Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. To Moses, before he was gone out from Pharao. (Menochius) — This revelation had been made at Mount Horeb. Calmet places the three first verses within a parenthesis; and the fourth, &c., he supposes that Moses addressed to the king at the last interview, chap. x. 29. Kennicott maintains, that the Samaritan copy preserves the unity of this awful transaction almost in its original perfection, by preserving the speech of God to Moses, part of which the Hebrew seems to address to Pharao.
Ver. 2. Ask; “not borrow,” as the Protestants translate; nor “jewels of silver,” but vessels, such as the princes offered at the dedication of the tabernacle, Numbers vii. The Samaritan and Septuagint add “and raiment,” which they also asked for, (chap. xii. 35,) according to God’s command, chap. iii. 22. (Kennicott, 1. Dis. p. 391.)
Ver. 3. The Lord. The Samaritan makes this a continuation of God’s speech, “and I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they shall give them what they ask. — ver. 4. For, about midnight, I will go forth into the midst of the land of Egypt. — ver. 5. And every first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, &c. (as in our fifth verse). — ver. 6. And there, &c. — ver. 7. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue against man, nor even against beast, that thou mayest know that Jehovah doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. — ver. 8. And thou also shalt be greatly honoured in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharao’s servants, and in the sight of the people. — ver. 9. Then said Moses unto Pharao, Thus sayeth Jehovah: Israel is my son, my first-born; and I said unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me. — ver. 10. But thou hast refused to let him go; behold! therefore Jehovah slayeth thy son, thy first-born.” — ver. 11. And Moses said, (as above, ver. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.) The Jews have retained the parts of the 3rd and 8th verses, which were honourable to their nation, but they have given them as an historical narration. The 9th and 10th verses in the Samaritan copy, record what God had before commanded Moses to declare, chap. iv. 22, 33. As, therefore, all had been once written in the Hebrew text, the transcribers might probably think themselves dispensed from repeating the same things; and thus they might change some passages, and still repel the accusation of any wilful corruption, which seems to be the meaning of Ben Chaim’s preface to Bomberg’s Hebrew Bible; where he acknowledges 13 such alterations made in the copies which were presented to King Ptolemy, and translated by the Septuagint. (Kennicott, Dis. 2 p. 310.) — Moses. This exaltation of Moses and the people, took place only after the slaughter of the first-born, chap. xii. 36. Hence the Septuagint observes here, the Egyptians gave or lent them (echresan) all. (Haydock) — The greatness and dignity of Moses, impressed the king with awe, and made the people more willing to assist the Hebrews. (Menochius)
Ver. 4. I will enter, by means of a good angel, (Wisdom xviii. 14; St. Chrysostom) or by evil angels. (Psalm lxxvii. 49; St. Augustine, ibid.) (Calmet) — Moses spoke this on the morning of the 14th Nisan; and that same night, after the paschal lamb had been eaten, the dreadful carnage commenced. (Menochius)
Ver. 5. Mill. The vilest slaves were thus employed in a sort of prison, chap. xii. 21. God makes no distinction between the king and the beggar. Death levels all.
Ver. 7. Dog. They shall enjoy a profound peace, (Judith xi. 5,) while Egypt is in tears. Calmet here inserts the speech from the Samaritan copy, “And the man Moses;” &c. (ver. 3, and seq.[following]) deeming it essential to the context, and very agreeable to the spirit of Moses, who has many repetitions. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Angry, at such obstinacy. (Menochius)
Ver. 10. The Lord hardened, &c. See the annotations above, chap. iv. 21, and chap. vii. 3.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Pharao and his people are threatened with the death of their first-born.
1 And the Lord said to Moses: Yet one plague more will I bring upon Pharao and Egypt, and after that he shall let you go, and thrust you out.
2 *Therefore thou shalt tell all the people, that every man ask of his friend, and every woman of her neighbour, vessels of silver, and of gold.
3 And the Lord will give favour to his people in the sight of the Egyptians. *And Moses was a very great man in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharao’s servants, and of all the people.
4 And he said: Thus saith the Lord: At midnight I will enter into Egypt:
5 And every first-born in the land of the Egyptians shall die, from the first-born of Pharao who sitteth on his throne, even to the first-born of the handmaid that is at the mill, and all the first-born of beasts.
6 And there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as neither hath been before, nor shall be hereafter.
7 But with all the children of Israel there shall not a dog make the least noise, from man even to beast; that you may know how wonderful a difference the Lord maketh between the Egyptians and Israel.
8 And all these thy servants shall come down to me, and shall worship me, saying: Go forth thou, and all the people that is under thee: after that we will go out.
9 And he went out from Pharao exceeding angry. But the Lord said to Moses: Pharao will not hear you, that many signs may be done in the land of Egypt.
10 And Moses and Aaron did all the wonders that are written, before Pharao. And the Lord hardened Pharao’s heart, neither did he let the children of Israel go out of his land.
2: Exodus iii. 22.; Exodus xii. 35.
3: Ecclesiasticus xlv. 1.