The threatened plague of hail is here summoned by the powerful hand and rod of Moses (Exod. 9:22, 23), and it obeys the summons, or rather the divine command; for fire and hail fulfil God’s word, Ps. 148:8. And here we are told,
I. What desolations it made upon the earth. The thunder, and fire from heaven (or lightning), made it both the more dreadful and the more destroying, Exod. 9:23, 24. Note, God makes the clouds, not only his store-houses whence he drops fatness on his people, but his magazines whence, when he pleases, he can draw out a most formidable train of artillery, with which to destroy his enemies. He himself speaks of the treasures of hail which he hath reserved against the day of battle and war, Job 38:22, 23. Woeful havoc this hail made in the land of Egypt. It killed both men and cattle, and battered down, not only the herbs, but the trees, Exod. 9:25. The corn that was above ground was destroyed, and that only preserved which as yet had not come up, Exod. 9:31, 32. Note, God has many ways of taking away the corn in the season thereof (Hos. 2:9), either by a secret blasting, or a noisy hail. In this plague the hot thunderbolts, as well as the hail, are said to destroy their flocks, Ps. 78:47, 48; and see Ps. 105:32, 33. Perhaps David alludes to this when, describing God’s glorious appearances for the discomfiture of his enemies, he speaks of the hailstones and coals of fire he threw among them, Ps. 18:12, 13. And there is a plan reference to it on the pouring out of the seventh vial, Rev. 16:21. Notice is here taken (Exod. 9:26) of the land of Goshen’s being preserved from receiving any damage by this plague. God has the directing of the pregnant clouds, and causes it to rain or hail on one city and not on another, either in mercy or in judgment.
II. What a consternation it put Pharaoh in. See what effect it had upon him, 1. He humbled himself to Moses in the language of a penitent, Exod. 9:27, 28. No man could have spoken better. He owns himself on the wrong side in his contest with the God of the Hebrews: “I have sinned in standing it out so long.” He owns the equity of God’s proceedings against him: The Lord is righteous, and must be justified when he speaks, though he speak in thunder and lightning. He condemns himself and his land: “I and my people are wicked, and deserve what is brought upon us.” He begs the prayers of Moses: “Entreat the Lord for me, that this direful plague may be removed.” And, lastly, he promises to yield up his prisoners: I will let you go. What could one desire more? And yet his heart was hardened all this while. Note, The terror of the rod often extorts penitent acknowledgments from those who have no penitent affections; under the surprise and smart of affliction, they start up, and say that which is pertinent enough, not because they are deeply affected, but because they know that they should be and that it is meet to be said. 2. Moses, hereupon, becomes an intercessor for him with God. Though he had all the reason in the world to think that he would immediately repent of his repentance, and told him so (Exod. 9:30), yet he promises to be this friend in the court of heaven. Note, Even those whom we have little hopes of, yet we should continue to pray for, and to admonish, 1 Sam. 12:23. Observe, (1.) The place Moses chose for his intercession. He went out of the city (Exod. 9:33), not only for privacy in his communion with God, but to show that he durst venture abroad into the field, notwithstanding the hail and lightning which kept Pharaoh and his servants withindoors, knowing that every hail-stone had its direction from his God, who meant him no hurt. Note, Peace with God makes men thunderproof, for thunder is the voice of their Father. (2.) The gesture: He spread abroad his hands unto the Lord—an outward expression of earnest desire and humble expectation. Those that come to God for mercy must stand ready to receive it. (3.) The end Moses aimed at in interceding for him: That thou mayest know, and be convinced, that the earth is the Lord’s (Exod. 9:29), that is, that God has a sovereign dominion over all the creatures, that they all are ruled by him, and therefore that thou oughtest to be so. See what various methods God uses to bring men to their proper senses. Judgments are sent, judgments removed, and all for the same end, to make men know that he Lord reigns. (4.) The success of it. [1.] He prevailed with God, Exod. 9:33. But, [2.] He could not prevail with Pharaoh: He sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, Exod. 9:34, 35. The prayer of Moses opened and shut heaven, like Elias’s (Jas. 5:17, 18), and such is the power of God’s two witnesses (); yet neither Moses nor Elias, nor those two witnesses, could subdue the hard hearts of men. Pharaoh was frightened into a compliance by the judgment, but, when it was over, his convictions vanished, and his fair promises were forgotten. Note, Little credit is to be given to confessions upon the rack. Note also, Those that are not bettered by judgments and mercies are commonly made worse.
The eighth and ninth of the plagues of Egypt, that of locusts and that of darkness, are recorded in this chapter. I. Concerning the plague of locusts, 1. God instructs Moses in the meaning of these amazing dispensations of his providence, Exod. 10:1, 2. 2. He threatens the locusts, Exod. 10:3-6. 3. Pharaoh, at the persuasion of his servants, is willing to treat again with Moses (Exod. 10:7-9), but they cannot agree, Exod. 10:10, 11. 4. The locusts come, Exod. 10:12-15. 5. Pharaoh cries Peccavi—I have offended (Exod. 10:16, 17), whereupon Moses prays for the removal of the plague, and it is done; but Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened, Exod. 10:18-20. II. Concerning the plague of darkness, 1. It is inflicted, Exod. 10:21-23. 2. Pharaoh again treats with Moses about a surrender, but the treaty breaks off in a heat, Exod. 10:26-29