Exodus, CHAPTER 5
Pharaoh’s Hardness of Heart.
Afterwards, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Let my people go, that they may hold a feast for me in the wilderness.”
Pharaoh answered, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.”
They replied, “The God of the Hebrews has come to meet us. Let us go a three days’ journey in the wilderness, that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God, so that he does not strike us with the plague or the sword.”
The king of Egypt answered them, “Why, Moses and Aaron, do you make the people neglect their work? Off to your labors!”
Pharaoh continued, “Look how they are already more numerous than the people of the land, and yet you would give them rest from their labors!”
That very day Pharaoh gave the taskmasters of the people and their foremen this order:
“You shall no longer supply the people with straw for their brickmaking as before. Let them go and gather their own straw!
Yet you shall levy upon them the same quota of bricks as they made previously. Do not reduce it. They are lazy; that is why they are crying, ‘Let us go to offer sacrifice to our God.’
Increase the work for the men, so that they attend to it and not to deceitful words.”
So the taskmasters of the people and their foremen went out and told the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not provide you with straw.
Go and get your own straw from wherever you can find it. But there will not be the slightest reduction in your work.’”
The people, then, scattered throughout the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw,
while the taskmasters kept driving them on, saying, “Finish your work, the same daily amount as when the straw was supplied to you.”
The Israelite foremen, whom the taskmasters of Pharaoh had placed over them, were beaten, and were asked, “Why have you not completed your prescribed amount of bricks yesterday and today, as before?”
Complaint of the Foremen.
Then the Israelite foremen came and cried out to Pharaoh: “Why do you treat your servants in this manner?
No straw is supplied to your servants, and still we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Look how your servants are beaten! It is you who are at fault.”
He answered, “Lazy! You are lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to the LORD.’
Now off to work! No straw will be supplied to you, but you must supply your quota of bricks.”
The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble, having been told, “Do not reduce your daily amount of bricks!”
So when they left Pharaoh they assailed Moses and Aaron, who were waiting to meet them,
and said to them, “The LORD look upon you and judge! You have made us offensive to Pharaoh and his servants, putting a sword into their hands to kill us.”
Renewal of God’s Promise.
Then Moses again had recourse to the LORD and said, “LORD, why have you treated this people badly? And why did you send me?
From the time I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has treated this people badly, and you have done nothing to rescue your people.”