Exodus 5

1 Afterward Moses and Aaron came, and said to Pharaoh, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” 2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should listen to his voice to let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” 3 They said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD, our God, lest he fall on us with pestilence, or with the sword.” 4 The king of Egypt said to them, “Why do you, Moses and Aaron, take the people from their work? Get back to your burdens!” 5 Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens.” 6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick, as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 The number of the bricks, which they made before, you require from them. You shall not diminish anything of it, for they are idle; therefore they cry, saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men, that they may labor therein; and don’t let them pay any attention to lying words.” 10 The taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spoke to the people, saying, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you straw. 11 Go yourselves, get straw where you can find it, for nothing of your work shall be diminished.’” 12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The taskmasters were urgent saying, “Fulfill your work quota daily, as when there was straw!” 14 The officers of the children of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, “Why haven’t you fulfilled your quota both yesterday and today, in making brick as before?” 15 Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, saying, “Why do you deal this way with your servants? 16 No straw is given to your servants, and they tell us, ‘Make brick!’ and behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” 17 But he said, “You are idle! You are idle! Therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ 18 Go therefore now, and work, for no straw shall be given to you, yet you shall deliver the same number of bricks!” 19 The officers of the children of Israel saw that they were in trouble, when it was said, “You shall not diminish anything from your daily quota of bricks!” 20 They met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came out from Pharaoh: 21 and they said to them, “May the LORD look at you, and judge, because you have made us a stench to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.” 22 Moses returned to the LORD, and said, “Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Why is it that you have sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people; and you have not rescued your people at all.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–9

God will own his people, though poor and despised, and will find a time to plead their cause. Pharaoh treated all he had heard with contempt. He had no knowledge of Jehovah, no fear of him, no love to him, and therefore refused to obey him. Thus Pharaoh’s pride, ambition, covetousness, and political knowledge, hardened him to his own destruction. What Moses and Aaron ask is very reasonable, only to go three days’ journey into the desert, and that on a good errand. We will sacrifice unto the Lord our God. Pharaoh was very unreasonable, in saying that the people were idle, and therefore talked of going to sacrifice. He thus misrepresents them, that he might have a pretence to add to their burdens. To this day we find many who are more disposed to find fault with their neighbours, for spending in the service of God a few hours spared from their wordly business, than to blame others, who give twice the time to sinful pleasures. Pharaoh’s command was barbarous. Moses and Aaron themselves must get to the burdens. Persecutors take pleasure in putting contempt and hardship upon ministers. The usual tale of bricks must be made, without the usual allowance of straw to mix with the clay. Thus more work was to be laid upon the men, which, if they performed, they would be broken with labour; and if not, they would be punished.

Verses 10–23

The Egyptian task-masters were very severe. See what need we have to pray that we may be delivered from wicked men. The head-workmen justly complained to Pharaoh: but he taunted them. The malice of Satan has often represented the service and worship of God, as fit employment only for those who have nothing else to do, and the business only of the idle; whereas, it is the duty of those who are most busy in the world. Those who are diligent in doing sacrifice to the Lord, will, before God, escape the doom of the slothful servant, though with men they do not. The Israelites should have humbled themselves before God, and have taken to themselves the shame of their sin; but instead of that, they quarrel with those who were to be their deliverers. Moses returned to the Lord. He knew that what he had said and done, was by God’s direction; and therefore appeals to him. When we find ourselves at any time perplexed in the way of our duty, we ought to go to God, and lay open our case before him by fervent prayer. Disappointments in our work must not drive us from our God, but still we must ponder why they are sent.

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