First meeting with Pharaoh
1Afterward, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the Lord, Israel’s God, says: ‘Let my people go so that they can hold a festival for me in the desert.’"
2But Pharaoh said, "Who is this Lord whom I’m supposed to obey by letting Israel go? I don’t know this Lord, and I certainly won’t let Israel go."
3Then they said, "The Hebrews’ God has appeared to us. Let us go on a three-day journey into the desert so we can offer sacrifices to the Lord our God. Otherwise, the Lord will give us a deadly disease or violence."
4The king of Egypt said to them, "Moses and Aaron, why are you making the people slack off from their work? Do the hard work yourselves!" 5Pharaoh continued, "The land’s people are now numerous. Yet you want them to stop their hard work?"
6On the very same day Pharaoh commanded the people’s slave masters and supervisors, 7"Don’t supply the people with the straw they need to make bricks like you did before. Let them go out and gather the straw for themselves. 8But still make sure that they produce the same number of bricks as they made before. Don’t reduce the number! They are weak and lazy, and that’s why they cry, ‘Let’s go and offer sacrifices to our God.’ 9Make the men’s work so hard that it’s all they can do, and they can’t focus on these empty lies."
10So the people’s slave masters and supervisors came out and spoke to the people, "This is what Pharaoh says, ‘I’m not giving you straw anymore. 11Go and get the straw on your own, wherever you can find it. But your work won’t be reduced at all.’" 12So the people spread out all through the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13The slave masters drove them hard and said, "Make sure you make the same daily quota as when you had the straw." 14The Israelite supervisors, whom Pharaoh’s slave masters had set over them, were also beaten and asked, "Why didn’t you produce the same number of bricks yesterday and today as you did before?"
15Then the Israelite supervisors came and pleaded to Pharaoh, "Why do you treat your servants like this? 16No straw is supplied to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ Look at how your servants are being beaten! Your own people are to blame!"
17Pharaoh replied, "You are lazy bums, nothing but lazy bums. That’s why you say, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifices to the Lord.’ 18Go and get back to work! No straw will be given to you, but you still need to make the same number of bricks."
19The Israelite supervisors saw how impossible their situation was when they were commanded, "Don’t reduce your daily quota of bricks." 20When they left Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them. 21The supervisors said to them, "Let the Lord see and judge what you’ve done! You’ve made us stink in the opinion of Pharaoh and his servants. You’ve given them a reason to kill us."
22Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, "My Lord, why have you abused this people? Why did you send me for this? 23Ever since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has abused this people. And you’ve done absolutely nothing to rescue your people."