December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have made him and his servants obdurate in order that I may perform these signs of mine among them
- and that you may recount to your son and grandson how ruthlessly I dealt with the Egyptians and what signs I wrought among them, so that you may know that I am the LORD."
- So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and told him, "Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews: How long will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go to worship me.
- If you refuse to let my people go, I warn you, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country.
- They shall cover the ground, so that the ground itself will not be visible. They shall eat up the remnant you saved unhurt from the hail, as well as all the foliage that has since sprouted in your fields.
- They shall fill your houses and the houses of your servants and of all the Egyptians; such a sight your fathers or grandfathers have not seen from the day they first settled on this soil up to the present day." With that he turned and left Pharaoh.
- But Pharaoh's servants said to him, "How long must he be a menace to us? Let the men go to worship the LORD, their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is being destroyed?"
- So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, who said to them, "You may go and worship the LORD, your God. But how many of you will go?"
- "Young and old must go with us," Moses answered, "our sons and daughters as well as our flocks and herds must accompany us. That is what a feast of the LORD means to us."
- 1 "The LORD help you," Pharaoh replied, "if I ever let your little ones go with you! Clearly, you have some evil in mind.
- 2 No, no! Just you men can go and worship the LORD. After all, that is what you want." With that they were driven from Pharaoh's presence.
- The LORD then said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt, that locusts may swarm over it and eat up all the vegetation and whatever the hail has left."
- 3 So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the LORD sent an east wind blowing over the land all that day and all that night. At dawn the east wind brought the locusts.
- They swarmed over the whole land of Egypt and settled down on every part of it. Never before had there been such a fierce swarm of locusts, nor will there ever be.
- They covered the surface of the whole land, till it was black with them. They ate up all the vegetation in the land and the fruit of whatever trees the hail had spared. Nothing green was left on any tree or plant throughout the land of Egypt.
- Hastily Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "I have sinned against the LORD, your God, and against you.
- But now, do forgive me my sin once more, and pray the LORD, your God, to take at least this deadly pest from me."
- When Moses left the presence of Pharaoh, he prayed to the LORD,
- 4 and the LORD changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which took up the locusts and hurled them into the Red Sea. But though not a single locust remained within the confines of Egypt,
- the LORD made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the Israelites go.
- 5 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that over the land of Egypt there may be such intense darkness that one can feel it."
- So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was dense darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days.
- Men could not see one another, nor could they move from where they were, for three days. But all the Israelites had light where they dwelt.
- Pharaoh then summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Go and worship the LORD. Your little ones, too, may go with you. But your flocks and herds must remain."
- Moses replied, "You must also grant us sacrifices and holocausts to offer up to the LORD, our God.
- Hence, our livestock also must go with us. Not an animal must be left behind. Some of them we must sacrifice to the LORD, our God, but we ourselves shall not know which ones we must sacrifice to him until we arrive at the place itself."
- But the LORD made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let them go.
- "Leave my presence," Pharaoh said to him, "and see to it that you do not appear before me again! The day you appear before me you shall die!"
- Moses replied, "Well said! I will never appear before you again."
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1  The LORD help you . . . : literally, "May the LORD be with you in the same way as I let you . . . "; a sarcastic blessing intended as a curse.
2  Pharaoh realized that if the men alone went they would have to return to their families. He suspected that the Hebrews had no intention of returning.
3  East wind: coming across the desert from Arabia, the strong east wind brings Egypt the burning sirocco and, at times, locusts. Cf Exodus 14:21.
4  The Red Sea: according to the traditional translation, but the Hebrew is literally, "the Reed Sea"; hence the Red Sea of Exodus was probably a body of shallow water somewhat to the north of the present deep Red Sea.
5  Darkness: at times a storm from the south, called the khamsin, blackens the sky of Egypt with sand from the Sahara; the dust in the air is then so thick that the darkness can, in a sense, "be felt."
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