Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Servants. They took occasion, from God’s withdrawing his chastisements, to become more obdurate. (St. Augustine, q. 30, and 36.)
Ver. 7. Scandal, or source of repeated misery; whether they meant their own resistance to God’s orders, or Moses, with the Hebrew nation. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Herds. Out of which the Lord may choose what victims he requires. (Menochius) — The people of Egypt kept solemnities of this description. (Herodotus ii. 58, 59.)
Ver. 10. So be. A form of imprecation mixed with scorn: as, I shall not let you go, so may God abandon you. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Desired. Moses had requested that all might go. He had not specified the men only, as the king boldly asserts. (Menochius) — A partial obedience will not rescue him from the threatened plague. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Wind from “the south,” (Septuagint) or “east,” (Kadim) or perhaps blowing from the south-east. (Bonfrere) The locusts would come from Ethiopia, or from Arabia, in both which countries they abound. (Ludolf, &c.) They lay their eggs in autumn, and hatch in spring. Frequently they devastate one country after another. They are very large in the East, and sometimes will fasten upon the heads of serpents, and destroy them, as they did on this occasion the Egyptians, Wisdom xvi. 9. — In Cyrene, bordering upon Egypt, it is requisite to encounter these creatures thrice in the year. (Calmet) (See Leviticus xi. 22.)
Ver. 14. Hereafter. Joel i. 2, speaking of locusts which infested Judea, uses the same expressions to denote a very heavy judgment. Two events never perfectly agree. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Also. Hebrew, “only,” and I will amend. — Death, or plague. (Menochius)
Ver. 18. Moses. The printed Hebrew and Chaldean do not read his name; but some manuscripts have it agreeably to the Septuagint and Syriac versions. (Kennicott)
Ver. 19. West. Hebrew sea, (Mediterranean) to the north and west of Egypt. — Red sea. Hebrew, “of suph,” or green herbs, which abound there. It has also a reddish appearance in some places, from the coral branches of a saffron colour. It probably was called red from Edom, or Erythros, the son of Isaac. (Calmet) — God drowned the locusts in this sea, by means of the wind, which often proves the destruction of those animals. (Pliny, Natural History xi. 29.)
Ver. 21. Darkness upon the land of Egypt so thick that it may be felt. By means of the gross exhalations, which were to cause and accompany the darkness. (Challoner) — Thus were the Egyptians punished for keeping the Hebrews in dark prisons. (Menochius) — Philo says, even a lighted lamp or fire was extinguished. The Egyptians were affrighted with hideous spectres and evil angels. (Psalm lxxvii. 49; Wisdom xvii. 4.)
Ver. 29. More. Of my own accord. (Menochius) — Thou wilt send for me. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The eighth plague of the locusts. The ninth, of darkness: Pharao is still hardened.
1 And the Lord said to Moses: Go in to Pharao; for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants: that I may work these my signs in him,
2 And thou mayst tell in the ears of thy sons, and of thy grandsons, how often I have plagued the Egyptians, and wrought my signs amongst them: and you may know that I am the Lord.
3 Therefore Moses and Aaron went in to Pharao, and said to him: Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews: How long refusest thou to submit to me? let my people go, to sacrifice to me.
4 *But if thou resist, and wilt not let them go, behold I will bring in to-morrow the locust into thy coasts;
5 To cover the face of the earth, that nothing thereof may appear, but that which the hail hath left may be eaten: for they shall feed upon all the trees that spring in the fields.
6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of thy servants, and of all the Egyptians: such a number as thy fathers have not seen, nor thy grandfathers, from the time they were first upon the earth, until this present day. And he turned himself away, and went forth from Pharao.
7 And Pharao’s servants said to him: How long shall we endure this scandal? let the men go to sacrifice to the Lord their God. Dost thou not see that Egypt is undone?
8 And they called back Moses, and Aaron, to Pharao; and he said to them: Go, sacrifice to the Lord your God: who are they that shall go?
9 Moses said: We will go with our young and old, with our sons and daughters, with our sheep and herds: for it is the solemnity of the Lord our God.
10 And Pharao answered: So be the Lord with you, as I shall let you and your children go: who can doubt but that you intend some great evil?
11 It shall not be so: but go ye men only, and sacrifice to the Lord: for this yourselves also desired. And immediately they were cast out from Pharao’s presence.
12 And the Lord said to Moses: Stretch forth thy hand upon the land of Egypt unto the locust, that it may come upon it, and devour every herb that is left after the hail.
13 And Moses stretched forth his rod upon the land of Egypt: and the Lord brought a burning wind all that day, and night; and when it was morning, the burning wind raised the locusts.
14 And they came up over the whole land of Egypt; and rested in all the coasts of the Egyptians innumerable, the like as had not been before that time, nor shall be hereafter.
15 And they covered the whole face of the earth, wasting all things. And the grass of the earth was devoured, and what fruits soever were on the trees, which the hail had left; and there remained not any thing that was green on the trees, or in the herbs of the earth, in all Egypt.
16 Wherefore Pharao in haste called Moses and Aaron, and said to them: I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.
17 But now forgive me my sin this time also, and pray to the Lord your God, that he take away from me this death.
18 And Moses going forth from the presence of Pharao, prayed to the Lord:
19 And he made a very strong wind to blow from the west, and it took the locusts and cast them into the Red Sea: there remained not so much as one in all the coasts of Egypt.
20 And the Lord hardened Pharao’s heart, neither did he let the children of Israel go.
21 And the Lord said to Moses: Stretch out thy hand towards heaven: and may there be darkness upon the land of Egypt so thick that it may be felt.
22 And Moses stretch forth his hand towards heaven: and there came horrible darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.
23 *No man saw his brother, nor moved himself out of the place where he was: **but wheresoever the children of Israel dwelt, there was light.
24 And Pharao called Moses and Aaron, and said to them: Go, sacrifice to the Lord: let your sheep only, and herds remain, let your children go with you.
25 Moses said: Thou shalt give us also sacrifices and burnt-offerings, to the Lord our God.
26 All the flocks shall go with us: there shall not a hoof remain of them: for they are necessary for the service of the Lord our God: especially as we know not what must be offered, till we come to the very place.
27 And the Lord hardened Pharao’s heart, and he would not let them go.
28 And Pharao said to Moses: Get thee from me, and beware thou see not my face any more: in what day soever thou shalt come in my sight, thou shalt die.
29 Moses answered: So shall it be as thou hast spoken, I will not see thy face any more.
4: Wisdom xvi. 9.
23: Wisdom xvii. 2. — ** Wisdom xviii. 1.