Exodus 5

1After Moses and Aaron talked to the people, they went to Pharaoh. They said, “The Lord God of Israel says, 'Let my people go into the desert so they can have a feast to honor me.’” 2But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord? Why should I obey him? Why should I let Israel go? I don’t even know who this Lord is, so I refuse to let Israel go.” 3Then Aaron and Moses said, “The God of the Hebrew people has talked with us. So we beg you to let us travel three days into the desert. There we will offer a sacrifice to the Lord our God. If we don’t do this, he might become angry and destroy us. He might make us die from sickness or war.” 4But Pharaoh said to them, “Moses and Aaron, you are bothering the workers. Let them do their work! Go mind your own business! 5There are very many workers, and you are keeping them from doing their jobs.” 6That same day, Pharaoh gave a command to make work harder for the people of Israel. Pharaoh said to the slave masters and Hebrew foremen, 7“You have always given the people straw and they use it to make bricks. But now, tell them they have to go and find their own straw to make bricks. 8But they must still make the same number of bricks as they did before. They have become lazy. That is why they are asking me to let them go. They don’t have enough work to do. That is why they asked me to let them make sacrifices to their God. 9So make these people work harder. Keep them busy. Then they will not have enough time to listen to the lies of Moses.” 10So the Egyptian slave masters and the Hebrew foremen went to the people of Israel and said, “Pharaoh has decided that he will not give you straw for your bricks. 11You must go and get the straw for yourselves. So go and find straw. But you must still make as many bricks as you made before.” 12So the people went everywhere in Egypt looking for straw. 13The slave masters forced the people to work even harder. They forced the people to make as many bricks as before. 14The Egyptian slave masters had chosen the Hebrew foremen and had made them responsible for the work the people did. The Egyptian slave masters beat these foremen and said to them, “Why aren’t you making as many bricks as you made in the past? If you could do it then, you can do it now!” 15Then the Hebrew foremen went to Pharaoh. They complained and said, “We are your servants. Why are you treating us like this? 16You won’t give us any straw, but you tell us to make as many bricks as before. And now our masters are beating us. Your people are wrong for doing this.” 17Pharaoh answered, “You are lazy. You don’t want to work. That is why you ask me to let you go. And that is why you want to leave here and make sacrifices to the Lord. 18Now, go back to work! We will not give you any straw! And you must still make as many bricks as you did before!” 19The Hebrew foremen knew they were in trouble. The foremen knew they could not make as many bricks as they made in the past. 20When they were leaving the meeting with Pharaoh, they passed Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron were waiting for them. 21So they said to Moses and Aaron, “You really made a mistake when you told Pharaoh to let us go. May the Lord punish you because you caused Pharaoh and his rulers to hate us. You have given them an excuse to kill us.” 22Then Moses prayed to the Lord and said, “Master, why have you done this terrible thing to your people? Why did you send me here? 23I went to Pharaoh and said the things you told me to say. But since that time he has been mean to the people. And you have done nothing to help them!”

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