Majesty of heaven and earth. And where the word of the King of kings is surely there is power. 2. It is a law of his own speaking. God has many ways of speaking to the children of men (Job xxxiii. 14); once, yea twice—by his Spirit, by conscience, by providences, by his voice, all which we ought carefully to attend to; but he never spoke, at any time, upon any occasion, as he spoke the ten commandments, which therefore we ought to hear with the more earnest heed. They were not only spoken audibly (so he owned the Redeemer by a voice from heaven, Matt. iii. 17), but with a great deal of dreadful pomp. This law God had given to man before (it was written in his heart by nature); but sin had so defaced that writing that it was necessary, in this manner, to revive the knowledge of it.
II. The preface of the Law-maker: I am the Lord thy God, v. 2. Herein, 1. God asserts his own authority to enact this law in general: "I am the Lord who command thee all that follows." 2. He proposes himself as the sole object of that religious worship which is enjoined in the first four of the commandments. They are here bound to obedience by a threefold cord, which, one would think, could not easily be broken. (1.) Because God is the Lord—Jehovah, self-existent, independent, eternal, and the fountain of all being and power; therefore he has an incontestable right to command us. He that gives being may give law; and therefore he is able to bear us out in our obedience, to reward it, and to punish our disobedience. (2.) He was their God, a God in covenant with them, their God by their own consent; and, if they would not keep his commandments, who would? He had laid himself under obligations to them by promise, and therefore might justly lay his obligations on them by precept. Though that covenant of peculiarity is now no more, yet there is another, by virtue of which all that are baptized are taken into relation to him as their God, and are therefore unjust, unfaithful, and very ungrateful, if they obey him not. (3.) He had brought them out of the land of Egypt; therefore they were bound in gratitude to obey him, because he had done them so great a kindness, had brought them out of a grievous slavery into a glorious liberty. They themselves had been eye-witnesses of the great things God had done in order to their deliverance, and could not but have observed that every circumstance of it heightened their obligation. They were now enjoying the blessed fruits of their deliverance, and in expectation of a speedy settlement in Canaan; and could they think any thing too much to do for him that had done so much for them? Nay, by redeeming them, he acquired a further right to rule them; they owed their service to him to whom they owed their freedom, and whose they were by purchase. And thus Christ, having rescued us out of the bondage of sin, is entitled to the best service we can do him, Luke i. 74. Having loosed our bonds, he has bound us to obey him, Ps. cxvi. 16.
III. The law itself. The first four of the ten commandments, which concern our duty to God (commonly called the first table), we have in these verses. It was fit that those should be put first, because man had a Maker to love before he had a neighbour to love; and justice and charity are acceptable acts of obedience to God only when they flow from the principles of piety. It cannot be expected that he should be true to his brother who is false to his God. Now our duty to God is, in one word, to worship him, that is, to give to him the glory due to his name, the inward worship of our affections, the outward worship of solemn address and attendance. This is spoken of as the sum and substance of the everlasting gospel. Rev. xiv. 7, Worship God.
1. The first commandment concerns the object of our worship, Jehovah, and him only (v. 3): Thou shalt have no other gods before me. The Egyptians, and other neighbouring nations, had many gods, the creatures of their own fancy, strange gods, new gods; this law was prefixed because of that transgression, and, Jehovah being the God of Israel, they must entirely cleave to him, and not be for any other, either of their own invention or borrowed from their neighbours. This was the sin they were most in danger of now that the world was so overspread with polytheism, which yet could not be rooted out effectually but by the gospel of Christ. The sin against this commandment which we are most in danger of is giving the glory and honour to any creature which are due to God only. Pride makes a god of self, covetousness makes a god of money, sensuality makes a god of the belly; whatever is esteemed or loved, feared or served, delighted in or depended on, more than God, that (whatever it is) we do in effect make a god of. This prohibition includes a precept which is the foundation of the whole law, that we take the Lord for our God, acknowledge that he is God, accept him for ours, adore him with admiration and humble reverence, and set our affections entirely upon him. In the last words, before me, it is intimated, (1.) That we cannot have any other God but he will certainly know it. There is none besides him but what is before him. Idolaters covet secresy; but shall not God search this out? (2.) That it is very provoking to him; it is a sin that dares him to his face, which he cannot, which he will not, overlook, nor connive at. See Ps. xliv. 20, 21.
2. The second commandment concerns the ordinances of worship, or the way in which God will be worshipped, which it is fit that he himself should have the appointing of. Here is,
(1.) The prohibition: we are here forbidden to worship even the true God by images, v. 4, 5. [1.] The Jews (at least after the captivity) thought themselves forbidden by this commandment to make any image or picture whatsoever. Hence the very images which the Roman armies had in their ensigns are called an abomination to them (Matt. xxiv. 15), especially when they were set up in the holy place. It is certain that it forbids making any image of God (for to whom can we liken him? Isa. xl. 18, 15), or the image of any creature for a religious use. It is called the changing of the truth of God into a lie (Rom. i. 25), for an image is a teacher of lies; it insinuates to us that God has a body, whereas he is an infinite spirit, Hab. ii. 18. It also forbids us to make images of God in our fancies, as if he were a man as we are. Our religious worship must be governed by the power of faith, not by the power of imagination. They must not make such images or pictures as the heathen worshipped, lest they also should be tempted to worship them. Those who would be kept from sin must keep themselves from the occasions of it. [2.] They must not bow down to them occasionally, that is, show any sign of respect or honour to them, much less serve them constantly, by sacrifice or incense, or any other act of religious worship. When they paid their devotion to the true God, they must not have any image before them, for the directing, exciting, or assisting of their devotion. Though the worship was designed to terminate in God, it would not please him if it came to him through an image. The best and most ancient lawgivers among the heathen forbade the setting up of images in their temples. This practice was forbidden in Rome by Numa, a pagan prince; yet commanded in Rome by the pope, a Christian bishop, but, in this, anti-christian. The use of images in the church of Rome, at this day, is so plainly contrary to the letter of this command, and so impossible to be reconciled to it, that in all their catechisms and books of devotion, which they put into the hands of the people, they leave out this commandment, joining the reason of it to the first; and so the third commandment they call the second, the fourth the third, &c.; only, to make up the number ten, they divide the tenth into two. Thus have they committed two great evils, in which they persist, and from which they hate to be reformed; they take away from God's word, and add to his worship.
(2.) The reasons to enforce this prohibition (v. 5, 6), which are, [1.] God's jealousy in the matters of his worship: " I am the Lord Jehovah, and thy God, am a jealous God, especially in things of this nature." This intimates the care he has of his own institutions, his hatred of idolatry and all false worship, his displeasure against idolaters, and that he resents every thing in his worship that looks like, or leads to, idolatry. Jealousy is quicksighted. Idolatry being spiritual adultery, as it is very often represented in scripture, the displeasure of God against it is fitly called jealousy. If God is jealous herein, we should be so, afraid of offering any worship to God otherwise than as he has appointed in his word. [2.] The punishment of idolaters. God looks upon them as haters of him, though they perhaps pretend love to him; he will visit their iniquity, that is, he will very severely punish it, not only as a breach of his law, but as an affront to his majesty, a violation of the covenant, and a blow at the root of all religion. He will visit it upon the children, that is, this being a sin for which churches shall be unchurched and a bill of divorce given them, the children shall be cast out of covenant and communion together with the parents, as with the parents the children were at first taken in. Or he will bring such judgments upon a people as shall be the total ruin of families. If idolaters live to be old, so as to see their children of the third or fourth generation, it shall be the vexation of their eyes, and the breaking of their hearts, to see them fall by the sword, carried captive, and enslaved. Nor is it an unrighteous thing with God (if the parents died in their iniquity, and the children tread in their steps, and keep up false worships, because they received them by tradition from their fathers), when the measure is full, and God comes by his judgments to reckon with them, to bring into the account the idolatries their fathers were guilty of. Though he bear long with an idolatrous people, he will not bear always, but by the fourth generation, at furthest, he will begin to visit. Children are dear to their parents; therefore, to deter men from idolatry, and to show how much God is displeased with it, not only a brand of infamy is by it entailed upon families, but the judgments of God may for it be executed upon the poor children when the parents are dead and gone. [3.] The favour God would show to his faithful worshippers: Keeping mercy for thousands of persons, thousands of generations of those that love me, and keep my commandments. This intimates that the second commandment, though, in the letter of it, it is only a prohibition of false worships, yet includes a precept of worshipping God in all those ordinances which he has instituted. As the first commandment requires the inward worship of love, desire, joy, hope, and admiration, so the second requires the outward worship of prayer and praise, and solemn attendance on God's word. Note, First, Those that truly love God will make it their constant care and endeavour to keep his commandments, particularly those that relate to his worship. Those that love God, and keep those commandments, shall receive grace to keep his other commandments. Gospel worship will have a good influence upon all manner of gospel obedience. Secondly, God has mercy in store for such. Even they need mercy, and cannot plead merit; and mercy they shall find with God, merciful protection in their obedience and a merciful recompence of it. Thirdly, This mercy shall extend to thousands, much further than the wrath threatened to those that hate him, for that reaches but to the third or fourth generation. The streams of mercy run now as full, as free, and as fresh, as ever.
3. The third commandment concerns the manner of our worship, that it be done with all possible reverence and seriousness, v. 7. We have here,
(1.) A strict prohibition: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. It is supposed that, having taken Jehovah for their God, they would make mention of his name (for thus all people will walk every one in the name of his god); this command gives a needful caution not to mention it in vain, and it is still as needful as ever. We take God's name in vain, [1.] By hypocrisy, making a profession of God's name, but not living up to that profession. Those that name the name of Christ, but do not depart from iniquity, as that name binds them to do, name it in vain; their worship is vain (Matt. xv. 7-9), their oblations are vain (Isa. i. 11, 13), their religion is vain, Jam. i. 26. [2.] By covenant-breaking; if we make promises to God, binding our souls with those bonds to that which is good, and yet perform not to the Lord our vows, we take his name in vain (Matt. v. 33), it is folly, and God has no pleasure in fools (Eccl. v. 4), nor will he be mocked, Gal. vi. 7. [3.] By rash swearing, mentioning the name of God, or any of his attributes, in the form of an oath, without any just occasion for it, or due application of mind to it, but as a by-word, to no purpose at all, or to no good purpose. [4.] By false swearing, which, some think, is chiefly intended in the letter of the commandment; so it was expounded by those of old time. Thou shalt not forswear thyself, Matt. v. 33. One part of the religious regard the Jews were taught to pay to their God was to swear by his name, Deut. x. 20. But they affronted him, instead of doing him honour, if they called him to be witness to a lie. [5.] By using the name of God lightly and carelessly, and without any regard to its awful significancy. The profanation of the forms of devotion is forbidden, as well as the profanation of the forms of swearing; as also the profanation of any of those things whereby God makes himself known, his word, or any of his institutions; when they are either turned into charms and spells, or into jest and sport, the name of God is taken in vain.
(2.) A severe penalty: The Lord will not hold him guiltless; magistrates, who punish other offences, may not think themselves concerned to take notice of this, because it does not immediately offer injury either to private property or the public peace; but God, who is jealous for his honour, will not thus connive at it. The sinner may perhaps hold himself guiltless, and think there is no harm in it, and that God will never call him to an account for it. To obviate this suggestion, the threatening is thus expressed, God will not hold him guiltless, as he hopes he will; but more is implied, namely, that God will himself be the avenger of those that take his name in vain, and they will find it a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
4. The fourth commandment concerns the time of worship. God is to be served and honoured daily, but one day in seven is to be particularly dedicated to his honour and spent in his service. Here is,
(1.) The command itself (v. 8): Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy; and (v. 10), In it thou shalt do no manner of work. It is taken for granted that the sabbath was instituted before; we read of God's blessing and sanctifying a seventh day from the beginning (Gen. ii. 3), so that this was not the enacting of a new law, but the reviving of an old law. [1.] They are told what is the day they must religiously observe— a seventh, after six days' labour; whether this was the seventh by computation from the first seventh, or from the day of their coming out of Egypt, or both, is not certain: now the precise day was notified to them (ch. xvi. 23), and from this they were to observe the seventh. [2.] How it must be observed. First, As a day of rest; they were to do no manner of work on this day in their callings or worldly business. Secondly, As a holy day, set apart to the honour of the holy God, and to be spent in holy exercises. God, by blessing it, had made it holy; they, by solemnly blessing him, must keep it holy, and not alienate it to any other purpose than that for which the difference between it and other days was instituted. [3.] Who must observe it: Thou, and thy son, and thy daughter; the wife is not mentioned, because she is supposed to be one with the husband and present with him, and, if he sanctify the sabbath, it is taken for granted that she will join with him; but the rest of the family are specified. Children and servants must keep the sabbath, according to their age and capacity: in this, as in other instances of religion, it is expected that masters of families should take care, not only to serve the Lord themselves, but that their houses also should serve him, at least that it may not be through their neglect if they do not, Josh. xxiv. 15. Even the proselyted strangers must observe a difference between this day and other days, which, if it laid some restraint upon them then, yet proved a happy indication of God's gracious purpose, in process of time, to bring the Gentiles into the church, that they might share in the benefit of sabbaths. Compare Isa. lvi. 6, 7. God takes notice of what we do, particularly what we do on sabbath days, though we should be where we are strangers. [4.] A particular memorandum put upon this duty: Remember it. It is intimated that the sabbath was instituted and observed before; but in their bondage in Egypt they had lost their computation, or were restrained by their task-masters, or, through a great degeneracy and indifference in religion, they had let fall the observance of it, and therefore it was requisite they should be reminded of it. Note, Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect. It also intimates that we are both apt to forget it and concerned to remember it. Some think it denotes the preparation we are to make for the sabbath; we must think of it before it comes, that, when it does come, we may keep it holy, and do the duty of it.
(2.) The reasons of this command. [1.] We have time enough for ourselves in those six days, on the seventh day let us serve God; and time enough to tire ourselves, on the seventh it will be a kindness to us to be obliged to rest. [2.] This is God's day: it is the sabbath of the Lord thy God, not only instituted by him, but consecrated to him. It is sacrilege to alienate it; the sanctification of it is a debt. [3.] It is designed for a memorial of the creation of the world, and therefore to be observed to the glory of the Creator, as an engagement upon ourselves to serve him and an encouragement to us to trust in him who made heaven and earth. By the sanctification of the sabbath, the Jews declared that they worshipped the God that made the world, and so distinguished themselves from all other nations, who worshipped gods which they themselves made. [4.] God has given us an example of rest, after six days' work: he rested the seventh day, took a complacency in himself, and rejoiced in the work of his hand, to teach us, on that day, to take a complacency in him, and to give him the glory of his works, Ps. xcii. 4. The sabbath began in the finishing of the work of creation, so will the everlasting sabbath in the finishing of the work of providence and redemption; and we observe the weekly sabbath in expectation of that, as well as in remembrance of the former, in both conforming ourselves to him we worship. [5.] He has himself blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it. He has put an honour upon it by setting it apart for himself; it is the holy of the Lord and honourable: and he has put blessings into it, which he has encouraged us to expect from him in the religious observance of that day. It is the day which the Lord hath made, let not us do what we can to unmake it. He has blessed, honoured, and sanctified it, let not us profane it, dishonour it, and level that with common time which God's blessing has thus dignified and distinguished.

verses 12-17Edit


12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 13 Thou shalt not kill. 14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15 Thou shalt not steal. 16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

We have here the laws of the second table, as they are commonly called, the last six of the ten commandments, comprehending our duty to ourselves and to one another, and constituting a comment upon the second great commandment, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. As religion towards God is an essential branch of universal righteousness, so righteousness towards men is an essential branch of true religion. Godliness and honesty must go together.
I. The fifth commandment concerns the duties we owe to our relations; those of children to their parents are alone specified: Honour thy father and thy mother, which includes, 1. A decent respect to their persons, an inward esteem of them outwardly expressed upon all occasions in our conduct towards them. Fear them (Lev. xix. 3), give them reverence, Heb. xii. 9. The contrary to this is mocking at them and despising them, Prov. xxx. 17. 2. Obedience to their lawful commands; so it is expounded (Eph. vi. 1-3): " Children, obey your parents, come when they call you, go where they send you, do what they bid you, refrain from what they forbid you; and this, as children, cheerfully, and from a principle of love." Though you have said, "We will not," yet afterwards repent and obey, Matt. xxi. 29. 3. Submission to their rebukes, instructions, and corrections; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward, out of conscience towards God. 4. Disposing of themselves with the advice, direction, and consent, of parents, not alienating their property, but with their approbation. 5. Endeavouring, in every thing, to be the comfort of their parents, and to make their old age easy to them, maintaining them if they stand in need of support, which our Saviour makes to be particularly intended in this commandment, Matt. xv. 4-6. The reason annexed to this commandment is a promise: That thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Having mentioned, in the preface to the commandments, has bringing them out of Egypt as a reason for their obedience, he here, in the beginning of the second table, mentions his bringing them into Canaan, as another reason; that good land they must have upon their thoughts and in their eye, now that they were in the wilderness. They must also remember, when they came to that land, that they were upon their good behaviour, and that, if they did not conduct themselves well, their days should be shortened in that land, both the days of particular persons who should be cut off from it, and the days of their nation which should be removed out of it. But here a long life in that good land is promised particularly to obedient children. Those that do their duty to their parents are most likely to have the comfort of that which their parents gather for them and leave to them; those that support their parents shall find that God, the common Father, will support them. This promise is expounded (Eph. vi. 3), That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Those who, in conscience towards God, keep this and the rest of God's commandments, may be sure that it shall be well with them, and that they shall live as long on earth as Infinite Wisdom sees good for them, and that what they may seem to be cut short of on earth shall be abundantly made up in eternal life, the heavenly Canaan which God will give them.
II. The sixth commandment concerns our own and our neighbour's life (v. 13): " Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not do any thing hurtful or injurious to the health, ease, and life, of thy own body, or any other person's unjustly." This is one of the laws of nature, and was strongly enforced by the precepts given to Noah and his sons, Gen. ix. 5, 6. It does not forbid killing in lawful war, or in our own necessary defence, nor the magistrate's putting offenders to death, for those things tend to the preserving of life; but it forbids all malice and hatred to the person of any (for he that hateth his brother is a murderer), and all personal revenge arising therefrom; also all rash anger upon sudden provocations, and hurt said or done, or aimed to be done, in passion: of this our Saviour expounds this commandment, Matt. v. 22. And, as that which is worst of all, it forbids persecution, laying wait for the blood of the innocent and excellent ones of the earth.
III. The seventh commandment concerns our own and our neighbour's chastity: Thou shalt not commit adultery, v. 14. This is put before the sixth by our Saviour (Mark. x. 19): Do not commit adultery, do not kill; for our chastity should be as dear to us as our lives, and we should be as much afraid of that which defiles the body as of that which destroys it. This commandment forbids all acts of uncleanness, with all those fleshly lusts which produce those acts and war against the soul, and all those practices which cherish and excite those fleshly lusts, as looking, in order to lust, which, Christ tells us, is forbidden in this commandment, Matt. v. 28.
IV. The eighth commandment concerns our own and our neighbour's wealth, estate, and goods: Thou shalt not steal, v. 15. Though God had lately allowed and appointed them to spoil the Egyptians in a way of just reprisal, yet he did not intend that it should be drawn into a precedent and that they should be allowed thus to spoil one another. This command forbids us to rob ourselves of what we have by sinful spending, or of the use and comfort of it by sinful sparing, and to rob others by removing the ancient landmarks, invading our neighbour's rights, taking his goods from his person, or house, or field, forcibly or clandestinely, over-reaching in bargains, nor restoring what is borrowed or found, withholding just debts, rents, or wages, and (which is worst of all) to rob the public in the coin or revenue, or that which is dedicated to the service of religion.
V. The ninth commandment concerns our own and our neighbour's good name: Thou shalt not bear false witness, v. 16. This forbids, 1. Speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbour. 2. Speaking unjustly against our neighbour, to the prejudice of his reputation; and (which involves the guilty of both), 3. Bearing false witness against him, laying to his charge things that he knows not, either judicially, upon oath (by which the third commandment, and the sixth of eighth, as well as this, are broken), or extrajudicially, in common converse, slandering, backbiting, tale-bearing, aggravating what is done amiss and making it worse than it is, and any way endeavouring to raise our own reputation upon the ruin of our neighbour's.
VI. The tenth commandment strikes at the root: Thou shalt not covet, v. 17. The foregoing commands implicitly forbid all desire of doing that which will be an injury to our neighbour; this forbids all inordinate desire of having that which will be a gratification to ourselves. "O that such a man's house were mine! Such a man's wife mine! Such a man's estate mine!" This is certainly the language of discontent at our own lot, and envy at our neighbour's; and these are the sins principally forbidden here. St. Paul, when the grace of God caused the scales to fall from his eyes, perceived that this law, Thou shalt not covet, forbade all those irregular appetites and desires which are the first-born of the corrupt nature, the first risings of the sin that dwelleth in us, and the beginnings of all the sin that is committed by us: this is that lust which, he says, he had not known the evil of, if this commandment, when it came to his conscience in the power of it, had not shown it to him, Rom. vii. 7. God give us all to see our face in the glass of this law, and to lay our hearts under the government of it!

verses 18-21Edit

Terror with Which the Law Was Given. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God
was.
I. The extraordinary terror with which the law was given. Never was any thing delivered with such awful pomp; every word was accented, and every sentence paused, with thunder and lightning, much louder and brighter, no doubt, than ordinary. And why was the law given in this dreadful manner, and with all this tremendous ceremony? 1. It was designed (once for all) to give a sensible discovery of the glorious majesty of God, for the assistance of our faith concerning it, that, knowing the terror of the Lord, we may be persuaded to live in his fear. 2. It was a specimen of the terrors of the general judgment, in which sinners will be called to an account for the breach of this law: the archangel's trumpet will then sound an alarm, to give notice of the Judge's coming, and a fire shall devour before him. 3. It was an indication of the terror of those convictions which the law brings into conscience, to prepare the soul for the comforts of the gospel. Thus was the law given by Moses in such a way as might startle, affright, and humble men, that the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ might be the more welcome. The apostle largely describes this instance of the terror of that dispensation, as a foil to set off our privileges, as Christians, in the light, liberty, and joy, of the New-Testament dispensation, Heb. xii. 18, &c.
II. The impression which this made, for the present, upon the people; they must have had stupid hearts indeed, if this had not affected them. 1. They removed, and stood afar off, v. 18. Before God began to speak, they were thrusting forward to gaze (ch. xix. 21); but now they were effectually cured of their presumption, and taught to keep their distance. 2. They entreated that the word should not be so spoken to them any more (Heb. xii. 19), but begged that God would speak to them by Moses, v. 19. Hereby they obliged themselves to acquiesce in the mediation of Moses, they themselves nominating him as a fit person to deal between them and God, and promising to hearken to him as to God's messenger; hereby also they teach us to acquiesce in that method which Infinite Wisdom takes, of speaking to us by men like ourselves, whose terror shall not make us afraid, nor their hand be heavy upon us. Once God tried the expedient of speaking to the children of men immediately, but it was found that they could not bear it; it rather drove men from God than brought them to him, and, as it proved in the issue, though it terrified them, it did not deter them from idolatry, for soon after this they worshipped the golden calf. Let us therefore rest satisfied with the instructions given us by the scriptures and the ministry; for, if we believe not them, neither should we be persuaded though God should speak to us in thunder and lightning, as he did from Mount Sinai: here that matter was determined.
III. The encouragement Moses gave them, by explaining the design of God in his terror (v. 20): Fear not, that is, "Think not that the thunder and fire are designed to consume you," which was the thing they feared (v. 19, lest we die); thunder and lightning constituted one of the plagues of Egypt, but Moses would not have them think they were sent to them on the same errand on which they were sent to the Egyptians: no, they were intended, 1. To prove them, to try how they would like dealing with God immediately, without a mediator, and so to convince them how admirably well God had chosen for them, in putting Moses into that office. Ever since Adam fled, upon hearing God's voice in the garden, sinful man could not bear either to speak to God or hear from him immediately. 2. To keep them to their duty, and prevent their sinning against God. He encourages them, saying, Fear not, and yet tells them that God thus spoke to them, that his fear might be before their face. We must not fear with amazement—with that fear which has torment, which only works upon the fancy for the present, sets us a trembling, genders to bondage, betrays us to Satan, and alienates us from God; but we must always have in our minds a reverence of God's majesty, a dread of his displeasure, and an obedient regard to his sovereign authority over us: this fear will quicken us to our duty and make us circumspect in our walking. Thus stand in awe, and sin not, Ps. iv. 4.
IV. The progress of their communion with God by the mediation of Moses, v. 21. While the people continued to stand afar off, conscious of guilt and afraid of God's wrath, Moses drew near unto the thick darkness; he was made to draw near, so the word is: Moses, of himself, durst not have ventured into the thick darkness, if God had not called him, and encouraged him, and, as some of the rabbies suppose, sent an angel to take him by the hand, and lead him up. Thus it is said of the great Mediator, I will cause him to draw near (Jer. xxx. 21), and by him it is that we also are introduced, Eph. iii. 12.

verses 22-26Edit

The Law Concerning Altars. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


22 And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. 25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. 26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

Moses having gone into the thick darkness, where God was, God there spoke in his hearing only, privately and without terror, all that follows hence to the end of ch. xxiii, which is mostly an exposition of the ten commandments; and he was to transmit it by word of mouth first, and afterwards in writing, to the people. The laws in these verses related to God's worship.
I. They are here forbidden to make images for worship (v. 22, 23): You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven (such was his wonderful condescension, much more than for some mighty prince to talk familiarly with a company of poor beggars); now you shall not make gods of silver.
1. This repetition of the second commandment comes in here, either (1.) As pointing to that which God had chiefly in view in giving them this law in this manner, that is, their peculiar addictedness to idolatry, and the peculiar sinfulness of that crime. Ten commandments God had given them, but Moses is ordered to inculcate upon them especially the first two. They must not forget any of them, but they must be sure to remember those. Or, (2.) As pointing to that which might properly be inferred from God's speaking to them as he had done. He had given them sufficient demonstration of his presence among them; they needed not to make images of him, as if he were absent. Besides, they had only seen that he talked with them; they had seen no manner of similitude, so that they could not make any image of God; and his manifesting himself to them only by a voice plainly showed them that they must not make any such image, but keep up their communion with God by his word, and not otherwise.
2. Two arguments are here hinted against image-worship:—(1.) That thereby they would affront God, intimated in that, You shall not make with me gods. Though they pretended to worship them but as representations of God, yet really they made them rivals with God, which he would not endure. (2.) That thereby they would abuse themselves, intimated in that, " You shall not make unto you gods; while you think by them to assist your devotion, you will really corrupt it, and put a cheat upon yourselves." At first, it should seem, they made their images for worship of gold and silver, pretending, by the richness of those metals, to honour God, and, by the brightness of them, to affect themselves with his glory; but, even in these, they changed the truth of God into a lie, and so, by degrees, were justly given up to such strong delusions as to worship images of wood or stone.
II. They are here directed in making altars for worship: it is meant of occasional altars, such as they reared now in the wilderness, before the tabernacle was erected, and afterwards upon special emergencies, for present use, such as Gideon built (Judg. vi. 24), Manoah (Judg. xiii. 19), Samuel (1 Sam. vii. 17), and many others. We may suppose, now that the people of Israel were, with this glorious discovery which God had made of himself to them, that many of them would incline, in this pang of devotion, to offer sacrifice to God; and, it being necessary to a sacrifice that there be an alter, they are here appointed,
1. To make their altars very plain, either of earth or of unhewn stone, v. 24, 25. That they might not be tempted to think of a graven image, they must not so much as hew into shape the stones that they made their altars of, but pile them up as they were, in the rough. This rule being prescribed before the establishment of the ceremonial law, which appointed altars much more costly, intimates that, after the period of that law, plainness should be accepted as the best ornament of the external services of religion, and that gospel-worship should not be performed with external pomp and gaiety. The beauty of holiness needs no paint, nor do those do any service to the spouse of Christ that dress her in the attire of a harlot, as the church of Rome does: an altar of earth does best.
2. To make their altars very low (v. 26), so that they might not go up by steps to them. That the higher the altar was, and the nearer heaven, the more acceptable the sacrifice was, was a foolish fancy of the heathen, who therefore chose high places; in opposition to this, and to show that it is the elevation of the heart, not of the sacrifice, that God looks at, they were here ordered to make their altars low. We may suppose that the altars they reared in the wilderness, and other occasional altars, were designed only for the sacrifice of one beast at a time; but the altar in Solomon's temple, which was to be made much longer and broader, that it might contain many sacrifices at once, was made ten cubits high, that the height might bear a decent proportion to the length and breadth; and to that it was requisite they should go up by steps, which yet, no doubt, were so contrived as to prevent the inconvenience here spoken of, the discovering of their nakedness thereon.
III. They are here assured of God's gracious acceptance of their devotions, wherever they were paid according to his will (v. 24): In all places where I record my name, or where my name is recorded (that is, where I am worshipped in sincerity), I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. Afterwards, God chose one particular place wherein to record his name: but that being taken away now under the gospel, when men are encouraged to pray everywhere, this promise revives in its full extent, that, wherever God's people meet in his name to worship him, he will be in the midst of them, he will honour them with his presence, and reward them with the gifts of his grace; there he will come unto them, and will bless them, and more than this we need not desire for the beautifying of our solemn assemblies.

CHAP. 21.Edit


The laws recorded in this chapter relate to the fifth and sixth commandments; and though they are not accommodated to our constitution, especially in point of servitude, nor are the penalties annexed binding on us, yet they are of great use for the explanation of the moral law, and the rules of natural justice. Here are several enlargements, I. Upon the fifth commandment, which concerns particular relations. 1. The duty of masters towards their servants, their men-servants (ver. 2-6), and the maidservants, ver. 7-11. 2. The punishment of disobedient children that strike their parents (ver. 15), or curse them, ver. 17. II. Upon the sixth commandment, which forbids all violence offered to the person of a man. Here is, 1. Concerning murder, ver. 12-14. 2. Man-stealing, ver. 16. 3. Assault and battery, ver. 18, 19. 4. Correcting a servant, ver. 20, 21. 5. Hurting a woman with child, ver. 22, 23. 6. The law of retaliation, ver. 24, 25. 7. Maiming a servant,

ver. 26, 27. 8. An ox goring, ver. 28-32. 9. Damage by opening a pit, ver. 33, 34. 10. Cattle fighting, ver. 35, 36.

verses 1-11Edit

Judicial Laws. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. 2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. 5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever. 7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. 9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. 10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

The first verse is the general title of the laws contained in this and the two following chapters, some of them relating to the religious worship of God, but most of them relating to matters between man and man. Their government being purely a Theocracy, that which in other states is to be settled by human prudence was directed among them by a divine appointment, so that the constitution of their government was peculiarly adapted to make them happy. These laws are called judgments, because they are framed in infinite wisdom and equity, and because their magistrates were to give judgment according to the people. In the doubtful cases that had hitherto occurred, Moses had particularly enquired of God for them, as appeared, ch. xviii. 15; but now God gave him statutes in general by which to determine particular cases, which likewise he must apply to other like cases that might happen, which, falling under the same reason, fell under the same rule. He begins with the laws concerning servants, commanding mercy and moderation towards them. The Israelites had lately been servants themselves; and now that they had become, not only their own masters, but masters of servants, too, lest they should abuse their servants, as they themselves had been abused and ruled with rigour by the Egyptian task-masters, provision was made by these laws for the mild and gentle usage of servants. Note, If those who have had power over us have been injurious to us this will not in the least excuse us if we be in like manner injurious to those who are under our power, but will rather aggravate our crime, because, in that case, we may the more easily put our souls into their soul's stead. Here is,
I. A law concerning men-servants, sold, either by themselves or their parents, through poverty, or by the judges, for their crimes; even those of the latter sort (if Hebrews) were to continue in slavery but seven years at the most, in which time it was taken for granted that they would sufficiently have smarted for their folly or offence. At the seven years' end the servant should either go out free (v. 2, 3), or his servitude should thenceforward be his choice, v. 5, 6. If he had a wife given him by his master, and children, he might either leave them and go out free himself, or, if he had such a kindness for them that he would rather tarry with them in bondage than go out at liberty without them, he was to have his ear bored through to the doorpost and serve till the death of his master, or the year of jubilee.
1. By this law God taught, (1.) The Hebrew servants generosity, and a noble love of liberty, for they were the Lord's freemen; a mark of disgrace must be put upon him who refused liberty when he might have it, though he refused it upon considerations otherwise laudable enough. Thus Christians, being bought with a price, and called unto liberty, must not be the servants of men, nor of the lusts of men, 1 Cor. vii. 23. There is a free and princely spirit that much helps to uphold a Christian, Ps. li. 12. He likewise taught, (2.) The Hebrew masters not to trample upon their poor servants, knowing, not only that they had been by birth upon a level with them, but that, in a few years, they would be so again. Thus Christian masters must look with respect on believing servants, Philem. 16.
2. This law will be further useful to us, (1.) To illustrate the right God has to the children of believing parents, as such, and the place they have in his church. They are by baptism enrolled among his servants, because they are born in his house, for they are therefore born unto him, Ezek. xvi. 20. David owns himself God's servant, as he was the son of his handmaid (Ps. cxvi. 16), and therefore entitled to protection, Ps. lxxxvi. 16. (2.) To explain the obligation which the great Redeemer laid upon himself to prosecute the work of our salvation, for he says (Ps. xl. 6), My ears hast thou opened, which seems to allude to this law. He loved his Father, and his captive spouse, and the children that were given him, and would not go out free from his undertaking, but engaged to serve in it for ever, Isa. xlii. 1, 4. Much more reason have we thus to engage ourselves to serve God for ever; we have all the reason in the world to love our Master and his work, and to have our ears bored to his door-posts, as those who desire not to go out free from his service, but to be found more and more free to it, and in it, Ps. lxxxiv. 10.
Concerning maid-servants, whom their parents, through extreme poverty, had sold, when they were very young, to such as they hoped would marry them when they grew up; if they did not, yet they must not sell them to strangers, but rather study how to make them amends for the disappointment; if they did, they must maintain them handsomely, v. 7-11. Thus did God provide for the comfort and reputation of the daughters of Israel, and has taught husbands to give honour to their wives (be their extraction ever so mean) as to the weaker vessels, 1 Pet. iii. 7.

verses 12-21Edit


12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. 13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. 14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. 15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. 16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. 17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. 18 And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: 19 If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause
him to be thoroughly healed. 20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. 21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

Here is, I. A law concerning murder. He had lately said, Thou shalt not kill; here he provides, 1. For the punishing of wilful murder (v. 12): He that smiteth a man, whether upon a sudden passion or in malice prepense, so that he die, the government must take care that the murderer be put to death, according to that ancient law (Gen. ix. 6), Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. God, who by his providence gives and maintains life, thus by his law protects it; so that mercy shown to a wilful murderer is real cruelty to all mankind besides: such a one, God here says, shall be taken even from his altar (v. 14), to which he might flee for protection; and, if God will not shelter him, let him flee to the pit, and let no man stay him. 2. For the relief of such as killed by accident, per infortunium—by misfortune, or chance-medley, as our law expresses it, when a man, in doing a lawful act, without intent of hurt to any, happens to kill another, or, as it is here described, God delivers him into his hand; for nothing comes to pass by chance; what seems to us purely casual is ordered by the divine Providence, for wise and holy ends secret to us. In this case God provided cities of refuge for the protection of those whose infelicity it was, but not their fault, to occasion the death of another, v. 13. With us, who know no avengers of blood but the magistrates, the law itself is a sufficient sanctuary for those whose minds are innocent, though their hands are guilty, and there needs no other.
II. Concerning rebellious children. It is here made a capital crime, to be punished with death, for children either, 1. To strike their parents (v. 15) so as either to draw blood or to make the place struck black and blue. Or, 2. To curse their parents (v. 17), if they profaned any name of God in doing it, as the rabbies say. Note, The undutiful behaviour of children towards their parents is a very great provocation to God our common Father; and, if men do not punish it, he will. Those are perfectly lost to all virtue, and abandoned to all wickedness, that have broken through the bonds of filial reverence and duty to such a degree as in word or action to abuse their own parents. What yoke will those bear that have shaken off this? Let children take heed of entertaining in their minds any such thought or passions towards their parents as savour of undutifulness and contempt; for the righteous God searches the heart.
III. Here is a law against man-stealing (v. 16): He that steals a man (that is, a person, man, woman, or child), with design to sell him to the Gentiles (for no Israelite would buy him), was adjudged to death by this statute, which is ratified by the apostle (1 Tim. i. 10), where men-stealers are reckoned among those wicked ones against whom laws must be made by Christian princes.
IV. Care is here taken that satisfaction be made for hurt done to a person, though death do not ensue, v. 18, 19. He that did the hurt must be accountable for damages, and pay, not only for the cure, but for the loss of time, to which the Jews add that he must likewise give some recompence both for the pain and for the blemish, if there were any.
V. Direction is given what should be done if a servant died by his master's correction. This servant must not be an Israelite, but a Gentile slave, as the negroes to our planters; and it is supposed that he smite him with a rod, and not with any thing that was likely to give a mortal wound; yet, if he died under his hand, he should be punished for his cruelty, at the discretion of the judges, upon consideration of circumstances, v. 20. But, if he continued a day or two after the correction given, the master was supposed to suffer enough by losing his servant, v. 21. Our law makes the death of a servant, by his master's reasonable beating of him, but chance-medley. Yet let all masters take heed of tyrannizing over their servants; the gospel teaches them even to forbear and moderate threatenings (Eph. vi. 9), considering with holy Job, What shall I do, when God riseth up? Job xxxi. 13-15.

verses 22-36Edit


22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges
determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. 26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake. 28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. 29 But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. 30 If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him. 31 Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him. 32 If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. 33 And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein; 34 The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his. 35 And if one man's ox hurt another's, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead
ox also they shall divide. 36 Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.

Observe here,
I. The particular care which the law took of women with child, that no hurt should be done them which might occasion their mis-carrying. The law of nature obliges us to be very tender in that case, lest the tree and fruit be destroyed together, v. 22, 23. Women with child, who are thus taken under the special protection of the law of God, if they live in his fear, may still believe themselves under the special protection of the providence of God, and hope that they shall be saved in child-bearing. On this occasion comes in that general law of retaliation which our Saviour refers to, Matt. v. 38, An eye for an eye. Now, 1. The execution of this law is not hereby put into the hands of private persons, as if every man might avenge himself, which would introduce universal confusion, and make men like the fishes of the sea. The tradition of the elders seems to have put this corrupt gloss upon it, in opposition to which our Saviour commands us to forgive injuries, and not to meditate revenge, Matt. v. 39. 2. God often executes it in the course of his providence, making the punishment, in many cases, to answer to the sin, as Judg. i. 7; Isa. xxxiii. 1; Hab. ii. 13; Matt. xxvi. 52. 3. Magistrates ought to have an eye to this rule in punishing offenders, and doing right to those that are injured. Consideration must be had of the nature, quality, and degree of the wrong done, that reparation may be made to the party injured, and others deterred from doing the like; either an eye shall go for an eye, or the forfeited eye shall be redeemed by a sum of money. Note, He that does wrong must expect one way or other to receive according to the wrong he has done, Col. iii. 25. God sometimes brings men's violent dealings upon their own heads (Ps. vii. 16); and magistrates are in this the ministers of the justice, that they are avengers (Rom. xiii. 4), and they shall not bear the sword in vain.
II. The care God took of servants. If their masters maimed them, though it was only striking out a tooth, that should be their discharge, v. 26, 27. This was intended, 1. To prevent their being abused; masters would be careful not to offer them any violence, lest they should lose their service. 2. To comfort them if they were abused; the loss of a limb should be the gaining of their liberty, which would do something towards balancing both the pain and disgrace they underwent. Nay,
III. Does God take care for oxen? Yes, it appears by the following laws in this chapter that he does, for our sakes, 1 Cor. ix. 9, 10. The Israelites are here directed what to do,
1. In case of hurt done by oxen, or any other brute-creature; for the law, doubtless, was designed to extend to all parallel cases. (1.) As an instance of God's care of the life of man (though forfeited a thousand times into the hands of divine justice), and in token of his detestation of the sin of murder. If an ox killed any man, woman, or child, the ox was to be stoned (v. 28); and, because the greatest honour of the inferior creatures is to be serviceable to man, the criminal is denied that honour: his flesh shall not be eaten. Thus God would keep up in the minds of his people a rooted abhorrence of the sin of murder and every thing that was barbarous. (2.) To make men careful that none of their cattle might do hurt, but that, by all means possible, mischief might be prevented. If the owner of the beast knew that he was mischievous, he must answer for the hurt done, and, according as the circumstances of the case proved him to be more or less accessory, he must either be put to death or ransom his life with a sum of money, v. 29-32. Some of our ancient books make this felony, by the common law of England, and give this reason, "The owner, by suffering his beast to go at liberty when he knew it to be mischievous, shows that he was very willing that hurt should be done." Note, It is not enough for us not to do mischief ourselves, but we must take care that no mischief be done by those whom it is in our power to restrain, whether man or beast.
2. In case of hurt done to oxen, or other cattle. (1.) If they fall into a pit, and perish there, he that opened the pit must make good the loss, v. 33, 34. Note, We must take heed not only of doing that which will be hurtful, but of doing that which may be so. It is not enough not to design and devise mischief, but we must contrive to prevent mischief, else we become accessory to our neighbours' damage. Mischief done in malice is the great transgression; but mischief done through negligence, and for want of due care and consideration, is not without fault, but ought to be reflected upon with great regret, according as the degree of the mischief is: especially we must be careful that we do nothing to make ourselves accessory to the sins of others, by laying an occasion of offence in our brother's way, Rom. xiv. 13. (2.) If cattle fight, and one kill another, the owners shall equally share in the loss, v. 35. Only if the beast that had done the harm was known to the owner to have been mischievous he shall answer for the damage, because he ought either to have killed him or kept him up, v. 36. The determinations of these cases carry with them the evidence of their own equity, and give such rules of justice as were then, and are still, in use, for the decision of similar controversies that arise between man and man. But I conjecture that these cases might be specified, rather than others (though some of them seem minute), because they were then cases in fact actually depending before Moses; for in the wilderness where they lay closely encamped, and had their flocks and herds among them, such mischiefs as these last mentioned were likely enough to occur. That which we are taught by these laws is that we should be very careful to do no wrong, either directly or indirectly; and that, if we have done wrong, we must be very willing to make satisfaction, and desirous that nobody may lose by us.

CHAP. 22.Edit


The laws of this chapter relate, I. To the eighth commandment, concerning theft (ver. 1-4), trespass by cattle (ver. 5), damage by fire (ver. 6), trusts (ver. 7-13), borrowing cattle (ver. 14, 15), or money, ver. 25-27. II. To the seventh commandment. Against fornication (ver. 16, 17), bestiality, ver. 19. III. To the first table, forbidding witchcraft (ver. 18), idolatry, ver. 20. Commanding to offer the firstfruits, ver. 29, 30. IV. To the poor,

ver. 21-24. V. To the civil government, ver. 28. VI. To the peculiarity of the Jewish nation, ver. 31.

verses 1-6Edit

Judicial Laws. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. 3 If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double. 5 If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man's field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution. 6 If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.

Here are the laws,
I. Concerning theft, which are these:—1. If a man steal any cattle (in which the wealth of those times chiefly consisted), and they be found in his custody, he must restore double, v. 4. Thus he must both satisfy for the wrong and suffer for the crime. But it was afterwards provided that if the thief were touched in conscience, and voluntarily confessed it, before it was discovered or enquired into by any other, then he should only make restitution of what he had stolen, and add to it a fifth part, Lev. vi. 4, 5. 2. If he had killed or sold the sheep or ox he had stolen, and thereby persisted in his crime, he must restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep (v. 1), more for an ox than for a sheep because the owner, besides all the other profit, lost the daily labour of his ox. This law teaches us that fraud and injustice, so far from enriching men, will impoverish them: if we unjustly get and keep that which is another's, it will not only waste itself, but it will consume that which is our own. 3. If he was not able to make restitution, he must be sold for a slave, v. 3. The court of judgment was to do it, and it is probable that the person robbed had the money. Thus with us, in some cases, felons are transported into plantations where alone Englishmen know what slavery is. 4. If a thief broke a house in the night, and was killed in the doing of it, his blood was upon his own head, and should not be required at the hand of him that shed it, v. 2. As he that does an unlawful act bears the blame of the mischief that follows to others, so likewise of that which follows to himself. A man's house is his castle, and God's law, as well as man's, sets a guard upon it; he that assaults it does so at his peril. Yet, if it was in the day-time that the thief was killed, he that killed him must be accountable for it (v. 3), unless it was in the necessary defence of his own life. Note, We ought to be tender of the lives even of bad men; the magistrate must afford us redress, and we must not avenge ourselves.
II. Concerning trespass, v. 5. He that wilfully put his cattle into his neighbour's field must make restitution of the best of his own. Our law makes a much greater difference between this and other thefts than the law of Moses did. The Jews hence observed it as a general rule that restitution must always be made of the best, and that no man should keep any cattle that were likely to trespass upon his neighbours or do them any damage. We should be more careful not to do wrong than not to suffer wrong, because to suffer wrong is only an affliction, but to do wrong is a sin, and sin is always worse than affliction.
III. Concerning damage done by fire, v. 6. He that designed only the burning of thorns might become accessory to the burning of corn, and should not be held guiltless. Men of hot and eager spirits should take heed, lest, while they pretend only to pluck up the tares, they root out the wheat also. If the fire did mischief, he that kindled it must answer for it, though it could not be proved that he designed the mischief. Men must suffer for their carelessness, as well as for their malice. We must take heed of beginning strife; for, though it seem but little, we know not how great a matter it may kindle, the blame of which we must bear, if, with the madman, we cast fire-brands, arrows, and death, and pretend we mean no harm. It will make us very careful of ourselves, if we consider that we are accountable, not only for the hurt we do, but for the hurt we occasion through inadvertency.

verses 7-15Edit


7 If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man's house; if the thief be found, let him pay double. 8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour's goods. 9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges;
and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour. 10 If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it: 11
Then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour's goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good. 12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof. 13 If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn. 14 And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof
being not with it, he shall surely make it good. 15 But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire.
These laws are,
I. Concerning trusts, v. 7-13. If a man deliver goods, suppose to a carrier to be conveyed, or to a warehouse-keeper to be preserved, or cattle to a farmer to be fed, upon a valuable consideration, and if a special confidence be reposed in the person they are lodged with, in case these goods be stolen or lost, perish or be damaged, if it appear that it was not by any fault of the trustee, the owner must stand to the loss, otherwise he that has been false to this trust must be compelled to make satisfaction. The trustee must aver his innocence upon oath before the judges, if the case was such as afforded no other proof, and they were to determine the matter according as it appeared. This teaches us, 1. That we ought to be very careful of every thing we are entrusted with, as careful of it, though it be another's, as if it were our own. It is unjust and base, and that which all the world cries shame on, to betray a trust. 2. That there is such a general failing of truth and justice upon earth as gives too much occasion to suspect men's honesty whenever it is their interest to be dishonest. 3. That an oath for confirmation is an end of strife, Heb. vi. 16. It is called an oath for the Lord (v. 11), because to him the appeal is made, not only as to a witness of truth, but as to an avenger of wrong and falsehood. Those that had offered injury to their neighbour by doing any unjust thing, yet, it might be hoped, had not so far debauched their consciences as to profane an oath of the Lord, and call the God of truth to be witness to a lie: perjury is a sin which natural conscience startles at as much as any other. The religion of an oath is very ancient, and a plain indication of the universal belief of a God, and a providence, and a judgment to come. 4. That magistracy is an ordinance of God, designed, among other intentions, to assist men both in discovering rights disputed and recovering rights denied; and great respect ought to be paid to the determination of the judges. 5. That there is no reason why a man should suffer for that which he could not help: masters should consider this, in dealing with their servants, and not rebuke that as a fault which was a mischance, and which they themselves, had they been in their servants' places, could not have prevented.
II. Concerning loans, v. 14, 15. If a man (suppose) lent his team to his neighbour, if the owner was with it, or was to receive profit for the loan of it, whatever harm befel the cattle the owner must stand to the loss of: but if the owner was so kind to the borrower as to lend it to him gratis, and put such a confidence in him as to trust it from under his own eye, then, if any harm happened, the borrower must make it good. Let us learn hence to be very careful not to abuse any thing that is lent us; it is not only unjust, but base and disingenuous, inasmuch as it is rendering evil for good; we should much rather choose to lose ourselves than that any should sustain loss by their kindness to us. Alas, master! for it was borrowed, 2 Kings vi. 5.

verses 16-24Edit


16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins. 18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. 19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death. 20 He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed. 21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; 24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

Here is, I. A law that he who debauched a young woman should be obliged to marry her, v. 16, 17. If she was betrothed to another, it was death to debauch her (Deut. xxii. 23, 24); but the law here mentioned respects her as single. But, if the father refused her to him, he was to give satisfaction in money for the injury and disgrace he had done her. This law puts an honour upon marriage and shows likewise how improper a thing it is that children should marry without their parents' consent: even here, where the divine law appointed the marriage, both as a punishment to him that had done wrong and a recompence to her that had suffered wrong, yet there was an express reservation for the father's power; if he denied his consent, it must be no marriage.
II. A law which makes witchcraft a capital crime, v. 18. Witchcraft not only gives that honour to the devil which is due to God alone, but bids defiance to the divine Providence, wages war with God's government, and puts his work into the devil's hand, expecting him to do good and evil, and so making him indeed the god of this world; justly therefore was it punished with death, especially among a people that were blessed with a divine revelation, and cared for by divine Providence above any people under the sun. By our law, consulting, covenanting with, invocating, or employing, any evil spirit, to any intent whatsoever, and exercising any enchantment, charm, or sorcery, whereby hurt shall be done to any person whatsoever, is made felony, without benefit of clergy; also pretending to tell where goods lost or stolen may be found, or the like, is an iniquity punishable by the judge, and the second offence with death. The justice of our law herein is supported by the law of God recorded here.
III. Unnatural abominations are here made capital; such beasts in the shape of men as are guilty of them are unfit to live (v. 19): Whosoever lies with a beast shall die.
IV. Idolatry is also made capital, v. 20. God having declared himself jealous in this matter, the civil powers must be jealous in it too, and utterly destroy those persons, families, and places of Israel, that worshipped any god, save the Lord: this law might have prevented the woeful apostasies of the Jewish nation in after times, if those that should have executed it had not been ringleaders in the breach of it.
V. A caution against oppression. Because those who were empowered to punish other crimes were themselves most in danger of this, God takes the punishing of it into his own hands.
1. Strangers must not be abused (v. 21), not wronged in judgment by the magistrates, not imposed upon in contracts, nor must any advantage be taken of their ignorance or necessity; no, nor must they be taunted, trampled upon, treated with contempt, or upbraided with being strangers; for all these were vexations, and would discourage strangers from coming to live among them, or would strengthen their prejudices against their religion, to which, by all kind and gentle methods, they should endeavour to proselyte them. The reason given why they should be kind to strangers is, " You were strangers in Egypt, and knew what it was to be vexed and oppressed there," Note, (1.) Humanity is one of the laws of religion, and obliges us particularly to be tender of those that lie most under disadvantages and discouragements, and to extend our compassionate concern to strangers, and those to whom we are not under the obligations of alliance or acquaintance. Those that are strangers to us are known to God, and he preserves them, Ps. cxlvi. 9. (2.) Those that profess religion should study to oblige strangers, that they may thereby recommend religion to their good opinion, and take heed of doing any thing that may tempt them to think ill of it or its professors, 1 Pet. ii. 12. (3.) Those that have themselves been in poverty and distress, if Providence enrich and enlarge them, ought to show a particular tenderness towards those that are now in such circumstances as they were in formerly, doing now by them as they then wished to be done by.
2. Widows and fatherless must not be abused (v. 22): You shall not afflict them, that is, "You shall comfort and assist them, and be ready upon all occasions to show them kindness." In making just demands from them, their condition must be considered, who have lost those that should deal for them, and protect them; they are supposed to be unversed in business, destitute of advice, timorous, and of a tender spirit, and therefore must be treated with kindness and compassion; no advantage must be taken against them, nor any hardship put upon them, from which a husband or a father would have sheltered them. For, (1.) God takes particular cognizance of their case, v. 23. Having no one else to complain and appeal to, they will cry unto God, and he will be sure to hear them; for his law and his providence are guardians to the widows and fatherless, and if men do not pity them, and will not hear them, he will. Note, It is a great comfort to those who are injured and oppressed by men that they have a God to go to who will do more than give them the hearing; and it ought to be a terror to those who are oppressive that they have the cry of the poor against them, which God will hear. Nay, (2.) He will severely reckon with those that do oppress them. Though they escape punishments from men, God's righteous judgments will pursue and overtake them, v. 24. Men that have a sense of justice and honour will espouse the injured cause of the weak and helpless; and shall not the righteous God do it? Observe the equity of the sentence here passed upon those that oppress the widows and fatherless: their wives shall become widows, and their children fatherless; and the Lord is known by these judgments, which he sometimes executes still.

verses 25-31Edit


25 If thou lend money to any of my people
that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. 26 If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: 27 For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious. 28 Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. 29 Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me. 30 Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it me. 31 And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.

Here is, I. A law against extortion in lending. 1. They must not receive use for money from any that borrowed for necessity (v. 25), as in that case, Neh. v. 5, 7. And such provision the law made for the preservation of estates to their families by the year of jubilee that a people who had little concern in trade could not be supposed to borrow money but for necessity, and therefore it is generally forbidden among themselves; but to a stranger, whom yet they might not oppress, they were allowed to lend upon usury: this law, therefore, in the strictness of it, seems to have been peculiar to the Jewish state; but, in the equity of it, it obliges us to show mercy to those of whom we might take advantage, and to be content to share, in loss as well as profit, with those we lend to, if Providence cross them; and, upon this condition, it seems as lawful to receive interest for my money, which another takes pains with and improves, but runs the hazard of, in trade, as it is to receive rent for my land, which another takes pains with and improves, but runs the hazard of, in husbandry. 2. They must not take a poor man's bed-clothes in pawn; but, if they did, must restore them by bed-time, v. 26, 27. Those who lie soft and warm themselves should consider the hard and cold lodgings of many poor people, and not do any thing to make bad worse, or to add affliction to the afflicted.
II. A law against the contempt of authority (v. 28): Thou shalt not revile the gods, that is, the judges and magistrates, for their executing these laws; they must do their duty, whoever suffer by it. Magistrates ought not to fear the reproach of men, nor their revilings, but to despise them as long as they keep a good conscience; but those that do revile them for their being a terror to evil works and workers reflect upon God himself, and will have a great deal to answer for another day. We find those under a black character, and a heavy doom, that despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities, Jude 8. Princes and magistrates are our fathers, whom the fifth commandment obliges us to honour and forbids us to revile. St. Paul applies this law to himself, and owns that he ought not to speak evil of the ruler of his people; no, not though the ruler was then his most unrighteous persecutor, Acts xxiii. 5; see Eccl. x. 20.
III. A law concerning the offering of their first-fruits to God, v. 29, 30. It was appointed before (ch. xiii), and it is here repeated: The firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me; and much more reason have we to give ourselves, and all we have, to God, who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. The first ripe of their corn they must not delay to offer. There is danger, if we delay our duty, lest we wholly omit it; and by slipping the first opportunity, in expectation of another, we suffer Satan to cheat us of all our time. Let not young people delay to offer to God the first-fruits of their time and strength, lest their delays come, at last, to be denials, through the deceitfulness of sin, and the more convenient season they promise themselves never arrive. Yet it is provided that the firstlings of their cattle should not be dedicated to God till they were past seven days old, for then they began to be good for something. Note, God is the first and best, and therefore must have the first and best.
IV. A distinction put between the Jews and all other people: You shall be holy men unto me; and one mark of that honourable distinction is appointed in their diet, which was, that they should not eat any flesh that was torn of beasts (v. 31), not only because it was unwholesome, but because it was paltry, and base, and covetous, and a thing below those who were holy men unto God, to eat the leavings of the beasts of prey. We that are sanctified to God must not be curious in our diet; but we must be conscientious, not feeding ourselves without fear, but eating and drinking by rule, the rule of sobriety, to the glory of God.

CHAP. 23.Edit


This chapter continues and concludes the acts that passed in the first session (if I may so call it) upon Mount Sinai. Here are, I. Some laws of universal obligation, relating especially to the ninth commandment, against bearing false witness (ver. 1), and giving false judgment,

ver. 2, 3, 6-8. Also a law of doing good to our enemies (ver. 4, 5), and not oppressing strangers, ver. 9. II. Some laws peculiar to the Jews. The sabbatical year (ver. 10, 11), the three annual feasts (ver. 14-17), with some laws pertaining thereto. III. Gracious promises of the completing of the mercy God had begun for them, upon condition of their obedience. That God would conduct them through the wilderness (ver. 20-24), that he would prosper all they had (ver. 25, 26), that he would put them in possession of Canaan, ver. 27-31. But they must not mingle themselves with the nations, ver. 32, 33.

verses 1-9Edit

Judicial Laws. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. 2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest
judgment: 3 Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. 4 If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. 5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. 6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. 7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. 8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. 9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Here are, I. Cautions concerning judicial proceedings; it was not enough that they had good laws, better than ever any nation had, but care must be taken for the due administration of justice according to those laws.
1. The witnesses are here cautioned that they neither occasion an innocent man to be indicted, by raising a false report of him and setting common fame against him, nor assist in the prosecution of an innocent man, or one whom they do not know to be guilty, by putting their hand in swearing as witnesses against him, v. 1. Bearing false witness against a man, in a matter that touches his life, has in it all the guilty of lying, perjury, malice, theft, murder, with the additional stains of colouring all with a pretence of justice and involving many others in the same guilt. There is scarcely any one act of wickedness that a man can possibly be guilty of which has in it a greater complication of villanies than this has. Yet the former part of this caution is to be extended, not only to judicial proceedings, but to common conversation; so that slandering and backbiting are a species of falsewitness-bearing. A man's reputation lies as much at the mercy of every company as his estate or life does at the mercy of a judge or jury; so that he who raises, or knowingly spreads, a false report against his neighbour, especially if the report be made to wise and good men whose esteem one would desire to enjoy, sins as much against the laws of truth, justice, and charity, as a false witness does—with this further mischief, that he leaves it not in the power of the person injured to obtain redress. That which we translate, Thou shalt not raise, the margin reads, Thou shalt not receive a false report; for sometimes the receiver, in this case, is as bad as the thief; and a backbiting tongue would not do so much mischief as it does if it were not countenanced. Sometimes we cannot avoid hearing a false report, but we must not receive it, that is, we must not hear it with pleasure and delight as those that rejoice in iniquity, nor give credit to it as long as there remains any cause to question the truth of it. This is charity to our neighbour's good name, and doing as we would be done by.
2. The judges are here cautioned not to pervert judgment. (1.) They must not be overruled, either by might or multitude, to go against their consciences in giving judgment, v. 2. With the Jews causes were tried by a bench of justices, and judgment given according to the majority of votes, in which cause every particular justice must go according to truth, as it appeared to him upon the strictest and most impartial enquiry, though the multitude of the people, and their outcries, or, the sentence of the rabbim (we translate it many), the more ancient and honourable of the justices, went the other way. Therefore (as with us), among the Jews, the junior upon the bench voted first, that he might not be swayed nor overruled by the authority of the senior. Judges must not respect the persons either of the parties or of their fellow-judges. The former part of this verse also gives a general rule for all, as well as judges, not to follow a multitude to do evil. General usage will never excuse us in a bad practice; nor is the broad way ever the better or safer for its being tracked and crowded. We must enquire what we ought to do, not what the majority do; because we must be judged by our Master, not by our fellow-servants, and it is too great a compliment to be willing to go to hell for company. (2.) They must not pervert judgment, no, not in favour of a poor man, v. 3. Right must in all cases take place and wrong must be punished, and justice never biassed nor injury connived at under pretence of charity and compassion. If a poor man be a bad man, and do a bad thing, it is foolish pity to let him fare the better for his poverty, Deut. i. 16, 17. (3.) Neither must they pervert judgment in prejudice to a poor man, nor suffer him to be wronged because he had not wherewithal to right himself; in such cases the judges themselves must become advocates for the poor, as far as their cause was good and honest (v. 6): " Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of the poor; remember they are thy poor, bone of thy bone, thy poor neighbours, thy poor brethren; let them not therefore fare the worse for being poor." (4.) They must dread the thoughts of assisting or abetting a bad cause (v. 7): " Keep thyself far from a false matter; do not only keep thyself free from it, nor think it enough to say thou art unconcerned in it, but keep far from it, dread it as a dangerous snare. The innocent and righteous thou wouldest not, for all the world, slay with thy own hands; keep far therefore from a false matter, for thou knowest not but it may end in that, and the righteous God will not leave such wickedness unpunished: I will not justify the wicked," that is, "I will condemn him that unjustly condemns others." Judges themselves are accountable to the great judge. (5.) They must not take bribes, v. 8. They must not only not be swayed by a gift to give an unjust judgment, to condemn the innocent, or acquit the guilty, or adjudge a man's right from him, but they must not so much as take a gift, lest it should have a bad influence upon them, and overrule them, contrary to their intentions; for it has a strange tendency to blind those that otherwise would do well. (6.) They must not oppress a stranger, v. 9. Though aliens might not inherit lands among them, yet they must have justice done them, must peaceably enjoy their own, and be redressed if they were wronged, though they were strangers to the commonwealth of Israel. It is an instance of the equity and goodness of our law, that, if an alien be tried for any crime except treason, the one half of his jury, if he desire it, shall be foreigners; they call it a trial per mediatatem linguae, a kind provision that strangers may not be oppressed. The reason here given is the same with that in ch. xxii. 21, You were strangers, which is here elegantly enforced, You know the heart of a stranger; you know something of the griefs and fears of a stranger by sad experience, and therefore, being delivered, can the more easily put your souls into their souls' stead.
II. Commands concerning neighbourly kindnesses. We must be ready to do all good offices, as there is occasion, for any body, yea even for those that have done us ill offices, v. 4, 5. The command of loving our enemies, and doing good to those that hate us, is not only a new, but an old commandment, Prov. xxv. 21, 22. Infer hence, 1. If we must do this kindness for an enemy, much more for a friend, though an enemy only is mentioned, because it is supposed that a man would not be unneighbourly to any unless such as he had a particular spleen against. 2. If it be wrong not to prevent our enemy's loss and damage, how much worse is it to occasion harm and loss to him, or any thing he has. 3. If we must bring back our neighbours' cattle when they go astray, much more must we endeavour, by prudent admonitions and instructions, to bring back our neighbours themselves, when they go astray in any sinful path, see Jam. v. 19, 20. And, if we must endeavour to help up a fallen ass, much more should we endeavour, by comforts and encouragements, to help up a sinking spirit, saying to those that are of a fearful heart, Be strong. We must seek the relief and welfare of others as our own, Phil. ii. 4. If thou sayest, Behold, we know it not, doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? See Prov. xxiv. 11, 12.

====Sacred Feasts. (b. c. 1491.)====

verses 10-19Edit


10 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11 But the seventh
year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard. 12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed. 13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. 14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. 15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. 17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God . 18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning. 19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

Here is, I. The institution of the sabbatical year, v. 10, 11. Every seventh year the land was to rest; they must not plough nor sow it at the beginning of the year, and then they could not expect any great harvest at the end of the year: but what the earth did produce of itself should be eaten from hand to mouth, and not laid up. Now this was designed, 1. To show what a plentiful land that was into which God was bringing them—that so numerous a people could have rich maintenance out of the produce of so small a country, without foreign trade, and yet could spare the increase of every seventh year. 2. To remind them of their dependence upon God their great landlord, and their obligation to use the fruit of their land as he should direct. Thus he would try their obedience in a matter that nearly touched their interest. Afterwards we find that their disobedience to this command was a forfeiture of the promises, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21. 3. To teach them a confidence in the divine Providence, while they did their duty—that, as the sixth day's manna served for two day's meat, so the sixth year's increase should serve for two years' subsistence. Thus they must learn not to take thought for their life, Matt. vi. 25. If we are prudent and diligent in our affairs, we may trust Providence to furnish us with the bread of the day in its day.
II. The repetition of the law of the fourth commandment concerning the weekly sabbath, v. 12. Even in the year of rest they must not think that the sabbath day was laid in common with the other days, but, even that year, it must be religiously observed; yet thus some have endeavoured to take away the observance of the sabbath, by pretending that every day must be a sabbath day.
III. All manner of respect to the gods of the heathen is here strictly forbidden, v. 13. A general caution is prefixed to this, which has reference to all these precepts: In all things that I have said unto you, be circumspect. We are in danger of missing our way on the right hand and on the left, and it is at our peril if we do; therefore we have need to look about us. A man may ruin himself through mere carelessness, but he cannot save himself without great care and circumspection: particularly, since idolatry was a sin which they were much addicted to, and would be greatly tempted to, they must endeavour to blot out the remembrance of the gods of the heathen, and must disuse and forget all their superstitious forms of speech, and never mention them but with detestation. In Christian schools and academies (for it is in vain to think of reforming the play-houses), it were to be wished that the names and stories of the heathen deities, or demons rather, were not so commonly and familiarly used as they are, even with intimations of respect, and sometimes with forms of invocation. Surely we have not so learned Christ.
IV. Their solemn religious attendance on God in the place which he should choose is here strictly required, v. 14-17. 1. Thrice a year all their males must come together in a holy convocation, that they might the better know and love one another, and keep up their communion as a dignified and peculiar people. 2. They must come together before the Lord (v. 17) to present themselves before him, looking towards the place where his honour dwelt, and to pay their homage to him as their great Lord, from and under whom they held all their enjoyments. 3. They must feast together before the Lord, eating and drinking together, in token of their joy in God and their grateful sense of his goodness to them; for a feast is made for laughter, Eccl. x. 19. O what a good Master do we serve, who has made it our duty to rejoice before him, who feasts his servants when they are in waiting! Never let religion be called a melancholy thing, when its solemn services are solemn feasts. 4. They must not appear before God empty, v. 15. Some free-will offering or other they must bring, in token of their respect and gratitude to their great benefactor; and, as they were not allowed to come empty-handed, so we must not come to worship God empty-hearted; our souls must be filled with grace, with pious and devout affections, holy desires towards him, and dedications of ourselves to him, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased. 5. The passover, pentecost, and feast of tabernacles, in spring, summer, and autumn, were the three times appointed for their attendance: not in winter, because travelling was then uncomfortable; not in the midst of their harvest, because then they were otherwise employed; so that they had no reason to say that he made them to serve with an offering, or wearied them with incense.
V. Some particular directions are here given about the three feasts, though not so fully as afterwards. 1. As to the passover, it was not to be offered with leavened bread, for at that feast all leaven was to be cast out, nor was the fat of it to remain until the morning, lest it should become offensive, v. 18. 2. At the feast of pentecost, when they were to begin their harvest, they must bring the first of their first-fruits to God, by the pious presenting of which the whole harvest was sanctified, v. 19. 3. At the feast of ingathering, as it is called (v. 16), they must give God thanks for the harvest-mercies they had received, and must depend upon him for the next harvest, and must not think to receive benefit by that superstitious usage of some of the Gentiles, who, it is said, at the end of their harvest, seethed a kid in its dam's milk, and sprinkled that milk-pottage, in a magical way, upon their gardens and fields, to make them more fruitful next year. But Israel must abhor such foolish customs.

verses 20-33Edit

Precepts and Promises. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name
is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. 23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. 24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. 25 And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. 26 There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil. 27 I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. 28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. 29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. 30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. 31 And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. 32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.

Three gracious promises are here made to Israel, to engage them to their duty and encourage them in it; and each of the promises has some needful precepts and cautions joined to it.
I. It is here promised that they should be guided and kept in their way through the wilderness to the land of promise: Behold, I send an angel before thee (v. 20), my angel (v. 23), a created angel, say some, a minister of God's providence, employed in conducting and protecting the camp of Israel; that it might appear that God took a particular care of them, he appointed one of his chief servants to make it his business to attend them, and see that they wanted for nothing. Others suppose it to be the Son of God, the angel of the covenant; for the Israelites in the wilderness are said to tempt Christ; and we may as well suppose him God's messenger, and the church's Redeemer, before his incarnation, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And we may the rather think he was pleased to undertake the deliverance and guidance of Israel because they were typical of his great undertaking. It is promised that this blessed angel should keep them in the way, though it lay through a wilderness first, and afterwards through their enemies' country; thus God's spiritual Israel shall be kept through the wilderness of this earth, and from the insults of the gates of hell. It is also promised that he should bring them into the place which God had not only designed but prepared for them: and thus Christ has prepared a place for his followers, and will preserve them to it, for he is faithful to him that appointed him. The precept joined with this promise is that they be observant of, and obedient to, this angel whom God would send before them (v. 21): " Beware of him, and obey his voice in every thing; provoke him not in any thing, for it is at your peril if you do, he will visit your iniquity." Note, 1. Christ is the author of salvation to those only that obey him. The word of command is Hear you him, Matt. xvii. 5. Observe what he hath commanded, Matt. xxviii. 20. 2. Our necessary dependence upon the divine power and goodness should awe us into obedience. We do well to take heed of provoking our protector and benefactor, because if our defence depart from us, and the streams of his goodness be cut off, we are undone. Therefore, " Beware of him, and carry it towards him with all possible reverence and caution. Fear the Lord, and his goodness." 3. Christ will be faithful to those who are faithful to him, and will espouse their cause who adhere to his: I will be an adversary to thine adversaries, v. 22. The league shall be offensive and defensive, like that with Abraham, I will bless him that blesseth thee, and curse him that curseth thee. Thus is God pleased to twist his interests and friendships with his people's.
II. It is promised that they should have a comfortable settlement in the land of Canaan, which they hoped now (though it proved otherwise) within a few months to be in the possession of, v. 24-26. Observe, 1. How reasonable the conditions of this promise are—only that they should serve their own God, who was indeed the only true God, and not the gods of the nations, which were no gods at all, and which they had no reason at all to have any respect for. They must not only not worship their gods, but they must utterly overthrow them, in token of their great abhorrence of idolatry, their resolution never to worship idols themselves, and their care to prevent any other from worshipping them; as the converted conjurors burnt their books, Acts xix. 19. 2. How rich the particulars of this promise are. (1.) The comfort of their food. He shall bless thy bread and thy water; and God's blessing will make bread and water more refreshing and nourishing than a feast of fat things and wines on the lees without that blessing. (2.) The continuance of their health: " I will take sickness away, either prevent it or remove it. Thy land shall not be visited with epidemical diseases, which are very dreadful, and sometimes have laid countries waste." (3.) The increase of their wealth. Their cattle should not be barren, nor cast their young, which is mentioned as an instance of prosperity, Job xxi. 10. (4.) The prolonging of their lives to old age: " The number of thy days I will fulfil, and they shall not be cut off in the midst by untimely deaths." Thus hath godliness the promise of the life that now is.
III. It is promised that they should conquer and subdue their enemies, the present occupants of the land of Canaan, who must be driven out to make room for them. This God would do, 1. Effectually by his power (v. 17, 18); not so much by the sword and bow of Israel as by the terrors which he would strike into the Canaanites. Though they were so obstinate as not to be willing to submit to Israel, resign their country, and retire elsewhere, which they might have done, yet they were so dispirited that they were not able to stand before them. This completed their ruin; such power had the devil in them that they would resist, but such power had God over them that they could not. I will send my fear before thee; and those that fear will soon flee. Hosts of hornets made way for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God make use of for the chastising of his people's enemies, as in the plagues of Egypt. When God pleases, hornets can drive out Canaanites, as well as lions could, Josh. xxiv. 12. 2. He would do it gradually, in wisdom (v. 29, 30), not all at once, but by little and little. As the Canaanites had kept possession till Israel had grown into a people, so there should still be some remains of them till Israel should grow so numerous as to replenish the whole. Note, The wisdom of God is to be observed in the gradual advances of the church's interests. It is in real kindness to the church that its enemies are subdued by little and little; for thus we are kept upon our guard, and in a continual dependence upon God. Corruptions are thus driven out of the hearts of God's people; not all at once, but by little and little; the old man is crucified, and therefore dies slowly. God, in his providence, often delays mercies, because we are not ready for them. Canaan has room enough to receive Israel, but Israel is not numerous enough to occupy Canaan. We are not straitened in God; if we are straitened, it is in ourselves. The land of Canaan is promised them (v. 31) in its utmost extent, which yet they were not possessed of till the days of David; and by their sins they soon lost possession. The precept annexed to this promise is that they should not make any friendship, nor have any familiarity, with idolaters, v. 32, 33. Idolaters must not so much as sojourn in their land, unless they renounced their idolatry. Thus they must avoid the reproach of intimacy with the worshippers of false gods and the danger of being drawn to worship with them. By familiar converse with idolaters, their dread and detestation of the sin would wear off; they would think it no harm, in compliment to their friends, to pay some respect to their gods, and so by degrees would be drawn into the fatal snare. Note, Those that would be kept from bad courses must keep from bad company; it is dangerous living in a bad neighbourhood; others' sins will be our snares, if we look not well to ourselves. We must always look upon our greatest danger to be from those that would cause us to sin against God. Whatever friendship is pretended, that is really our worst enemy that draws us from our duty.

CHAP. 24.Edit


Moses, as mediator between God and Israel, having received divers laws and ordinances from God privately in the three foregoing chapters, in this chapter, I. Comes down to the people, acquaints them with the laws he had received, and takes their consent to those laws (ver. 3), writes the laws, and reads them to the people, who repeat their consent (ver. 4-7), and then by sacrifice, and the sprinkling of blood, ratifies the covenant between them and God, ver. 5, 6, 8. II. He returns to God again, to receive further directions. When he was dismissed from his former attendance, he was ordered to attend again,

ver. 1, 2. He did so with seventy of the elders, to whom God made a discovery of his glory, ver. 9-11. Moses is ordered up into the mount (ver. 12, 13); the rest are ordered down to the people, ver. 14. The cloud of glory is seen by all the people on the top of Mount Sinai (ver. 15-17), and Moses is therewith God forty days and forty nights, ver. 18.

verses 1-8Edit

Israel's Acceptance of the Laws. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord , thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. 2 And Moses alone shall come near the Lord : but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. 3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord , and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord , and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord . 6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. 8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled
it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.
The first two verses record the appointment of a second session upon Mount Sinai, for the making of laws, when an end was put to the first. When a communion is begun between God and us, it shall never fail on his side, if it do not first fail on ours. Moses is directed to bring Aaron and his sons, and the seventy elders of Israel, that they might be witnesses of the glory of God, and that communion with him to which Moses was admitted; and that their testimony might confirm the people's faith. In this approach, 1. They must all be very reverent: Worship you afar off, v. 1. Before they came near, they must worship. Thus we must enter into God's gates with humble and solemn adorations, draw near as those that know our distance, and admire the condescensions of God's grace in admitting us to draw near. Are great princes approached with the profound reverences of the body? And shall not the soul that draws near to God be bowed before him? 2. They must none of them come so near as Moses, v. 2. They must come up to the Lord (and those that would approach to God must ascend), but Moses alone must come near, being therein a type of Christ, who, as the high priest, entered alone into the most holy place.
In the following verses, we have the solemn covenant made between God and Israel, and the exchanging of the ratifications; and a very solemn transaction it was, typifying the covenant of grace between God and believers through Christ.
I. Moses told the people the words of the Lord, v. 3. He did not lead them blindfold into the covenant, nor teach them a devotion that was the daughter of ignorance; but laid before them all the precepts, general and particular, in the foregoing chapters; and fairly put it to them whether they were willing to submit to these laws or no.
II. The people unanimously consented to the terms proposed, without reservation or exception: All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. They had before consented in general to be under God's government (ch. xix. 8); here they consent in particular to these laws now given. O that there had been such a heart in them! How well were it if people would but be always in the same good mind that sometimes they seem to be in! Many consent to the law, and yet do not live up to it; they have nothing to except against it, and yet will not persuade themselves to be ruled by it.
This is the tenour of the covenant, That, if they would observe the foregoing precepts, God would perform the foregoing promises. "Obey, and be happy." Here is the bargain made. Observe,
1. How it was engrossed in the book of the covenant: Moses wrote the words of the Lord (v. 4), that there might be no mistake; probably he had written them as God dictated them on the mount. As soon as ever God had separated to himself a peculiar people in the world, he governed them by a written word, as he has done ever since, and will do while the world stands and the church in it. Moses, having engrossed the articles of agreement concluded upon between God and Israel, read them in the audience of the people (v. 7), that they might be perfectly apprised of the thing, and might try whether their second thoughts were the same with their first, upon the whole matter. And we may suppose they were so; for their words (v. 7) are the same with what they were (v. 3), but something stronger: All that the Lord hath said (be it good, or be it evil, to flesh and blood, Jer. xlii. 6) we will do; so they had said before, but now they add, " And will be obedient; not only we will do what has been commanded, but in every thing which shall further be ordained we will be obedient." Bravely resolved! if they had but stuck to their resolution. See here that God's covenants and commands are so incontestably equitable in themselves, and so highly advantageous to us, that the more we think of them, and the more plainly and fully they are set before us, the more reason we shall see to comply with them.
2. How it was sealed by the blood of the covenant, that Israel might receive strong consolations from the ratifying of God's promises to them, and might lie under strong obligations from the ratifying of their promises to God. Thus has Infinite Wisdom devised means that we may be confirmed both in our faith and in our obedience, may be both encouraged in our duty and engaged to it. The covenant must be made by sacrifice (Ps. l. 5), because, since man has sinned, and forfeited his Creator's favour, there can be no fellowship by covenant till there be first friendship and atonement by sacrifice.
(1.) In preparation therefore for the parties interchangeably putting their seals to this covenant, [1.] Moses builds an altar, to the honour of God, which was principally intended in all the altars that were built, and which was the first thing to be looked at in the covenant they were now to seal. No addition to the perfections of the divine nature can be made by any of God's dealings with the children of men, but in them his perfections are manifested and magnified, and his honour is shown forth; therefore he will not be represented by an altar, to signify that all he expected from them was that they should do him honour, and that, being his people, they should be to him for a name and a praise. [2.] He erects twelve pillars, according to the number of the tribes. These were to represent the people, the other party to the covenant; and we may suppose that they were set up against the altar, and that Moses, as mediator, passed to and fro between them. Probably each tribe set up and knew its own pillar, and their elders stood by it. [3.] He appointed sacrifices to be offered upon the altar (v. 5), burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, which yet were designed to be expiatory. We are not concerned to enquire who these young men were that were employed in offering these sacrifices; for Moses was himself the priest, and what they did was purely as his servants, by his order and appointment. No doubt they were men who by their bodily strength were qualified for the service, and by their station among the people were fittest for the honour.
(2.) Preparation being thus made, the ratifications were very solemnly exchanged. [1.] The blood of the sacrifice which the people offered was (part of it) sprinkled upon the altar (v. 6), which signifies the people's dedicating themselves, their lives, and beings, to God, and to his honour. In the blood (which is the life) of the dead sacrifices all the Israelites were presented unto God as living sacrifices, Rom. xii. 1. [2.] The blood of the sacrifice which God had owned and accepted was (the remainder of it) sprinkled either upon the people themselves (v. 8) or upon the pillars that represented them, which signified God's graciously conferring his favour upon them and all the fruits of that favour, and his giving them all the gifts they could expect or desire from a God reconciled to them and in covenant with them by sacrifice. This part of the ceremony was thus explained: " Behold the blood of the covenant; see here how God has sealed to you to be a people; his promises to you, and yours to him, are both yea and amen." Thus our Lord Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant (of whom Moses was a type), having offered up himself a sacrifice upon the cross, that his blood might be indeed the blood of the covenant, sprinkled it upon the altar in his intercession (Heb. ix. 12), and sprinkles it upon his church by his word and ordinances and the influences and operations of the Spirit of promise, by whom we are sealed. He himself seemed to allude to this solemnity when, in the institution of the Lord's supper, he said, This cup is the New Testament (or covenant) in my blood. Compare with this, Heb. ix. 19, 20.

verses 9-11Edit

A Manifestation of God. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: 10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

The people having, besides their submission to the ceremony of the sprinkling of blood, declared their well-pleasedness in their God and his law, again and again, God here gives to their representatives some special tokens of his favour to them (for God meets him that rejoices and works righteousness), and admits them nearer to him than they could have expected. Thus, in the New-Testament church, we find the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders, honoured with places round the throne, being redeemed unto God by the blood of the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne, Rev. iv. 4, 6; v. 8, 9. Observe, 1. They saw the God of Israel (v. 10), that is, they had some glimpse of his glory, in light and fire, though they saw no manner of similitude, and his being no man hath seen nor can see, 1 Tim. vi. 16. They saw the place where the God of Israel stood (so the LXX.), something that came near a similitude, but was not; whatever they saw, it was certainly something of which no image nor picture could be made, and yet enough to satisfy them that God was with them of a truth. Nothing is described but that which was under his feet; for our conceptions of God are all below him, and fall infinitely short of being adequate. They saw not so much as God's feet; but at the bottom of the brightness, and as the footstool or pedestal of it, they saw a most rich and splendid pavement, such as they never saw before nor after, as it had been of sapphires, azure or sky-coloured. The heavens themselves are the pavement of God's palace, and his throne is above the firmament. See how much better wisdom is than the precious onyx or the sapphires, for wisdom was from eternity God's delight (Prov. viii. 30), and lay in his bosom, but the sapphires are the pavement under his feet; there let us put all the wealth of this world, and not in our hearts. 2. Upon the nobles (or elders) of Israel, he laid not his hand, v. 11. Though they were men, the dazzling splendour of his glory did not overwhelm them; but it was so moderated (Job xxvi. 9), and they were so strengthened (Dan. x. 19), that they were able to bear it. Nay, though they were sinful men, and obnoxious to God's justice, yet he did not lay his punishing avenging hand upon them, as they feared he would. When we consider what a consuming fire God is, and what stubble we are before him, we shall have reason to say, in all our approaches to him, It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed. 3. They saw God, and did eat and drink. They had not only their lives preserved, but their vigour, courage, and comfort; it cast no damp upon their joy, but rather increased and elevated it. They feasted upon the sacrifice, before God, in token of their cheerful consent to the covenant now made, their grateful acceptance of the benefits of it, and their communion with God, in pursuance of that covenant. Thus believers eat and drink with Christ at his table, Luke xxii. 30. Blessed are those that shall eat bread in the kingdom of our Father, and drink of the wine new there.

verses 12-18Edit


12 And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. 14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. 15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. 16 And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

The public ceremony of sealing the covenant being over, Moses is called up to receive further instructions, which we have in the following chapters.
I. He is called up into the mount, and there he remains six days at some distance. Orders are given him (v. 12): Come up to the mount, and be there, that is, "Expect to continue there for some considerable time." Those that would have communion with God must not only come to ordinances, but they must abide by them. Blessed are those that dwell in his house, not that merely call there. "Come up, and I will give thee a law, that thou mayest teach them." Moses taught them nothing but what he had received from the Lord, and he received nothing from the Lord but what he taught them; for he was faithful both to God and Israel, and did neither add nor diminish, but kept close to his instructions. Having received these orders, 1. He appointed Aaron and Hur to be as lords-justices in his absence, to keep the peace and good order in the congregation, v. 14. The care of his government he would leave behind him when he went up into the mount, that he might not have that to distract his mind; and yet he would not leave the people as sheep having no shepherd, no, not for a few days. Good princes find their government a constant care, and their people find it a constant blessing. 2. He took Joshua up with him into the mount, v. 13. Joshua was his minister, and it would be a satisfaction to him to have him with him as a companion, during the six days that he tarried in the mount, before God called to him. Joshua was to be his successor, and therefore thus he was honoured before the people, above the rest of the elders, that they might afterwards the more readily take him for their governor; and thus he was prepared for service, by being trained up in communion with God. Joshua was a type of Christ, and (as the learned bishop Pearson well observes) Moses takes him with him into the mount, because without Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, there is no looking into the secrets of heaven, nor approaching the glorious presence of God. 3. A cloud covered the mount six days, a visible token of God's special presence there, for he so shows himself to us as at the same time to conceal himself from us. He lets us know so much as to assure us of his presence, power, and grace, but intimates to us that we cannot find him out to perfection. During these six days Moses staid waiting upon the mountain for a call into the presence-chamber, v. 15, 16. God thus tried the patience of Moses, and his obedience to that command (v. 12), Be there. If Moses had been tired before the seventh day (as Saul, 1 Sam. xiii. 8, 9), and had said, What should I wait for the Lord any longer? he would have lost the honour of entering into the cloud; but communion with God is worth waiting for. And it is fit we should address ourselves to solemn ordinances with a solemn pause, taking time to compose ourselves, Ps. cviii. 1.
II. He is called up into a cloud on the seventh day, probably on the sabbath day, v. 16. Now, 1. The thick cloud opened in the sight of all Israel, and the glory of the Lord broke forth like devouring fire, v. 17. God, even our God, is a consuming fire, and so he was pleased to manifest himself in the giving of the law, that, knowing the terrors of the Lord, we may be persuaded to obey, and may by them be prepared for the comforts of the gospel, and that the grace and truth which come by Jesus Christ may be the more acceptable. 2. The entrance of Moses into the cloud was very wonderful: Moses went into the midst of the cloud, v. 18. It was an extraordinary presence of mind which the grace of God furnished him with by his six days' preparation, else he durst not have ventured into the cloud, especially when it broke out in devouring fire. Moses was sure that he who called him would protect him; and even those glorious attributes of God which are most terrible to the wicked the saints with a humble reverence rejoice in. He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly, is able to dwell even with this devouring fire, as we are told, Isa. xxxiii. 14, 15. There are persons and works that will abide the fire, 1 Cor. iii. 12, &c., and some that will have confidence before God. 3. His continuance in the cloud was no less wonderful; he was there forty days and forty nights. It should seem, the six days (v. 16) were not part of the forty; for, during those six days, Moses was with Joshua, who did eat of the manna, and drink of the brook, mentioned, Deut. ix. 21, and while they were together it is probable that Moses did eat and drink with him; but when Moses was called into the midst of the cloud he left Joshua without, who continued to eat and drink daily while he waited for Moses's return, but thenceforward Moses fasted. Doubtless God could have said what he had now to say to Moses in one day, but, for the greater solemnity of the thing, he kept him with him in the mount forty days and forty nights. We are hereby taught to spend much time in communion with God, and to think that time best spent which is so spent. Those that would get the knowledge of God's will must meditate thereon day and night.

CHAP. 25.Edit


At this chapter begins an account of the orders and instructions God gave to Moses upon the mount for the erecting and furnishing of a tabernacle to the honour of God. We have here. I. Orders given for a collection to be made among the people for this purpose, ver. 1-9. II. Particular instructions, 1. Concerning the ark of the covenant,

ver. 10-22. 2. The table of showbread, ver. 23-30. 3. The golden candlestick, ver. 31, &c.

verses 1-9Edit

The Tabernacle and Its Furniture. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. 3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, 4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, 5 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, 6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, 7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show thee,
after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
We may suppose that when Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and abode there so long, where the holy angels attended the shechinah, or divine Majesty, he saw and heard very glorious things relating to the upper world, but they were things which it was not lawful nor possible to utter; and therefore, in the records he kept of the transactions there, he says nothing to satisfy the curiosity of those who would intrude into the things which they have not seen, but writes that only which he was to speak to the children of Israel. For the scripture is designed to direct us in our duty, not to fill our heads with speculations, nor to please our fancies.
In these verses God tells Moses his intention in general, that the children of Israel should build him a sanctuary, for he designed to dwell among them (v. 8); and some think that, though there were altars and groves used for religious worship before this, yet there never was any house, or temple, built for sacred uses in any nation before this tabernacle was erected by Moses, and that all the temples which were afterwards so much celebrated among the heathen took rise from this and pattern by it. God had chosen the people of Israel to be a peculiar people to himself (above all people), among whom divine revelation, and a religion according to it, should be lodged and established: he himself would be their King. As their King, he had already given them laws for the government of themselves, and their dealings one with another, with some general rules for religious worship, according to the light of reason and the law of nature, in the ten commandments and the following comments upon them. But this was not thought sufficient to distinguish them from other nations, or to answer to the extent of that covenant which God would make with them to be their God; and therefore,
I. He orders a royal palace to be set up among them for himself, here called a sanctuary, or holy place, or habitation, of which it is said (Jer. xvii. 12), A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. This sanctuary is to be considered,
1. As ceremonial, consonant to the other institutions of that dispensation, which consisted in carnal ordinances (Heb. ix. 10); hence it is called a worldly sanctuary, Heb. ix. 1. God in it kept his court, as Israel's King. (1.) There he manifested his presence among them, and it was intended for a sign or token of his presence, that, while they had that in the midst of them, they might never again ask, Is the Lord among us or not? And, because in the wilderness they dwelt in tents, even this royal palace was ordered to be a tabernacle too, that it might move with them, and might be an instance of the condescension of the divine favour. (2.) There he ordered his subjects to attend him with their homage and tribute. Thither they must come to consult his oracles, thither they must bring their sacrifices, and there all Israel must meet, to pay their joint respects to the God of Israel.
2. As typical; the holy places made with hands were the figures of the true, Heb. ix. 24. The gospel church is the true tabernacle, which the Lord hath pitched, and not man, Heb. viii. 2. The body of Christ, in and by which he made atonement, was the greater and more perfect tabernacle, Heb. ix. 11. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, as in a tabernacle.
II. When Moses was to erect this palace, it was requisite that he should first be instructed where he must have the materials, and where he must have the model; for he could neither contrive it by his own ingenuity nor build it at his own charge; he is therefore directed here concerning both.
1. The people must furnish him with the materials, not by a tax imposed upon them, but by a voluntary contribution. This is the first thing concerning which orders are here given.
(1.) Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring me an offering; and there was all the reason in the world that they should, for (v. 1), [1.] It was God himself that had not only enlarged them, but enriched them with the spoils of the Egyptians. He had instructed them to borrow, and he had inclined the Egyptians to lend, so that from him they had their wealth, and therefore it was fit they should devote it to him and use it for him, and thus make a grateful acknowledgement of the favours they had received. Note, First, The best use we can make of our worldly wealth is to honour God with it in works of piety and charity. Secondly, When we have been blessed with some remarkable success in our affairs, and have had, as we say, a good turn, it may be justly expected that we should do something more than ordinary for the glory of God, consecrating our gain, in some reasonable proportion of it, to the Lord of the whole earth, Mic. iv. 13. [2.] The sanctuary that was to be built was intended for their benefit and comfort, and therefore they must be at the expense of it. They had been unworthy of the privilege if they had grudged at the charge. They might well afford to offer liberally for the honour of God, while they lived at free quarters, having food for themselves and their families rained upon them daily from heaven. We also must own that we have our all from God's bounty, and therefore ought to use all for his glory. Since we live upon him, we must live to him.
(2.) This offering must be given willingly, and with the heart, that is, [1.] It was not prescribed to them what or how much they must give, but it was left to their generosity, that they might show their good-will to the house of God and the offices thereof, and might do it with a holy emulation, the zeal of a few provoking many, 2 Cor. ix. 2. We should ask, not only, "What must we do?" but, "What may we do for God?" [2.] Whatever they gave, they must give it cheerfully, not grudgingly and with reluctance, for God loves a cheerful giver, 2 Cor. ix. 7. What is laid out in the service of God we must reckon well bestowed.
(3.) The particulars are here mentioned which they must offer (v. 3-7), all of them things that there would be occasion for in the tabernacle, or the service of it. Some observe that here was gold, silver, and brass, provided, but no iron; that is the military metal, and this was to be a house of peace. Every thing that was provided was very rich and fine, and the best of the sort; for God, who is the best, should have the best.
2. God himself would furnish him with the model: According to all that I show thee, v. 9. God showed him an exact plan of it, in miniature, which he must conform to in all points. Thus Ezekiel saw in vision the form of the house and the fashion thereof, Ezek. xliii. 11. Note, Whatsoever is done in God's service must be done by his direction, and not otherwise. Yet God did not only show him the model, but gave him also particular directions how to frame the tabernacle according to that model, in all the parts of it, which he goes over distinctly in this and the following chapters. When Moses, in the beginning of Genesis, was to describe the creation of the world, though it is such a stately and curious fabric and made up of such a variety and vast number of particulars, yet he gave a very short and general account of it, and nothing compared with what the wisdom of this world would have desired and expected from one that wrote by divine revelation; but, when he comes to describe the tabernacle, he does it with the greatest niceness and accuracy imaginable. He that gave us no account of the lines and circles of the globe, the diameter of the earth, or the height and magnitude of the stars, has told us particularly the measure of every board and curtain of the tabernacle; for God's church and instituted religion are more precious to him and more considerable than all the rest of the world. And the scriptures were written, not to describe to us the works of nature, a general view of which is sufficient to lead us to the knowledge and service of the Creator, but to acquaint us with the methods of grace, and those things which are purely matters of divine revelation. The blessedness of the future state is more fully represented under the notion of a new Jerusalem than under the notion of new heavens and a new earth.

verses 10-22Edit


10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. 12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. 13 And thou shalt make staves
of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. 15 The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. 16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. 17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end:
even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth
their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

The first thing which is here ordered to be made is the ark with its appurtenances, the furniture of the most holy place, and the special token of God's presence, for which the tabernacle was erected to be the receptacle.
I. The ark itself was a chest, or coffer, in which the two tables of the law, written with the finger of God, were to be honourably deposited, and carefully kept. The dimensions of it are exactly ordered; if the Jewish cubit was, as some learned men compute, three inches longer than our half-yard (twenty-one inches in all), this chest or cabinet was about fifty-two inches long, thirty-one broad, and thirty-one deep. It was overlaid within and without with thin plates of gold. It had a crown, or cornice, of gold, round it, with rings and staves to carry it with; and in it he must put the testimony, v. 10-16. The tables of the law are called the testimony because God did in them testify his will: his giving them that law was in token of his favour to them; and their acceptance of it was in token of their subjection and obedience to him. This law was a testimony to them, to direct them in their duty, and would be a testimony against them if they transgressed. The ark is called the ark of the testimony (ch. xxx. 6), and the tabernacle the tabernacle of the testimony (Num. x. 11) or witness, Acts vii. 44. The gospel of Christ is also called a testimony or witness, Matt. xxiv. 14. It is observable, 1. That the tables of the law were carefully preserved in the ark for the purpose, to teach us to make much of the word of God, and to hide it in our hearts, in our innermost thoughts, as the ark was placed in the holy of holies. It intimates likewise the care which divine Providence ever did, and ever will, take to preserve the records of divine revelation in the church, so that even in the latter days there shall be seen in his temple the ark of his testament. See Rev. xi. 19. 2. That this ark was the chief token of God's presence, which teaches us that the first and great evidence and assurance of God's favour is the putting of his law in the heart. God dwells where that rules, Heb. viii. 10. 3. That provision was made for the carrying of this ark about with them in all their removals, which intimates to us that, wherever we go, we should take our religion along with us, always bearing about with us the love of the Lord Jesus, and his law.
II. The mercy-seat was the covering of the ark or chest, made of solid gold, exactly to fit the dimensions of the ark, v. 17, 21. This propitiatory covering, as it might well be translated, was a type of Christ, the great propitiation, whose satisfaction fully answers the demands of the law, covers our transgressions, and comes between us and the curse we deserve. Thus he is the end of the law for righteousness.
III. The cherubim of gold were fixed to the mercy-seat, and of a piece with it, and spread their wings over it, v. 18. It is supposed that these cherubim were designed to represent the holy angels, who always attended the shechinah, or divine Majesty, particularly at the giving of the law; not by any effigies of an angel, but some emblem of the angelical nature, probably some one of those four faces spoken of, Ezek. i. 10. Whatever the faces were, they looked one towards another, and both downward towards the ark, while their wings were stretched out so as to touch one another. The apostle calls them cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat, Heb. ix. 5. It denotes their attendance upon the Redeemer, to whom they were ministering spirits, their readiness to do his will, their special presence in the assemblies of saints (Ps. lxviii. 17; 1 Cor. xi. 10), and their desire to look into the mysteries of the gospel which they diligently contemplate, 1 Pet. i. 12. God is said to dwell, or sit, between the cherubim, on the mercy-seat (Ps. lxxx. 1), and thence he here promises, for the future, to meet with Moses, and to commune with him, v. 22. There he would give law, and there he would give audience, as a prince on his throne; and thus he manifests himself willing to be reconciled to us, and keep up communion with us, in and by the mediation of Christ. In allusion to this mercy-seat, we are said to come boldly to the throne of grace (Heb. iv. 16); for we are not under the law, which is covered, but under grace, which is displayed; its wings are stretched out, and we are invited to come under the shadow of them, Ruth ii. 12.

verses 23-30Edit


23 Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 24 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about. 25 And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. 26 And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. 27 Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. 28 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. 29 And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. 30 And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me alway.

Here is, 1. A table ordered to be made of wood overlaid with gold, which was to stand, not in the holy of holies (nothing was in that but the ark with its appurtenances), but in the outer part of the tabernacle, called the sanctuary, or holy place, Heb. ix. 2, 23, &c. There must also be the usual furniture of the sideboard, dishes and spoons, &c., and all of gold, v. 29. 2. This table was to be always spread, and furnished with the show-bread (v. 30), or bread of faces, twelve loaves, one for each tribe, set in two rows, six in a row; see the law concerning them, Lev. xxiv. 5, &c. The tabernacle being God's house, in which he was pleased to say that he would dwell among them, he would show that he kept a good house. In the royal palace it was fit that there should be a royal table. Some make the twelve loaves to represent the twelve tribes, set before God as his people and the corn of his floor, as they are called, Isa. xxi. 10. As the ark signified God's being present with them, so the twelve loaves signified their being presented to God. This bread was designed to be, (1.) A thankful acknowledgement of God's goodness to them, in giving them their daily bread, manna in the wilderness, where he prepared a table for them, and, in Canaan, the corn of the land. Hereby they owned their dependence upon Providence, not only for the corn in the field, which they gave thanks for in offering the sheaf of first-fruits, but for the bread in their houses, that, when it was brought home, God did not blow upon it, Hag. i. 9. Christ has taught us to pray every day for the bread of the day. (2.) A token of their communion with God. This bread on God's table being made of the same corn with the bread on their own tables, God and Israel did, as it were, eat together, as a pledge of friendship and fellowship; he supped with them, and they with him. (3.) A type of the spiritual provision which is made in the church, by the gospel of Christ, for all that are made priests to our God. In our Father's house there is bread enough and to spare, a loaf for every tribe. All that attend in God's house shall be abundantly satisfied with the goodness of it, Ps. xxxvi. 8. Divine consolations are the continual feast of holy souls, notwithstanding there are those to whom the table of the Lord, and the meat thereof (because it is plain bread), are contemptible, Mal. i. 12. Christ has a table in his kingdom, at which all his saints shall for every eat and drink with him, Luke xxii. 30.

verses 31-40Edit


31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. 32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: 33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. 34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds,
with their knops and their flowers. 35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. 36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. 37 And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. 38 And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. 39 Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. 40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.

I. The next thing ordered to be made for the furnishing of God's palace was a rich stately candlestick, all of pure gold, not hollow, but solid. The particular directions here given concerning it show, 1. That it was very magnificent, and a great ornament to the place; it had many branches drawn from the main shaft, which had not only their bowls (to put the oil and the kindled wick in) for necessity, but knops and flowers for ornament. 2. That it was very convenient, and admirably contrived both to scatter the light and to keep the tabernacle clean from smoke and snuffs. 3. That it was very significant. The tabernacle had no windows by which to let in the light of the day, all its light was candle-light, which intimates the comparative darkness of that dispensation, while the Sun or righteousness had not as yet risen, nor had the day-star from on high yet visited his church. Yet God left not himself without witness, nor them without instruction; the commandment was a lamp, and the law a light, and the prophets were branches from that lamp, which gave light in their several ages to the Old-Testament church. The church is still dark, as the tabernacle was, in comparison with what it will be in heaven; but the word of God is the candlestick, a light shining in a dark place (2 Pet. i. 19), and a dark place indeed the world would be without it. The Spirit of God, in his various gifts and graces, is compared to the seven lamps which burn before the throne, Rev. iv. 5. The churches are golden candlesticks, the lights of the world, holding forth the word of life as the candlestick does the light, Phil. ii. 15, 16. Ministers are to light the lamps, and snuff them (v. 37), by opening the scriptures. The treasure of this light is now put into earthen vessels, 2 Cor. iv. 6, 7. The branches of the candlestick spread every way, to denote the diffusing of the light of the gospel into all parts by the Christian ministry, Matt. v. 14, 15. There is a diversity of gifts, but the same Spirit gives to each to profit withal.
II. There is in the midst of these instructions an express caution given to Moses, to take heed of varying from his model: Make them after the pattern shown thee, v. 40. Nothing was left to his own invention, or the fancy of the workmen, or the people's humour; but the will of God must be religiously observed in every particular. Thus, 1. All God's providences are exactly according to his counsels, and the copy never varies from the original. Infinite Wisdom never changes its measures; whatever is purposed shall undoubtedly be performed. 2. All his ordinances must be administered according to his institutions. Christ's instruction to his disciples (Matt. xxviii. 20) is similar to this: Observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

CHAP. 26.Edit


Moses here receives instructions, I. Concerning the inner curtains of the tent or tabernacle, and the coupling of those curtains, ver. 1-6. II. Concerning the outer curtains which were of goats' hair, to strengthen the former, ver. 7-13. III. Concerning the case or cover which was to secure it from the weather, ver. 14. IV. Concerning the boards which were to be reared up to support the curtains, with their bars and sockets, ver. 15-30. V. The partition between the holy place and the most holy, ver. 31-35. VI. The veil for the door,

ver. 36, 37. These particulars, thus largely recorded, seem of little use to us now; yet, having been of great use to Moses and Israel, and God having thought fit to preserve down to us the remembrance of them, we ought not to overlook them. Even the antiquity renders this account venerable.

verses 1-6Edit

The Tabernacle and Its Furniture. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle
with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. 2 The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure. 3 The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another. 4 And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second. 5 Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another. 6 And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.
I. The house must be a tabernacle or tent, such as soldiers now use in the camp, which was both a mean dwelling and a movable one; and yet the ark of God had not better, till Solomon built the temple 480 years after this, 1 Kings vi. 1. God manifested his presence among them thus in a tabernacle, 1. In compliance with their present condition in the wilderness, that they might have him with them wherever they went. Note, God suits the tokens of his favour, and the gifts of his grace, to his people's wants and necessities, according as they are, accommodating his mercy to their state, prosperous or adverse, settled or unsettled. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, Isa. xliii. 2. 2. That it might represent the state of God's church in this world, it is a tabernacle-state, Ps. xv. 1. We have here no continuing city; being strangers in this world, and travellers towards a better, we shall never be fixed till we come to heaven. Church-privileges are movable goods, from one place to another; the gospel is not tied to any place; the candlestick is in a tent, and may easily be taken away, Rev. ii. 5. If we make much of the tabernacle, and improve the privilege of it, wherever we go it will accompany us; but, if we neglect and disgrace it, wherever we stay it will forsake us. What hath my beloved to do in my house? Jer. xi. 15.
II. The curtains of the tabernacle must correspond to a divine pattern. 1. They were to be very rich, the best of the kind, fine twined linen; and colours very pleasing, blue, and purple, and scarlet. 2. They were to be embroidered with cherubim (v. 1), to intimate that the angels of God pitch their tents round about the church, Ps. xxxiv. 7. As there were cherubim over the mercy-seat, so there were round the tabernacle; for we find the angels compassing, not only the throne, but the elders; see Rev. v. 11. 3. There were to be two hangings, five breadths in each, sewed together, and the two hangings coupled together with golden clasps, or tacks, so that it might be all one tabernacle, v. 6. Thus the churches of Christ and the saints, though they are many, are yet one, being fitly joined together in holy love, and by the unity of the Spirit, so growing into one holy temple in the Lord, Eph. ii. 21, 22; iv. 16. This tabernacle was very strait and narrow; but, at the preaching of the gospel, the church is bidden to enlarge the place of her tent, and to stretch forth her curtains, Isa. liv. 2.

verses 7-14Edit


7 And thou shalt make curtains of goats'
hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make. 8 The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure. 9 And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle. 10 And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second. 11 And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one. 12 And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle. 13 And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it. 14 And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers' skins.
Moses is here ordered to make a double covering for the tabernacle, that it might not rain in, and that the beauty of those fine curtains might not be damaged. 1. There was to be a covering of hair camlet curtains, which were somewhat larger every way than the inner curtains, because they were to enclose them, and probably were stretched out at some little distance from them, v. 7, &c. These were coupled together with brass clasps. The stuff being less valuable, the tacks were so; but the brass tacks would answer the intention as effectually as the golden ones. The bonds of unity may be as strong between curtains of goats' hair as between those of purple and scarlet. 2. Over this there was to be another covering, and that a double one (v. 14), one of rams' skins dyed red, probably dressed with the wool on; another of badgers' skins, so we translate it, but it should rather seem to have been some strong sort of leather (but very fine), for we read of the best sort of shoes being made of it, Ezek. xvi. 10. Now observe here, (1.) That the outside of the tabernacle was coarse and rough, the beauty of it was in the inner curtains. Those in whom God dwells must labour to be better than they seem to be. Hypocrites put the best side outwards, like whited sepulchres; but the king's daughter is all glorious within (Ps. xlv. 13); in the eye of the world black as the tents of Kedar, but, in the eye of God, comely as the curtains of Solomon, Cant. i. 5. Let our adorning be that of the hidden man of the heart, which God values, 1 Pet. iii. 4. (2.) That where God places his glory he will create a defence upon it; even upon the habitations of the righteous there shall be a covert, Isa. vi. 5, 6. The protection of Providence shall always be upon the beauty of holiness. God's tent will be a pavilion, Ps. xxvii. 5.

verses 15-30Edit


15 And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle
of shittim wood standing up. 16 Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. 17 Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle. 18 And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward. 19 And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons. 20 And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards: 21 And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. 22 And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards. 23 And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides. 24 And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. 25 And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. 26 And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, 27 And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward. 28 And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end. 29 And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold. 30 And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was showed thee in the mount.
Very particular directions are here given about the boards of the tabernacle, which were to bear up the curtains, as the stakes of a tent which had need to be strong, Isa. liv. 2. These boards had tenons which fell into the mortises that were made for them in silver bases. God took care to have every thing strong, as well as fine, in his tabernacle. Curtains without boards would have been shaken by every wind; but it is a good thing to have the heart established with grace, which is as the boards to support the curtains of profession, which otherwise will not hold out long. The boards were coupled together with gold rings at top and bottom (v. 24), and kept firm with bars that ran through golden staples in every board (v. 26), and the boards and bars were all richly gilded, v. 29. Thus every thing in the tabernacle was very splendid, agreeable to that infant state of the church, when such things were proper enough to please children, to possess the minds of the worshippers with a reverence of the divine glory, and to affect them with the greatness of that prince who said, Here will I dwell; in allusion to this the new Jerusalem is said to be of pure gold, Rev. xxi. 18. But the builders of the gospel church said, Silver and gold have we none; and yet the glory of their building far exceeded that of the tabernacle, 2 Cor. iii. 10, 11. How much better is wisdom than gold! No orders are given here about the floor of the tabernacle; probably that also was boarded; for we cannot think that within all these fine curtains they trod upon the cold or wet ground; if it was so left, it may remind us of ch. xx. 24, An altar of earth shalt thou make unto me.

verses 31-37Edit


31 And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: 32 And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks
shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. 33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. 34 And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. 35 And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side. 36 And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. 37 And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.
Two veils are here ordered to be made, 1. One for a partition between the holy place and the most holy, which not only forbade any to enter, but forbade them so much as to look into the holiest of all, v. 31, 33. Under that dispensation, divine grace was veiled, but now we behold it with open face, 2 Cor. iii. 18. The apostle tells us (Heb. ix. 8, 9) what was the meaning of this veil; it intimated that the ceremonial law could not make the comers thereunto perfect, nor would the observance of it bring men to heaven; the way into the holiest of all was not made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing; life and immortality lay concealed till they were brought to light by the gospel, which was therefore signified by the rending of this veil at the death of Christ, Matt. xxvii. 51. We have not boldness to enter into the holiest, in all acts of devotion, by the blood of Jesus, yet such as obliges us to a holy reverence and a humble sense of our distance. 2. Another veil was for the outer door of the tabernacle, v. 36, 37. Through this first veil the priests went in every day to minister in the holy place, but not the people, Heb. ix. 6. This veil, which was all the defence the tabernacle had against thieves and robbers, might easily be broken through, for it could be neither locked nor barred, and the abundance of wealth in the tabernacle, one would think, might be a temptation; but by leaving it thus exposed, (1.) The priests and Levites would be so much the more obliged to keep a strict watch upon it, and, (2.) God would show his care of his church on earth, though it is weak and defenceless, and continually exposed. A curtain shall be (if God please to make it so) as strong a defence to his house as gates of brass and bars of iron.

CHAP. 27.Edit


In this chapter directions are given, I. Concerning the brazen altar for burnt-offerings, ver. 1-8. II. Concerning the court of the tabernacle, with the hangings of it, ver. 9-19. III. Concerning oil for the lamp, ver. 20, 21.


verses 1-8Edit

The Tabernacle and Its Furniture. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. 2 And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass. 3 And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass. 4 And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof. 5 And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar. 6 And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass. 7 And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it. 8 Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was showed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.

As God intended in the tabernacle to manifest his presence among his people, so there they were to pay their devotions to him, not in the tabernacle itself (into that only the priests entered as God's domestic servants), but in the court before the tabernacle, where, as common subjects, they attended. There an altar was ordered to be set up, to which they must bring their sacrifices, and on which their priests must offer them to God: and this altar was to sanctify their gifts. Here they were to present their services to God, as from the mercy-seat he gave his oracles to them; and thus a communion was settled between God and Israel. Moses is here directed about, 1. The dimensions of it; it was square, v. 1. 2. The horns of it (v. 2), which were for ornament and for use; the sacrifices were bound with cords to the horns of the altar, and to them malefactors fled for refuge. 3. The materials; it was of wood overlaid with brass, v. 1, 2. 4. The appurtenances of it (v. 3), which were all of brass. 5. The grate, which was let into the hollow of the altar, about the middle of it, in which the fire was kept, and the sacrifice burnt; it was made of network like a sieve, and hung hollow, that the fire might burn the better, and that the ashes might fall through into the hollow of the altar, v. 4, 5. 6. The staves with which it must be carried, v. 6, 7. And, lastly, he is referred to the pattern shown him, v. 8.
Now this brazen altar was a type of Christ dying to make atonement for our sins: the wood would have been consumed by the fire from heaven if it had not been secured by the brass; nor could the human nature of Christ have borne the wrath of God if it had not been supported by a divine power. Christ sanctified himself for his church, as their altar (John xvii. 19), and by his mediation sanctifies the daily services of his people, who have also a right to eat of this altar (Heb. xiii. 10), for they serve at it as spiritual priests. To the horns of this altar poor sinners fly for refuge when justice pursues them, and they are safe in virtue of the sacrifice there offered.

verses 9-19Edit


9 And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: 10 And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. 11 And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver. 12 And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten. 13 And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits. 14 The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. 15 And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. 16 And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four. 17 All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass. 18 The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty everywhere, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass. 19 All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass.

Before the tabernacle there was to be a court or yard, enclosed with hangings of the finest linen that was used for tents. This court, according to the common computation of cubits, was fifty yards long, and twenty-five broad. Pillars were set up at convenient distances, in sockets of brass, the pillars filleted with silver, and silver tenter-hooks in them, on which the linen hangings were fastened: the hanging which served for the gate was finer than the rest, v. 16. This court was a type of the church, enclosed and distinguished from the rest of the world, the enclosure supported by pillars, denoting the stability of the church, hung with the clean linen, which is said to be the righteousness of saints, Rev. xix. 8. These were the courts David longed for and coveted to reside in (Ps. lxxxiv. 2, 10), and into which the people of God entered with praise and thanksgiving (Ps. c. 4); yet this court would contain but a few worshippers. Thanks be to God, now, under the gospel, the enclosure is taken down. God's will is that men pray everywhere; and there is room for all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ.

verses 20-21Edit


20 And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always. 21 In the tabernacle of the congregation without the vail, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord : it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.

We read of the candlestick in the twenty-fifth chapter; here is an order given for the keeping of the lamps constantly burning in it, else it was useless; in every candlestick there should be a burning and shining light; candlesticks without candles are as wells without water or as clouds without rain. Now, 1. The people were to provide the oil; from them the Lord's ministers must have their maintenance. Or, rather, the pure oil signified the gifts and graces of the Spirit, which are communicated to all believers from Christ the good olive, of whose fulness we receive (Zech. iv. 11, 12), and without which our light cannot shine before men. 2. The priests were to light the lamps, and to tend them; it was part of their daily service to cause the lamp to burn always, night and day; thus it is the work of ministers, by the preaching and expounding of the scriptures (which are as a lamp), to enlighten the church, God's tabernacle upon the earth, and to direct the spiritual priests in his service. This is to be a statute for ever, that the lamps of the word be lighted as duly as the incense of prayer and praise is offered.

CHAP. 28.Edit


Orders being given for the fitting up of the place of worship, in this and the following chapter care is taken about the priests that were to minister in this holy place, as the menial servants of the God of Israel. He hired servants, as a token of his purpose to reside among them. In this chapter, I. He pitches upon the persons who should be his servants, ver. 1. II. He appoints their livery; their work was holy, and so must their garments be, and unanswerable to the glory of the house which was now to be erected, ver. 2-5. 1. He appoints the garments of his head-servant, the high priest, which were very rich. (1.) An ephod and girdle, ver. 6-14. (2.) A breast-plate of judgment (ver. 15-29), in which must be put the urim and thummim, ver. 30. (3.) The robe of the ephod, ver. 31-35. (4.) The mitre, ver. 36-39. 2. The garments of the inferior priests, ver. 40-43. And these also were shadows of good things to come.


verses 1-5Edit

The Priests' Attire. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons. 2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty. 3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. 4 And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. 5 And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.

We have here,
I. The priests nominated: Aaron and his sons, v. 1. Hitherto every master of a family was priest to his own family, and offered, as he saw cause, upon altars of earth; but now that the families of Israel began to be incorporated into a nation, and a tabernacle of the congregation was to be erected, as a visible centre of their unity, it was requisite there should be a public priesthood instituted. Moses, who had hitherto officiated, and is therefore reckoned among the priests of the Lord (Ps. xcix. 6), had enough to do as their prophet to consult the oracle for them, and as their prince to judge among them; nor was he desirous to engross all the honours to himself, or to entail that of the priesthood, which alone was hereditary, upon his own family, but was very well pleased to see his brother Aaron invested in this office, and his sons after him, while (how great soever he was) his sons after him would be but common Levites. It is an instance of the humility of that great man, and an evidence of his sincere regard for the glory of God, that he had so little regard to the preferment of his own family. Aaron, who had humbly served as a prophet to his younger brother Moses, and did not decline the office (ch. vii. 1), is now advanced to be a priest, a high priest to God; for he will exalt those that abase themselves. Nor could any man have taken this honour to himself, but he that was called of God to it, Heb. v. 4. God had said of Israel in general that they should be to him a kingdom of priests, ch. xix. 6. But because it was requisite that those who ministered at the altar should give themselves wholly to the service, and because that which is everybody's work will soon come to be nobody's work, God here chose from among them one to be a family of priests, the father and his four sons; and from Aaron's loins descended all the priests of the Jewish church, of whom we read so often, both in the Old Testament and in the New. A blessed thing it is when real holiness goes, as the ceremonial holiness did, by succession in a family.
II. The priests' garments appointed, for glory and beauty, v. 2. Some of the richest materials were to be provided (v. 5), and the best artists employed in the making of them, whose skill God, by a special gift for this purpose, would improve to a very high degree, v. 3. Note, Eminence, even in common arts, is a gift of God, it comes from him, and, as there is occasion, it ought to be used for him. He that teaches the husbandman discretion teaches the tradesman also; both therefore ought to honour God with their gain. Human learning ought particularly to be consecrated to the service of the priesthood, and employed for the adorning of those that minister about holy things. The garments appointed were, 1. Four, which both the high priest and the inferior priests wore, namely, the linen breeches, the linen coat, the linen girdle which fastened it to them, and the bonnet or turban; that which the high priest wore is called a mitre. 2. Four more, which were peculiar to the high priest, namely, the ephod, with the curious girdle of it, the breast-plate of judgment, the long robe with the bells and pomegranates at the bottom of it, and the golden plate on his forehead. These glorious garments were appointed, (1.) That the priests themselves might be reminded of the dignity of their office, and might behave themselves with due decorum. (2.) That the people might thereby be possessed with a holy reverence of that God whose ministers appeared in such grandeur. (3.) That the priests might be types of Christ, who should offer himself without spot to God, and of all Christians, who have the beauty of holiness put upon them, in which they are consecrated to God. Our adorning, now under the gospel, both that of ministers and Christians, is not to be of gold, and pearl, and costly array, but the garments of salvation, and the robe of righteousness, Isa. lxi. 10; Ps. cxxxii. 9, 16. As the filthy garments wherewith Joshua the high priest was clothed signified the iniquity which cleaved to his priesthood, from which care was taken that it should be purged (Zech. iii. 3, 4), so those holy garments signified the perfect purity that there is in the priesthood of Christ; he is holy, harmless, and undefiled.

verses 6-14Edit


6 And they shall make the ephod of gold,
of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work. 7 It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and
so it shall be joined together. 8 And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. 9 And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: 10 Six of their names on one stone, and
the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth. 11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold. 12 And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial. 13 And thou shalt make ouches
of gold; 14 And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen work shalt thou make them, and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches.

Directions are here given concerning the ephod, which was the outmost garment of the high priest. Linen ephods were worn by the inferior priests, 1 Sam. xxii. 18. Samuel wore one when he was a child (1 Sam. ii. 18), and David when he danced before the ark (2 Sam. vi. 14); but this which the high priest only wore was called a golden ephod, because there was a great deal of gold woven into it. It was a short coat without sleeves, buttoned closely to him, with a curious girdle of the same stuff (v. 6-8); the shoulder-pieces were buttoned together with two precious stones set in gold, one on each shoulder, on which were engraven the names of the children of Israel, v. 9-12. In allusion to this, 1. Christ our high priest appeared to John girt about the breast with a golden girdle, such as was the curious girdle of the ephod, Rev. i. 13. Righteousness is the girdle of his loins (Isa. xi. 6), and should be of ours, Eph. vi. 14. He is girt with strength for the work of our salvation, and is ready for it. 2. The government is said to be upon his shoulders (Isa. ix. 6), as Aaron had the names of all Israel upon his shoulders in precious stone. He presents to himself and to his Father a glorious church, Eph. v. 27. He has power to support them, interest to recommend them, and it is in him that they are remembered with honour and favour. He bears them before the Lord for a memorial (v. 12), in token of his appearing before God as the representative of all Israel and an advocate for them.

verses 15-30Edit

Aaron's Attire. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


15 And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and
of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. 16 Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span
shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof. 17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row
shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. 18 And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. 19 And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. 20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings. 21 And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names,
like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes. 22 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate chains at the ends of wreathen work of pure gold. 23 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate. 24 And thou shalt put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate. 25 And the other two ends of the two wreathen chains thou shalt fasten in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod before it. 26 And thou shalt make two rings of gold, and thou shalt put them upon the two ends of the breastplate in the border thereof, which is in the side of the ephod inward. 27 And two other rings of gold thou shalt make, and shalt put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart thereof, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod. 28 And they shall bind the breastplate by the rings thereof unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod. 29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually. 30 And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the Lord : and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually.

The most considerable of the ornaments of the high priest was this breast-plate, a rich piece of cloth, curiously wrought with gold and purple, &c., two spans long and a span broad, so that, being doubled, it was a span square, v. 16. This was fastened to the ephod with wreathen chains of gold (v. 13, 14, 22, &c.) both at top and bottom, so that the breast-plate might not be loosed from the ephod, v. 28. The ephod was the garment of service; the breast-plate of judgment was an emblem of honour: these two must by no means be separated. If any man will minister unto the Lord, and do his will, he shall know his doctrine. In this breast-plate,
I. The tribes of Israel were recommended to God's favour in twelve precious stones, v. 17-21, 29. Some question whether Levi had a precious stone with his name or no. If not, Ephraim and Manasseh were reckoned distinct, as Jacob had said they should be, and the high priest himself, being head of the tribe of Levi, sufficiently represented that tribe. If there was a stone for Levi, as is intimated by this, that they were engraven according to their birth (v. 10), Ephraim and Manasseh were one in Joseph. Aaron was to bear their names for a memorial before the Lord continually, being ordained for men, to represent them in things pertaining to God, herein typifying our great high priest, who always appears in the presence of God for us. 1. Though the people were forbidden to come near, and obliged to keep their distance, yet by the high priest, who had their names on his breast-plate, they entered into the holiest; so believers, even while they are here on this earth, not only enter into the holiest, but by faith are made to sit with Christ in heavenly places, Eph. ii. 6. 2. The name of each tribe was engraven in a precious stone, to signify how precious, in God's sight, believers are, and how honourable, Isa. xliii. 4. They shall be his in the day he makes up his jewels, Mal. iii. 17. How small and poor soever the tribe was, it was a precious stone in the breast-plate of the high priest; thus are all the saints dear to Christ, and his delight is in them as the excellent ones of the earth, however men may esteem them as earthen pitchers, Lam. iv. 2. 3. The high priest had the names of the tribes both on his shoulders and on his breast, intimating both the power and the love with which our Lord Jesus intercedes for those that are his. He not only bears them up upon his heart, as the expression here is (v. 29), carries them in his bosom (Isa. xl. 11), with the most tender affection. How near should Christ's name be to our hearts, since he is pleased to lay our names so near his! and what a comfort it is to us, in all our addresses to God, that the great high priest of our profession has the names of all his Israel upon his breast before the Lord for a memorial, presenting them to God as the people of his choice, who were to be made accepted in the beloved! Let not any good Christians fear that God has forgotten them, nor question his being mindful of them upon all occasions, when they are not only engraven upon the palms of his hands (Isa. xlix. 16), but engraven upon the heart of the great intercessor. See Cant. viii. 6.
II. The urim and thummim, by which the will of God was made known in doubtful cases, were put in this breast-plate, which is therefore called the breast-plate of judgment, v. 30. Urim and thummim signify light and integrity; many conjectures there are among the learned what they were; we have no reason to think they were any thing that Moses was to make more than what was before ordered, so that either God made them himself, and gave them to Moses, for him to put into the breast-plate, when other things were prepared (Lev. viii. 8), or no more is meant than a declaration of the further use of what was already ordered to be made. I think the words may be read thus, And thou shalt give, or add, or deliver, to the breast-plate of judgment, the illuminations and perfections, and they shall be upon the heart of Aaron; that is, "He shall be endued with a power of knowing and making known the mind of God in all difficult doubtful cases, relating either to the civil or ecclesiastical state of the nation." Their government was a theocracy: God was their King, the high priest was, under God, their ruler, the urim and thummim were his cabinet-council; probably Moses wrote upon the breast-plate, or wove into it, these words, Urim and Thummim, to signify that the high priest, having on him this breast-plate, and asking counsel of God in any emergency relating to the public, should be directed to take those measures, and give that advice, which God would own. If he was standing before the ark (but without the veil) probably he received instructions from off the mercy-seat, as Moses did (ch. xxv. 22); thus, it should seem, Phinehas did, Judg. xx. 27, 28. If he was at a distance from the ark, as Abiathar was when he enquired of the Lord for David (1 Sam. xxiii. 6, &c.), then the answer was given either by a voice from heaven or rather by an impulse upon the mind of the high priest, which last is perhaps intimated in that expression, He shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart. This oracle was of great use to Israel; Joshua consulted it (Num. xxvii. 21), and, it is likely, the judges after him. It was lost in the captivity, and never regained after, though, it should seem, it was expected, Ezra ii. 63. But it was a shadow of good things to come, and the substance is Christ. He is our oracle; by him God in these last days makes known himself and his mind to us, Heb. i. 2; John i. 18. Divine revelation centres in him, and comes to us through him; he is the light, the true light, the faithful witness, the truth itself, and from him we receive the Spirit of truth, who leads into all truth. The joining of the breast-plate to the ephod denotes that his prophetical office was founded in his priesthood; and it was by the merit of his death that he purchased this honour for himself and this favour for us. It was the Lamb that had been slain that was worthy to take the book and to open the seals, Rev. v. 9.

verses 31-39Edit


31 And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all
of blue. 32 And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent. 33 And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: 34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. 35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy
place before the Lord , and when he cometh out, that he die not. 36 And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. 37 And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be. 38 And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord . 39 And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle
of needlework.
Here is, 1. Direction given concerning the robe of the ephod, v. 31-35. This was next under the ephod, and reached down to the knees, was without sleeves, and was put on over their head, having holes on the sides to put the arms through, or, as Maimonides describes it, was not sewed together on the sides at all. The hole on the top, through which the head was put, was carefully bound about, that it might not tear in the putting on. In religious worship, care must be taken to prevent every thing that may distract the minds of the worshippers, or render the service despicable. Round the skirts of the robe were hung golden bells, and the representations of pomegranates made of yarn of divers colours. The pomegranates added to the beauty of the robe, and the sound of the bells gave notice to the people in the outer court when he went into the holy place to burn incense, that they might then apply themselves to their devotions at the same time (Luke i. 10), in token of their concurrence with him in his offering, and their hopes of the ascent of their prayers to God in virtue of the incense he offered. Aaron must come near to minister in the garments that were appointed him, that he die not. It is at his peril if he attend otherwise than according to the institution. This intimates that we must serve the Lord with fear and holy trembling, as those that know we deserve to die, and are in danger of making some fatal mistake. Some make the bells of the holy robe to typify the sound of the gospel of Christ in the world, giving notice of his entrance within the veil for us. Blessed are those that hear this joyful sound, Ps. lxxxix. 15. The adding of the pomegranates, which are a fragrant fruit, denotes the sweet savour of the gospel, as well as the joyful sound of it, for it is a savour of life unto life. The church is called an orchard of pomegranates. 2. Concerning the golden plate fixed upon Aaron's forehead, on which must be engraven, Holiness to the Lord (v. 36, 37), or The holiness of Jehovah. Aaron must hereby be reminded that God is holy, and that his priests must be holy. Holiness becomes his house and household. The high priest must be sequestered from all pollution, and consecrated to God and to his service and honour, and so must all his ministrations be. All that attend in God's house must have Holiness to the Lord engraven upon their foreheads, that is, they must be holy, devoted to the Lord, and designing his glory in all they do. This must appear in their forehead, in an open profession of their relation to God, as those that are not ashamed to own it, and in a conversation in the world answerable to it. It must likewise be engraven like the engravings of a signet, so deep, so durable, not painted to be washed off, but sincere and lasting; such must our holiness to the Lord be. Aaron must have this upon his forehead, that he may bear the iniquity of the holy things (v. 38), and that they may be accepted before the Lord. Herein he was a type of Christ, the great Mediator between God and man, through whom it is that we have to do with God. (1.) Through him what is amiss in our services is pardoned. The divine law is strict; in many things we come short of our duty, so that we cannot but be conscious to ourselves of much iniquity cleaving even to our holy things; when we would do good evil is present; even this would be our ruin if God should enter into judgment with us. But Christ, our high priest, bears this iniquity, bears it for us so as to bear it from us, and through him it is forgiven to us and not laid to our charge. (2.) Through him what is good is accepted; our persons, our performances, are pleasing to God upon the account of Christ's intercession, and not otherwise, 1 Pet. ii. 5. His being holiness to the Lord recommends all those to the divine favour that are interested in his righteousness, and clothed with his Spirit; and therefore he has said it was for our sakes that he sanctified himself, John xvii. 19. Having such a high priest, we come boldly to the throne of grace, Heb. iv. 14-16. 3. The rest of the garments are but named (v. 39), because there was nothing extraordinary in them. The embroidered coat of fine linen was the innermost of the priestly garments; it reached to the feet, and the sleeves to the wrists, and was bound to the body with a girdle or sash of needle-work. The mitre, or diadem, was of linen, such as kings anciently wore in the east, typifying the kingly office of Christ. He is a priest upon a throne (Zech. vi. 13), a priest with a crown. These two God has joined, and we must not think to separate them.

verses 40-43Edit

The Priests' Attire. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


40 And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty. 41 And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office. 42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: 43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.

We have here, 1. Particular orders about the vestments of the inferior priests. They were to have coats, and girdles, and bonnets, of the same materials with those of the high priest; but there was a difference in shape between their bonnets and his mitre. Theirs, as his, were to be for glory and beauty (v. 40), that they might look great in their ministration: yet all this glory was nothing compared with the glory of grace, this beauty nothing to the beauty of holiness, of which these holy garments were typical. They are particularly ordered, in their ministration, to wear linen breeches, v. 42. This teaches us modesty and decency of garb and gesture at all times, especially in public worship, in which a veil is becoming, 1 Cor. xi. 5, 6, 10. It also intimates what need our souls have of a covering, when we come before God, that the shame of their nakedness may not appear. 2. A general rule concerning the garments both of the high priest and of the inferior priests, that they were to be put upon them, at first, when they were consecrated, in token of their being invested in the office (v. 41), and then they were to wear them in all their ministrations, but not at other times (v. 43), and this at their peril, lest they bear iniquity and die. Those who are guilty of omissions in duty, as well as omissions of duty, shall bear their iniquity. If the priests perform the instituted service, and do not do it in the appointed garments, it is (say the Jewish doctors) as if a stranger did it, and the stranger that comes nigh shall be put to death. Nor will God connive at the presumptions and irreverences even of those whom he causes to draw most near to him; if Aaron himself put a slight upon the divine institution, he shall bear iniquity, and die. To us these garments typify, (1.) The righteousness of Christ; if we appear not before God in this, we shall bear iniquity and die. What have we to do at the wedding-feast without a wedding-garment, or at God's altar without the array of his priests? Matt. xxii. 12, 13. (2.) The armour of God prescribed Eph. vi. 13. If we venture without that armour, our spiritual enemies will be the death of our souls, and we shall bear the iniquity, our blood will be upon our own heads. Blessed is he therefore that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, Rev. xvi. 15. 3. This is said to be a statute for ever, that is, it is to continue as long as the priesthood continues. But it is to have its perpetuity in the substance of which these things were the shadows.

CHAP. 29.Edit


Particular orders are given in this chapter, I. Concerning the consecration of the priests, and the sanctification of the altar, ver. 1-37. II. Concerning the daily sacrifice, ver. 38-41. To which gracious promises are annexed that God would own and bless them in all their services,

ver. 42, &c.

verses 1-37Edit

The Consecration of the Priests. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest's office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish, 2 And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them. 3 And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams. 4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. 5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: 6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. 7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him. 8 And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them. 9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons. 10 And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock. 11 And thou shalt kill the bullock before the Lord , by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 12 And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar. 13 And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. 14 But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it
is a sin offering. 15 Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. 16 And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar. 17 And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head. 18 And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the Lord : it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord . 19 And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. 20 Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about. 21 And thou shalt take of the blood that
is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him. 22 Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration: 23 And one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the Lord : 24 And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons; and shalt wave them for a wave offering before the Lord . 25 And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the Lord : it is an offering made by fire unto the Lord . 26 And thou shalt take the breast of the ram of Aaron's consecration, and wave it
for a wave offering before the Lord : and it shall be thy part. 27 And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons: 28 And it shall be Aaron's and his sons' by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the Lord . 29 And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons' after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them. 30
And that son that is priest in his stead shall put them on seven days, when he cometh into the tabernacle of the congregation to minister in the holy place. 31 And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place. 32 And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate
and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy. 34 And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy. 35 And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all
things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them. 36 And thou shalt offer every day a bullock
for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. 37 Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.

Here is, I. The law concerning the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priest's office, which was to be done with a great deal of ceremony and solemnity, that they themselves might be duly affected with the greatness of the work to which they were called, and that the people also might learn to magnify the office and none might dare to invade it.
1. The ceremonies wherewith it was to be done were very fully and particularly appointed, because nothing of this kind had been done before, and because it was to be a statute for ever that the high priest should be thus inaugurated. Now,
(1.) The work to be done was the consecrating of the persons whom God had chosen to be priests, by which they devoted and gave up themselves to the service of God and God declared his acceptance of them; and the people were made to know that they glorified not themselves to be made priests, but were called of God, Heb. v. 4, 5. They were thus distinguished from common men, sequestered from common services, and set apart for God and an immediate attendance on him. Note, All that are to be employed for God are to be sanctified to him. The person must first be accepted, and then the performance. The Hebrew phrase for consecrating is filling the hand (v. 9): Thou shalt fill the hand of Aaron and his sons, and the ram of consecration is the ram of fillings, v. 22, 26. The consecrating of them was the perfecting of them; Christ is said to be perfect or consecrated for evermore, Heb. vii. 28. Probably the phrase here is borrowed from the putting of the sacrifice into their hand, to be waved before the Lord, v. 24. But it intimates, [1.] That ministers have their hands full; they have no time to trifle, so great, so copious, so constant is their work. [2.] That they must have their hands filled. Of necessity they must have something to offer, and they cannot find it in themselves, it must be given them from above. They cannot fill the people's hearts unless God fill their hands; to him therefore they must go, and receive from his fulness.
(2.) The person to do it was Moses, by God's appointment. Though he was ordained for men, yet the people were not to consecrate him; Moses the servant of the Lord, and his agent herein, must do it. By God's special appointment he now did the priest's work, and therefore that which was the priest's part of the sacrifice was here ordered to be his, v. 26.
(3.) The place was at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, v. 4. God was pleased to dwell in the tabernacle, the people attending in the courts, so that the door between the court and the tabernacle was the fittest place for those to be consecrated in who were to mediate between God and man, and to stand between both, and lay their hands (as it were) upon both. They were consecrated at the door, for they were to be door-keepers.
(4.) It was done with many ceremonies.
[1.] They were to be washed (v. 4), signifying that those must be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord, Isa. lii. 11. Those that would perfect holiness must cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, 2 Cor. vii. 1; Isa. i. 16-18. They were now washed all over; but afterwards, when they went in to minister, they washed only their hands and feet (ch. xxx. 19); for he that is washed needs no more, John xiii. 10.
[2.] They were to be clothed with the holy garments (v. 5, 6, 8, 9), to signify that it was not sufficient for them to put away the pollutions of sin, but they must put on the graces of the Spirit, be clothed with righteousness, Ps. cxxxii. 9. They must be girded, as men prepared and strengthened for their work; and they must be robed and crowned, as men that counted their work and office their true honour.
[3.] The high priest was to be anointed with the holy anointing oil (v. 7), that the church might be filled and delighted with the sweet savour of his administrations (for ointment and perfume rejoice the heart), and in token of the pouring out of the Spirit upon him, to qualify him for his work. Brotherly love is compared to this oil with which Aaron was anointed, Ps. cxxxiii. 2. The inferior priests are said to be anointed (ch. xxx. 30), not on their heads, as the high priest (Lev. xxi. 10), the oil was only mingled with the blood that was sprinkled upon their garments.
[4.] Sacrifices were to be offered for them. The covenant of priesthood, as all other covenants, must be made by sacrifice.
First, There must be a sin-offering, to make atonement for them, v. 10-14. The law made those priests that had infirmity, and therefore they must first offer for their own sin, before they could make atonement for the people, Heb. vii. 27, 28. They were to put their hand on the head of their sacrifice (v. 10), confessing that they deserved to die for their own sin, and desiring that the killing of the beast might expiate their guilt, and be accepted as a vicarious satisfaction. It was used as other sin-offerings were; only, whereas the flesh of other sin-offerings was eaten by the priests (Lev. x. 18), in token of the priest's taking away the sin of the people, this was appointed to be all burnt without the camp (v. 14), to signify the imperfection of the legal dispensation (as the learned bishop Patrick notes); for the sins of the priests themselves could not be taken away by those sacrifices, but they must expect a better high priest and a better sacrifice.
Secondly, There must be a burnt-offering, a ram wholly burnt, to the honour of God, in token of the dedication of themselves wholly to God and to his service, as living sacrifices, kindled with the fire and ascending in the flame of holy love, v. 15-18. The sin-offering must first be offered and then the burnt-offering; for, till guilt be removed, no acceptable service can be performed, Isa. vi. 7.
Thirdly, There must be a peace-offering; it is called the ram of consecration, because there was more in this peculiar to the occasion than in the other two. In the burnt-offering God had the glory of their priesthood, in this they had the comfort of it; and, in token of a mutual covenant between God and them, 1. The blood of the sacrifice was divided between God and them (v. 20, 21); part of the blood was sprinkled upon the altar round about, and part put upon them, upon their bodies (v. 20), and upon their garments, v. 21. Thus the benefit of the expiation made by the sacrifice was applied and assured to them, and their whole selves from head to foot sanctified to the service of God. The blood was put upon the extreme parts of the body, to signify that it was all, as it were, enclosed and taken in for God, the tip of the ear and the great toe not excepted. We reckon that the blood and oil sprinkled upon garments spot and stain them; yet the holy oil, and the blood of the sacrifice, sprinkled upon their garments, must be looked upon as the greatest adorning imaginable to them, for they signified the blood of Christ, and the graces of the Spirit, which constitute and complete the beauty of holiness, and recommend us to God; we read of robes made white with the blood of the Lamb. 2. The flesh of the sacrifice, with the meat-offering annexed to it, was likewise divided between God and them, that (to speak with reverence) God and they might feast together, in token of friendship and fellowship. (1.) Part of it was to be first waved before the Lord, and then burnt upon the altar; part of the flesh (v. 22), part of the bread, for bread and flesh must go together (v. 23); these were first put into the hands of Aaron to be waved to and fro, in token of their being offered to God (who, though unseen, yet compasses us round on every side), and then they were to be burnt upon the altar (v. 24, 25), for the altar was to devour God's part of the sacrifice. Thus God admitted Aaron and his sons to be his servants, and wait at his table, taking the mat of his altar from their hands. Here, in a parenthesis, as it were, comes in the law concerning the priests' part of the peace-offerings afterwards, the breast and shoulder, which were now divided; Moses had the breast, and the shoulder was burnt on the altar with God's part, v. 26-28. (2.) The other part, both of the flesh of the ram and of the bread, Aaron and his sons were to eat at the door of the tabernacle (v. 31-33), to signify that he called them not only servants but friends, John xv. 15. He supped with them, and they with him. Their eating of the things wherewith the atonement was made signified their receiving the atonement, as the expression is (Rom. v. 11), their thankful acceptance of the benefit of it, and their joyful communion with God thereupon, which was the true intent and meaning of a feast upon a sacrifice. If any of it was left, it must be burnt, that it might not be in any danger of putrefying, and to show that it was an extraordinary peace-offering.
2. The time that was to be spent in this consecration: Seven days shalt thou consecrate them, v. 35. Though all the ceremonies were performed on the first day, yet, (1.) They were not to look upon their consecration as completed till the seven days' end, which put a solemnity upon their admission, and a distance between this and their former state, and obliged them to enter upon their work with a pause, giving them time to consider the weight and seriousness of it. This was to be observed in after-ages, v. 30. He that was to succeed Aaron in the high-priesthood must put on the holy garments seven days together, in token of a deliberate and gradual advance into his office, and that one sabbath might pass over him in his consecration. (2.) Every day of the seven, in this first consecration, a bullock was to be offered for a sin-offering (v. 36), which was to intimate to them, [1.] That it was of very great concern to them to get their sins pardoned, and that though atonement was made, and they had the comfort of it, yet they must still keep up a penitent sense of sin and often repeat the confession of it. [2.] That those sacrifices which were thus offered day by day to make atonement could not make the comers thereunto perfect, for then they would have ceased to be offered, as the apostle argues, Heb. x. 1, 2. They must therefore expect the bringing in of a better hope.
3. This consecration of the priests was a shadow of good things to come. (1.) Our Lord Jesus is the great high-priest of our profession, called of God to be so, consecrated for evermore, anointed with the Spirit above his fellows (whence he is called Messiah, the Christ), clothed with the holy garments, even with glory and beauty, sanctified by his own blood, not that of bullocks and rams (Heb. ix. 12), made perfect, or consecrated, through sufferings, Heb. ii. 10. Thus in him this was a perpetual statute, v. 9. (2.) All believers are spiritual priests, to offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. ii. 5), washed in the blood of Christ, and so made to our God priests, Rev. i. 5, 6. They also are clothed with the beauty of holiness, and have received the anointing, 1 John ii. 27. Their hands are filled with work, to which they must continually attend; and it is through Christ, the great sacrifice, that they are dedicated to this service. His blood sprinkled upon the conscience purges it from dead works, that they may, as priests, serve the living God. The Spirit of God (as Ainsworth notes) is called the finger of God (Luke xi. 20, compared with Matt. xii. 28), and by him the merit of Christ is effectually applied to our souls, as here Moses with his finger was to put the blood upon Aaron. It is likewise intimated that gospel ministers are to be solemnly set apart to the work of the ministry with great deliberation and seriousness both in the ordainers and in the ordained, as those that are to be employed in a great work and entrusted with a great charge.
II. The consecration of the altar, which seems to have been coincident with that of the priests, and the sin-offerings which were offered every day for seven days together had reference to the altar as well as the priests, v. 36, 37. An atonement was made for the altar. Though that was not a subject capable of sin, nor, having never yet been used, could it be said to be polluted with the sins of the people, yet, since the fall, there can be no sanctification to God but there must first be an atonement for sin, which renders us both unworthy and unfit to be employed for God. The altar was also sanctified, not only set apart itself to a sacred use, but made so holy as to sanctify the gifts that were offered upon it, Matt. xxiii. 19. Christ is our altar; for our sakes he sanctified himself, that we and our performances might be sanctified and recommended to God, John xvii. 19.

verses 38-46Edit


38 Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even: 40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine
for a drink offering. 41 And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the
Lord . 42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord : where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. 43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. 44 And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office. 45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the
Lord their God.
In this paragraph we have,
I. The daily service appointed. A lamb was to be offered upon the altar every morning, and a lamb every evening, each with a meat-offering, both made by fire, as a continual burnt-offering throughout their generations, v. 38-41. Whether there were any other sacrifices to be offered or not, these were sure to be offered, at the public charge, for the benefit and comfort of all Israel, to make atonement for their daily sins, and to be an acknowledgement to God of their daily mercies. This was that which the duty of every day required. The taking away of this daily sacrifice by Antiochus, for so many evenings and mornings, was that great calamity of the church which was foretold, Dan. viii. 11. Note, 1. This typified the continual intercession which Christ ever lives to make, in virtue of his satisfaction, for the continual sanctification of his church: though he offered himself once for all, yet that one offering thus becomes a continual offering. 2. This teaches us to offer up to God the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise every day, morning and evening, in humble acknowledgement of our dependence upon him and our obligations to him. Our daily devotions must be looked upon as the most needful of our daily works and the most pleasant of our daily comforts. Whatever business we have, this must never be omitted, either morning or evening; prayer-time must be kept up as duly as meat-time. The daily sacrifices were as the daily meals in God's house, and therefore they were always attended with bread and wine. Those starve their own souls that keep not up a constant attendance on the throne of grace.
II. Great and precious promises made of God's favour to Israel, and the tokens of his special presence with them, while they thus kept up his institutions among them. He speaks as one well pleased with the appointment of the daily sacrifice; for, before he proceeds to the other appointments that follow, he interposes these promises. It is constancy in religion that brings in the comfort of it. He promises, 1. That he would keep up communion with them; that he would not only meet Moses, and speak to him, but that he would meet the children of Israel, (v. 43), to accept the daily sacrifices offered up on their behalf. Note, God will not fail to give those the meeting who diligently and conscientiously attend upon him in the ordinances of his own appointment. 2. That he would own his own institutions, the tabernacle, the altar, the priesthood (v. 43, 44); he would take possession of that which was consecrated to him. Note, What is sanctified to the glory of God shall be sanctified by his glory. If we do our part, God will do his, and will mark and fit that for himself which is in sincerity given up to him. 3. That he would reside among them as God in covenant with them, and would give them sure and comfortable tokens of his peculiar favour to them, and his special presence with them (v. 45, 46): I will dwell among the children of Israel. Note, Where God sets up the tabernacle of his ordinances he will himself dwell. Lo, I am with you always, Matt. xxviii. 20. Those that abide in God's house shall have God to abide with them. I will be their God, and they shall know that I am so. Note, Those are truly happy that have a covenant-interest in God as theirs and the comfortable evidence of that interest. If we have this, we have enough, and need no more to make us happy.

CHAP. 30.Edit


Moses is, in this chapter, further instructed, I. Concerning the altar of incense, ver. 1-10. II. Concerning the ransom-money which the Israelites were to pay, when they were numbered,

ver. 11-16. III. Concerning the laver of brass, which was set for the priests to wash in, ver. 17-21. IV. Concerning the making up of the anointing oil, and the use of it, ver. 22-33. V. Concerning the incense and perfume which were to be burned on the golden altar, ver. 34, &c.

verses 1-10Edit

The Tabernacles and Its Furniture. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. 2 A cubit
shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same. 3 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about. 4 And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make
it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal. 5 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. 6 And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. 7 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. 8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. 9 Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon. 10 And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the Lord .

I. The orders given concerning the altar of incense are, 1. That it was to be made of wood, and covered with gold, pure gold, about a yard high and half a yard square, with horns at the corners, a golden cornice round it, with rings and staves of gold, for the convenience of carrying it, v. 1-5. It does not appear that there was any grate to this altar for the ashes to fall into, that they might be taken away; but, when they burnt incense, a golden censer was brought with coals in it, and placed upon the altar, and in that censer the incense was burnt, and with it all the coals were taken away, so that no coals nor ashes fell upon the altar. The measure of the altar of incense in Ezekiel's temple is double to what it is here (Ezek. xli. 22), and it is there called an altar of wood, and there is no mention of gold, to signify that the incense, in gospel times, should be spiritual, the worship plain, and the service of God enlarged, for in every place incense should be offered, Mal. i. 11. 2. That it was to be placed before the veil, on the outside of that partition, but before the mercy-seat, which was within the veil, v. 6. For though he that ministered at the altar could not see the mercy-seat, the veil interposing, yet he must look towards it, and direct his incense that way, to teach us that though we cannot with our bodily eyes see the throne of grace, that blessed mercy-seat (for it is such a throne of glory that God, in compassion to us, holds back the face of it, and spreads a cloud upon it), yet we must in prayer by faith set ourselves before it, direct our prayer, and look up. 3. That Aaron was to burn sweet incense upon this altar, every morning and every evening, about half a pound at a time, which was intended, not only to take away the ill smell of the flesh that was burnt daily on the brazen altar, but for the honour of God, and to show the acceptableness of his people's services to him, and the pleasure which they should take in ministering to him, v. 7, 8. As by the offerings on the brazen altar satisfaction was made for what had been done displeasing to God, so, by the offering on this, what they did well was, as it were, recommended to the divine acceptance; for our two great concerns with God are to be acquitted from guilt and accepted as righteous in his sight. 4. That nothing was to be offered upon it but incense, nor any incense but that which was appointed, v. 9. God will have his own service done according to his own appointment, and not otherwise. 5. That this altar should be purified with the blood of the sin-offering put upon the horns of it, every year, upon the day of atonement, v. 10. See Lev. xvi. 18, 19. The high priest was to take this in his way, as he came out from the holy of holies. This was to intimate to them that the sins of the priests who ministered at this altar, and of the people for whom they ministered, put a ceremonial impurity upon it, from which it must be cleansed by the blood of atonement.
II. This incense-altar typified, 1. The mediation of Christ. The brazen altar in the court was a type of Christ dying on earth; the golden altar in the sanctuary was a type of Christ interceding in heaven, in virtue of his satisfaction. This altar was before the mercy-seat; for Christ always appears in the presence of God for us; he is our advocate with the father (1 John ii. 1), and his intercession is unto God of a sweet-smelling savour. This altar had a crown fixed to it; for Christ intercedes as king. Father, I will, John xvii. 24. 2. The devotions of the saints, whose prayers are said to be set forth before God as incense, Ps. cxli. 2. As the smoke of the incense ascended, so much our desires towards God rise in prayer, being kindled with the fire of holy love and other pious affections. When the priest was burning incense the people were praying (Luke i. 10), to signify that prayer is the true incense. This incense was offered daily, it was a perpetual incense (v. 8); for we must pray always, that is, we must keep up stated times for prayer every day, morning and evening, at least, and never omit it, but thus pray without ceasing. The lamps were dressed or lighted at the same time that the incense was burnt, to teach us that the reading of the scriptures (which are our light and lamp) is a part of our daily work, and should ordinarily accompany our prayers and praises. When we speak to God we must hear what God says to us, and thus the communion is complete. The devotions of sanctified souls are well-pleasing to God, of a sweet-smelling savour; the prayers of saints are compared to sweet odours (Rev. v. 8), but it is the incense which Christ adds to them that makes them acceptable (Rev. viii. 3), and his blood that atones for the guilt which cleaves to our best services. And, if the heart and life be not holy, even incense is an abomination (Isa. i. 13), and he that offers it is as if he blessed an idol, Isa. lxvi. 3.

verses 11-16Edit


11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord , when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. 13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord . 14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord . 15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when
they give an offering unto the Lord , to make an atonement for your souls. 16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord , to make an atonement for your souls.
Some observe that the repetition of those words, The Lord spoke unto Moses, here and afterwards (v. 17, 22, 34), intimates that God did not deliver these precepts to Moses in the mount, in a continued discourse, but with many intermissions, giving him time either to write what was said to him or at least to charge his memory with it. Christ gave instructions to his disciples as they were able to hear them. Moses is here ordered to levy money upon the people by way of poll, so much a head, for the service of the tabernacle. This he must do when he numbered the people. Some think that it refers only to the first numbering of them, now when the tabernacle was set up; and that this tax was to make up what was deficient in the voluntary contributions for the finishing of the work, or rather for the beginning of the service in the tabernacle. Others think that it was afterwards repeated upon any emergency and always when the people were numbered, and that David offended in not demanding it when he numbered the people. But many of the Jewish writers, and others from them, are of opinion that it was to be an annual tribute, only it was begun when Moses first numbered the people. This was that tribute-money which Christ paid, for fear of offending his adversaries (Matt. xvii. 27), when yet he showed good reason why he should have been excused. Men were appointed in every city to receive this payment yearly. Now, 1. The tribute to be paid was half a shekel, about fifteen pence of our money. The rich were not to give more, nor the poor less (v. 15), to intimate that the souls of the rich and poor are alike precious, and that God is no respecter of persons, Acts x. 34; Job xxxiv. 19. In other offerings men were to give according to their ability; but this, which was the ransom of the soul, must be alike for all; for the rich have as much need of Christ as the poor, and the poor are as welcome to him as the rich. They both alike contributed to the maintenance of the temple-service, because both were to have a like interest in it and benefit by it. In Christ and his ordinances rich and poor meet together; the Lord is the Maker, the Lord Christ is the Redeemer of them both, Prov. xxii. 2. The Jews say, "If a man refused to pay this tribute, he was not comprehended in the expiation." 2. this tribute was to be paid as a ransom of the soul, that there might be no plague among them. Hereby they acknowledged that they received their lives from God, that they had forfeited their lives to him, and that they depended upon his power and patience for the continuance of them; and thus they did homage to the God of their lives, and deprecated those plagues which their sins had deserved. 3. This money that was raised was to be employed in the service of the tabernacle (v. 16); with it they bought sacrifices, flour, incense, wine, oil, fuel, salt, priests' garments, and all other things which the whole congregation was interested in. Note, Those that have the benefit of God's tabernacle among them must be willing to defray the expenses of it, and not grudge the necessary charges of God's public worship. Thus we must honour the Lord with our substance, and reckon that best laid out which is laid out in the service of God. Money indeed cannot make an atonement for the soul, but it may be used for the honour of him who has made the atonement, and for the maintenance of the gospel by which the atonement is applied.

verses 17-21Edit


17 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 18 Thou shalt also make a laver
of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. 19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: 20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord : 21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

Orders are here given, 1. For the making of a laver, or font, of brass, a large vessel, that would contain a good quantity of water, which was to be set near the door of the tabernacle, v. 18. The foot of brass, it is supposed, was so contrived as to receive the water, which was let into it out of the laver by spouts or cocks. They then had a laver for the priests only to wash in, but to us now there is a fountain open for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in (Zech. xiii. 1), an inexhaustible fountain of living water, so that it is our own fault if we remain in our pollution. 2. For the using of this laver. Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet at this laver every time they went in to minister, every morning, at least, v. 19-21. For this purpose clean water was put into the laver fresh every day. Though they washed themselves ever so clean at their own houses, that would not serve; they must wash at the laver, because that was appointed for washing, 2 Kings v. 12-14. This was designed, (1.) To teach them purity in all their ministrations, and to possess them with a reverence of God's holiness and a dread of the pollutions of sin. They must not only wash and be made clean when they were first consecrated, but they must wash and be kept clean whenever they went in to minister. He only shall stand in God's holy place that has clean hands and a pure heart, Ps. xxiv. 3, 4. And, (2.) It was to teach us, who are daily to attend upon God, daily to renew our repentance for sin and our believing application of the blood of Christ to our souls for remission; for in many things we daily offend and contract pollution, John xiii. 8, 10; Jam. iii. 2. This is the preparation we are to make for solemn ordinances. Cleanse your hands and purify your hearts, and then draw nigh to God, Jam. iv. 8. To this law David alludes in Ps. xxvi. 6, I will wash my hands in innocency, so will I compass thine altar, O Lord.

verses 22-38Edit


22 Moreover the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 23 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred
shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, 24 And of cassia five hundred
shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: 25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. 26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, 27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, 28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. 29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. 30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that
they may minister unto me in the priest's office. 31 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. 32 Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it
is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. 33 Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth
any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people. 34 And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight: 35 And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy: 36 And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. 37 And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord . 38 Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.

Directions are here given for the composition of the holy anointing oil and the incense that were to be used in the service of the tabernacle; with these God was to be honoured, and therefore he would appoint the making of them; for nothing comes to God but what comes from him. 1. The holy anointing oil is here ordered to be made up the ingredients, and their quantities, are prescribed, v. 23-25. Interpreters are not agreed concerning them; we are sure, in general, they were the best and fittest for the purpose; they must needs be so when the divine wisdom appointed them for the divine honour. It was to be compounded secundum artem—after the art of the apothecary (v. 25); the spices, which were in all nearly half a hundred weight, were to be infused in the oil, which was to be about five or six quarts, and then strained out, leaving an admirable sweet smell in the oil. With this oil God's tent and all the furniture of it were to be anointed; it was to be used also in the consecration of the priests, v. 26-30. It was to be continued throughout their generations, v. 31. The tradition of the Jews is that this very oil which was prepared by Moses himself lasted till near the captivity. But bishop Patrick shows the great improbability of the tradition, and supposes that it was repeated according to the prescription here, for Solomon was anointed with it (2 Kings i. 39), and some other of the kings; and all the high priests with such a quantity of it that it ran down to the skirts of the garments; and we read of the making up of this ointment (1 Chron. ix. 30): yet all agree that in the second temple there was none of this holy oil, which he supposes was owing to a notion they had that it was not lawful to make it up, Providence overruling that want as a presage of the better unction of the Holy Ghost in gospel times, the variety of whose gifts was typified by these several sweet ingredients. To show the excellency of holiness, there was that in the tabernacle which was in the highest degree grateful both to the sight and to the smell. Christ's name is said to be as ointment poured forth (Cant. i. 3), and the good name of Christians better than precious ointment, Eccl. vii. 1. 2. The incense which was burned upon the golden altar was prepared of sweet spices likewise, though not so rare and rich as those of which the anointing oil was compounded, v. 34, 35. This was prepared once a year (the Jews say), a pound for each day of the year, and three pounds over for the day of atonement. When it was used, it was to be beaten very small: thus it pleased the Lord to bruise the Redeemer when he offered himself for a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour. 3. Concerning both these preparations the same law is here given (v. 32, 33, 37, 38), that the like should not be made for any common use. Thus God would preserve in the people's minds a reverence for his own institutions, and teach us not to profane nor abuse any thing whereby God makes himself known, as those did who invented to themselves (for their common entertainments) instruments of music like David, Amos vi. 5. It is a great affront to God to jest with sacred things, particularly to make sport with the word and ordinances of God, or to treat them with lightness, Matt. xxii. 5. That which is God's peculiar must not be used as a common thing.

CHAP. 31.Edit


God is here drawing towards a conclusion of what he had to say to Moses upon the mount, where he had now been with him forty days and forty nights; and yet no more is recorded of what was said to him in all that time than what we have read in the six chapters foregoing. In this, I. He appoints what workmen should be employed in the building and furnishing of the tabernacle,

ver. 1-11. II. He repeats the law of the sabbath, and the religious observance of it, ver. 12-17. III. He delivers to him the two tables of the testimony at parting, ver. 18.

verses 1-11Edit

Appointment of Bezaleel and Aholiab. (b. c. 1491.)Edit


1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: 3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 And in cutting of stones, to set
them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. 6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; 7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that
is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, 8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, 9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, 10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office, 11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.

A great deal of fine work God had ordered to be done about the tabernacle; the materials the people were to provide, but who must put them into form? Moses himself was learned in all the learning of the Egyptians, nay, he was well acquainted with the words of God, and the visions of the Almighty; but he knew not how to engrave or embroider. We may suppose that there were some very ingenious men among the Israelites; but, having lived all their days in bondage in Egypt, we cannot think they were any of them instructed in these curious arts. They knew how to make brick and work in clay, but to work in gold and in cutting diamonds was what they had never been brought up to. How should the work be done with the neatness and exactness that were required when they had no goldsmiths or jewellers but what must be made out of masons and bricklayers? We may suppose that there were a sufficient number who would gladly be employed, and would do their best; but it would be hard to find out a proper person to preside in this work. Who was sufficient for these things? But God takes care of this matter also.
I. He nominates the persons that were to be employed, that there might be no contest about the preferment, nor envy at those that were preferred, God himself having made the choice. 1. Bezaleel was to be the architect, or master workman, v. 2. He was of the tribe of Judah, a tribe that God delighted to honour; the grandson of Hur, probably that Hur who had helped to hold up Moses's hands (ch. xvii.), and was at this time in commission with Aaron for the government of the people in the absence of Moses (ch. xxiv. 14); out of that family which was of note in Israel was the workman chosen, and it added no little honour to the family that a branch of it was employed, though but as a mechanic, or handicraft tradesman, for the service of the tabernacle. The Jews' tradition is that Hur was the husband of Miriam; and, if so, it was requisite that God should appoint him to this service, lest, if Moses himself had done it, he should be thought partial to his own kindred, his brother Aaron also being advanced to the priesthood. God will put honour upon Moses's relations, and yet will make it to appear that he takes not the honour to himself or his own family, but that it is purely the Lord's doing. 2. Aholiab, of the tribe of Dan, is appointed next to Bezaleel, and partner with him, v. 6. Two are better than one. Christ sent forth his disciples who were to rear the gospel tabernacle, two and two, and we read of his two witnesses. Aholiab was of the tribe of Dan, which was one of the less honourable tribes, that the tribes of Judah and Levi might not be lifted up, as if they were to engross all the preferments; to prevent a schism in the body, God gives honour to that part which lacked, 1 Cor. xii. 24. The head cannot say to the foot, I have no need of thee. Hiram, who was the head workman in the building of Solomon's temple, was also of the tribe of Dan, 2 Chron. ii. 14. 3. There were others that were employed by and under these in the several operations about the tabernacle, v. 6. Note, When God has work to do he will never want instruments to do it with, for all hearts and heads too are under his eye, and in his hand; and those may cheerfully go about any service for God, and go on in it, who have reason to think that, one way or other, he has called them to it; for whom he calls he will own and bear out.
II. He qualifies these perso