Exodus 11 – God Announces the Death of the Firstborn
A. God’s instructions to Moses concerning the final calamity.
1. (1-3) Israel plunders the Egyptians.
And the LORD said to Moses, “I will bring yet one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether. Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold.” And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.
a. He will surely drive you out of here altogether: Long before this, God told Moses that He would plague Egypt with the death of the firstborn (Exodus 4:21-23). After this final plague, Pharaoh wouldn’t merely allow Israel to leave, he would compel them to go.
b. The LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: Pharaoh was still not quite convinced, but the people of Egypt were willing to see the people of Israel immediately leave. They were more than willing to give them gifts of silver and gold to persuade them to leave. This was how the slaves of Israel received their past wages from their time of slavery, and how they did not leave Egypt empty-handed.
i. “These jewels were employed afterwards in the adornment and enrichment of the Sanctuary. They flashed in the breastplate of the High Priest, and shone in the sacred vessels.” (Meyer)
c. The man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people: Though Pharaoh’s heart was not yet persuaded, all of Egypt (including Pharaoh’s servants) knew the LORD God was greater than the gods of Egypt and that Moses was a servant of this great God.
2. (4-8) The death of the firstborn is announced to Pharaoh.
Then Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.’ And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will go out.” Then he went out from Pharaoh in great anger.
a. Then Moses said: As Moses still stood before Pharaoh, for the first time God lead him to specifically say what would happen to the firstborn of Egypt. They shall die, all of them, because the Egyptians would not let God’s firstborn (Israel) go. Therefore, there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt.
i. Even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill: “To sit ‘behind the two mill stones’ (so the Hebrew reads literally) is to do the work of the lowest woman slave in the household, grinding corn (Isaiah 47:2).” (Cole)
ii. “In view of the law of primogeniture, the blow would be the most terrible that could be inflicted.” (Thomas)
b. Against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue: Despite the great calamity to come, God would grant the Egyptians the ability to see the situation as it really was: the fault of their own Pharaoh, not the fault of Moses or the children of Israel.
i. This was even worse news to Pharaoh. Perhaps a politician doesn’t mind calamity if he can blame it on someone else. Here, God promised that Pharaoh himself would bear the blame.
ii. “An unprecedented outpouring of grief would follow, but among the Israelites there would be such tranquility on that evening that no a dog would have occasion to bark.” (Kaiser)
iii. “They had made Israel cry: and God usually retaliates spoil to spoil (Ezekiel 39:10), number to number (Isaiah 65:11, 12), choice to choice (Isaiah 66:3, 4), cry to cry (James 5:1, 4).” (Trapp)
c. That you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel: Perhaps some in that day (including Pharaoh) found it easy to say, “The Egyptians have gods, and the Israelites have a God. What is the difference?” In His overwhelming demonstration of power over the deities of Egypt, Yahweh showed that there was a difference.
i. “The Lord hath put a difference between those who are his people and those who are not. There are many distinctions among men which will one day be blotted out; but permit me to remind you at the outset that this is an eternal distinction.” (Spurgeon)
d. All these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, and all the people who follow you’: Moses’ final words to Pharaoh told him that he and the rest of the Egyptians would command the people of Israel to go.
3. (9-10) God tells Moses that Pharaoh will still not heed.
But the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not heed you, so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” So Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
a. Pharaoh will not heed you: If nine plagues had come from the hand of God, one might expect that the warning about a tenth plague would be believed; but Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and God strengthened Pharaoh in his hardness of heart.
i. So that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt: “The nine plagues can now be seen as a whole. They touched every phase of nature: mineral, animal, vegetable, human. They affected persons and property, and included all, from the highest to the lowest.” (Thomas)
b. And the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart: Here for the fourth time we are told that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 9:12, 10:20, 10:27, and 11:10). Yet God never hardened Pharaoh’s heart until he first hardened it against the LORD and His people (Exodus 7:13, 7:22, 8:15, 8:19, 8:32, and 9:7).
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission