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Exodus Chapter 5
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First Confrontation with Pharaoh
5:1 Moses and Aaron then went to Pharaoh and said, 'This is what YHVH, God of the Hebrews, declares: 'Let My people leave, so they can sacrifice to Me in the desert.' '
5:2 Pharaoh replied, 'Who is YHVH that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not recognize YHVH. Nor will I let Israel leave.'
5:3 'The God of the Hebrews has revealed Himself to us,' said [Moses and Aaron]. 'Please, allow us to take a three day journey into the desert, and let us sacrifice to YHVH our God. Otherwise, He may strike us down with the plague or the sword.'
5:4 The Egyptian king said to them, 'Moses and Aaron, why are you distracting the people from their work? Get back to your own business!'
5:5 'The peasants are becoming more numerous,' said Pharaoh, 'and you want them to take a vacation from their work!'
5:6 That day, Pharaoh gave new orders to the people's administrators and foremen. He said,
5:7 'Do not give the people straw for bricks as before. Let them go and gather their own straw.
5:8 Meanwhile, you must require them to make the same quota of bricks as before. Do not reduce it. They are lazy, and are protesting that they want to go sacrifice to their God.
5:9 Make the work heavier for the men, and make sure they do it. Then they will stop paying attention to false ideas.'
5:10 The administrators and foremen went out and told the people, 'Pharaoh has said that he will no longer give you straw.
5:11 You must go and get your own straw wherever you can find it. Meanwhile, you may not reduce the amount of work you must complete.'
5:12 The people spread out all over Egypt to gather grain stalks for straw.
5:13 The administrators pressured them and said, 'You must complete your daily work quota, just as before when there was straw.'
5:14 The Israelite foremen, whom Pharaoh's administrators had appointed, were flogged. They were told, 'Yesterday and today you did not complete your quotas. Why didn't you make as many bricks as before?'
5:15 The Israelite foremen came and protested to Pharaoh. 'Why are you doing this to us?' they said.
5:16 'We are no longer given straw, but we are told to make bricks. We are the ones being flogged, but it is your people's fault.'
5:17 'You are lazy!' retorted Pharaoh. 'Lazy! That's why you are saying that you want to sacrifice to God.
5:18 Now go! Get to work! You will not be given any straw, but you must deliver your quota of bricks.'
5:19 The Israelite foremen realized that they were in serious trouble. They had been clearly told that they could not reduce their daily brick quota.
5:20 When they were leaving Pharaoh, [the foremen] encountered Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them.
5:21 'Let God look at you and be your Judge,' they said. 'You have destroyed our reputation with Pharaoh and his advisors. You have placed a sword to kill us in their hands.'
5:22 Moses returned to God and said, 'O Lord, why do You mistreat Your people? Why did You send me?
5:23 As soon as I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he made things worse for these people. You have done nothing to help Your people.'



Commentary:

sacrifice
  (Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Ralbag). Or, 'celebrate a festival to Me' (Targum Yonathan). In the Talmud both opinions are cited (Chagigah 10b).

straw for bricks
  Unbaked mud bricks were used, and these had to be held together with straw. Such bricks can still be found.

but it is your people's fault
  Or, 'and it is a sin for your people' (Targum Yonathan; Rashi; Rashbam).

destroyed our reputation
  Literally, 'making our aroma stink in the eyes of Pharaoh.' See Genesis 34:30.





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