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?
7. Dixerunt autem servi Pharaonis ad eum, Quousque erit hic vobis in offendiculum? Dimitte homines, ut serviant Jehovae Deo suo. An ante scies quod perierit AEgyptus? (vel, Antequam scies periisse Aegyptum.)
8. And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and be said unto them, Go, serve the Lord your God: but who are they that shall go?
8. Et reductus est Moses atque Aharon ad Pharaonem: dixitque ad eos, Ite et servite Jehovae Deo vestro. Qui sunt qui abibunt?
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.
9. Et ait Moses, Cum pueris nostris, et cum senioribus nostris ibimus, cum filiis nostris et filiabus nostris, cum ovibus nostris, et cum armentis nostris ibimus: quia festus dies Jehovae nobis est.
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.
10. Tunc dixit illis, Ita sit Jehova vobiscum, ut vos dimittam, et parvulos vestros. Videte, quia malum est coram vobis.
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.
11. Non sic, Ite nunc viri, et servite Jehovae: quia vos hoc postulastis. Et ejecit eos a facie Pharaonis.
7. And Pharaoh's servants said unto him. We have seen, a little above, that they were obstinate in common with their king; nor can it be doubted that by their servile flattery they had blinded him more and more; but now, conquered by their calamities, and fearing something still worse, they seek to mitigate his fury, -- not because they had themselves returned to their senses, but because they feel that they are overcome by the hand of God, and that strength to resist had failed them. They say, therefore, that Moses, until he should be dismissed, would be a constant source of evil to them. Whether you translate the word sqwm, 1 mokesh, a snare or a stumbling-block, is of little consequence, because it is taken metaphorically for every kind of misfortune or injury. They signify, then, that no end of their troubles was to be expected so long as Pharaoh shall contend with Moses; for that evils would follow upon evils. By the question "how long?" they admonish him that his pertinacity had already been more injurious than enough; and thence they conclude that there is nothing better to be done than, by the expulsion of Moses, to free himself from the snare, or to avoid the stumbling-block, since he could only fight unsuccessfully. As to the second part of the verse, interpreters differ. The Chaldee Paraphrast translates it with the introduction of a negative, -- "Knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?" Word for word it is, "whether to know before," or "before that to know." But because the infinitive is sometimes taken for the future, thus does it seem to accord very well with the sense -- "Do you wish to know the destruction of the whole kingdom before you desist from your unhappy contention?" as if they had said, that unless God should avert His anger, the remedy would be soon too late and useless.
8. And Moses and Aaron were brought again. It is probable that, when the wrath of the king was appeased, some of the company were hastily dispatched to bring back Moses in that same hour, lest the calamity denounced by him should happen on the morrow. For we may gather from the king's words that he was not altogether overcome by their entreaties; but that, because he was unwilling to offend all their minds by an abrupt refusal, he suffered Moses to be recalled, that he might delude them by an underhand artifice; since thus do tyrants escape unpopularity by the false appearance of consent. 2 But he returns to his former purpose, when seeking to compound with God by an intermediate course he wishes to secure to himself the people's return. It appears indeed that he was himself also frightened, and sought some way to propitiate God; meanwhile, as if it were free for him to make conditions, he proposes such as would be advantageous to himself; as hypocrites are wont so to treat with God, as if He were compelled to abandon half His rights. But although he cunningly inquires, as if the point were doubtful, 3 still his suspicion is easily discovered. Therefore, what he knows to be enjoined him respecting all, he restricts to a few, and yet pretends that he accords what is right and what ought to satisfy God. But although Moses, in his answer, abundantly cuts off all pretext for subterfuge, and does not flatter him with any prevarication or ambiguity, still he suppresses God's counsel respecting the deliverance of the people -- not because he wishes to deceive or to lie, but that he may confine himself within the bounds of his commission. And lest it might be objected that in this way the Israelites would be withdrawn from their legitimate government, he does not dissemble that, being adopted by God, they were under the dominion of none other. God therefore openly asks again His own whom He has once attached to Himself. Nor must He be thought to have dealt fraudulently with the tyrant, although he conceals His counsel from him. He says that the Israelites must take their flocks and their herds with them, that the victims which they should offer to God may be at hand. As to their "sons and their daughters," he insinuates that the feast-day must be kept by the very least of them, because God had devoted them all to Himself for the services of piety.
10. Let the Lord be so with you. I am surprised that this passage, so clear in itself, should be violently wrested by the interpreters. 4 Some thus expound it, -- "I would that God may not otherwise favor you, than as I am determined to let you go;" while others think that it was spoken deceitfully, as though he had commended them to God after their departure. I will not adduce the opinions of all, nor is it necessary. I have no doubt that it was an ironical sneer, whereby he insults, at the same time, both God and them; as if he had said, "You boast that God is on your side; experience will prove this, if I shall let you go." Thus, then, establishing himself as the supreme judge as to their departure, and claiming to himself the power of forbidding and preventing them from going, he derides their confidence, because, in demanding their free dismissal, they profess to do so under the auspices and by the command of God; just as if he had said, "If I do not hinder you, then you may reasonably pretend that Jehovah is the guide of your journey." In this way he wantonly provokes God, and denies that He is able so to aid His people as to prevent his own power from prevailing to resist Him. Thus the reprobate, after having been troubled in themselves, sometimes burst forth with ravings of contempt against God, as if they were well secured from all dangers, and counting for nothing the aid which God has promised to give to His own people, fearlessly ridicule the simplicity of their faith.
Again, in the second clause of the verse, many, as it appears to me, raise unnecessary difficulties. Some gather from it this sense, -- "The evil which you are planning shall happen to yourselves, and shall be turned against your own faces." Others think that it is a comparison taken from a target, because the Israelites were looking steadfastly at nothing but ill-doing. 5 But I do not doubt that Pharaoh, after having set his tyrannical prohibitions in array against God, now threatens them, to inspire them with terror. He says, therefore, that evil awaits the Israelites, and is, as it were, held up before their eyes, because they are about to suffer the penalty of their rashness. Thus he signifies that the help of God, in which they confide for protection, is either evanescent or will profit them nothing. But when he says, "Look to it," he indirectly taunts them; because, in their reliance on God's assistance, they are rushing inconsiderately on their ruin. The conclusion is, that they were ill-advised as to their own interests in making these attempts, and that they foolishly or incautiously trusted to the protection of God.
11. Not so. He pretends to give them what they had asked at first, and thus accuses them of changeableness, because they do not persevere in the same determination. Whereas it is certain that the cause of his pertinacity in resisting was because he feared that the whole people should depart from Egypt. He knew, then, that what Moses required in God's name extended also to their little ones, else would he have not been enraged at it. But, in order to east blame upon them, he falsely and calumniously reproaches them with having doubled their unjust demands, whilst he is exercising the greatest kindness, because he accedes to their original request. But he had no wish to rob the parents of their children, but to retain them as hostages; for he was persuaded that they would not willingly renounce pledges which were so dear to them. With respect to what is added at the end of the verse, "He drove them away from Pharaoh's presence," 6 some take it indefinitely, and understand "some one of his dependents;" but, since it is usual in Hebrew to omit the antecedent, and then to supply it in the place of the relative, I have no doubt that Pharaoh, perceiving Moses not to be contented with half of them, grew angry, and drove him out with renewed menaces, because he could not endure his presence.
As to the latter part of this verse, C.: appears to have given too hasty a glance at S. M.'s notes. Neither the Hebrew nor the Chaldee Paraphrast has used the infinitive. S.M. has ceased to speak of Onkelos, when he proceeds to say, Alii sic vertunt, visne prius experiri? -- W.