Exodus 5

Moses and Aaron speak to Pharaoh

1 After this, Moses and Aaron went to visit Pharaoh. They said to him, ‘Listen to what the Lord says. He is the God of Israel. He says, “Let my people go. Let them prepare a feast in the desert to worship me.” ’

2 But Pharaoh said, ‘The Lord is not my god. I do not need to obey him. I do not have to let the Israelites go. I do not know the Lord. I will not let the Israelites go.’

3 Moses and Aaron said, ‘The God of the Israelites has met us. Please let us go. We must go on a journey of three days into the desert. There we must give gifts to the Lord our God. If we do not do this, God may punish us. We may become very ill, or people may attack us in war.’

4 But the king of Egypt said, ‘Moses and Aaron, you must not take the people away from their work! Go back to your jobs!’ 5 Pharaoh said, ‘Look, there are now many of your people who live in my country. But you are taking them away from their work.’

6 On that day, Pharaoh gave a command to the masters of the slaves, and to the leaders of the work. 7 This was the command: ‘Do not give the people any more straw to make bricks. Now they must go and find their own straw. 8 But they must still make the same number of bricks as they did before. Do not let them make fewer bricks. These people are lazy. That is why they are complaining. They say, “We want to go and offer sacrifices to our God.” 9 Make the work more difficult for them to do. They will have to work very hard. They will be too busy to listen to the lies of their leaders.’

5:9When they made bricks, they mixed straw with the clay. This made the bricks stronger. Pharaoh was making the Israelites work harder. Now they had to look for straw before they could use it in the bricks.

10 So the slaves' masters and the leaders of the work went to the Israelite people. They said to them, ‘Pharaoh says, “Now I will not give you straw. 11 You must try to find straw for yourselves. But you will still have to make the same number of bricks.” ’

12 So the people went everywhere in the land of Egypt, to get straw from the fields. 13 The slaves' masters made the Israelites work quickly. They said, ‘Finish all your work for each day, as much as when we gave straw to you.’ 14 Pharaoh's slave masters hit the Israelite leaders who had authority over the people. They said to them, ‘Why have you not made the complete number of bricks today, as you did before?’

15 Then the Israelite leaders of the work went to Pharaoh. They asked him, ‘Please sir, why do you do these things to us, your servants? 16 Our masters no longer give us any straw. But they say “Make bricks!” Then they hit us. But it is your people who are doing wrong things, not us.’

17 But Pharaoh said, ‘You Israelites are just lazy people! That is why you say, “Let us go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.” 18 Now go back and do your work. Nobody will give you any straw. But you must make the complete number of bricks.’

19 The Israelite work leaders heard Pharaoh say, ‘You must still make the same number of bricks as you made before.’ Then they knew that they were in bad trouble. 20 When they left Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron were waiting for them to return from Pharaoh. 21 The work leaders said to Moses and Aaron, ‘We hope that the Lord will punish you! You have made us like a bad smell to Pharaoh and to his officers. You have given them a reason to kill us.’

22 Then Moses returned to the Lord. He said, ‘My Lord, why have you brought trouble to these people? Why did you send me to lead them? 23 I went to speak to Pharaoh with your authority. But since I spoke to Pharaoh, he has caused these people to have trouble. And you have done nothing to save your people.’