Verse 22. "Every woman shall borrow" - This is certainly not a very correct translation: the original word la shaal signifies simply to ask, request, demand, require, inquire, &c.; but it does not signify to borrow in the proper sense of that word, though in a very few places of Scripture it is thus used. In this and the parallel place, chap. xii. 35, the word signifies to ask or demand, and not to borrow, which is a gross mistake into which scarcely any of the versions, ancient or modern, have fallen, except our own. The SEPTUAGINT has aithsei, she shall ask; the VULGATE, postulabit, she shall demand; the SYRIAC, CHALDEE, SAMARITAN, SAMARITAN Version, COPTIC, and PERSIAN, are the same as the Hebrew.
The European versions are generally correct on this point; and our common English version is almost the sole transgressor: I say, the common version, which, copying the Bible published by Becke in 1549, gives us the exceptionable term borrow, for the original la shaal, which in the Geneva Bible, and Barker's Bible of 1615, and some others, is rightly translated aske. God commanded the Israelites to ask or demand a certain recompense for their past services, and he inclined the hearts of the Egyptians to give liberally; and this, far from a matter of oppression, wrong, or even charity, was no more than a very partial recompense for the long and painful services which we may say six hundred thousand Israelites had rendered to Egypt, during a considerable number of years.
And there can be no doubt that while their heaviest oppression lasted, they were permitted to accumulate no kind of property, as all their gains went to their oppressors.
"Our exceptionable translation of the original has given some countenance to the desperate cause of infidelity; its abettors have exultingly said: "Moses represents the just God as ordering the Israelites to borrow the goods of the Egyptians under the pretense of returning them, whereas he intended that they should march off with the booty." Let these men know that there was no borrowing in the case; and that if accounts were fairly balanced, Egypt would be found still in considerable arrears to Israel. Let it also be considered that the Egyptians had never any right to the services of the Hebrews. Egypt owed its policy, its opulence, and even its political existence, to the Israelites. What had Joseph for his important services? NOTHING! He had neither district, nor city, nor lordship in Egypt; nor did he reserve any to his children. All his services were gratuitous; and being animated with a better hope than any earthly possession could inspire, he desired that even his bones should be carried up out of Egypt. Jacob and his family, it is true, were permitted to sojourn in Goshen, but they were not provided for in that place; for they brought their cattle, their goods, and all that they had into Egypt, Gen. xlvi. 1, 6; so that they had nothing but the bare land to feed on; and had built treasure cities or fortresses, we know not how many; and two whole cities, Pithom and Raamses, besides; and for all these services they had no compensation whatever, but were besides cruelly abused, and obliged to witness, as the sum of their calamities, the daily murder of their male infants. These particulars considered, will infidelity ever dare to produce this case again in support of its worthless pretensions? Jewels of silver, &c." - The word ylk keley we have already seen signifies vessels, instruments, weapons, &c., and may be very well translated by our English term, articles or goods. The Israelites got both gold and silver, probably both in coin and in plate of different kinds; and such raiment as was necessary for the journey which they were about to undertake.
"Ye shall spoil the Egyptians." - The verb lxn natsal signifies, not only to spoil, snatch away, but also to get away, to escape, to deliver, to regain, or recover. SPOIL signifies what is taken by rapine or violence; but this cannot be the meaning of the original word here, as the Israelites only asked, and the Egyptians with out fear, terror, or constraint, freely gave. It is worthy of remark that the original word is used, 1 Sam. xxx. 22, to signify the recovery of property that had been taken away by violence: "Then answered all the wicked men, and men of Belial, of those that went with David, Because they went not with us we will not give them aught of the SPOIL ( llhm mehashSHALAL) that we have RECOVERED, wnlxh ra asher HITSTSALNU. In this sense we should understand the word here. The Israelites recovered a part of their property - their wages, of which they had been most unjustly deprived by the Egyptians.
IN this chapter we have much curious and important information; but what is most interesting is the name by which God was pleased to make himself known to Moses and to the Israelites, a name by which the Supreme Being was afterwards known among the wisest inhabitants of the earth. HE who IS and who WILL BE what he IS. This is a proper characteristic of the Divine Being, who is, properly speaking, the only BEING, because he is independent and eternal; whereas all other beings, in whatsoever forms they may appear, are derived, finite, changeable, and liable to destruction, decay, and even to annihilation. When God, therefore, announced himself to Moses by this name, he proclaimed his own eternity and immateriality; and the very name itself precludes the possibility of idolatry, because it was impossible for the mind, in considering it, to represent the Divine Being in any assignable shape; for who could represent BEING or Existence by any limited form? And who can have any idea of a form that is unlimited? Thus, then, we find that the first discovery which God made of himself was intended to show the people the simplicity and spirituality of his nature; that while they considered him as BEING, and the Cause of all BEING, they might be preserved from all idolatry for ever. The very name itself is a proof of a Divine revelation; for it is not possible that such an idea could have ever entered into the mind of man, unless it had been communicated from above. It could not have been produced by reasoning, for there were no premises on which it could be built, nor any analogies by which it could have been formed. We can as easily comprehend eternity as we can being, simply considered in and of itself, when nothing of assignable forms, colours, or qualities existed, besides its infinite and illimitable self.
To this Divine discovery the ancient Greeks owed the inscription which they placed above the door of the temple of Apollo at Delphi: the whole of the inscription consisted in the simple monosyllable EI, THOU ART, the second person of the Greek substantive verb eimi, I am. On this inscription Plutarch, one of the most intelligent of all the Gentile philosophers, made an express treatise, peri tou EI en delfoiv, having received the true interpretation in his travels in Egypt, whither he had gone for the express purpose of inquiring into their ancient learning, and where he had doubtless seen these words of God to Moses in the Greek version of the Septuagint, which had been current among the Egyptians (for whose sake it was first made) about four hundred years previously to the death of Plutarch. This philosopher observes that "this title is not only proper, but peculiar to God, because HE alone is being; for mortals have no participation of true being, because that which begins and ends, and is continually changing, is never one nor the same, nor in the same state. The deity on whose temple this word was inscribed was called Apollo, apolln, from a, negative, and poluv, many, because God is ONE, his nature simple, his essence uncompounded." Hence he informs us the ancient mode of addressing God was, "EI 'EN, Thou art One, ov gar polla to qeion estin, for many cannot be attributed to the Divine nature: kai ou proteron ouden estin, oudÆ usteron, oude mellon, oude parwchmenon, oude presbuteron, oude newteron, in which there is neither first nor last, future nor past, old nor young; allÆ eis wn eni tw nun to aei peplhrwke, but as being one, fills up in one NOW an eternal duration." And he concludes with observing that "this word corresponds to certain others on the same temple, viz., gnwqi seauton Know thyself; as if, under the name EI. THOU ART, the Deity designed to excite men to venerate HIM as eternally existing, wv onta diapantov, and to put them in mind of the frailty and mortality of their own nature." What beautiful things have the ancient Greek philosophers stolen from the testimonies of God to enrich their own works, without any kind of acknowledgment! And, strange perversity of man! these are the very things which we so highly applaud in the heathen copies, while we neglect or pass them by in the Divine originals!