Did Moses Go Back on His Word?
AT THE end of the ninth plague—three days of total darkness—Pharaoh threatened Moses: “Watch yourself! Do not try to see my face again, because on the day of your seeing my face you will die.” (Ex. 10:28) According to Exodus 10:29, Moses replied: “That is the way you have spoken. I shall not try to see your face anymore.”
In the next chapter of Exodus, 11 verses 4 to 8, however, we read of Moses’ announcing the 10th plague to Pharaoh. Had Moses gone back on his word? No, this does not appear to be the case. Evidently Exodus 11:1-3 should be viewed as being parenthetical. Thus, after Moses said: “I shall not try to see your face anymore,” he did not quit speaking but followed up this statement with the announcement of the 10th plague. Then, as the account says, Moses “went out from Pharaoh in the heat of anger.”—Ex. 11:8.
Only by knowing that the 10th plague would be the very last could Moses have told Pharaoh that he would not try to see his face again. Otherwise, it would have been presumptuous for him to agree to something that might not have been in harmony with Jehovah’s will. The words of Exodus 11:1-3 reveal that Moses was aware that the 10th plague would be the last, and these words also supply information as to what the Israelites were to do after that plague came upon the Egyptians.—Compare Exodus 11:2, 3 with Exodus 12:35, 36.
As things worked out, Pharaoh was forced to send for Moses and Aaron. Humbled by the 10th plague, Pharaoh told them: “Get up, get out from the midst of my people, both you and the other sons of Israel, and go, serve Jehovah, just as you have stated. Take both your flocks and your herds, just as you have stated, and go. Also, you must bless me besides.” (Ex. 12:31, 32) What a contrast! The Pharaoh who threatened Moses with death now pleads for a blessing. He did not want Moses and the other Israelites to leave Egypt still cursing him and wanting further calamity to befall him.