« EdellinenJatka »
THE TENTH PLAGUE.
DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN.
EXODUS, Chap. xi.
V. 5. And all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh, that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maid-servant, that is behind the mill ; and all the first-born of beasts.
V. 6. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.
V. 7. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast that ye may know, how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
V. 8. And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee; and after that I will go out.
Here should come in three verses of the
preceding chapter (v. 27, 28. and 29.) which have been certainly misplaced.---But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.
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.
And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger.
In this interview Moses speaks with great dignity, as well as authority, in consequence of the high commission which had been delegated by God to him. He gives public notice to all, that at midnight the first-born in every family, from the first-born of Pharaoh to the first-born of the maid that worked at the mill, should be cut off. The working at the mill was looked upon as the lowest and severest drudgery; and was allotted to the meanest slaves. He says, that there shall be a great cry throughout all the land; such as they had never experienced before, nor would ever be witness to again. The calamity therefore must be great, and adequate to this extraordinary mourning, since no nation was so
addicted to tears and lamentations as the Egyptians. Hence in the Orphic Argonautics mention is made of
Θρήνες τ' Αιγυπτιων και Οσιριδος ἱερα χύτλα.
the mourning of this people, and the sacred libations at the rites of Osiris. The like was observed at their 3 funerals, where they gave themselves up to all the extravagance of grief. They ran about the streets in a most frantic manner, defiling their faces with soil, and filling the air with their cries. The whole was attended with beating of their breasts, and with stripes; and the same process was observed upon the death of any sacred animal. Most of their ceremonies were attended with weeping in memory of the tears of Isis; and there was the same severe discipline observed. Herodotus mentions, that he was witness to thousands, nay, he says, to myriads, at a solemnity, who whipped themselves in this *manner.
I V. 32.
Παρ' Αιγύπτιοις ισοτιμιαν έχει το θείον της τιμής και δακρύων. Max. Tyrius. Dissert. viii. p. 85.
3 Diodorus, l. 1. p. 81. C. Herod. 1. 2. c. 85, 86. p. 141. 4 Τύπτονται yag би μετα την θυσίαν πάντες και πασαι, μυριάδες яagτa worλai arogwπwv. 1. 2. c. 60. p. 132. See Plutarch Isis et Osir. P. 366.
Julius Firmicius, p. 8.-also p. 20, 21.
The Sidonians and Syrians used the same lamentations, and accompanied them with the like stripes in honour of Isis and · Adonis ; the latter of which was another name for Osiris. He was the same also as * Thamuz, whose celebrity was always carried on with tears and mourning by the natives of Biblus and Sidon. These rites they borrowed in very early times from the people of Egypt. But the grief of the Egyptians, at the season here foretold, was to exceed every thing, either real or artificial, that had ever preceded. It was not the loss of Osiris, a remote and imaginary misfortune, which they were to lament; but a more intimate and affecting evil. Their first-born, the pride and solace of each house, was to be cut off: so that their sorrow was to be from the heart, real, exuberant, and universal. They were to be indulged in grief to satiety; and glutted with tears and lamentations.
' Lucian de Syriâ Deâ, vol. 2. p. 878.
* Θαμυζ, όπες ἑρμηνεύεται Αδωνις. Chron. Paschale, p. 130. The women of Israel were tainted with this infectious Then he brought me to
idolatry, as we learn from Ezekiel. the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was towards the north, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuż. v. 14. Και ιδε εκει γυναίκες καθημεναι θρηνεσαι τον Θάμμεζ. Ver sio LXX.
Of all this there was a proper warning given, which must have served with many towards anticipating the calamity by a fearful expectation; and must have rendered the people in general more ready to afford the Israelites their dismission; through whose detention they suffered.
Of the sacred Ordinance which preceded this
But there was a meaning in this judgment, of greater consequence than in any which had preceded. The destroying angel was to pass through the land of Egypt, and to display his power over the people. And the Israelites were also liable to be cut off, unless they observed a particular caution prescribed, the only means of their salvation. In consequence of this it pleased God to institute the Passover, by the observance of which they were to be secured for the present; and a secret intimation given of greater blessings hereafter. Each family was to take a lamb without spot or blemish, upon the tenth day of the first month; and then to kill it upon the fourteenth in the
! See Exodus xii. 3, 4. to verse 28.