Exodus 5

Moses and Aaron Go to the King of Egypt

1Moses and Aaron went to the king of Egypt and told him, “The Lord God says, ‘Let my people go into the desert, so they can honor me with a celebration there.’ ”

2“Who is this Lord and why should I obey him?” the king replied. “I refuse to let you and your people go!”

3They answered, “The Lord God of the Hebrews has appeared to us. Please let us walk three days into the desert where we can offer sacrifices to him. If you don't, he may strike us down with terrible troubles or with war.”

4-5The king said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you keeping these people from working? Look how many you are keeping from doing their work. Now everyone get back to work!”

6That same day the king gave orders to his Egyptian slave bosses and to the Israelite men directly in charge of the Israelite slaves. He told them:

7Don't give the slaves any more straw to put in their bricks. Force them to find their own straw wherever they can, 8but they must make the same number of bricks as before. They are lazy, or else they would not beg me to let them go and sacrifice to their God. 9Make them work so hard that they won't have time to listen to these lies.

10The slave bosses and the men in charge of the slaves went out and told them, “The king says he will not give you any more straw. 11Go and find your own straw wherever you can, but you must still make as many bricks as before.”

12The slaves went all over Egypt, looking for straw. 13But the slave bosses were hard on them and kept saying, “Each day you have to make as many bricks as you did when you were given straw.” 14The bosses beat the men in charge of the slaves and said, “Why didn't you force the slaves to make as many bricks yesterday and today as they did before?”

15Finally, the men in charge of the slaves went to the king and said, “Why are you treating us like this? 16No one brings us any straw, but we are still ordered to make the same number of bricks. We are beaten with whips, and your own people are to blame.”

17The king replied, “You are lazy—nothing but lazy! That's why you keep asking me to let you go and sacrifice to your Lord. 18Get back to work! You won't be given straw, but you must still make the same number of bricks.”

19The men knew they were in deep trouble when they were ordered to make the same number of bricks each day. 20After they left the king, they went to see Moses and Aaron, who had been waiting for them. 21Then the men said, “We hope the Lord will punish both of you for making the king and his officials hate us. Now they even have an excuse to kill us.”

The Lord's Promise to Moses

22Moses left them and prayed, “Our Lord, why have you brought so much trouble on your people? Is that why you sent me here? 23Ever since you told me to speak to the king, he has caused nothing but trouble for these people. And you haven't done a thing to help.”