Thursday, October 20, 2011

Exodus 5:10-18 No Straw and No Sympathy

"Then the slave drivers and the foremen went out
and said to the people, 'This is what Pharaoh says: 
"I will not give you any more straw.
Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it,
but your work will not be reduced at all." '

So the people scattered all over Egypt
to gather stubble to use for straw.
The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying,
"Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw."

The Israelite foremen appointed by Pharaoh's slave drivers
were beaten and were asked,
"Why didn't you meet your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?"
Then the Israelite foremen went and appealed to Pharaoh:
"Why have you treated your servants this way?
Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, 'Make bricks!'
Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people."

Pharaoh said, "Lazy, that's what you are -- lazy!
That is why you keep saying, 'Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.'
Now get to work.
You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks."

Exodus 5:10-18 (NIV)

This passage needs no interpretation -- Pharaoh's message is chillingly clear:  The Israelite foremen will continue to be beaten (or worse) if they do not manage to complete their quota of work as before, even though the people have have not been given the materials they need to complete it.  Pharaoh intends to leave his workers no time to clamor for festivals, and no spirit with which to cause dissent.

Without being provided with straw to help solidify the bricks, the Hebrews will have to work hard to find any kind of reasonable substitute.  At some point, though, even this inferior 'stubble' (v.12) which they can find around them will run out.  It will become increasingly impossible to fulfill their quota of bricks, and the quality of their product will also become inferior and eventually, unacceptable.  Obviously, Pharaoh will impose further punishments, perhaps even death.

The future does not look bright for the Israelite foremen, or for the Hebrew people at this point.  What can they possibly do to remedy this situation?  It is painfully apparent that they will get no sympathy from Pharaoh or his slave drivers.

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