Summary of passage: With the support of the elders of Israel, Moses and Aaron continue with God’s orders. They approach Pharaoh and tell him God demands him to release the Israelites for a festival in the desert. Pharaoh, of course, balks, and says I don’t know God so why should I obey him? Moses and Aaron say that the people need to offer sacrifices to God or God may strike them with a plague. Again, Pharaoh being Pharaoh, won’t let them take the Israelites away from their work.
After Moses and Aaron leave, Pharaoh issues the order for the Israelites to collect their own straw for making bricks instead of being supplied with it but they still must produce the same quota as before. This will make them work harder and have no time to listen to Moses and Aaron. So, the Israelites now collect their own straw and strain under the work.
3a) They were afraid the Egyptians would stone them since their sacrifices would offend the Egyptians.
b) Yes. Moses explains that they must offer sacrifices to the Lord or He may strike them with plagues or the sword. Does Pharaoh want to lose his slave work force cause God killed them all? No. Plus, it’s a desert. Where are they gonna go?
c) First, Pharaoh doesn’t want to give up control of his slave labor force. Second, he says he doesn’t know the Lord so why should he obey him? After all, he’s Pharaoh, the most powerful man in all of Egypt and arguably in that part of the world at that time. Third, work will stop while they are gone. He needs them to work!
4a) The slave drivers are Egyptians in charge of the Israelites. The foreman are Israelites appointed by the slave drivers who were in charge of the work projects. They were beaten if they didn’t produce enough work out of the people to the slave drivers’ satisfaction.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Would you want to face daily beatings? No. Not me. I can’t stand a paper cut, let alone a beating.
Conclusions: Here we see into the mindset of absolute dictators and ancient way of life. Once a slave, always a slave with no privileges no matter who asked. Pharaoh had absolute power and he wasn’t going to relinquish any of it. He held your life in his hands and could end it if he had wanted. Moses and Aaron would need the power of Almighty God to defeat this despot!
End Notes: Pharaoh considered himself a god and the God of Israel was not one of those gods he knew. Therefore, he refused the simple worship request.
Straw bound the bricks together so it was an essential component in building material.
Because of Moses’ request, things got worse for the Israelites. Isn’t this true for us often? Things get worse before they get better? This would be a test of Pharaoh and of the Israelites. They would endure more hardships before the freedom God promised would come.