Exodus 9:6. All the cattle of Egypt died; that is, all were smitten with the murrain, whose unbelieving owners did not take care to house them: so we read in the twentieth verse concerning the hail. This plague was not only great in itself, but it seemed to be a stroke against their gods. Their Jupiter Ammon was fashioned like a ram, their Anubis like a dog, and their Apis like a bull or an ox. The Jupiter Ammon of Egypt was at first no other than a representative of Jehovah, but they had now likened the Godhead to fourfooted beasts, and birds, and creeping things. Romans 1.
Exodus 9:16. For this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power. The margin of our bible reads, have I made thee to stand, or to subsist. The Vatican copy of the Septuagint, according to Dr. Wall, reads hast thou been kept alive. And referring to this text, St. Paul says, What if God, willing to show his wrath, and make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Romans 9:22. Hence Pharaoh having long violated every dictate of conscience, and suppressed every sentiment of humanity; and having hardened his neck against the first miracles of heaven, evidently passed into a state of reprobation, or became a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction. But though God had raised him up to the throne, and preserved him from dying by the former plagues, when he might most justly have cut him off in his sins; yet he reserved him for the more exemplary punishment of overwhelming him in the sea; and thereby making him a fearful example of his vengeance to tyrannical princes, and the whole infidel world.
Exodus 9:24. Fire mingled with hail. In the year of Christ 824, there was in France, and in some parts of Germany, a storm which much resembled this. Tirinus. Wis 16:16. The hail was accompanied with tremendous thunder. The predominance of the electric fluid would contribute much towards the formation of the huge stones of hail.
Exodus 9:29. I will spread abroad my hands, in the usual form of earnest and supplicating prayer.
Exodus 9:31. Bolled; that is, was shot, or in the ear.
Exodus 9:32. The wheat not grown. The barley is but four months in the ground. There the barley harvest is at Easter, and wheat six weeks later. The river Nile begins to rise in June: the lowest elevation Isaiah 16 feet, and the highest 24 feet. If the rise be high, a rich harvest follows the next year, because the country is enriched by a wider spread of the waters. As the waters retire, the sower wades in, and casts his wheat upon the water, to procure an early vegetation. See on Isaiah 19.
Pharaoh persists in hardening his heart, and God repeats his strokes of vengeance. The conflict still continues, and assumes a most awful aspect on the part of the sinner, and on the part of the Lord. Men who fight against God, we may be sure, are not far from destruction.
The hardness of heart so destructive to Pharaoh was not peculiar to him; it extended to most of his servants; for those who believed Moses, and housed their cattle, were exempt from the scourge. And oh, how tremendous were those calamities! The waters had scarcely resumed their colour; the plagues of the frogs, the insects, and the vermin were but just removed; the carcases of the cattle destroyed by the pestilence still infected the air; and now the heavens gather black; now the vivid lightnings roll along the ground, and the roaring of distant thunders proclaims the approach of Israel's God. The hail or ice of heaven falls on all the land. The cattle and their keepers fall wounded and die together; the vineyards and gardens are all destroyed; the trees are stripped of their verdure and lopped of their branches, and the trunk suffered to remain solely to preach the terrors of the Lord to a future age. How great, how deplorable are the devastations of sin! And if they were so deplorable in the exterior world, how much more are they to be lamented when they strip the soul of all its beauty, and render it a desert in the eyes of God!
In the boils which afflicted the Egyptians, those who harden their hearts against God's judgments may see the complaints which he is about to inflict on their bodies, and in the tempest of lightning and hail they may see the vengeance he is about to inflict on their souls. And who may abide the day of his coming? As is thy fear, so is thy wrath.
It was a very great mercy that the Egyptians were warned one day before the vengeance came: and oh how great is that mercy which still warns men by the ministry of the word. Surely it is the voice of longsuffering and grace; surely it is that they may hear the trumpet, and secure themselves from danger. Oh that our wicked age might see in Pharaoh and his people, the awful consequences of infidelity and crime. Oh that they might by a repentance correspondent to their sins, avert the anger of heaven, and secure to themselves refuge in the arms of Jesus Christ.