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his rivers,' we deem it not unlikely that the rod, converted into a serpent, was designed to represent Pharaoh in all the terrors of his cruelty and oppression, and by his being seized by the hand of Moses, and transformed into an innocuous rod, the ease with which, under the mighty working of God, he should be subdued by the subordinate agency of a weak and self-diffident mortai, should be despoiled of his power to harm, and even brought to confess himself to be at the mercy of Moses, as a rod is wielded by the hand of its possessor. Thus, Eliezer, a Jewish commentator: 'As the serpent biteth and killeth the sons of Adam, so Pharaoh and his people did bite and kill the Israelit.cs; but he was turned and made like a dry stick.' If the reader, however, should be unwilling to recognise any particular design on the part of God in the selecting of the miracle, we shall not join issue with him on his opinion, for there is no possibility of proof on either side.
What was declared to be the end for which this miracle was wrought in the presence of Moses ?
7. 5. . That they may believe,' &c. The sentence is apparently imperfect, requiring some such preliminary clause, as 'Do this, that they may believe, &c.' For a similar omission, and the manner in which it is to be supplied, comp. Mark, 14. 49. 'I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled," with Mat. 26. 55, 56. 'I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on ine. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.'
What additional miracle was wrought upon the person of Moses? v. 6,7. "Put now thy hand into thy bosom ;' i. e. into the open part of the tunic, or longouter robe, above the girdle. His hand was leprous as snow.' As snow is not leprous, reference must be intended to the color of the flesh. Chal. 'as white as snow.' This was the worst kind of leprosy, in which the body not only assumes the hue of dead and bloodless flesh, but becomes covered with white scales, attended with a most tormenting itch. Of the inoral, or emblematical import of this miracle, the Jewish cominentator, before recited, writes thus: “ As the leper is unclean, and maketh others unclean, so were Pharaoh and his people unclean, and made Israel unclean. And when he made his hand clean again, he said unto him, Thus shall Israel be cleansed from the uncleanness of the Egyptians." In this view of the matter, the person of Moses represents the nation of Israel.
What was Moses commanded to do, in case that neither the first nor second signs were regarded by the Egyptians ? v. 8, 9.
Neither hearken to the voice of the first sign ;' i. e. to the import, meaning, drifi of the first sign. See note upon the sense of the word 'voice.' Gen. 21. 17. The sign is said to have a 'voice,' because it speaks that to the eye which words du to the ear. On the contrary, that which is addressed to the ear is sometimes represented as if exhibited to the eye ; thus Gal. 3. 1. ' Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth erucified among you;' i. e, who have leard this fact declared in the preaching of the gospel. The Psalmist probably alludes to the phrase. ology of the text, Ps. 105. 27. They showed his signs among them ;' Heb. ‘they showed the words of bis signs."
-“That they will believe;' rather, that they may believe;' as the words are not so much intended to foretell the actual event, as the design and purpose of the signs. This will appear evident by comparing the 8th and 9th verses.
Take of the waier of the river ;' i. e. of the river Nile. This, it would appear, was a miracle to be wrought for the confirmation of Moses' calling before the Israelites and not before the Egyptians, for in that mentioned, ch. 7. 17. the waters in the rivers were to be turned into blood, here the water taken out of the river. The sign imported, perhaps, that the time was now at hand when God would judge the Egyptians for the death of the Hebrew infants, whose blood they had shed in the waters.
What plea did Moses next urge in order to excuse himself from the commanded service, and how was it overruled ? v. 10. "O my Lord.' The Heb. particle for ‘O!' is equivalent
to 'I pray thee,' and might, with entire propriety, be so rendered. I am not eloquent;' Heb. 'I am not a man of words.' Thus, Job, 11. 2, ' A man of lips,'i. e, a talkative man; Eng. 'a man full of talk ;' Job, 22.8. “Man of arm;' i, e, mighty man; Ps. 140. 11. ‘man of tongue;' i. e. prattler, or, perhaps, slanderen. Gr. 'I am not sufficient;' whence the Apostle, 2 Cor. 2. 16. Who is sufficient for these things ? It is not improbable that Moses may have had some natural defect in his utterance which formed a ground of apprehension that the effect of his message might be defeated in the delivery of it.—'Neither, heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken ; Heb. since yesterday, and since the third day. A usual form of speech to intiinate time past in general. That this was a real and not a feigned excuse, Moses would imply from the infirmity on which it was founded having been of long standing, and as he liad perceived no alteration in himself since the present interview had been vouchsafed him, he knew not
any reason to think that the difficulty was likely to be obviated; for if at this time, while God was speaking to him, who had power at once to remove all impediment of speech, his defective articulation continued, much more was it likely to continue afterward.—Slow of speech, and of a slow longue;' Heb. ‘heavy of mouth and heavy of longue;' Gr. . of a small voice and of a slow tongue;' Chal. . of a heavy speech and of a deep tongue.' As the words are rendered in our translation, it would be difficult, perhaps, to mark the distinction between “slow of specch,' and . of a slow tongue;' but from the force of the original we gather, that the former implies an imperfect elocution, occasioned by soine defect in the action of the organs of speech, the latter, a want of aptness or felicity in adapting his expressions to the ideas which he wished to colle vey. The latter phrase occurs, Ezek. 3. 5, 6, where it is rendered 'hard language,' i. e. obscure, requiring intorpretation, as it is immediately added, ' whose words thia cansi not understand.'-'Who hath made man's mouth?'. Heb.' who put (Gr. gave) the mouth to man, or to Adam;' Targ. Jon. who is he who placed the utterance of speech in the mouth of Adam the first man ?' Arab. "who created pronunciation to man?' By this appeal to Moses respecting the origin of the human faculties, God wou'd
have him to infer, that he who bestowed them upon the first man could, with infinite ease, endow him with those which were lacking and remedy those which were imperfect. "And teach thee what thou shalt say,’i. e. by my Spirit, as Christ also promised to his disciples; Mat. 10. 19, 20. Luke, 12. 1], 12.
What did Moses finally say in declining the office, how did God regard it, and what did he indulgently promise him? v. 13–17. “Send by the hand of him whom thou wilt send :' i. e. as many might be found more suitable for the service than himself, ihat such a one might be selected, and the enterprise performed by his hand or ministry. Chal. and Targ. Jerus. 'Send now by the hand of him who is worthy to be sent ;' Gr. 'Choose another able man whom thou wilt send.' By the Heb. idiom the term 'band' is used to denole any kind of instrumentality or ministry ; thus Ex. 9, 35, “As the Lord had spoken by Moses; Heb. "by the hand of Moses 2 Kings, 17. 13, “Yet the Lord testified against Israel by all the prophets;' Heb. ‘by the hand of all the prophets. "Is. 64. 7, And hast consumed us because of our iniquities ;' Heb. "by the hand of our iniquities! "Is not Aaron the Levite ihy brother?' The literal rendering of this clause is, 'Is not Aaron thy brother the Levite ?" which we understand as implying that in consequence of Moses' unbelieving waywardness on this occasion, the distinguishing honor of the priesthood, and of being the official head of the house of Levi, the person in whom the dignity of that name should be especially centred, which would otherwise have been bestowed upon him, should now be conferred upon his brother Aaron, and perpetuated in his family: In this fact the expression of the Lord's anger consisted. Otherwise how was Aaron any more “the Levite’ than Moses? We find accordingly the forfeited privilege of Moses thus secured to Aaron, 1 Chron. 23. 13, “And Aaron was separated that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his narne for ever. This we suppose would have been the honor of Moses had he yielded a ready obedience to the divine mandate. I know that he can
speak well ;' Heb. 'that speaking he can speak.'—'He will be glad ;' i. e. he will be far from indulging a spirit of emulation or envy, though thou his younger brother art preferred in point of precedency before him, as Caini envied Abel, Ishmael Isaac, and Esau Jacob.—He shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God;' Chal. "he shall be thy interpreter, and thou shalt be to him for a niaster (Rab.);' Jerus. Targ: 'thou shalt to him a master inquiring doctrine from before the Lord.' Gr. 'thou shalt be to him in things pertaining to God ;' the very phrase which Paul employs, Heb. 5. 1.
Whither did Moses return, for what purpose, and with what success ? y. 18. • Returned to Jethro ;' lleb. 'to Jether ;' in the close of the verse • Jethro ;' in like manner, the person who in Nehem. 6. 1--2 is cailed Geshem', is in v. 6 called · Gashmu.'-'Let me go, &c.' Moses was prompted by a sense of justice and decency to acquaint his father-in-law with his intention to leave Midian and go into Egypt; bui he saw fit to conceal from Jethro the errand upon which God had sent him, lest he should endeavor to hinder or discourage him from so difficult and dan. gerous an enterprise. In this conduct the piety and prudence of Moses are equally conspicuous with his mydesty and humility. He determines to guard against all temptations to disobedience, and at the same time not to indulge in a vain-glorious ostentation of the high honor conferred upon him.-'Goin peace;' Gr. 'go in health, or with welfare. It is an invocation of prosperity and suc
What circumstance did God announce to Moses tending to allay his fears and to encourage him in undertaking the journey ? v. 19.
And the Lord said.' Aben Ezra says, and we think with great probability, that this should be rendered in the plu. perfect tense, 'The Lord had said ;' i. e. on some other occasion not particularly specified. He observes moreover that as a general rule events are not recorded by the sacred writers in the exact order in which they occurred. -Which sought thy life ;' Heb. which sought thy soul;'