Bricks without straw
1Afterwards 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 festival to me in the wilderness.” ’
2Pharaoh said, ‘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.’
3Then they said, ‘The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.’
4But the king of Egypt said, ‘Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labour? Get back to your work!’ 5Then Pharaoh said, ‘Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.’
6That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7‘You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, “Let us go and sacrifice to our God.” 9Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.’
10Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, ‘This is what Pharaoh says: “I will not give you any more straw. 11Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.” ’ 12So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, ‘Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.’ 14And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, ‘Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?’
15Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: ‘Why have you treated your servants this way? 16Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, “Make bricks!” Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.’
17Pharaoh said, ‘Lazy, that’s what you are – lazy! That is why you keep saying, “Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.” 18Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.’
19The Israelite overseers realised they were in trouble when they were told, ‘You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.’ 20When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21and they said, ‘May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.’
God promises deliverance
22Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.’
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