v21: EVERYTHING Moses does is not out of his own initiative, but is based on the revelation of G-d. This is another plague that Pharaoh is not warned about.
· Toward heaven – this plague comes about through a heavenly means.
· Darkness which may ..be felt: – this darkness was physically experienced (touched or sensed). It is in no ways a normal darkness. Usually darkness signifies a lack of revelation, an absence of illumination, a rejection of truth.
v22: Thick darkness – Another synonym for this unique darkness is used here: “thick”. It is emphasised that this darkness could be felt. It was not just an absence of light.
· Three days (repeated -in v23 – therefore emphasised and we need to pay attention to it): Three, Biblically, is a number related to testing, and a number of revealing (Jonah was in the whale for three days, Yeshua rose after three days etc). Pharaoh, in one sense, was going to be uniquely and significantly tested with this darkness.
Note: There are two primary elements of hell: darkness and torment (usually seen through a burning/fire. Both are these will be felt physically – they are not symbolic)
v23: This darkness was so thick that the people could not move in it. They also were completely isolated in it – even if someone had been near them when this darkness fell they could not perceive that person and nor could they talk to one another (sound can’t carry in a thick medium). They were, in a sense, paralyzed (petrified in place) by this darkness.
v24: Pharaoh is still being rebellious. He does not want G-d’s will to be done in its entirety. The people could not serve G-d empty-handed. They needed to make an offering to Him and if they had left under Pharaoh’s terms they would not have been able to adequately worship.
· Some of the rabbinical scholars point out that usually the children of slaves belonged to their masters. When a slave was freed he could go but he had to leave any family, born to him in slavery, behind. Here Pharaoh is making a concession.
v25: Moses knew what worship the L-rd required.
v26: The context of this verse is very clear. Moses is saying that they need to do as the L-rd has required for worship.
· Even we do not know with what…: This reveals a very important aspect of worship: to be flexible and open to change (Abraham went to worship G-d by offering Isaac as a burnt offering. If he hadn’t been flexible, and heeded the revelation from the angel, the story would have been a lot different)
v27: When Pharaoh heard this he refused to send them. Again, G-d did not cause Pharaoh to be disobedient – disobedience is sin, and G-d hates sin. So then, how did G-d strengthen Pharaoh’s heart? It was not in a vacuum. Throughout these plagues we have seen a progression. Pharaoh was confronted with the will of G-d, which he (with growing knowledge and understanding) rebelled against. From the beginning he refused to submit to G-d’s terms and conditions. Just like there are physical laws (you jump off a building you go down) there are also spiritual laws.
When we reject G-d’s revelation our hearts will become dull. They become harder and harder with each (rejected) revelation that follows – unless we repent and turn from our wicked ways.
v28: Pharaoh says here that the negotiations are over. He never wants to discuss this issue with Moses again.
v29: You have spoken well: Pharaoh was right – death was the next step.