1 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh. They said: »Jehovah, the God of Israel, says: Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to me in the wilderness.«
2 But Pharaoh responded: »Who is Jehovah, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I do not know Jehovah, and besides, I will not let Israel go.«
3 Then they said: »The God of the Hebrews met with us. Please, let us go on a three-day journey into the wilderness. Then we may sacrifice to Jehovah our God. Otherwise he will fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.«
4 The king of Egypt replied: »Moses and Aaron, why do you distract the people from their work? Get back to work!«
5 Pharaoh added: »Look how many people there are in the land! Do you want them to quit working?«
6 Pharaoh gave these orders to the slave drivers and foremen:
7 »Do not give the people any more straw to make bricks as you have been doing. Let them gather their own straw.
8 »Insist that they make the same number of bricks they were making before. Making fewer bricks will not be acceptable. They are lazy! That is why they are crying: Let us go offer sacrifices to our God.
9 »Make the work harder for these people so that they will be too busy to listen to lies.«
10 The slave drivers and the Israelite foremen went out and said to the Israelites: »The king has said that he will not supply you with any more straw.
11 »He says that you must go and get it for yourselves wherever you can find it. You must still make the same number of bricks.«
12 So the people went all over Egypt looking for straw.
13 The slave bosses were hard on them. They kept saying: »Each day you have to make as many bricks as you did when you were given straw.«
14 The bosses beat the men in charge of the slaves and said: »Why did you not force the slaves to make as many bricks yesterday and today as they did before?«
15 Finally, the men in charge of the slaves went to the king and asked: »Why are you treating us like this?
16 »No one brings us any straw. Yet we are still ordered to make the same number of bricks. We are beaten with whips, and your own people are to blame.«
17 The king replied: »You are lazy. You are just lazy! That is why you keep asking me to let you go and sacrifice to Jehovah.
18 »Get back to work! You will not be given straw, but you must still make the same number of bricks.«
19 The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told: »Do not make fewer bricks each day than you are supposed to.«
20 Leaving the Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting for them.
21 They said: »May Jehovah see what you have done and judge you! You have made Pharaoh and his officials hate us. You have given them an excuse to kill us.«
22 Moses went back to Jehovah and asked: »Why have you brought this trouble on your people? Why did you send me?
23 »Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak for you, he has treated your people cruelly, and you have done nothing at all to rescue your people.«