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swarm of these creatures one of the most terrible judgments that can overtake an eastern nation. A more particular account of their ravages will best occur in notes to the detailed and sublime description in Joel ii.
21. “Darkness which may be felt.”—Some understand this to mean such a darkness as obliges people to feel about for what they want, or to guide their movements. The Hebrew will indeed bear to be rendered "darkness which causeth to feel;" but we do not see any necessity for the alteration. The expression, as it stands, is a sufficiently intelligible, although strong, poetical indication of a darkness so thick and intense as to seem almost palpable. Hence the "palpable obscure" of Milton. It is often dangerous to inquire too nicely how the extraordinary manifestations of Almighty power were produced lest the fulness of that power should seem to be called in question; for while we discover that God does often see fit to employ natural agencies in effecting such dispensations, we are apt to forget too often that he does not need such agencies even when it is his pleasure to employ them. The partiality of this darkness, the Israelites having light in their domain, has been considered to render this miracle particularly unaccountable. We do not see much in this, however. In every partial darkness the limit between it and light must be drawn somewhere, and it was the will of God that it should in this instance be so drawn, as to make a distinction between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. Some expositors are disposed to contend for the literal palpability of this darkness, by supposing that the agency employed was a wind densely filling the air with particles of dust and sand, and consequently creating a great darkness. Such winds are not unknown in the eastern deserts, and they are always very appalling, and sometimes destructive in their effects. Others however think that a dense fog was spread over the land; and, without venturing to speak so decidedly on the subject as some commentators do, we can easily conceive that such a fog would, in a climate like that of Egypt, fill the inhabitants with the greatest horror and apprehension; and it would be unquestionably miraculous as it regards that country, because it is what nature never spontaneously produces there. Whether the darkness were exhibited in these or any other forms, the phenomenon must have been not only astounding but humiliating to the Egyptians, since their great deity, the sun, was for three days obscured of his glory, and darkness, another of their deities, was made the instrument of their punishment.
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. 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.
1 Chap. 3. 22, and 12, 35. 2 Ecclus. 45. 1. 3 Chap. 12. 29. 4 Heb. that is at thy feet. 5 Heb. heat of anger.
Verse 2. "Let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver and jewels of gold.” -The word "borrow" is an exceedingly unfortunate rendering of the Hebrew word shaal. But this unhappy rendering is quite peculiar to our version. The proper meaning of the term is to "ask," or to "demand," and Horne states that it is so understood in every ancient version, and in every modern version except our own. The fact would seem to be, that the Hebrews were instructed to take advantage of the consternation of the Egyptians at the death of the firstborn (see ch. xii. 33), to demand compensation for having been so long obliged to labour without wages in their service. The Egyptians, in the anxiety they then felt to have the Israelites gone, were in no condition to refuse the demand. Perhaps they feared that there would be some new calamity if they did not comply; and the natural effect of the terrible infliction they had just sustained would be, for the time, to render the precious things which the Hebrews required, of small value in their sight. The word rendered "jewels" does not mean jewellery in precious stones, &c., but denotes in a general way any articles of superior value, whether for personal ornament or any other purpose. Dr. Boothroyd very properly translates: "articles of gold and articles of silver," without specifying what articles. As "raiment" is added in ch. xii. 35, personal ornaments were most probably included among the valuables which the Hebrews obtained on this occasion; and as they almost certainly wore during their forty years' wanderings
the ornaments which they obtained now, and which they afterwards took from the Egyptians overthrown in the Red Sea, we have introduced in chap. iii. a cut, with figures wearing such ornaments as are known, from existing paintings and sculptures, to have been worn by the ancient Egyptians.
6. "There shall be a great cry," &c.-See the note on Gen. 1. 3. As the people went about the streets lamenting loudly when a death took place in their houses, we may form some conception of the awful outcry which arose concurrently when all the families had a dear and lost member to lament. We must recollect that the firstborn among their sacred animals died also, which must greatly have added to the intensity of their consternation. We are assured by Diodorus, that when a sacred animal died in a house, the affliction was greater and the lamentation louder than at the death of a child. Well then may the cry now have been such as had never before been heard in Egypt, and never would be again.
1 The beginning of the year is changed. 3 The passover is instituted. 11 The rite of the passover. 15 Unleavened bread. 29 The firstborn are slain. 31 The Israelites are driven out of the land. 37 They come to Succoth. 43 The ordinance of the passover.
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 houshold 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 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.
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.
11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and 2 Heb. son of a year, 8 Heb. between the two evenings.
4 Or, princes.
7 Levit. 23. 5. Num. 28. 16.
5 Heb. for a destruction. 6 Heb. soul.
20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.
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 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.
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.
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,
8 Or, kid.
• Heb. 11. 28. 10 Josh. 4. 6. 11 Chap. 11. 4. 15 Chap. 3. 22, and 11.2. 16 Num. 33. 3. 17 Heb. a great mixture.
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.
43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:
abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone 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.
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. 20 Num. 9. 12. John 19. 36. 21 Heb. do it.
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. :
Verse 8. "Bitter herbs" ( merorim).-The word literally means "bitters;" and as the expression is so general, our translation is right in not professing to define the particular species. According to the Mishna and Maimonides there were five sorts of bitter herbs, any one or all of which might be eaten. If we restrict the word to one species, the lettuce (Lactuca sativa) has the best claim to notice. It is extremely bitter until it has undergone the process of blanching; and is expressly indicated by those versions which do not adhere to the general expression of the original and of our own version. Forskal says that the Jews in Egypt eat lettuce with the paschal lamb. We incline to think that different bitter herbs are intended, of species which cannot now be distinguished; if, indeed, it was not intended to leave the choice free among any salads characterized by their bitterness, and fitted to symbolize the bitter bondage in Egypt.
9. "Eat not of it raw.”—This injunction is understood, like some others, to be intended to create a marked distinction between this observance and those connected with idolatrous worship. The ancient heathens in their idolatrous feasts and sacrifices, particularly those of the Grecian Bacchus-which feasts had their original in Egypt, Bacchus himself being merely an adaptation of the Egyptian Osiris-tore the victims in pieces, and ate the raw and palpitating limbs. Thus the injunction may have had a specific allusion. But we should also view it in connexion with the strong interdiction, equally in the patriarchal times, under the law, and in the New Testament, of raw or bloody animal food. The frequency of the injunction would sufficiently indicate, that the forbidden practice was not uncommon, however strange and revolting it may seem to us. That savages do this every one knows; but it may not be so well known, that the practice still exists in or near the countries which formed the scene of the Bible history. Burckhardt says:-"Throughout the desert, when a sheep or goat is killed, the persons present often eat the liver and kidney raw, adding to it a little salt. Some Arabs of Yemen are said to eat raw, not only those parts, but likewise whole slices of flesh; thus resembling the Abyssinians and the Druses of Lebanon, who frequently indulge in raw meat, the latter to my certain knowledge."
11. “With your loins girded.”—That is, as persons prepared for a journey. The inhabitants of the East usually wear long and loose dresses, which, however convenient in postures of ease and repose, would form a serious obstruction in walking or in any laborious exertion, were not some expedients resorted to, such as those which we find noticed in Scripture. Thus the Persians and Turks when journeying on horseback tuck their skirts into a large pair of trousers, as the poorer sort also do when travelling on foot. But the usages of the Arabs, who do not generally use trousers, is more analogous to the practice described in the Bible by "girding up the loins." It consists in drawing up the skirts of the vest and fastening them to the girdle, so as to leave the leg and knee unembarrassed when in motion. An Arab's dress consists generally of a coarse shirt and a woollen mantle. The shirt, which is very wide and loose, is compressed about the waist by a strong girdle generally of leather, the cloak being worn loose on ordinary occasions. But in journeying or other exertion, the cloak also is usually confined by a girdle to which the skirts are drawn up and fastened. When manual exertion is required, the long hanging sleeves of the shirt are also disposed of by the ends of both being tied together and thrown over the neck, the sleeves themselves being at the same time tucked high up the arm. A short passage from 'Antar,' describing Jeerah's preparation for attacking a lion, will be found to illustrate this and several other passages of Scripture: "He threw away his armour and corslet, till he remained in his plain clothes with short sleeves: he tucked these up to his shoulder, and twisting his skirts round his girdle, he unsheathed his broad sword, and brandished it in his hand, and stalked away towards the lion."-Vol. iv. 246.
"Shoes on your feet.”—(See the note on chap. iii. 5.) This was another circumstance of preparation for a journey. At the present time Orientals do not, under ordinary circumstances, eat with their shoes or sandals on their feet; nor indeed do they wear them indoors at all. This arises not only from the ceremonial politeness connected with the act of sitting unshod; but from the fear of soiling the fine carpets with which their rooms are covered. Besides, as they sit on the ground cross-legged, or on their heels, shoes or sandals on their feet would be inconvenient. To eat therefore with sandalled or shod feet is as decided a mark of preparation for a journey as could well be indicated. But perhaps a still better illustration is derived from the fact, that the ancient Egyptians, like the modern Arabs, did not ordinarily wear either shoes or sandals. In their sculptures and paintings very few figures occur with sandalled feet; and as we may presume, that in the course of 215 years the Israelites had adopted this and other customs of the Egyptians, we may understand that (except by the priests) sandals were only used during journeys, which would render their eating the passover with sandalled feet, a still stronger mark of preparation than even the previous alternative.
15. "Put away leaven out of your houses."-This was probably to commemorate the fact that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste that they had no opportunity to leaven their dough (verse 39), and were consequently obliged, in the first instance, to eat unleavened cakes (see Deut. xvi. 3). The present injunction is even now attended to by modern Jews with the most scrupulous precision. The master of the family searches every corner of the house with a candle, lest any crumb of leavened bread should remain, and whatever is found is committed to the fire; and after all, apprehending that some may still remain, he prays to God that, if any leaven be still in his house, it may become like the dust of the ground. Extraordinary precautions are also used in preparing the unleavened bread, lest there should be anything like leaven mixed with it, or any kind of fermentation should take place in it. (See Jennings' Jewish Antiquities.) These particulars will be found to give more than common point to the text of 1 Cor. v. 7, 8, The exclusion of leaven for
seven or eight days might, as Harmer observes, be attended with some inconvenience in Great Britain, but none at all in Palestine. The usual leaven in the East is dough kept till it becomes sour, and which is kept from one day to another for the purpose of preserving leaven in readiness. Thus, if there should be no leaven in all the country for any length of time, as much as might be required could easily be produced in twenty-four hours. Sour dough, however, is not exclusively used for leaven in the East, the lees of wine being in some parts employed as yeast.
22. "Hyssop" (Desob).-The hyssop of the Sacred Scriptures has opened a wide field for conjecture, but in no instance has any plant been suggested that at the same time had a sufficient length of stem to answer the purpose of a wand or pole, and such detergent or cleansing properties, as to render it a fit emblem for purification. Our wood-cut rerepresents ashrub remarkable in both these respects, which is the Phytolacca decandra. We do not indeed assert that this was the individual species in question, but we have no doubt in our own minds that the hyssop belonged to this genus. The length and straightness of the stem form a characteristic of the several kinds of Phytolacca with which we are acquainted, affording an obvious reason why the Roman soldier placed a sponge filled with vinegar upon hyssop, in order to raise it to the lips of the Saviour (John xix. 29). The Phytolacca decandra, and other species of the genus, contain an enormous quantity of potash, so that a hundred pounds of its ashes afford forty-two pounds of pure caustic alkali; hence we obtain a striking illustration of that expression used in Psalm li., " Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean,"-if we suppose that a shrub of this kind was meant. The only doubt that hangs about the supposition is the North American origin of the Phytolacca decandra; but others are found in the old continent, near Aleppo, and in Abyssinia, which may, though not hitherto submitted to a chemical analysis, have answered the same purpose equall well. While travelling in Mexico we met with an old man who told us that a kind of Phytolacca, which was growing near a cottage, was formerly used by the Indian females instead of soap, such was the detergent nature of the foliage. This unexpected piece of information led us to think that the hyssop of Scripture must have been allied to this American plant, or Congoran, in structure as well as in property. The Phytolacca belongs to the family Chenopodea, of which the barilla plant forms a part, but it is unlike the rest of its congeners in the exceeding beauty of its flowers, and the berries by which they are succeeded. These flowers are generally of a fresh and lively pink, disposed in elegant racemes or clusters; the berries are compounded of a circle of carpella or minute fruits, closely joined together, and afford a blooming dye. The leaves are generally smooth, and neatly shaped; and the stem is long, smooth, and wand-like. In short, there is a peculiar grace in every part of the plant, which, in the case of decandra, renders it a great favourite in the garden. There exists a great similarity between the several species of the Phytolacca, so that an acquaintance with one species suggests a correct idea of the whole; for this reason the reader is presented with a figure of decandra as an average specimen. Two or three species are found in Oahu, Sandwich Islands, which have the stem of an extraordinary length, and which, from its weakness, lies extended upon the vegetation around; and here and there supports a cluster of lovely flowers, to beautify the wild waste amidst the mountains.
HYSSOP (Phytolacca decandra).
34. "Kneading troughs."-Some other term ought perhaps to be employed to preclude the apparent difficulty which results from the natural habit of identifying oriental utensils with our own, when the same name is given to both. To understand the passage, we should perhaps refer to the existing usages among the Arabs who encamp in, or traverse, the very desert through which the sons of Israel are now about to pass; and then we shall find that the only utensils of analogous use, whether for kneading or for carrying dough, are such as the Israelites would naturally take with them, and which they could conveniently take as a personal burden. The "kneading troughs" of the Arabs are properly described by Shaw, as small wooden bowls, which not only serve for kneading their bread, but for serving up meat and other uses for which a dish is required. The Arabs have few domestic utensils, and make one serve many purposes, and this is one of the most generally useful which they possess. However, as the Israelites are represented as carrying dough in their vessels, this directs our attention to another Arabian utensil, which has equal, if not stronger, claims to be identified with that to which the text refers. The Arabs use, on their journeys, for a table-cloth, or rather table, a circular piece of leather, the margin of which is furnished with rings, by a string or chain run through which t can, when necessary, be drawn up into a bag. This bag they sometimes carry full of bread, and when their meal is over, tie it up again with what is left. Dr. Boothroyd prefers this last utensil, and reads the text thus:-"The people of Israel then took their dough before it was leavened, in their dough-bags, wrapped up in their clothes, upon their shoulders." But he has here been misled by an inference of Harmer, which he seems to state as part of Pococke's text, but where it is not to be found. Neither Pococke nor Niebuhr say anything about "dough;" nor are the utensils "dough-bags." The Arabs do not carry dough at all; but if, when their dough happened to be kneaded, they were suddenly obliged to decamp, they would naturally carry it away either in the kneading-bowl or in the leathern bag in which they usually carry their bread. The text, as we understand it, merely indicates an expedient to which their haste obliged them to resort, and not that the utensil in question was now applied to its customary use.