For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

10:1.  “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 shew these my signs before him.”


Relative to this hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, most scholars understand it to mean not that God had caused the hardening, but rather, had permitted the evil king to continue hardening his heart against God, and against Israel, His purpose being to display His own omnipotence in the destruction of the impious creature who had dared to oppose the Creator.


10:2.  “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.”


Clearly the record of God’s power, displayed in the destruction of Pharaoh and his land, was to be preserved for the instruction of future generations relative to the imperative of walking obediently before that same omnipotent One; and the lesson we need to learn is that it is as relevant to this present generation as it was to that of Moses’ day.  We are reading this record amiss if we see in it nothing more than a fragment of ancient history.  It is God’s typological announcement that obedience commands blessing; and disobedience, chastisement, that correction ending in destruction when ignored.


10:3.  “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.”


Foolish Pharaoh had arrogated the prerogative of the Almighty.  He would compel Israel to ignore God, and to serve him.


10:4.  “Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:”


The punishment for continued disobedience on Pharaoh’s part would be that God would plague Egypt with one of the most dreaded scourges of the east: locusts.


10:5.  “And they shall cover the face of the earth, and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:”


So great would be their number that they would virtually carpet the earth, devouring everything which might have survived the hail, while denuding all the trees so that they would die.


10:6.  “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.  And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.”


The myriad swarms would do what locusts had never done before: they would invade even the houses, so that there would be no place of refuge from the repulsive creatures.


10:7.  “And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?”


Pharaoh’s servants had learned what he hadn’t: his refusal to obey God, and liberate the Hebrews, had brought such terrible judgments on the land as to leave it a virtual ruin.  His folly has been repeated by countless multitudes since then, and continues to be reduplicated still, for man’s deaf ears refuse to hear God’s voice either in the still small whisper of conscience, or in the thunder of calamity.


10:8.  “And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the Lord your God: but who are they that shall go?”


His question implies only a qualified obedience.  He, not Jehovah, would decide who would go; but unknown to him his rebel heart was sealing his own doom, as is the heart of every unrepentant rebel still.


10:9.  “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.”


Not one of God’s people was to remain in Egypt, nor is one of His own today to remain in what Egypt represents: the world of business and pleasure living in defiant independence of God.  The believer is called to walk in separation from this present evil world, see e.g., 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”  The Lord Jesus Christ is to be our Example in all things, and of Him it is written, “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” Hebrews 7:26.


Nor is the believer’s separation to consist of mere cold asceticism.  The purpose of Israel’s segregation was that they might “hold a feast unto the Lord.”  It was associated with joy and gladness, and the same spirit is to mark our separation from the things of the world.


Their having been commanded to take with them their flocks and herds is the reminder that our separation from the world and its ways is not just for Sunday, but for the whole week.  The spirit of separation is to mark us in the performance of our daily tasks, or in the operation of our businesses.  Everything we do is to be done as unto the Lord, see Ephesians 6:5-7, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”


10:10.  “And he said unto them, Let the Lord be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.”


The ambiguity of the KJ translation marks most other versions also, as is demonstrated by a glance at just a few, e.g., Be it so; Jehovah be with you: As you hope for the Lord’s mercy, cried Pharaoh, you shall not go thus: as I send you away, must I also send away your substance?  The consensus of commentators is that Pharaoh adamantly refused to let the people go.


Relative to the phrase “for evil is before you,” some understand it to mean that Pharaoh was warning Moses and Aaron that to lead such a mixed multitude into the wilderness was reckless, and would prove to be a disaster; but others take it to mean that he was accusing them of plotting evil against him, one translation rendering the last clause, “Plainly you are out for mischief,” and another, “Who can doubt there is mischief brewing here?” 


10:11.  “Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord; for that ye did desire.  And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.”


Pharaoh obviously didn’t believe that their purpose was just to keep a religious feast to Jehovah, for he countered their demand by declaring that only the men, as the representatives of the nation, needed to go, since it was they who presented the sacrifices.  And with that as his final word he drove them from his presence, failing to understand that the final word lay with God.


10:12.  “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, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.”


Locusts were, and still are, one of the most dreaded scourges of eastern lands, for besides devouring every plant, they defoliate trees and shrubs, thus killing most of them.


The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes the following pertinent observation, “Nut, the Egyptian sky goddess, could not control these locusts, and Osiris, god of crop fertility, could not prevent the destruction of the crops.”


10:13.  “And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.”


It is instructive to note that in Scripture the east is invariably associated with departure from God, and with other evil, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, for example, was eastward, as was also Cain’s expulsion from God’s presence, whereas in coming into the presence of the Lord, the wise came from the east.


It is also instructive to note that the wind (singular) is the biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit, see John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth ... so is every one that is born of the Spirit,” and again, Acts 2:2-4, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost....”


This then would indicate that it was the Holy Spirit who brought the locusts.


10:14.  “And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested 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.”


“... no such locusts as they” has reference to their phenomenal numbers, not to any unique physical characteristic.


10:15.  “For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; 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.”


The darkening of the land is usually understood to have been due to the fact that the swarms of them were so vast that the light of the sun was obscured; and so voracious were they that no green thing remained in their wake.


10:16.  “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.”


As has been noted already, confession of guilt, divorced from repentance, is worthless.  Pharaoh, like many another, was sorry for what he had to suffer because of his folly, but he wasn’t sorry for the sin that had brought the suffering: his rebellion against the God of heaven.


It is significant too, that here, as throughout the narrative, he referred to Jehovah as “the Lord your God,” but never as “my God.”


10:17.  “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.”


There is further ominous significance in that he sought forgiveness from Moses and Aaron, but not from God; and as also previously noted, he regretted the suffering he had to endure, but not the sin that had caused it.  There is a world of difference between the sorrow felt for what I must suffer as a result of my sin, and the sorrow of genuine repentance for having committed the sin.


“... this death” is also translated this deadly thing: this death: this deadly plague: this fatal destruction.


10:18.  “And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord.”


10:19.  “And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.”


As the Lord, by an east wind had brought the locusts, so now by a “strong west wind” did He remove them, so that not one remained in the land.  This is another demonstration of the truth that in Scripture the east is synonymous with sin, as the west is with good.


The fact that “there remained not one locust” reminds us that God does nothing by halves.  The salvation of the repentant sinner is eternal, just as is the damnation of the unrepentant sinner.  The one will enjoy eternal bliss in heaven; the other, eternal torment in the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire.


10:20.  “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.”


Up to this point God had permitted Pharaoh to harden his heart, but now He made the hardening permanent.  The evil king had passed for ever beyond hope of mercy.  He must now plunge on to eternal destruction.  If those who reject God’s pleadings to repent and be saved, could understand the awful consequences of a final rejection, the one that carries them over the fatal line separating His mercy from His wrath, they would grasp salvation with both hands at the first offer!


10:21.  “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.”


10:22.  “And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:”


10:23.  “They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”


Relative to this plague The Bible Knowledge Commentary states, “This plague was aimed at one of the chief Egyptian deities, the sun god Re, of whom Pharaoh was a representation.  Re was responsible for providing sunlight, warmth, and productivity.  Other Gods, including Horus, were associated with the sun.  Nut, the goddess of the sky would have been humiliated by this plague (as well as by the plagues of hail and locusts).


The mysterious stygian darkness seems to have been perceptible even by the sense of touch, and of such a nature as to extinguish the flame of lamps or candles, the fact that the Israelites had light in their dwellings placing the phenomenon in the realm of the supernatural, with God as the Author.


10:24.  “And Pharaoh called unto Moses, 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 Egyptian king knew perfectly well that the flocks and herds were the magnet that would draw the Hebrews back into Egypt; nor has anything changed since then.  The flocks and herds were the equivalent of today’s business, and only the spiritually blind will fail to see the extent to which moneymaking distracts men from considering the brevity and uncertainty of life, and the imperative of being ready to meet God, that fitness consisting of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.


10:25.  “And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God.”


This was the annunciation of a foundational truth.  There can be no approach to God apart from the presentation of the prescribed propitiatory offering, for all men are sinners whose sin must be atoned for before they can stand in the presence of a holy God, and in the OT age each such offering was simply a type of Christ, which God was willing to accept until that moment when the Lord Jesus Christ offered himself without spot to God as our sinless Substitute.


10:26.  “Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; 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.”


As has been noted in our study of verse 24 their cattle were the equivalent of today’s business, but Moses’ assertion that it was of their cattle that they were to serve God, is the reminder that in our business dealings, and in the performance of our jobs, all is to be done as unto the Lord.  There is to be strict integrity in everything we do, whether it be in our buying and selling, or in our service to an employer.


10:27.  “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.”


Pharaoh having already crossed the invisible line that separates God’s mercy from His wrath, had become incapable of repentance, and must therefore continue to his doom without any further attempt of God to turn him aside from his self-chosen path.  It is a dreadful thing when a man’s rejection of God’s entreaties causes them to cease, so that he is left, as was the Egyptian king, to pursue his way to hell and the lake of fire unhindered.


10:28.  “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.”


With this final imperious command and threat the foolish king dismissed God’s servant, unaware that he was sealing his own doom; and so has many another since that day aped Pharaoh’s folly by dismissing a believer who was simply trying to lead him to Christ.


10:29.  “And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.”


The dreadful finality of Moses’ response will be appreciated only by those who realize that it signified God’s abandonment of the Egyptian king to his self-chosen destruction: eternal torment, first in the unquenchable flame of hell, and then eternally in the lake of fire at the end of the few brief years left to him on earth.


Relative to the seeming contradiction between this and the later meeting between Moses and Aaron and Pharaoh recorded in 12:31 The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains it thus, “This can be explained by understanding Moses to have said (in 10:29) that, because of Pharaoh’s raging, Moses would not go to him in mercy with a word from God.  In other words, if Moses saw Pharaoh again, it would be to announce unavoidable judgment or it would be at Pharaoh’s request to grant Moses and the Israelites permission to leave the land.”

[Exodus 11]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough