10:1 1 The Lord said2 to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, in order to display3 these signs of mine before him,4 10:2 and in order that in the hearing of your son and your grandson you may tell5 how I made fools6 of the Egyptians7 and about8 my signs that I displayed9 among them, so that you may know10 that I am the Lord.”
10:3 So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh and told him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: ‘How long do you refuse11 to humble yourself before me?12 Release my people so that they may serve me! 10:4 But if you refuse to release my people, I am going to bring13 locusts14 into your territory15 tomorrow. 10:5 They will cover16 the surface17 of the earth, so that you18 will be unable to see the ground. They will eat the remainder of what escaped19—what is left over20 for you—from the hail, and they will eat every tree that grows for you from the field. 10:6 They will fill your houses, the houses of your servants, and all the houses of Egypt, such as21 neither22 your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen since they have been23 in the land until this day!’ ” Then Moses24 turned and went out from Pharaoh.
10:8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God. Exactly who is going with you?”28 10:9 Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our sheep and our cattle we will go, because we are to hold29 a pilgrim feast for the Lord.”
10:10 He said to them, “The Lord will need to be with you30 if I release you and your dependents!31 Watch out!32 Trouble is right in front of you!33 10:11 No!34 Go, you men35 only, and serve the Lord, for that36 is what you want.”37 Then Moses and Aaron38 were driven39 out of Pharaoh’s presence.
10:12 The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand over the land of Egypt for40 the locusts, that they may come up over the land of Egypt and eat everything that grows41 in the ground, everything that the hail has left.” 10:13 So Moses extended his staff over the land of Egypt, and then the Lord42 brought43 an east wind on the land all that day and all night.44 The morning came,45 and the east wind had brought up46 the locusts! 10:14 The locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and settled down in all the territory47 of Egypt. It was very severe;48 there had been no locusts like them before, nor will there be such ever again.49 10:15 They covered50 the surface51 of all the ground, so that the ground became dark with them,52 and they ate all the vegetation of the ground and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Nothing green remained on the trees or on anything that grew in the fields throughout the whole land of Egypt.
10:16 53 Then Pharaoh quickly54 summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned55 against the Lord your God and against you! 10:17 So now, forgive my sin this time only, and pray to the Lord your God that he would only56 take this death57 away from me.” 10:18 Moses58 went out59 from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, 10:19 and the Lord turned a very strong west wind,60 and it picked up the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea.61 Not one locust remained in all the territory of Egypt. 10:20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not release the Israelites.
sn The Egyptians dreaded locusts like every other ancient civilization. They had particular gods to whom they looked for help in such catastrophes. The locust-scaring deities of Greece and Asia were probably looked to in Egypt as well (especially in view of the origins in Egypt of so many of those religious ideas). The announcement of the plague falls into the now-familiar pattern. God tells Moses to go and speak to Pharaoh but reminds Moses that he has hardened his heart. Yahweh explains that he has done this so that he might show his power, so that in turn they might declare his name from generation to generation. This point is stressed so often that it must not be minimized. God was laying the foundation of the faith for Israel—the sovereignty of Yahweh.
tn Heb “and Yahweh said.”
tn The verb is שִׁתִי (shiti, “I have put”); it is used here as a synonym for the verb שִׂים (sim). Yahweh placed the signs in his midst, where they will be obvious.
tn Heb “in his midst.”
tn The expression is unusual: תְּסַפֵּר בְּאָזְנֵי (tésapper bé’ozne, “[that] you may declare in the ears of”). The clause explains an additional reason for God’s hardening the heart of Pharaoh, namely, so that the Israelites can tell their children of God’s great wonders. The expression is highly poetic and intense—like Ps 44:1, which says, “we have heard with our ears.” The emphasis would be on the clear teaching, orally, from one generation to another.
tn The verb הִתְעַלַּלְתִּי (hit’allalti) is a bold anthropomorphism. The word means to occupy oneself at another’s expense, to toy with someone, which may be paraphrased with “mock.” The whole point is that God is shaming and disgracing Egypt, making them look foolish in their arrogance and stubbornness (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:366–67). Some prefer to translate it as “I have dealt ruthlessly” with Egypt (see U. Cassuto, Exodus, 123).
tn Heb “of Egypt.” The place is put by metonymy for the inhabitants.
tn The word “about” is supplied to clarify this as another object of the verb “declare.”
tn Heb “put” or “placed.”
tn The form is the perfect tense with vav consecutive, וִידַעְתֶּם (vida’tem, “and that you might know”). This provides another purpose for God’s dealings with Egypt in the way that he was doing. The form is equal to the imperfect tense with vav (ו) prefixed; it thus parallels the imperfect that began v. 2—“that you might tell.”
tn The verb is מֵאַנְתָּ (me’anta), a Piel perfect. After “how long,” the form may be classified as present perfect (“how long have you refused), for it describes actions begun previously but with the effects continuing. (See GKC 311 §106.g-h). The use of a verb describing a state or condition may also call for a present translation (“how long do you refuse”) that includes past, present, and potentially future, in keeping with the question “how long.”
tn The clause is built on the use of the infinitive construct to express the direct object of the verb—it answers the question of what Pharaoh was refusing to do. The Niphal infinitive construct (note the elision of the ה [hey] prefix after the preposition [see GKC 139 §51.l]) is from the verb עָנָה (’anah). The verb in this stem would mean “humble oneself.” The question is somewhat rhetorical, since God was not yet through humbling Pharaoh, who would not humble himself. The issue between Yahweh and Pharaoh is deeper than simply whether or not Pharaoh will let the Israelites leave Egypt.
tn הִנְנִי (hinni) before the active participle מֵבִיא (mevi’) is the imminent future construction: “I am about to bring” or “I am going to bring”—precisely, “here I am bringing.”
tn One of the words for “locusts” in the Bible is אַרְבֶּה (’arbeh), which comes from רָבָה (ravah, “to be much, many”). It was used for locusts because of their immense numbers.
tn Heb “within your border.”
tn The verbs describing the locusts are singular because it is a swarm or plague of locusts. This verb (וְכִסָּה, vékhissah, “cover”) is a Piel perfect with a vav consecutive; it carries the same future nuance as the participle before it.
tn The text has לִרְאֹת וְלֹא יוּכַל (vélo’ yukhal lir’ot, “and he will not be able to see”). The verb has no expressed subjects. The clause might, therefore, be given a passive translation: “so that [it] cannot be seen.” The whole clause is the result of the previous statement.
sn As the next phrase explains “what escaped” refers to what the previous plague did not destroy. The locusts will devour everything, because there will not be much left from the other plagues for them to eat.
tn הַנִּשְׁאֶרֶת (hannish’eret) parallels (by apposition) and adds further emphasis to the preceding two words; it is the Niphal participle, meaning “that which is left over.”
tn Heb “which your fathers have not seen, nor your fathers’ fathers.”
tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
sn The question of Pharaoh’s servants echoes the question of Moses—“How long?” Now the servants of Pharaoh are demanding what Moses demanded—“Release the people.” They know that the land is destroyed, and they speak of it as Moses’ doing. That way they avoid acknowledging Yahweh or blaming Pharaoh.
tn Heb “snare” (מוֹקֵשׁ, moqesh), a word used for a trap for catching birds. Here it is a figure for the cause of Egypt’s destruction.
tn The question is literally “who and who are the ones going?” (מִי וָמִי הַהֹלְכִים, mi vami haholékhim). Pharaoh’s answer to Moses includes this rude question, which was intended to say that Pharaoh would control who went. The participle in this clause, then, refers to the future journey.
tn Heb “we have a pilgrim feast (חַג, khag) to Yahweh.”
sn Pharaoh is by no means offering a blessing on them in the name of Yahweh. The meaning of his “wish” is connected to the next clause—as he is releasing them, may God help them. S. R. Driver says that in Pharaoh’s scornful challenge Yahweh is as likely to protect them as Pharaoh is likely to let them go—not at all (Exodus, 80). He is planning to keep the women and children as hostages to force the men to return. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 125) paraphrases it this way: “May the help of your God be as far from you as I am from giving you permission to go forth with your little ones.” The real irony, Cassuto observes, is that in the final analysis he will let them go, and Yahweh will be with them.
tn Heb “see.”
tn Heb “before your face.”
sn The “trouble” or “evil” that is before them could refer to the evil that they are devising—the attempt to escape from Egypt. But that does not make much sense in the sentence—why would he tell them to take heed or look out about that? U. Cassuto (Exodus, 126) makes a better suggestion. He argues that Pharaoh is saying, “Don’t push me too far.” The evil, then, would be what Pharaoh was going to do if these men kept making demands on him. This fits the fact that he had them driven out of his court immediately. There could also be here an allusion to Pharaoh’s god Re’, the sun-deity and head of the pantheon; he would be saying that the power of his god would confront them.
tn Heb “not thus.”
tn Heb “you are seeking.”
tn Heb “they”; the referent (Moses and Aaron) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
tn The verb is the Piel preterite, third person masculine singular, meaning “and he drove them out.” But “Pharaoh” cannot be the subject of the sentence, for “Pharaoh” is the object of the preposition. The subject is not specified, and so the verb can be treated as passive.
tn The preposition בְּ (bet) is unexpected here. BDB 91 s.v. (the note at the end of the entry) says that in this case it can only be read as “with the locusts,” meaning that the locusts were thought to be implicit in Moses’ lifting up of his hand. However, BDB prefers to change the preposition to לְ (lamed).
tn The noun עֵשֶּׂב (’esev) normally would indicate cultivated grains, but in this context seems to indicate plants in general.
tn The clause begins וַיהוָה (va’adonay [vayhvah], “Now Yahweh.…”). In contrast to a normal sequence, this beginning focuses attention on Yahweh as the subject of the verb.
tn The verb נָהַג (nahag) means “drive, conduct.” It is elsewhere used for driving sheep, leading armies, or leading in processions.
tn Heb “and all the night.”
tn The text does not here use ordinary circumstantial clause constructions; rather, Heb “the morning was, and the east wind carried the locusts.” It clearly means “when it was morning,” but the style chosen gives a more abrupt beginning to the plague, as if the reader is in the experience—and at morning, the locusts are there!
tn The verb here is a past perfect, indicting that the locusts had arrived before the day came.
tn Heb “border.”
tn This is an interpretive translation. The clause simply has כָּבֵד מְאֹד (kaved mé’od), the stative verb with the adverb—“it was very heavy.” The description prepares for the following statement about the uniqueness of this locust infestation.
tn Heb “after them.”
tn Heb “and they covered.”
tn The verb is וַתֶּחְשַׁךְ (vattekhshakh, “and it became dark”). The idea is that the ground had the color of the swarms of locusts that covered it.
sn The third part of the passage now begins, the confrontation that resulted from the onslaught of the plague. Pharaoh goes a step further here—he confesses he has sinned and adds a request for forgiveness. But his acknowledgment does not go far enough, for this is not genuine confession. Since his heart was not yet submissive, his confession was vain.
tn The Piel preterite וַיְמַהֵר (vaymaher) could be translated “and he hastened,” but here it is joined with the following infinitive construct to form the hendiadys. “He hurried to summon” means “He summoned quickly.”
sn The severity of the plague prompted Pharaoh to confess his sin against Yahweh and them, now in much stronger terms than before. He also wants forgiveness—but in all probability what he wants is relief from the consequences of his sin. He pretended to convey to Moses that this was it, that he was through sinning, so he asked for forgiveness “only this time.”
sn Pharaoh’s double emphasis on “only” uses two different words and was meant to deceive. He was trying to give Moses the impression that he had finally come to his senses, and that he would let the people go. But he had no intention of letting them out.
sn “Death” is a metonymy that names the effect for the cause. If the locusts are left in the land it will be death to everything that grows.
tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
tn Heb “and he went out.”
tn Or perhaps “sea wind,” i.e., a wind off the Mediterranean.
tn The Hebrew name here is יַם־סוּף (Yam Suf), sometimes rendered “Reed Sea” or “Sea of Reeds.” The word סוּף is a collective noun that may have derived from an Egyptian name for papyrus reeds. Many English versions have used “Red Sea,” which translates the name that ancient Greeks used: ejruqrav qalavssa (eruthra thalassa).
sn The name Red Sea is currently applied to the sea west of the Arabian Peninsula. The northern fingers of this body of water extend along the west and east sides of the Sinai Peninsula and are presently called the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba or the Gulf of Eilat. In ancient times the name applied to a much larger body of water, including the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf (C. Houtman, Exodus, 1:109–10). See also Num 14:25; 21:4; Deut 1:40; 2:1; Judg 11:16; 1 Kgs 9:26; Jer 49:21. The sea was deep enough to drown the entire Egyptian army later (and thus no shallow swamp land). God drives the locusts to their death in the water. He will have the same power over Egyptian soldiers, for he raised up this powerful empire for a purpose and soon will drown them in the sea. The message for the Israelites is that God will humble all who refuse to submit.