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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Were employed by Pharaoh to build treasure cities

The only reasonable conclusion to which we can come, as regards a motive for the "mixed multitude" leaving Egypt along with the Jews, is, that being slaves like themselves, they took advantage of the opportunity, and slipped out with them.[7]

[7] Since the above was written, I have read Hengstenberg on the Pentateuch, who supposes that the "mixed multitude" were an inferior order of workmen, employed, like the Jews, as slaves, in the building of the pyramids.

The Jews, on being reduced to a state of bondage, were employed by Pharaoh to "build treasure cities, and work in mortar and brick, and do all manner of service in the field," besides being "scattered abroad through all the land of Egypt, to gather stubble in place of straw," wherewith to make their tale of bricks. In this way they would come much in contact with the other slaves of the country; and, as "adversity makes strange bed-fellows," they would naturally prove communicative to their fellow-sufferers, and expatiate on the history of their people, from the days of Abraham downward, were it only from a feeling of vanity to make themselves appear superior to what they would consider the ordinary dross around them. They would also naturally allude to their future prospects, and the positive promise, or at least general idea, which they had of their God effecting their deliverance, and leading them into a country (Gen. 1. 24, 25) where all the miseries they were then enduring would be forgotten. They would do that more especially after Moses had returned from his father-in-law in Midian, to bring them out of Egypt; for we are told, in Ex. iv. 29-31, that the elders of the children of Israel were called together and informed of the intended redemption, and that all the people believed. By such means as these would the minds of some of the other slaves of Egypt be inflamed at the very idea of freedom being perhaps in immediate prospect for so many of their fellow-bondsmen.

Thereafter happened the many plagues; the causes of which must have been more or less known to the Egyptians generally, from the public manner in which Moses would make his demands (Ex. x. 7); and consequently to their slaves; for many of the slaves would be men of intelligence, as is common in oriental countries. Some of these slaves would, in all probability, watch, with fear and trembling, the dreadful drama played out (Ex. ix. 20). Others would, perhaps, give little heed to the various sayings of the Hebrews at the time they were uttered; the plagues would, perhaps, have little effect in reminding them of them. As they experienced their effects, they might even feel exasperated toward the Hebrews for being the cause of them; still it is more probable that they sympathized with them, as fellow-bondsmen, and murmured against Pharaoh for their existence and greater manifestation. But the positive order, nay the entreaty, for the departure of the Israelites, and the passage before their eyes of so large a body of slaves to obtain their freedom, would induce many of them to follow them; for they would, in all likelihood, form no higher estimate of the movement than that of merely gaining that liberty which slaves, in all nations, and under all circumstances, do continually sigh after.

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