The locusts threatened. — V.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, v.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. Since Pharaoh had hardened his heart in the first place, the Lord now gave him up to the doom which he had chosen for himself, and the last plagues had the purpose of completing his obduracy. Of this fact Moses was informed, lest he become discouraged. At the same time the Lord had His own glorification in view; for the children of Israel, throughout their generations, should preserve the memory of the Egyptian plagues, in order to keep the fear of the Lord before them all the time. V.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. It is the same formula, but preceded by a threatening question, spoken in a much severer tone than heretofore. Would Pharaoh never learn to humble himself before the almighty power of the true God? V.4. Else, if thou refuse to let My people go, behold, to-morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast. It is again a definite prediction, which marks the plague as a miracle. V.5. And they shall cover the face of the earth, literally, the eye of the earth, which is pictured as looking upon man in the ornament of its rich vegetation, 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, all the plants whose foliage had been stripped, but which had recovered from the plague of the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field, the foliage and the fruit of the trees, down to the very bark. V.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. Besides working utter devastation in the land, the locusts would, in addition, fill all the dwellings with their nauseating presence, thus proving themselves a pest upon men as well as upon vegetation. And he (Moses) turned himself and went out from Pharaoh. He added no appeal to his announcement, the simple statement of the fact coming with crushing force. V.7. And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? They compared Moses to a trap, or snare, for catching animals and birds, and themselves to his victims. Let the men go that they may serve the Lord, their God. Knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? The blind obstinacy of Pharaoh was plunging the entire nation into destruction. Their advice was evidently that the king should grant the request and dismiss the Israelites. V.8. And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh; and he said unto them, Go, serve the Lord, your God. He acted as though he were ready to accede to their desire. But who are they that shall go? literally, “Who and who else are those going?” He wanted exact information on that point. V.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, literally, “A feast of Jehovah is to us.” It was again a simple statement of fact, for Moses was no longer the humble supplicant. V.10. And he said unto them, Let the Lord be so with you, as I will let you go and your little ones. That was bitter blasphemy, that Jehovah should be their assistance in the same degree as Pharaoh was dismissing them; for he had no such intention, and he defied the Lord. Look to it; for evil is before you. He meant to say that he saw through their design of withdrawing the people from their labors. V.11. Not so; go now, ye that are men, and serve the Lord; for that ye did desire. He intimated that he had understood them as asking only for leave of absence for the men. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence. The tyrant acted in a purely arbitrary manner and against better knowledge; for such is the way of unbelievers in waging war against the Lord’s people.
The plague of locusts. — V.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, like a hostile military force, or like clouds carried by the wind, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left. V.13. And Moses stretched forth his rod, his hand with the shepherd’s staff, over the land of Egypt; and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. So it was really the Lord, the Performer of all miracles, who drove the wind from the eastern desert over Egypt. And when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. V.14. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested, settled down to devour and devastate, 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, for it was a miraculous plague from the Lord. This is shown not only by the fact that the locusts came from very far, the wind blowing for twenty-four hours, but also that they covered the entire land, whereas ordinarily they will attack only certain regions and then move on. V.15. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; daylight was shut out by the density of the swarms as they came on; 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. It was a complete devastation of the land, a punishment whose severity had been increased over the preceding plagues. V.16. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord, your God, and against you. This is a distinct confession of sin, for Pharaoh was not lacking in knowledge of his transgression, but in willingness to repent. V.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. Here was more hypocrisy; for Pharaoh did not desire forgiveness of his sins in order to turn to the Lord for mercy, but only to be delivered from this terrible plague, which gave him a feeling of utter helplessness. Only this time he wanted to be delivered from the deadly ruin staring him in the face, an expression which afterward condemned him. V.18. And he (Moses) went out from Pharaoh and intreated the Lord. V.19. And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts and cast them into the Red Sea, on the eastern boundary of Egypt, where they were destroyed in the water; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. This sudden deliverance was again indisputable evidence of the almighty power of Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews. V.20. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, as He had said, v.1. so that he would not let the children of Israel go. Jehovah was not yet done with His mighty miracles upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. The condemnation of obduracy was upon the king, and he was being reserved for the final punishment.
The plague of darkness. — V.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. Without previous announcement or warning this plague came upon Egypt as another sign of God’s almighty power. It was a supernatural, miraculous darkness, so heavy that all light from whatever source was cut off completely and all men were reduced to the necessity of feeling their way. V.22. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days; v.23. they saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days. This was another sign of God’s great anger and one of those that point forward to the last Judgment, a heavy, continuous darkness, which was not illumined by a single ray of light for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings; the land of Goshen, where they dwelt, was not included in the plague. V.24. And Pharaoh called unto Moses, he summoned him in great fear, and said, Go ye, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed; let your little ones also go with you. The cattle and sheep of the Israelites were to be a pledge of their return, for they were to be kept in certain designated places in charge of Egyptians. V.25. And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings that we may sacrifice unto the Lord, our God; for that was the reason substantiating their request to depart from Egypt. V.26. Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind. It was a bold utterance, such as behooved the ambassador of the most high God. And the explanation should have satisfied the king; 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. They would know what offerings the Lord desired only when they had arrived at the place where the Lord would reveal Himself to them. V.27. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. God’s punishment upon Pharaoh was going forward without abatement, to the bitter end. V.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. Thus the tyrant flew into a rage; having lost, he gave way to his temper. That is the final state of obduracy, if sinners repudiate the messengers of God entirely and will not hear another word of God’s truth. V.29. And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more. He accepted the dismissal by answering: Just as thou hast said, let it be even so. It was the calmness of spiritual and moral superiority, the consciousness of having the Lord on his side, which gave Moses the courage to speak so at this time. If the believers have God’s assurance of help, they will fear no evil.