on Exodus 11 :7
Not a dog move his tongue - This passage has been generally understood as a proverbial expression, intimating that the Israelites should not only be free from this death, but that they should depart without any kind of molestation. For though there must be much bustle and comparative confusion in the sudden removal of six hundred thousand persons with their wives, children, goods, cattle, etc., yet this should produce so little alarm that even the dogs should not bark at them, which it would be natural to expect, as the principal stir was to be about midnight.
After giving this general explanation from others, I may be permitted to hazard a conjecture of my own. And,
1. Is it not probable that the allusion is here made to a well-known custom of dogs howling when any mortality is in a village, street, or even house, where such animals are? There are innumerable instances of the faithful house-dog howling when a death happens in a family, as if distressed on the account, feeling for the loss of his benefactor; but their apparent presaging such an event by their cries, as some will have it, may be attributed, not to any prescience, but to the exquisite keenness of their scent. If the words may be understood in this way, then the great cry through the whole land of Egypt may refer to this very circumstance: as dogs were sacred among them, and consequently religiously preserved, they must have existed in great multitudes.
2. We know that one of their principal deities was Osiris, whose son, worshipped under the form of a dog, or a man with a dog's head, was called Anubis latrator, the barking Anubis. May he not be represented as deploring a calamity which he had no power to prevent among his worshippers, nor influence to inflict punishment upon those who set his deity at naught? Hence while there was a great cry, צעקה גדלה tseakah gedolah, throughout all the land of Egypt, because of the mortality in every house, yet among the Israelites there was no death, consequently no dog moved his tongue to howl for their calamity; nor could the object of the Egyptians' worship inflict any similar punishment on the worshippers of Jehovah.
In honor of this dog-god there was a city called Anubis in Egypt, by the Greeks called Cynopolis, the city of the dog, the same that is now called Menich; in this he had a temple, and dogs, which were sacred to him, were here fed with consecrated victuals.
Thus, as in the first plagues their magicians were confounded, so in this last their gods were put to flight. And may not this be referred to in Exodus 12:12, when Jehovah says: Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment? Should it be objected, that to consider the passage in this light would be to acknowledge the being and deity of the fictitious Anubis, it may be answered, that in the sacred writings it is not an uncommon thing to see the idol acknowledged in order to show its nullity, and the more forcibly to express contempt for it, for its worshippers, and for its worship. Thus Isaiah represents the Babylonish idols as being endued with sense, bowing down under the judgments of God, utterly unable to help themselves or their worshippers, and being a burden to the beasts that carried them:
Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth; their idols were upon the beasts and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy laden; they are a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity; Isaiah 46:1, Isaiah 46:2. The case of Elijah and the prophets of Baal should not be forgotten here; this prophet, by seeming to acknowledge the reality of Baal's being, though by a strong irony, poured the most sovereign contempt upon him, his worshippers, and his worship: And Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud; For He Is A God: either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked; 1 Kings 18:27. See the observations at the end of Exodus 12. See Clarke's note at Exodus 12:51.
The Lord doth put a difference - See on Exodus 8:22 (note). And for the variations between the Hebrew and Samaritan Pentateuch in this place, see at the end of the chapter. See Clarke's note at Exodus 11:9.
on Exodus 11 :7
Shall not a dog move his tongue - A proverb expressive of freedom from alarm and immunity front assault.
on Exodus 11 :7