C.H. Spurgeons's The Treasury of David
Verse 36. Are smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength. Now came the master blow. The Lord spoke before, but now he smites; before he only smote vines, but now he strikes men themselves. The glory of the household dies in a single night, the prime and pick of the nation are cut off, the flower of the troops, the heirs of the rich, and the hopes of the poor all die at midnight. Now the target was struck in the centre, there was no confronting this plague. Pharaoh feels it as much as the woman slave at the mill: he had smitten Israel, the Lord's firstborn, and the Lord repaid him to his face. What a cry went up throughout the land of Egypt when every house wailed its firstborn at the dead of night! O Jehovah, thou didst triumph in that hour, and with an outstretched arm didst thou deliver thy people.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 36. -- He smote also all the firstborn. Did you hear that cry? It is the moment of midnight, and some tragedy is enacted in that Egyptian dwelling, for such an unearthly shriek! and it is repeated and reechoed, as doors burst open and frantic women rush into the street, and, as the houses of priests and physicians are beset, they only shake their heads in speechless agony, and point to the death sealed features of their own firstborn. Lights are flashing at the palace gates, and flitting through the royal chambers; and as king's messengers hasten through the town enquiring where the two venerable Hebrew brothers dwell, the whisper flies, "The royal prince is dead!" Be off, ye sons of Jacob! speed from your house of bondage, ye oppressed and injured Israelites! And in their eagerness to "thrust forth" the terrible because Heaven protected race, they press upon them gold and jewels, and bribe them to be gone. --James Hamilton.