1After this, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, 'This is what Yahweh, God of Israel,says, "Let my people go, so that they can hold a feast in my honour in the desert." ' 2'Who is Yahweh,' Pharaoh replied, 'for me to obey what he says and let Israel go? I know nothing ofYahweh, and I wil not let Israel go.' 3'The God of the Hebrews has encountered us,' they replied. 'Give us leave to make a three -days'journey into the desert and sacrifice to Yahweh our God, or he wil strike us with a plague or with the sword.' 4The king of Egypt said to them, 'Moses and Aaron, what do you mean by distracting the people fromtheir work? Get back to your forced labour.' 5And Pharaoh said, 'Now that the people have grown to such numbers in the country, what do you meanby interrupting their forced labour?' 6That very day, Pharaoh gave the order to the people's taskmasters and their scribes, 7'Do not go on providing the people with straw for brickmaking as before; let them go and gather strawfor themselves. 8But you wil exact the same quantity of bricks from them as before, not reducing it at al , since they arelazy, and that is why their cry is, "Let us go and sacrifice to our God." 9Give these people more work to do, and see they do it instead of listening to lying speeches.' 10The people's taskmasters and scribes went out to speak to the people and said, 'Pharaoh says this, "Ishall not provide you with any more straw. 11Go and collect straw for yourselves where you can find it. But your output is not to be any less." ' 12So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble for their straw. 13The taskmasters harassed them. 'You must complete your daily quota,' they said, 'just as when thestraw was there.' 14And the Israelites' foremen whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had put in charge of them, were flogged andasked, 'Why have you not fulfil ed your quota of bricks made today as before?' 15The Israelites' foremen went and appealed to Pharaoh. 'Why do you treat your servants like this?' theysaid. 16'No straw is provided for your servants, yet stil the cry is, "Make bricks!" And now your servants arebeing flogged!. . .' 17'You are lazy, lazy,' he retorted. 'That is why you say, "Let us go and sacrifice to Yahweh." 18Get back to your work at once. You wil not be provided with straw; all the same, you wil deliver thequota of bricks.' 19The Israelites' foremen saw they were in a difficult position on being told, 'You wil not reduce yourdaily production of bricks.' 20As they left Pharaoh's presence, they met Moses and Aaron who were standing in their way. 21'May Yahweh look down at you and judge!' they said to them. 'You have brought us into bad odourwith Pharaoh and his officials; you have put a sword into their hand to kil us.' 22Moses went back to Yahweh and said, 'Lord, why do you treat this people so harshly? Why did yousend me? 23Ever since I came to Pharaoh and spoke to him in your name, he has il -treated this people, and youhave done nothing at al about rescuing your people.'
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