chapter is based on Exodus 5 to 10.]
being instructed by angels, went forth to meet his brother, from whom he
had been so long separated; and they met amid the desert solitudes, near
Horeb. Here they communed together, and Moses told Aaron "all the
words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which He had
commanded him." Exodus 4:28. Together they journeyed to Egypt; and
having reached the land of Goshen, they proceeded to assemble the elders
of Israel. Aaron repeated to them all the dealings of God with Moses, and
then the signs which God had given Moses were shown before the people.
"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 worshiped." Verse 31.
been charged also with a message for the king. The two brothers entered
the palace of the Pharaohs as ambassadors from the King of kings, and they
spoke in His name: "Thus saith Jehovah, God of Israel, Let My people
go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness."
Jehovah, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?" demanded the
monarch; "I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go."
was, "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."
them and of the interest they were exciting among the people had already
reached the king. His anger was kindled. "Wherefore do ye, Moses and
Aaron, let [hinder] the people from their works?" he said. "Get
you unto your burdens." Already the kingdom had suffered loss by the
interference of these strangers. At thought of this he added,
"Behold, the people of the
land now are many, and ye make them rest
from their burdens."
bondage the Israelites had to some extent lost the knowledge of God's law,
and they had departed from its precepts. The Sabbath had been generally
disregarded, and the exactions of their taskmasters made its observance
apparently impossible. But Moses had shown his people that obedience to
God was the first condition of deliverance; and the efforts made to
restore the observance of the Sabbath had come to the notice of their
thoroughly roused, suspected the Israelites of a design to revolt from his
service. Disaffection was the result of idleness; he would see that no
time was left them for dangerous scheming. And he at once adopted measures
to tighten their bonds and crush out their independent spirit. The same
day orders were issued that rendered their labor still more cruel and
oppressive. The most common building material of that country was
sun-dried brick; the walls of the finest edifices were made of this, and
then faced with stone; and the manufacture of brick employed great numbers
of the bondmen. Cut straw being intermixed with the clay, to hold it
together, large quantities of straw were required for the work; the king
now directed that no more straw be furnished; the laborers must find it
for themselves, while the same amount of brick should be exacted.
produced great distress among the Israelites throughout the land. The
Egyptian taskmasters had appointed Hebrew officers to oversee the work of
the people, and these officers were responsible for the labor performed by
those under their charge. When the requirement of the king was put in
force, the people scattered themselves throughout the land, to gather
stubble instead of straw; but they found it impossible to accomplish the
usual amount of labor. For this failure the Hebrew officers were cruelly
officers supposed that their oppression came from their taskmasters, and
not from the king himself; and they went to him with their grievances.
Their remonstrance was met by Pharaoh with a taunt: "Ye are idle, ye
are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the Lord."
They were ordered back to their work, with the declaration that their
burdens were in no case to be lightened. Returning, they met Moses and
Aaron, and cried out to them, "The Lord look upon you, and judge;
because ye have made our savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and
in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay
listened to these reproaches he was greatly distressed. The sufferings of
the people had been much increased. All over the land a cry of despair
went up from old and young, and all united in charging upon him the
disastrous change in their condition. In bitterness of soul he went before
God, with the cry, "Lord, wherefore hast Thou so evil entreated this
people? why is it that Thou hast sent me? 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." The answer was, "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."
Again he was pointed back to the covenant which God had made with the
fathers, and was assured that it would be fulfilled.
the years of servitude in Egypt there had been among the Israelites some
who adhered to the worship of Jehovah. These were solely troubled as they
saw their children daily witnessing the abominations of the heathen, and
even bowing down to their false gods. In their distress they cried unto
the Lord for deliverance from the Egyptian yoke, that they might be freed
from the corrupting influence of idolatry. They did not conceal their
faith, but declared to the Egyptians that the object of their worship was
the Maker of heaven and earth, the only true and living God. They
rehearsed the evidences of His existence and power, from creation down to
the days of Jacob. The Egyptians thus had an opportunity to become
acquainted with the religion of the Hebrews; but disdaining to be
instructed by their slaves, they tried to seduce the worshipers of God by
promises of reward, and, this failing, by threats and cruelty.
The elders of
Israel endeavored to sustain the sinking faith of their brethren by
repeating the promises made to their fathers, and the prophetic words of
Joseph before his death, foretelling their deliverance from Egypt. Some
would listen and believe. Others, looking at the circumstances that
surrounded them, refused to hope. The Egyptians, being informed of what
was reported among their bondmen, derided their expectations and
scornfully denied the power of their God. They pointed to their situation
as a nation of slaves, and tauntingly said, "If your God is just and
merciful, and possesses power above that of the Egyptian gods, why does He
not make you a free people?" They called attention to their own
condition. They worshiped deities
termed by the Israelites false gods, yet
they were a rich and powerful nation. They declared that their gods had
blessed them with prosperity, and had given them the Israelites as
servants, and they gloried in their power to oppress and destroy the
worshipers of Jehovah. Pharaoh himself boasted that the God of the Hebrews
could not deliver them from his hand.
these destroyed the hopes of many of the Israelites. The case appeared to
them very much as the Egyptians had represented. It was true that they
were slaves, and must endure whatever their cruel taskmasters might choose
to inflict. Their children had been hunted and slain, and their own lives
were a burden. Yet they were worshiping the God of heaven. If Jehovah were
indeed above all gods, surely He would not thus leave them in bondage to
idolaters. But those who were true to God understood that it was because
of Israel's departure from Him--because of their disposition to marry with
heathen nations, thus being led into idolatry--that the Lord had permitted
them to become bondmen; and they confidently assured their brethren that
He would soon break the yoke of the oppressor.
had expected to obtain their freedom without any special trial of their
faith or any real suffering or hardship. But they were not yet prepared
for deliverance. They had little faith in God, and were unwilling
patiently to endure their afflictions until He should see fit to work for
them. Many were content to remain in bondage rather than meet the
difficulties attending removal to a strange land; and the habits of some
had become so much like those of the Egyptians that they preferred to
dwell in Egypt. Therefore the Lord did not deliver them by the first
manifestation of His power before Pharaoh. He overruled events more fully
to develop the tyrannical spirit of the Egyptian king and also to reveal
Himself to His people. Beholding His justice, His power, and His love,
they would choose to leave Egypt and give themselves to His service. The
task of Moses would have been much less difficult had not many of the
Israelites become so corrupted that they were unwilling to leave Egypt.
directed Moses to go again to the people and repeat the promise of
deliverance, with a fresh assurance of divine favor. He went as he was
commanded; but they would not listen. Says the Scripture, "They
hearkened not . . . for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage."
Again the divine message came to Moses,
"Go in, speak unto Pharaoh
king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his
land." In discouragement he replied, "Behold, the children of
Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me?"
He was told to take Aaron with him and go before Pharaoh, and again demand
"that he send the children of Israel out of his land."
informed that the monarch would not yield until God should visit judgments
upon Egypt and bring out Israel by the signal manifestation of His power.
Before the infliction of each plague, Moses was to describe its nature and
effects, that the king might save himself from it if he chose. Every
punishment rejected would be followed by one more severe, until his proud
heart would be humbled, and he would acknowledge the Maker of heaven and
earth as the true and living God. The Lord would give the Egyptians an
opportunity to see how vain was the wisdom of their mighty men, how feeble
the power of their gods, when opposed to the commands of Jehovah. He would
punish the people of Egypt for their idolatry and silence their boasting
of the blessings received from their senseless deities. God would glorify
His own name, that other nations might hear of His power and tremble at
His mighty acts, and that His people might be led to turn from their
idolatry and render Him pure worship.
and Aaron entered the lordly halls of the king of Egypt. There, surrounded
by lofty columns and glittering adornments, by the rich paintings and
sculptured images of heathen gods, before the monarch of the most powerful
kingdom then in existence, stood the two representatives of the enslaved
race, to repeat the command from God for Israel's release. The king
demanded a miracle, in evidence of their divine commission. Moses and
Aaron had been directed how to act in case such a demand should be made,
and Aaron now took the rod and cast it down before Pharaoh. It became a
serpent. The monarch sent for his "wise men and the sorcerers,"
who "cast down every man his rod and they became serpents: but
Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods." Then the king, more determined
than before, declared his magicians equal in power with Moses and Aaron;
he denounced the servants of the Lord as impostors, and felt himself
secure in resisting their demands. Yet while he despised their message, he
was restrained by divine power from doing them harm.
It was the
hand of God, and no human influence or power possessed by Moses and Aaron,
that wrought the miracles which they showed before Pharaoh. Those signs
and wonders were designed to convince Pharaoh that the great "I
AM" had sent Moses, and that it was the duty of the king to let
Israel go, that they might serve the living God. The magicians also showed
signs and wonders; for they wrought not by their own skill alone, but by
the power of their god, Satan, who assisted them in counterfeiting the
work of Jehovah.
did not really cause their rods to become serpents; but by magic, aided by
the great deceiver, they were able to produce this appearance. It was
beyond the power of Satan to change the rods to living serpents. The
prince of evil, though possessing all the wisdom and might of an angel
fallen, has not power to create, or to give life; this is the prerogative
of God alone. But all that was in Satan's power to do, he did; he produced
a counterfeit. To human sight the rods were changed to serpents. Such they
were believed to be by Pharaoh and his court. There was nothing in their
appearance to distinguish them from the serpent produced by Moses. Though
the Lord caused the real serpent to swallow up the spurious ones, yet even
this was regarded by Pharaoh, not as a work of God's power, but as the
result of a kind of magic superior to that of his servants.
desired to justify his stubbornness in resisting the divine command, and
hence he was seeking some pretext for disregarding the miracles that God
had wrought through Moses. Satan gave him just what he wanted. By the work
that he wrought through the magicians he made it appear to the Egyptians
that Moses and Aaron were only magicians and sorcerers, and that the
message they brought could not claim respect as coming from a superior
being. Thus Satan's counterfeit accomplished its purpose of emboldening
the Egyptians in their rebellion and causing Pharaoh to harden his heart
against conviction. Satan hoped also to shake the faith of Moses and Aaron
in the divine origin of their mission, that his instruments might prevail.
He was unwilling that the children of Israel should be released from
bondage to serve the living God.
prince of evil had a still deeper object in manifesting his wonders
through the magicians. He well knew that Moses, in breaking the yoke of
bondage from off the children of Israel, pre-figured Christ, who was to
break the reign of sin over the
human family. He knew that when Christ
should appear, mighty miracles would be wrought as an evidence to the
world that God had sent Him. Satan trembled for his power. By
counterfeiting the work of God through Moses, he hoped not only to prevent
the deliverance of Israel, but to exert an influence through future ages
to destroy faith in the miracles of Christ. Satan is constantly seeking to
counterfeit the work of Christ and to establish his own power and claims.
He leads men to account for the miracles of Christ by making them appear
to be the result of human skill and power. In many minds he thus destroys
faith in Christ as the Son of God, and leads them to reject the gracious
offers of mercy through the plan of redemption.
Aaron were directed to visit the riverside next morning, where the king
was accustomed to repair. The overflowing of the Nile being the source of
food and wealth for all Egypt, the river was worshiped as a god, and the
monarch came thither daily to pay his devotions. Here the two brothers
again repeated the message to him, and then they stretched out the rod and
smote upon the water. The sacred stream ran blood, the fish died, and the
river became offensive to the smell. The water in the houses, the supply
preserved in cisterns, was likewise changed to blood. But "the
magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments," and "Pharaoh
turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this
also." For seven days the plague continued, but without effect.
Again the rod
was stretched out over the waters, and frogs came up from the river and
spread over the land. They overran the houses, took possession of the bed
chambers, and even the ovens and kneading troughs. The frog was regarded
as sacred by the Egyptians, and they would not destroy it; but the slimy
pests had now become intolerable. They swarmed even in the palace of the
Pharaohs, and the king was impatient to have them removed. The magicians
had appeared to produce frogs, but they could not remove them. Upon seeing
this, Pharaoh was somewhat humbled. He sent for Moses and Aaron, and said,
"Entreat 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." After reminding the king of his former boasting, they
requested him to appoint a time when they should pray for the removal of
the plague. He set the next day, secretly hoping that in the interval the
frogs might disappear of themselves, and
thus save him from the bitter
humiliation of submitting to the God of Israel. The plague, however,
continued till the time specified, when throughout all Egypt the frogs
died, but their putrid bodies, which remained, polluted the atmosphere.
could have caused them to return to dust in a moment; but He did not do
this lest after their removal the king and his people should pronounce it
the result of sorcery or enchantment, like the work of the magicians. The
frogs died, and were then gathered together in heaps. Here the king and
all Egypt had evidence which their vain philosophy could not gainsay, that
this work was not accomplished by magic, but was a judgment from the God
Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart." At the
command of God, Aaron stretched out his hand, and the dust of the earth
became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh called upon the
magicians to do the same, but they could not. The work of God was thus
shown to be superior to that of Satan. The magicians themselves
acknowledged, "This is the finger of God." But the king was
warning were ineffectual, and another judgment was inflicted. The time of
its occurrence was foretold, that it might not be said to have come by
chance. Flies filled the houses and swarmed upon the ground, so that
"the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies." These
flies were large and venomous, and their bite was extremely painful to man
and beast. As had been foretold, this visitation did not extend to the
land of Goshen.
offered the Israelites permission to sacrifice in Egypt, but they refused
to accept such conditions. "It is not meet," said Moses;
"lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their
eyes, and will they not stone us?" The animals which the Hebrews
would be required to sacrifice were among those regarded as sacred by the
Egyptians; and such was the reverence in which these creatures were held,
that to slay one, even accidentally, was a crime punishable with death. It
would be impossible for the Hebrews to worship in Egypt without giving
offense to their masters. Moses again proposed to go three days' journey
into the wilderness. The monarch consented, and begged the servants of God
to entreat that the plague might be removed. They promised to do this, but
warned him against
dealing deceitfully with them. The plague was stayed,
but the king's heart had become hardened by persistent rebellion, and he
still refused to yield.
terrible stroke followed--murrain upon all the Egyptian cattle that were
in the field. Both the sacred animals and the beasts of burden--kine and
oxen and sheep, horses and camels and asses--were destroyed. It had been
distinctly stated that the Hebrews were to be exempt; and Pharaoh, on
sending messengers to the home of the Israelites, proved the truth of this
declaration of Moses. "Of the cattle of the children of Israel died
not one." Still the king was obstinate.
next directed to take ashes of the furnace, and "sprinkle it toward
heaven in the sight of Pharaoh." This act was deeply significant.
Four hundred years before, God had shown to Abraham the future oppression
of His people, under the figure of a smoking furnace and a burning lamp.
He had declared that He would visit judgments upon their oppressors, and
would bring forth the captives with great substance. In Egypt, Israel had
long languished in the furnace of affliction. This act of Moses was an
assurance to them that God was mindful of His covenant, and that the time
for their deliverance had come.
As the ashes
were sprinkled toward heaven, the fine particles spread over all the land
of Egypt, and wherever they settled, produced boils "breaking forth
with blains upon man, and upon beast." The priests and magicians had
hitherto encouraged Pharaoh in his stubbornness, but now a judgment had
come that reached even them. Smitten with a loathsome and painful disease,
their vaunted power only making them contemptible, they were no longer
able to contend against the God of Israel. The whole nation was made to
see the folly of trusting in the magicians, when they were not able to
protect even their own persons.
heart of Pharaoh grew harder. And now the Lord sent a message to him,
declaring, "I will at this time send all My plagues upon thy heart,
and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that
there is none like Me in all the earth. . . . And in very deed for this
cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power." Not that
God had given him an existence for this purpose, but His providence had
overruled events to place him upon the throne at the very time appointed
for Israel's deliverance. Though this haughty tyrant had by his
forfeited the mercy of God, yet his life had been preserved that through
his stubbornness the Lord might manifest His wonders in the land of Egypt.
The disposing of events is of God's providence. He could have placed upon
the throne a more merciful king, who would not have dared to withstand the
mighty manifestations of divine power. But in that case the Lord's
purposes would not have been accomplished. His people were permitted to
experience the grinding cruelty of the Egyptians, that they might not be
deceived concerning the debasing influence of idolatry. In His dealing
with Pharaoh, the Lord manifested His hatred of idolatry and His
determination to punish cruelty and oppression.
declared concerning Pharaoh, "I will harden his heart, that he shall
not let the people go." Exodus 4:21. There was no exercise of
supernatural power to harden the heart of the king. God gave to Pharaoh
the most striking evidence of divine power, but the monarch stubbornly
refused to heed the light. Every display of infinite power rejected by
him, rendered him the more determined in his rebellion. The seeds of
rebellion that he sowed when he rejected the first miracle, produced their
harvest. As he continued to venture on in his own course, going from one
degree of stubbornness to another, his heart became more and more
hardened, until he was called to look upon the cold, dead faces of the
God speaks to
men through His servants, giving cautions and warnings, and rebuking sin.
He gives to each an opportunity to correct his errors before they become
fixed in the character; but if one refuses to be corrected, divine power
does not interpose to counteract the tendency of his own action. He finds
it more easy to repeat the same course. He is hardening the heart against
the influence of the Holy Spirit. A further rejection of light places him
where a far stronger influence will be ineffectual to make an abiding
He who has
once yielded to temptation will yield more readily the second time. Every
repetition of the sin lessens his power of resistance, blinds his eyes,
and stifles conviction. Every seed of indulgence sown will bear fruit. God
works no miracle to prevent the harvest. "Whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7. He who manifests an infidel
hardihood, a stolid indifference to divine truth, is but reaping the
that which he has himself sown. It is thus that multitudes come
to listen with stoical indifference to the truths that once stirred their
very souls. They sowed neglect and resistance to the truth, and such is
the harvest which they reap.
Those who are
quieting a guilty conscience with the thought that they can change a
course of evil when they choose, that they can trifle with the invitations
of mercy, and yet be again and again impressed, take this course at their
peril. They think that after casting all their influence on the side of
the great rebel, in a moment of utmost extremity, when danger compasses
them about, they will change leaders. But this is not so easily done. The
experience, the education, the discipline of a life of sinful indulgence,
has so thoroughly molded the character that they cannot then receive the
image of Jesus. Had no light shone upon their pathway, the case would have
been different. Mercy might interpose, and give them an opportunity to
accept her overtures; but after light has been long rejected and despised,
it will be finally withdrawn.
A plague of
hail was next threatened upon Pharaoh, with the warning, "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." Rain or hail was unusual in Egypt, and such a storm as was
foretold had never been witnessed. The report spread rapidly, and all who
believed the word of the Lord gathered in their cattle, while those who
despised the warning left them in the field. Thus in the midst of judgment
the mercy of God was displayed, the people were tested, and it was shown
how many had been led to fear God by the manifestation of His power.
came as predicted--thunder and hail, and fire mingled with it, "very
grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it
became a nation. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all
that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb
of the field, and brake every tree of the field." Ruin and desolation
marked the path of the destroying angel. The land of Goshen alone was
spared. It was demonstrated to the Egyptians that the earth is under the
control of the living God, that the elements obey His voice, and that the
only safety is in obedience to Him.
trembled before the awful outpouring of divine judgment. Pharaoh hastily
sent for the two brothers, and cried out, "I have sinned this time:
the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. Entreat the Lord
(for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and
I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer." The answer was,
"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. But as
for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the Lord
that the contest was not ended. Pharaoh's confessions and promises were
not the effect of any radical change in his mind or heart, but were wrung
from him by terror and anguish. Moses promised, however, to grant his
request; for he would give him no occasion for further stubbornness. The
prophet went forth, unheeding the fury of the tempest, and Pharaoh and all
his host were witnesses to the power of Jehovah to preserve His messenger.
Having passed without the city, Moses "spread abroad his hands unto
the Lord: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured
upon the earth." But no sooner had the king recovered from his fears
than his heart returned to its perversity.
Then 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; 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 Jehovah." The Lord was
manifesting His power, to confirm the faith of Israel in Him as the only
true and living God. He would give unmistakable evidence of the difference
He placed between them and the Egyptians, and would cause all nations to
know that the Hebrews, whom they had despised and oppressed, were under
the protection of the God of heaven.
the monarch that if he still remained obstinate, a plague of locusts would
be sent, which would cover the face of The earth and eat up every green
thing that remained; they would fill the houses, even the palace itself;
such a scourge, he said, as "neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers'
fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this
counselors of Pharaoh stood aghast. The nation had sustained great loss in
the death of their cattle. Many of the people had been killed by the hail.
The forests were broken down and the crops destroyed. They were fast
losing all that had been gained by the labor of the Hebrews. The whole
land was threatened with starvation. Princes and courtiers pressed about
the king and angrily demanded, "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?"
Aaron were again summoned, and the monarch said to them, "Go, serve
the Lord your God: but who are they that shall go?"
was, "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."
The king was
filled with rage. "Let the Lord be so with you," he cried,
"as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is
before you. 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."
Pharaoh had endeavored to destroy the Israelites by hard labor, but he now
pretended to have a deep interest in their welfare and a tender care for
their little ones. His real object was to keep the women and children as
surety for the return of the men.
stretched forth his rod over the land, and an east wind blew, and brought
locusts. "Very grievous were they; before them there were no such
locusts as they, neither after them shall be such." They filled the
sky till the land was darkened, and devoured every green thing remaining.
Pharaoh sent for the prophets in haste, and said, "I have sinned
against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore, forgive, I pray
thee, my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that He may
take away from me this death only." They did so, and a strong west
wind carried away the locusts toward the Red Sea. Still the king persisted
in his stubborn resolution.
The people of
Egypt were ready to despair. The scourges that had already fallen upon
them seemed almost beyond endurance, and they were filled with fear for
the future. The nation had worshiped Pharaoh as a representative of their
god, but many
were now convinced that he was opposing himself to One who
made all the powers of nature the ministers of His will. The Hebrew
slaves, so miraculously favored, were becoming confident of deliverance.
Their taskmasters dared not oppress them as heretofore. Throughout Egypt
there was a secret fear that the enslaved race would rise and avenge their
wrongs. Everywhere men were asking with bated breath, What will come next?
darkness settled upon the land, so thick and black that it seemed a
"darkness which may be felt." Not only were the people deprived
of light, but the atmosphere was very oppressive, so that breathing was
difficult. "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." The sun and moon were objects of worship to the
Egyptians; in this mysterious darkness the people and their gods alike
were smitten by the power that had undertaken the cause of the bondmen.
Yet fearful as it was, this judgment is an evidence of God's compassion
and His unwillingness to destroy. He would give the people time for
reflection and repentance before bringing upon them the last and most
terrible of the plagues.
Fear at last
wrung from Pharaoh a further concession. At the end of the third day of
darkness he summoned Moses, and consented to the departure of the people,
provided the flocks and herds were permitted to remain. "There shall
not an hoof be left behind," replied the resolute Hebrew. "We
know not with what we must serve the Lord, until we come thither."
The king's anger burst forth beyond control. "Get thee from me,"
he cried, "take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day
thou seest my face thou shalt die."
was, "Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more."
Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's
servants, and in the sight of the people." Moses was regarded with
awe by the Egyptians. The king dared not harm him, for the people looked
upon him as alone possessing power to remove the plagues. They desired
that the Israelites might be permitted to leave Egypt. It was the king and
the priests that opposed to the last the demands of Moses.