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'time (b) which had been appointed four hundred years before, Moses was at length persuaded to undertake the great work of delivering his country
He set out for Egypt; and in his way through the wilderness he met his brother Aaron, whom God had ordered to go thither, and told him, “all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.”
When Moses and Aaron arrived in Goshen, they called an assembly of the Israelites, and Aaron informed them of the commands, and of the promises which Moses had received from God. And the people, hearing what the Lord had said to Moses, and seeing the miracles (c) which he was enabled to perform, believed, and worshipped God. Moses and Aaron then went to Pharaoh, and in the name of God'required him to let the Israelites go into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord their God. Pharaoh treated the message with contempt, and enjoined the task-masters to lay heavier burdens upon the Israelites; and when they complained of the in
creased (6) Moses was great-grandson to Levi, one of the sons of Jacob, who had removed into Egypt. God had promised (Gen. c. 15. v. 16.) that the Israelites should return into Canaan in the fourth generation.
(c) Moses and Aaron, the lawgiver and priest of his chosen people, appear to have been the first persons whom God empowered to perform miracles.
creased severity of their oppression, God commanded Moses to assure them, " that he would deliver them from the bondage of the Egyptians and give them the land of Canaan, as he had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that he would be their God, and that they should be his peculiar people : but they hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage (d).” Moses and Aaron, by the direction of God, applied again unto Pharaoh; and though they performed a miracle in his presence, yet he again refused to let the Israelites go. Then the country of Egypt was afflicted by a succession of plagues : the water of the river Nile was turned into blood; frogs covered the whole land; the dust of the earth was converted into lice; an ime mense swarm of flies infested the whole land of Egypt; a murrain destroyed all the cattle; boils and blains broke out upon the Egyptians, both upon man and beast; the country was laid waste by a dreadful storm of thunder, rain, and hail, so that the fire ran along upon the ground; locusts destroyed every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees, which the hail had left; and there was a thick darkness in the land of Egypt for three days. None of these plagues extended to the Israelites, or to the land of Goshen, where
they rd) Ex. c. 6. v, 6, &c.
they dwelt. While Pharaoh and his people were actually suffering under these several plagues, he appeared to relent, and to acknowledge the power of God. He entreated Moses to pray to God for deliverance from the plague, and promised to let the Israelites, go and sacrifice. But when the plague was removed by the prayers of Moses, Pharaoh constantly refused to fulfil his promise; and though threatened with another plague, he still - detained the Israelites under the same cruel slavery. At length Moses declared to Pharaoh, in the name of God, that if he would not let the Israelites go, all the first-born in the land of Egypt should be destroyed. Pharaoh not only persisted in his refusal, but threatened Moses with instant death, if he presumed to appear again before him.
The execution of this last judgment, the destruction of the first-born of the Egyptians, was attended with greater solemnity than any of the preceding. About four days before it took place, all the families of Israel were commanded to prepare for a feast to the Lord, and to kill a lamb, without spot or blemish, on a certain evening, and “to eat it in haste, with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hands;" and to sprinkle the blood upon the lintel and side posts of the doors of their houses. “And God said, 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.-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 (e).”— “ 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. And it shall come to pass when your children shall say, What mean ye by this service? that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Pasg. over, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the houses of the Egyptians, and delivered our houses (f).” Thus did God institute the feast of the Passover, and command that it should be kept every year by the Israelites, in memorial of his having passed over the houses of the Israelites when he destroyed the first-born of all the Egyptians. And the lamb sacrificed at this feast, is to be considered as typical of the sacrifice of Christ, our great deliverer from more than Egyptian bondage.
The Children of Israel were also directed by Moses “to borrow (or, as it should have been
translated, (c) Ex. c. 12. v. 13 and 14. (f) Ex. c. 12, V.25, &c.
translated, to ask (g) of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment. And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent (or gave) unto them such things as they required; and they spoiled the Egyptians (h).” The spoil which the Israelites were to carry away from the Egyptians, may be considered as some compensation for their labour, and for the hardships they had suffered in their land, or as a tribute they received from a
(8) Vide Shuckford, book 9, and Josephus, Ant. lib. 2. c. 14, and Whiston's note in loc.
(h) Ex. c. 12. v. 35 and 36. Harmer's Observations upon the customs which have existed in the East from remote antiquity, and are still generally prevalent, respecting the giving, receiving, and asking for presents, will throw great light upon this passage : “ King Solomon, it is said, 1 Kings, c. 10. v. 13, gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, besides that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. This appears strange to us, but it is agreeable to modern eastern usages, which are allowed to have been derived from remote antiquity ... . The practice is very common to this day in the East; it is not there looked upon as any degradation to dignity, or any mark of rapacious meanness.” Obs. 203. vol. 4.-The gifts of the Egyptians, therefore, might be both an acknowledgment of superiority, and a mark of kindness; but unless the enslaved Israelites had received an express command to ask for gifts, their situation must have precluded all ideas of friendly intercourse between them and the Egyptians,