Growing up this was one of my favorite movies, “The Ten Commandments.”
Read Exodus 5-7
1After this presentation to Israel’s leaders, Moses and Aaron went and spoke to Pharaoh. They told him, “This is what the lord, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honor in the wilderness.”
2“Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the lord? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the lord, and I will not let Israel go.”
3But Aaron and Moses persisted. “The God of the Hebrews has met with us,” they declared. “So let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can offer sacrifices to the lord our God. If we don’t, he will kill us with a plague or with the sword.”
4Pharaoh replied, “Moses and Aaron, why are you distracting the people from their tasks? Get back to work! 5Look, there are many of your people in the land, and you are stopping them from their work.”
Making Bricks without Straw
6That same day Pharaoh sent this order to the Egyptian slave drivers and the Israelite foremen: 7“Do not supply any more straw for making bricks. Make the people get it themselves! 8But still require them to make the same number of bricks as before. Don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy. That’s why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifices to our God.’ 9Load them down with more work. Make them sweat! That will teach them to listen to lies!”
10So the slave drivers and foremen went out and told the people: “This is what Pharaoh says: I will not provide any more straw for you. 11Go and get it yourselves. Find it wherever you can. But you must produce just as many bricks as before!” 12So the people scattered throughout the land of Egypt in search of stubble to use as straw.
13Meanwhile, the Egyptian slave drivers continued to push hard. “Meet your daily quota of bricks, just as you did when we provided you with straw!” they demanded. 14Then they whipped the Israelite foremen they had put in charge of the work crews. “Why haven’t you met your quotas either yesterday or today?” they demanded.
15So the Israelite foremen went to Pharaoh and pleaded with him. “Please don’t treat your servants like this,” they begged. 16“We are given no straw, but the slave drivers still demand, ‘Make bricks!’ We are being beaten, but it isn’t our fault! Your own people are to blame!”
17But Pharaoh shouted, “You’re just lazy! Lazy! That’s why you’re saying, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifices to the lord.’ 18Now get back to work! No straw will be given to you, but you must still produce the full quota of bricks.”
19The Israelite foremen could see that they were in serious trouble when they were told, “You must not reduce the number of bricks you make each day.” 20As they left Pharaoh’s court, they confronted Moses and Aaron, who were waiting outside for them. 21The foremen said to them, “May the lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!”
22Then Moses went back to the lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? 23Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”
1Then the lord told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!”
2And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the lord.’ 3I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. 4And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. 5You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them.
6“Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. 7I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. 8I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the lord!’”
9So Moses told the people of Israel what the lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.
10Then the lord said to Moses, 11“Go back to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and tell him to let the people of Israel leave his country.”
12“But lord!” Moses objected. “My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I’m such a clumsy speaker!”
13But the lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them orders for the Israelites and for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The lord commanded Moses and Aaron to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.
1Then the lord said to Moses, “Pay close attention to this. I will make you seem like God to Pharaoh, and your brother, Aaron, will be your prophet. 2Tell Aaron everything I command you, and Aaron must command Pharaoh to let the people of Israel leave his country. 3But I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. 4Even then Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you. So I will bring down my fist on Egypt. Then I will rescue my forces—my people, the Israelites—from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. 5When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the lord.”
6So Moses and Aaron did just as the lord had commanded them. 7Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three when they made their demands to Pharaoh.
8Then the lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9“Pharaoh will demand, ‘Show me a miracle.’ When he does this, say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, and it will become a serpent.’”
10So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what the lord had commanded them. Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent! 11Then Pharaoh called in his own wise men and sorcerers, and these Egyptian magicians did the same thing with their magic. 12They threw down their staffs, which also became serpents! But then Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13Pharaoh’s heart, however, remained hard. He still refused to listen, just as the lord had predicted.
14Then the lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn, and he still refuses to let the people go. 15So go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes down to the river. Stand on the bank of the Nile and meet him there. Be sure to take along the staff that turned into a snake. 16Then announce to him, ‘The lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to tell you, “Let my people go, so they can worship me in the wilderness.” Until now, you have refused to listen to him. 17So this is what the lord says: “I will show you that I am the lord.” Look! I will strike the water of the Nile with this staff in my hand, and the river will turn to blood. 18The fish in it will die, and the river will stink. The Egyptians will not be able to drink any water from the Nile.’”
19Then the lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and raise your hand over the waters of Egypt—all its rivers, canals, ponds, and all the reservoirs. Turn all the water to blood. Everywhere in Egypt the water will turn to blood, even the water stored in wooden bowls and stone pots.’”
20So Moses and Aaron did just as the lord commanded them. As Pharaoh and all of his officials watched, Aaron raised his staff and struck the water of the Nile. Suddenly, the whole river turned to blood! 21The fish in the river died, and the water became so foul that the Egyptians couldn’t drink it. There was blood everywhere throughout the land of Egypt. 22But again the magicians of Egypt used their magic, and they, too, turned water into blood. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the lord had predicted. 23Pharaoh returned to his palace and put the whole thing out of his mind. 24Then all the Egyptians dug along the riverbank to find drinking water, for they couldn’t drink the water from the Nile.
25Seven days passed from the time the lord struck the Nile.
Response: In Exodus 4:21, we read that God had warned Moses that Pharaoh would not listen, that God would “Make him stubborn.” What does this mean?