The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Exodus
After this, Moses and Aaron obtained audience with Pharao, and said to him, We have a message to thee from the Lord God of Israel, Give my people leave to go and offer me sacrifice in the desert.
Why, he answered, who is this Lord, that I must obey his command, and let Israel go free? I know no such Lord as that; I will not let Israel go.
It is the God of the Hebrews, they told him, who has summoned us to go out into the desert, a matter of three days’ journey, and offer sacrifice to him; he, the Lord, is our God, what if he should bring sickness or war upon us?
Nay, said the king of Egypt, it is two men, Moses and Aaron, enticing the people away from their work; go back to your duties.
These folk, Pharao complained, have outgrown their territory already: see how their numbers have increased! And it will be worse still if you ease them of their burdens.
So he gave orders, that very day, to overseer and foreman alike:
Do not give them any more straw to make bricks with, as your custom has been; let them go and find straw for themselves.
Meanwhile, you must give them the same tale of bricks to make as before; there must be no lessening of it. They are idle; that is what has led to this outcry about going and offering sacrifice to their God.
Give them heavier work to do; then they will pay no more attention to these lying tales.
So overseer and foreman gave it out to the people as a message from Pharao, You shall have no more straw from me;
go and gather it for yourselves where you can find it; meanwhile, there is to be no lessening of the work done.
And the people found themselves scattered all over Egypt gathering straw;
and still the overseers were urgent with them: Finish those daily tasks of yours, as you did when the straw was found.
The foremen, who were Israelites, must undergo a beating, now, from Pharao’s overseers, who asked them why the full tale of bricks had not been made up these two days past, as it was formerly.
So the Israelite foremen went and complained to Pharao; Master, they cried, why dost thou treat us so?
The straw is not being found for us any longer, and never a brick less demanded of us. Here are we, thy servants, beaten for it; there is no justice for this people of thine.✻
You are idlers, said he, idlers all, or you would not be asking leave to go and sacrifice to this Lord of yours.
Off with you to your work; no straw shall you have; and as for the bricks, you must make up the same tale as before.
When they heard that the same tale of bricks was to be demanded each day, the Israelite foremen saw that it would go hard with them;
and meeting Moses and Aaron face to face, as they came away from Pharao’s audience,
they said to them, The Lord take note of it, and be your judge; you have made our name stink in the nostrils of Pharao and his court, put a weapon in his hand that will be our doom.
So that Moses had recourse to the Lord again, and asked him, Lord, why dost thou treat thy people so cruelly? Why didst thou ever send me on such an errand?
I gained audience with Pharao, and spoke to him in thy name; and since then he does nothing but ill-use thy people; is this the deliverance thou hast sent them?
The Holy Bible