Exodus 5

Pharaoh's First Refusal

After that, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let My people go, so that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh replied, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice [and] let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” “The God of the Hebrews has met with us,” they answered. “Please let us go on a three-day journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the LORD our God, or He may strike us with plagues or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your work!” Pharaoh also said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you would be stopping them from their labor.”

Bricks and Straw

That same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen: “You shall no longer supply the people with straw for making bricks. They must go and gather their own straw. But require of them the same quota of bricks as before; do not reduce it. For they are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Make the work harder on the men so they will be occupied and pay no attention to [these] lies.” 10  So the taskmasters and foremen of the people went out and said to them, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I am no longer giving you straw. 11  Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it; but your workload will in no way be reduced.’” 12  So the people scattered all over the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13  The taskmasters kept pressing them, saying, “Fulfill your quota each day, just as you did when straw was provided.” 14  Then the Israelite foremen, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over the people, were beaten and asked, “Why have you not fulfilled your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as you did before?”

The Cry of the Israelites

15  So the Israelite foremen went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why are you treating your servants this way? 16  No straw has been given to your servants, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Look, your servants are being beaten, but the fault [is] with your own people.” 17  “You are slackers,” Pharaoh replied. “Slackers! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ 18  Now get to work. You will be given no straw, yet you must deliver the full quota of bricks.” 19  The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You must not reduce your daily quota of bricks.” 20  When they left Pharaoh, they confronted Moses and Aaron, who stood waiting to meet them. 21  “May the LORD look upon you and judge you,” [the foremen] said, “for you have made us a stench before Pharaoh and his officials; you have placed in their hand a sword to kill us!” 22  So Moses returned to the LORD and asked, “Lord, why have You brought trouble upon this people? Is this why You sent me? 23  Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and You have not delivered Your people in any way.”
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