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Exodus: Chapter 11

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Text view alone

1And the LORD said to Moses, “I will bring but one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; after that he shall let you go from here; indeed, when he lets you go, he will drive you out of here one and all. 2Tell the people to borrow, each man from his neighbor and each woman from hers, objects of silver and gold.” 3The LORD disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people. Moreover, Moses himself was much esteemed in the land of Egypt, among Pharaoh's courtiers and among the people.

4Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: Toward midnight I will go forth among the Egyptians, 5and every first‐born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first‐born of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the first‐born of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; and all the first‐born of the cattle. 6And there shall be a loud cry in all the land of Egypt, such as has never been or will ever be again; 7but not a dog shall snarl a Others “move (or whet) his tongue.” at any of the Israelites, at man orbeast—in order that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.

8“Then all these courtiers of yours shall come down to me and bow low to me, saying, ‘Depart, you and all the people who follow you!' After that I will depart.” And he left Pharaoh's presence in hot anger.

9Now the LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not heed you, in order that My marvels may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10Moses and Aaron had performed all these marvels before Pharaoh, but the LORD had stiffened the heart of Pharaoh so that he would not let the Israelites go from his land.


a Others “move (or whet) his tongue.”

Text Commentary view alone

11.1–13.16 :

The tenth plague, the exodus, and commemorative festivals. The composite nature of this section is indicated by differences in the ritual instructions (e.g., 13.3–10 n. ), discontinuities in the narrative, and verbal and other links to the various sources in the Torah. Source critics agree that one component of this section is from the Priestly source ( 11.9–12.20; 12.28, 40–41; 12.43–13.2 ); they disagree over which parts of the remainder belong to J, E, and (in some views) D. The most puzzling issue is the premature location of 12.14–20 : God refers to the exodus in the past tense (v. 17a), though the event does not occur until vv. 37–41 , and He commands that the day be commemorated by eating unleavened bread for a week, though the reason for doing so does not occur until vv. 34 and 39. Vv. 21–27 (J) are unaware of this command: When Moses conveys God's instructions about the pesaḥ sacrifice, he tells the people instead to commemorate the event in the future by reenacting the sacrifice. He informs them of the seven‐day festival of unleavened bread only later in 13.3–10 , after the text explains why the people ate unleavened bread on the day of the exodus. The redactor's reason for placing (vv. 14–20 right after (vv. 1–13 (both units are from P), despite the resultant disturbance of the continuity, was evidently his desire to fuse the festival of unleavened bread and the pesaḥ offering—originally separate rites (see 12.14–20 n. )—into a single holiday with the same date (vv. 6, 18 ). He may have believed that the fact that the meal accompanying the pesaḥ offering included unleavened bread implied that they are part of the same festival, as if the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorated the fact that the people ate matzah with the pesaḥ offering (v. 8 ).

11.1–10 :

The announcement of the tenth plague. The final and decisive plague would be a virulent epidemic (Ps. 78.50 ) of preternatural specificity, causing the sudden death of all first‐born Egyptians. This plague corresponds to the Egyptians' murder of the Hebrew baby boys ( 1.22 ; the Egyptian people's cooperation with Pharaoh's decree is implied by 2.2–3). Exod. 4.22–23 explains it as measure‐for‐measure punishment for Pharaoh's refusal to free Israel, God's “first‐born.”

11.1 :

He will drive you out, see 6.1 .

2–3 :

See 3.22 . Much esteemed, held in awe because of the power he has displayed.

4–8 :

Although God does not tell Moses the nature of the final plague in vv. 1–3 , according to the present form of the narrative Moses already knew it from God's words in 4.22–23 . To make the narrative read more clearly, the Samaritan Pentateuch has Moses quote those words to Pharaoh here, and it also copies (vv. 4–7 into God's words in (vv. 1–3 . According to that reading, then, in (vv. 4–7 Moses is telling Pharaoh what God previously told him. Such additions to smooth out the narrative are typical of the Samaritan Pentateuch, and are also found in some Dead Sea Scrolls.

6–7 :

This plague manifests the probative qualities of the second and third triads of plagues: It will be unprecedented ( 9.18; 10.6, 14 ), and God will make a distinction between Egypt and Israel (see 8.18–19; 9.4, 6–7 )—signs of the unique divine power beyond the event.

6 :

Loud cry, measure‐for‐measure punishment for causing the outcry of the Israelites ( 2.23 ).

7 :

Not a dog shall snarl: In contrast to the loud cry among the Egyptians, peace and quiet will prevail among the Israelites.

10 :

The Lord had stiffened the heart of Pharaoh: See 4.21 n.

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