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Chal.' which sought to kill thee.' The phrase, 'to seek the soul' is sometimes used in a good sense, as Ps. 14% 4, (Heb.) “ No man sought my soul;' (Eng.) 'no man cared for my soul, yet it usually signities seeking with a mur. derous intent, thus explained 1 Kings, 19. 10, ' And they seek my life (soul) to take it away.'
Whom did he take with him on his journey?
• Took the rod of God in his hand;' Chal. 'the rod by which miracles were to be wrought. This staff is called the rod of God,' partly because it was appropriated to God's special service to be the instrument of all his glorious works; and partly to show that whatever was done by it was not effected by any intrinsic virtue in the rod it. self or in the hand of Moses which wieldeıl it, but solely by the power of God, who was pleased, for the greater confusion of his enemies, to employ so mean an instrument. Nor is it an improbable conjecture that the wands which official personages in some countries are wont to carry in their hands as a badge of power and office, were originally derived from this of Moses.
What was he commanded to do when arrived in Egypt, and brought into the presence of Pharaoh, and what, notwithstanding, did God say would be the result ? v. 21.
Which I have put in thy hand;' i. e. which I have put in thy power ; which I have enabled and authorized thee to perform before him.-' I will harden his heart. It is especially deserving of note that the Heb. in making mention of the hardening' of Pharaoh's heart, employs in different parts of the narrative three distinct words differing from each other by a marked diversity of import, but which are all indiscriminately rendered in the common version by
harden.' These are · Hâzak, to strengthen, confirm; • Kâbad,' to make heavy; and Kashâ,' to make hard, in the sense of difficult, intractable, rigid or stiff. The whole number of passages in which Pharaoh's heart is said have been hardened' is nineteen, in thirteen of which the term employed is ‘Hazak ;' in five, `Kâbad;' and in one Kâshà. The passage before us belongs to the former
class; 'I will harden (Ehazzak) his heart;' i. e. I will make strong, firm, determined. The original properly signifies to brace or tighten up, in opposition to a state of relaxation, remission, yielding. Thus Is. 35. 3, ‘Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the seebie knees. In its legitimate import it is applied rather to the vigorous tension of a man's courage or resolution than to ihe obduration of the moral sensibilities. Its prevailing sense may be gathered fron the following passages; Jer. 23. 14, • They strengthen also the hands of evil-doers, that none doth return from his wickedness ;' i. e: they nake them more determined. Judg. 9. 24, • And upon the men of Shechem which aided him in the killing of his brethren ;' Heb. which strengthened him;' i. e. instigated him. Is. 41.7, 'So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith ;' i. e. urged on.
2 Chron. 26. 8, ' And his name spread abroad, for he strengthened himself exceedingly ;' i. e. he acted with great vigor, conquering all obstacles by the energy of his character. When God therefore is represented as saying, 'I will harden (strengthen) Fharaoh's heart, the language impl:es simply that the course of events should be so ordered that, without any positive divine influence exerted upon him, the haughty king should take occasion to confirm himself in his disregard of the counsels of the Most High, and instead of being bowed and humbled by the displays of omnipotence should array himself in a posture of more determined resistance to the mandate of Jehovah. This God is said to have done because he permitted it to be done. A siinilar insiance is related Deut. 2. 30, ‘But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him : for the Lord ihy God hurdened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.' So also Josh. 11. 20, For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly.' Yet in thep resent instance it is expressly, said ch, 9. 34, that Pharaoh hardened his own heart; and the exhortation of the Psalmist is, Ps. 95. 8, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, as though it were a voluntary act in those in whom it takes place with which God could be by no means chargeable. The expression involves no difficulty provided the ordinary usus loquendi be bornein mind. What considerations was Moses commanded to urge before Pharaoh in order to gain his compliance to the Divine mandate ? v. 22, 23. • Israel is my son, even my first-born.' • Israel is here a collective denomination for all the natural seed of Jacob, who are called God's 'son' as a title of favor, and his firstborn as a note of honorable relationship, pointing to their pre-eminence above all other nations. For as the first-born in a family were consecrated to God as his peculiar portion, so were the children of Israel adopted from arnong the nations as a peculiar treasure above all people, Ex. 19. 5, from whom was appointed to descend, according to the flesh, the Messiah, 'the first-born of every creature. The epithet 'first-born' is at once a term of dig. nity and of endearment. 'Israel is my much honored and dearly beloved son.' So Ho3. 11. 1, "When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.?
Let my son go ;' as he comes under allegiance to another lord, you are not to claim or exercise jurisdiction over him.- I will slay thy son, even thy first-born.' Heb. 'behold, I (am) slaying thy son, thy first born ;' by which we are to understand not only the first-born of Pharaoh himself, but of all the Egyptians, as we learn to have been the fact, Ex. 12. 29.
What remarkable event is said to have occurred to Moses by the way in the inn? v. 24–26. ' in the inn.' A knowledge of Eastern traveling customs is requisite to the right conception of the import of this term. It must here be noted, says Maundrell, * that in traveling this country, a man does not meet with a market town, and inns, every night, as in England : the best reception you can find here, is either under your own tent, if the season permit; or else in certain public lodgmenis founded in charity for the use of travelers. These are called by the Turks Kanes (Khans, or Caravanserais); and are seated sometimes in the towns and villages ; sometimes at convenient distances upon the open road. They are built in fashion of a cloister, encompassing a court of 30 or 40 yards square, more or less, according to the measure of the founder's ability or charity. At these
* Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, page 2.
places all comers are free to take shelter ; paying only a small fee to the Kane-keeper, and very often without that acknowledgment; but must expect nothing here generally but bare walls: as for other accommodation of meat, drink, bed, fire, provender, with these it must be every one's care to furnish himseli.'—"The Lord met him;' i. e. in the effects of his displeasure. Gr. and Chal. “the angel of the Lord met him.'-' And sought to kill him ;'i. e. made a show of intending to kill himn; manifested such alarming signs of displeasure as threatened immediate destruction, and therefore led Moses to tremble for his life. Whether this was effected by the infliction of some corporeal judgment upon Moses, or by other means, it is impossible to determine. That he was, however, brought into circumstances of the most imminent danger is apparent from the narrative; and as this danger was averted, immediately upon the circumcision of his child, it is obvious that the delay of that ceremony was the cause of the peril which threatened him. For what reason the rite had hitherto been deferred we are not informied.- Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son.'i. e. she took a knife made of a stone sharpened. That such instruments were in use at this early period, may be inferred from Josh. 5.2. “The Lord said unto Joshua, make thee sharp knives, (Heb. knives of stones') and circumcise again the children of Israel ;' Chal. 'sharp razors;' Gr. 'stone knives. Thus Herodotus, describing the preparations for embalming a dead body, says, they cut around the hips with a sharp Ethiopic stone.'--'And cast it at his feet ;' Heb. made it to touch his feet.' Chal. "brought it near before him;'Gr.she fell at his feet,' Jerus Targ. she laid it at the feet of the destroyer.' The clause is of difficult explication. By the mass of commentators, Zipporah is supposed to have cast the prepucc, or circumcised foreskin, of her son, besmeared with blood, at the feet of Moses,' and in a reproachful and angry manner to have addressed him in the words immediately following. Others, however, with perhaps equal plausibility, suppose it to mean, that she made it to touch the child's feet, or rather his legs, in the act of cutting. The true interpretation is doubtless to be determined by the ensuing words.--'Surely a bloody husband art thou to me;' Heh. 'surely a spouse, or bridegroom, of blood art thou to ine.' It is doubted by expositors whether these words are to be considered as ad:Iressed to Moses, or to the child. In the former case, Zipporah is to be understood as virtually saying: “Behold the evidence of my intense aff.ction toward thce. I have jeoparded the lile of my babe as the ransom for thine. In order to free thee from danger, and, as it were, to espouse thee to myself anew, to make thee once more a bridegroom, I have not shunned to shed the oljod of this dear child, even under perilous circumstances, when the hardships of the journey may render the operation fatal.' In the latter, the child is depominated' spouse,' from his being as it were espoused to God and the church by the seal of circumcision. Accordingly the Jewish writers affirm that it was the custom of women to call their child when circumcised 'Chatan,' the word here rendered 'busband'or spouse.' Either of these interpretations we think preferable to the cominon one, which represents Zipporah as upbraiding her husband with the cruelty of the rite which his religion required him to perform. För, as she was a Midianitess, and so a daughter of Abraham by Ke. turah, it is not easy to imagine her altogether a stranger to the ceremony of circumcision, which had been from the earliest ages perpetuated in all the branches of the Abrahamic race, and is even observed by the followers of Mo. hamıned at the present day, not as an institution of the prophet himseif, bui as an ancient rite received from Ishmael, from whom they are for the most part descended.
- So he let him go; Heb. so he slackened from bim ;' an expression taken from the act of relaxing a vigorous grasp., Jerus, Targ: the destroyer let him go. The original word is similarly applied, i Chron. 21. 15. And (he) said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand; 'Heb. ' relax, renit, thine hand.? — Then she said, &c.' Chal. "had it not been for the blood of this circumcision my husband must needs have been killed.' Targ. Jon, and Jerus. “how dear is the blood of this circumcision, which has delivered my spouse from the hand of the destroying angel.' These words are to be understood as repeated by Moses, not by Zipporah, who cannot well be supposed to have uttered the same speech