And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
I know not
And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
Taphreeoo, from pard, to loose, disengage; and which we render let, from the Anglo-Saxon lettan, to hinder. Ye hinder the people from their work: "Get you unto your burdens." "Let religion alone and mind your work." The language not only of tyranny, but of thoughtless irreligion.
And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
Nogesim, literally, exactors, oppressors. These taskmasters were Egyptians, (ch. 1:11,) but the officers were Hebrews. See ver. 14.
Shoterim, from the Arabic saytara, to overlook, superintend, seems to denote, as musaytar in Arabic also does, overseers, superintendents. They may have been somewhat like the chiefs of trades, who are found in every city in the East; where every trade has a head, who is entrusted with authority over them, and is in some measure answerable for them to Government. Compare ch. 2:14.
Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
The straw was mixed with clay, in order to make the bricks. This is expressly affirmed by Philo, (vit. Mos.) who was himself a native of Alexandria, in Egypt. He says, describing the oppression of the Israelites, that some were obliged to work in clay, and others to gather straw for the formation of bricks, [plinthou gar achyra desmos] because straw is the binding of the brick. Philo's account is confirmed by Dr. Shaw, who says that "some of the Egyptian pyramids are made of brick, the composition whereof is only a mixture of clay, mud, and straw, slightly blended and kneaded together, and afterwards baked in the sun. The straw, which keeps the bricks together, and still preserves its original colour, seems to be a proof that these bricks were never burnt or made in kilns." The same materials are now used for building in Egypt. Mr. Baumgarten says, "The houses are for the most part of bricks that are only hardened by the heat of the sun, and mixed with straw to make them firm."
And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
Tale denotes number, from the Anglo-Saxon tÊllan, to number, count, etc.
ye shall lay
Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
Let there more work be laid upon the men
Heb. Let the work be heavy upon the men. vain words.
And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.
Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
Heb. a matter of a day in his day.
But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD.
Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.
yet shall ye deliver
And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task.
And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
to be abhorred
Heb. to stink.
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
why is it
For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
in thy name
neither hast thou delivered
Heb. delivering, thou hast not delivered.