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Old 1st December 2017, 09:39 PM
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Default Exodus 5

[Exodus 5]
{5:1} After these things, Moses and Aaron entered, and they said to Pharaoh: “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: Release my people, so that they may sacrifice to me in the desert.”

It is important for the reader of Sacred Scripture to know and understand that, while what is written in the Bible is what God willed (thus being the infallible Word of God), the sacred author freely wrote according to his human capacity, culture, way of speech of the time [a word could have meant something different 5,000 years ago than that same word could mean today], personality, etc. in order to describe his narrative. When it is written that someone said something, it does not necessarily mean that the person only said exactly what is written in the Book, but basically what he meant. In this case, we get the message that Moses and Aaron told the Pharaoh that the God of Israel wants him, the Pharaoh, to release His people, so that they can go and make sacrifice to Him in the desert.

{5:2} But he responded: “Who is the Lord, that I should listen to his voice and release Israel? I do not know the Lord, and I will not release Israel.”

The Pharaoh belittles the people of Israel, thus he belittles a God that has something to do with them.

{5:3} And they said: “The God of the Hebrews has called us, so that we may go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God. Otherwise, a pestilence or the sword may befall us.”

So, God first call to the Israelites is to go out of Egypt into the wilderness for a three day 'pilgrimage'.

The Pharaoh might have felt offended by the fact that the Israelite people wanted to go out from Egypt in order to make sacrifices to a God unknown to him. To him, sacrifices are due only to his gods.

{5:4} The king of Egypt said to them: “Why do you, Moses and Aaron, distract the people from their works? Go back to your burdens.”

The Pharaoh (also known as the king of Egypt) thinks that the Israelite belongs to him only, not even to God.
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Old 1st December 2017, 09:45 PM
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{5:5} And Pharaoh said: “The people of the land are many. You see that the turmoil has increased: how much more if you give them rest from the works?”

Notice that Pharaoh does not want to give the Israelite people rest, that means not even one day. On the contrary, even God Himself does gives a day of rest, "the Sabbath" as we shall see later.

{5:6} Therefore, on the same day, he instructed the overseers of the works, and the taskmasters of the people, saying:
{5:7} “You shall no longer give chaff to the people to form bricks, as before. But they may go and gather straw.

It is important to distinguish between the "overseers" and the "taskmasters". The taskmasters were the Egyptian officers in charge to control the labor of the slaves at the construction sites. The overseers were men from Israel who were selected to supervise individual labor groups and they needed to report to the Egyptian taskmasters.

The taskmaster and overseers used to provide the Israelite workers with the chaff so that they can make the bricks strong, but now the Pharaoh ordered for the Israelite workers to look for the chaff themselves.

{5:8} And you shall impose upon them the same quota of bricks that they made before. Neither will you lessen anything, for they are idle, and therefore they cry out, saying: ‘We shall go and sacrifice to our God.’

The Pharaoh has given the people of Israel more labor, yet he demands the same amount of production as before. This is an unjust new order because now the Israelite people has to spend time looking for the chaff themselves which gives them less time to produce the same amount of bricks at the same amount of time, that is, a day.

{5:9} They shall be oppressed with works, and these shall occupy them, so that they may not agree to lying words.”

The Pharaoh thinks that the call of God to His people is just some sort of whim of the people of Israel, that's why he gives them more work, to keep them more occupied so that they may stop saying that God is calling them to go out.
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Old 1st December 2017, 09:58 PM
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{5:10} And so the overseers of the works and the taskmasters went out and said to the people: “Thus says Pharaoh: I give you no chaff.
{5:11} Go, and collect it wherever you are able to find it. Neither will anything of your work be diminished.”

So here the taskmasters and overseers told this unjust order from the Pharaoh to the Israelite laborers.

{5:12} And the people were dispersed through all the land of Egypt, in order to gather straw.
{5:13} Likewise, the overseers of the works pressured them, saying: “Complete your work each day, just as you were accustomed to do before, when straw was given to you.”
{5:14} And those who were first in the works of the sons of Israel were scourged by Pharaoh’s taskmasters, saying: “Why have you not filled the quota of bricks, neither yesterday, nor today, just as before?”

Note that here the Egyptians 'taskmasters' punished the Israelite 'oversees' who needed to answer them for the production.

Now this punishment was unjust by asking them the senseless question of "why they haven't produced the same quantities of bricks a day, just like they used to do before?". They know that they now have more work, there is no way they can finish the same quantity of bricks a day as before, they were not "supermen".

{5:15} And the first among the sons of Israel came, and they cried out to Pharaoh, saying: “Why do act against your servants in this way?
{5:16} Straw is not given to us, and yet the same amount of bricks is commanded. So we, your servants, are cut up by scourging, and injustice is done against your people.”
{5:17} And he said: “You are idle. And for this reason you say, ‘We shall go and sacrifice to the Lord.’

The Israelite oversees went to complain the Pharaoh for the unjust treatment, and, again, the Pharaoh thought that this call from God to His people was nothing more than an Israelite whim.

{5:18} Therefore, go and work. Straw will not be given to you, and you will return the customary number of bricks.”
{5:19} And the first among the sons of Israel saw themselves in a crisis, because it was said to them, “Nothing at all will be lessened from the bricks throughout each day.”

Now the Israelite overseers themselves became involved in the crisis too.

{5:20} And they met with Moses and Aaron, who stood opposite them as they departed from Pharaoh.

After the Israelite oversees complained before the Pharaoh and seeing that they too were involved in the crisis, they went to meet and complain to Moses and Aaron.

{5:21} And they said to them: “May the Lord see and judge, because you have caused our odor to become foul before Pharaoh and his servants, and you have provided him with a sword, in order to kill us.”
{5:22} And Moses returned to the Lord, and he said: “Lord, why have you afflicted this people? Why have you sent me?

God has not afflicted the people, as we can see clearly that it was by order of the Pharaoh. We shall not blame God for the evil actions of people including our own misdeeds.

{5:23} For from the time that I entered to Pharaoh, so as to speak in your name, he has afflicted your people. And you have not freed them.”

Moses claims God why He has not acted with power over the Pharaoh.
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