Exodus 3:18

18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.

Exodus 3:18 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 3:18

And they shall hearken to thy voice
The elders of Israel, who would give credit to his commission, attend to what he said, and obey his orders, and follow the directions that he should give them, and not slight and reject him, as some had done before: and thou shall come, thou, and the elders of Israel, unto the king of
Egypt:
the elders of Israel in a body, and Moses at the head of them; though we do not read of their approaching to Pharaoh, and addressing him in such a manner, only of Moses and Aaron applying to him: and you shall say unto him, the Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with
us;
with one of them, who had reported to the rest what he had said; the children of Israel are here called Hebrews, because that seems to be a name the Egyptians most commonly called them, and by which they were best known to them, see ( Genesis 39:14 Genesis 39:17 ) ( 43:32 ) ( Exodus 1:19 ) ( Exodus 2:6 Exodus 2:11 Exodus 2:13 ) and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the
wilderness;
the wilderness of Sinai and Arabia, and to Mount Horeb in it; which from the borders of Egypt was three days' journey going the direct road, but the Israelites going somewhat about, and stopping by the way, did not get to it until the third month of their going out of Egypt, ( Exodus 19:1 ) : that we may sacrifice to the Lord God;
in the place where he had appeared to a principal man among them, and where they would be in no danger of being insulted and molested by the Egyptians. Some think the reason of this request they were directed to make, to sacrifice out of the land of Egypt, was, because what they sacrificed the Egyptians worshipped as gods, and therefore would be enraged at such sacrifices; but for this there is no sufficient foundation; (See Gill on Genesis 46:34), rather the design was under this pretence to get quite away from them, they being no subjects of the king of Egypt, nor had he a right to detain them; nor were they obliged to acquaint him with the whole of their intentions, and especially as they were directed of God himself to say this, and no more, and which being so reasonable, made Pharaoh's refusal the more inexcusable.

Exodus 3:18 In-Context

16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.
19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.