וְאַחַר בָּאוּ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שַׁלַּח אֶת־עַמִּי וְיָחֹגּוּ לִי 5:1
Exod. 5:1 And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharoah, “Thus says the Lord, God of Israel: ‘Let My people go that they may feast to Me in the wilderness.’”
If only Moses and Aaron came to Pharoah, then it would seem that Moses had not precisely followed the Lord’s instructions. Recall that in Exod. 3:18 The Lord told Moses to go to Pharoah with the elders. See v. 5:4 below,
The next to last word in the top line, וְיָחֹגּו, translated as that they may feast, contains a non-inverting vav prefix. The verb is a third-person imperfect consequence of the preceding action, Let ... go.
וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה מִי יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר אֶשְׁמַע בְּקֹלֹו לְשַׁלַּח אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יָדַעְתִּי אֶת־יְהוָה וְגַם אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל 5:2
Exod. 5:2 And Pharoah said, “Who is the Lord that I should hearken to His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord. So therefore, I will not let Israel go.”
וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֱלֹהֵי הָעִבְרִים נִקְרָא עָלֵינוּ נֵלֲכָה נָּא דֶּרֶךְ שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים בַּמִּדְבָּר וְנִזְבְּחָה לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ 5:3
פֶּן־יִפְגָּעֵנוּ בַּדֶּבֶר אֹו בֶחָרֶב
Exod. 5:3 So they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us go now a journey of three days into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord, our God, lest He will fall upon us with pestilence or sword.”
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם לָמָּה מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן תַּפְרִיעוּ אֶת־הָעָם מִמַּעֲשָׂיו לְכוּ לְסִבְלֹתֵיכֶם 5:4
Exod. 5:4 And the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why would you stop the people from their work? Go to your burdens!”
The pronoun suffix to the verse’s last word, לְסִבְלֹתֵיכֶם, to your burdens, is plural, but it presumably cannot refer only to Aaron and Moses, because they were not slaves to Pharoah. Thus it might be surmised that the elders accompanied Moses and Aaron to address Pharoah. However, it can also be assumed that Pharoah did not understand who Moses and Aaron were, thinking (because they were Hebrew) that they were among the Hebrew slaves. So it is inconclusive whether Moses had followed God’s instructions as described in v. 3:18. However, we will have many additional examples of this kind of possible behavior by Moses as we proceed.
וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה הֵן־רַבִּים עַתָּה עַם הָאָרֶץ וְהִשְׁבַּתֶּם אֹתָם מִסִּבְלֹתָם 5:5
Exod. 5:5 And Pharoah said, “Behold, the people of the land are so many now, that you can let them rest from their burden?”
וַיְצַו פַּרְעֹה בַּיֹּום הַהוּא אֶת־הַנֹּגְשִׂים בָּעָם וְאֶת־שֹׁטְרָיו לֵאמֹר 5:6
Exod. 5:6 And on that day Pharoah commanded the taskmasters over the people and its officers, saying,
לֹא תֹאסִפוּן לָתֵת תֶּבֶן לָעָם לִלְבֹּן הַלְּבֵנִים כִּתְמֹול שִׁלְשֹׁם הֵם יֵלְכוּ וְקֹשְׁשׁוּ לָהֶם תֶּבֶן 5:7
Exod. 5:7 “You shall no longer provide straw to the people to make the bricks as before in the past. Let them go and gather straw for themselves.”
וְאֶת־מַתְכֹּנֶת הַלְּבֵנִים אֲשֶׁר הֵם עֹשִׂים תְּמֹול שִׁלְשֹׁם תָּשִׂימוּ עֲלֵיהֶם לֹא תִגְרְעוּ מִמֶּנּוּ כִּי־נִרְפִּים הֵם 5:8
עַל־כֵּן הֵם צֹעֲקִים לֵאמֹר נֵלְכָה נִזְבְּחָה לֵאלֹהֵינוּ
Exod. 5:8 “And you shall place on them the proportion of bricks that they were making before this time. You shall not diminish from them, for idle they are. Therefore they are crying saying, Let us go sacrifice to our God.”
תִּכְבַּד הָעֲבֹדָה עַל־הָאֲנָשִׁים וְיַעֲשׂוּ־בָהּ וְאַל־יִשְׁעוּ בְּדִבְרֵי־שָׁקֶר 5:9
Exod. 5:9 “Let the labor be heavy on the men, so they will work on it and not look to words of deception.”
The fifth word in the verse, וְיַעֲשׂוּ, translated as so they will work, contains a non-inverting vav prefix. The verb is a third-person imperfect consequence of the preceding action, Let ... be heavy.
וַיֵּצְאוּ נֹגְשֵׂי הָעָם וְשֹׁטְרָיו וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל־הָעָם לֵאמֹר כֹּה אָמַר פַּרְעֹה אֵינֶנִּי נֹתֵן לָכֶם תֶּבֶן 5:10
Exod. 5:10 Then the taskmasters of the people and its officers went out and spoke to the people saying, “Thus says Pharoah: ’ I will be giving no more straw to you.
אַתֶּם לְכוּ קְחוּ לָכֶם תֶּבֶן מֵאֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָאוּ כִּי אֵין נִגְרָע מֵעֲבֹדַתְכֶם דָּבָר 5:11
Exod. 5:11 You go get straw for yourselves from wherever you can find it, but there will be no manner of reduction from your output.’”
וַיָּפֶץ הָעָם בְּכָל־אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם לְקֹשֵׁשׁ קַשׁ לַתֶּבֶן 5:12
Exod. 5:12 So the people spread out throughout the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw.
וְהַנֹּגְשִׂים אָצִים לֵאמֹר כַּלּוּ מַעֲשֵׂיכֶם דְּבַר־יֹום בְּיֹומֹו כַּאֲשֶׁר בִּהְיֹות הַתֶּבֶן 5:13
Exod. 5:13 And the taskmasters were pressing them saying, “Fulfill your work allotment of daily labor in its day as though the straw was in existence.”
וַיֻּכּוּ שֹׁטְרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר־שָׂמוּ עֲלֵהֶם נֹגְשֵׂי פַרְעֹה לֵאמֹר מַדּוּעַ לֹא כִלִּיתֶם חָקְכֶם לִלְבֹּן כִּתְמֹול 5:14
שִׁלְשֹׁם גַּם־תְּמֹול גַּם־הַיֹּום
Exod. 5:14 And the officers of the children of Israel whom the taskmasters of Pharoah had placed over them were punished saying, “Why have you not completed your allotment of brick as formerly, either yesterday or today?”
וַיָּבֹאוּ שֹׁטְרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּצְעֲקוּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר לָמָּה תַעֲשֶׂה כֹה לַעֲבָדֶיךָ 5:15
Exod. 5:15 Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried to Pharoah saying, “For what reason would you do thus to your servants?”
תֶּבֶן אֵין נִתָּן לַעֲבָדֶיךָ וּלְבֵנִים אֹמְרִים לָנוּ עֲשׂוּ וְהִנֵּה עֲבָדֶיךָ מֻכִּים וְחָטָאת עַמֶּךָ 5:16
Exod. 5:16 “Straw is not given to your servants but they are saying to us, ‘Make bricks!’ Then behold, your servants are being punished while the wrong is of your people.”
וַיֹּאמֶר נִרְפִּים אַתֶּם נִרְפִּים עַל־כֵּן אַתֶּם אֹמְרִים נֵלְכָה נִזְבְּחָה לַיהוָה 5:17
Exod. 5:17 And he said, “You are too idle. Therefore you are saying, ‘Let us go out; let us sacrifice to the Lord.’”
וְעַתָּה לְכוּ עִבְדוּ וְתֶבֶן לֹא־יִנָּתֵן לָכֶם וְתֹכֶן לְבֵנִים תִּתֵּנּוּ 5:18
Exod. 5:18 “So now go, work, but straw will not be given to you, yet you shall deliver a fixed measure of bricks.”
וַיִּרְאוּ שֹׁטְרֵי בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֹתָם בְּרָע לֵאמֹר לֹא־תִגְרְעוּ מִלִּבְנֵיכֶם דְּבַר־יֹום בְּיֹומֹו 5:19
Exod. 5:19 And the officers of the children of Israel saw themselves in trouble saying, “You shall not diminish the daily allotment of your bricks in its day.”
וַיִּפְגְּעוּ אֶת־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶת־אַהֲרֹן נִצָּבִים לִקְרָאתָם בְּצֵאתָם מֵאֵת פַּרְעֹה 5:20
Exod. 5:20 And they, waiting to meet them on their departure from Pharoah, beset Moses and Aaron.
וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם יֵרֶא יְהוָה עֲלֵיכֶם וְיִשְׁפֹּט אֲשֶׁר הִבְאַשְׁתֶּם אֶת־רֵיחֵנוּ בְּעֵינֵי פַרְעֹה וּבְעֵינֵי עֲבָדָיו 5:21
לָתֶת־חֶרֶב בְּיָדָם לְהָרְגֵנוּ
Exod. 5:21 And they said to them, “May the Lord look on you so He will judge, because you have made our presence abhorrent in the eyes of Pharoah and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
The sixth word in the verse, וְיִשְׁפֹּט, translated as so He will judge, contains a non-inverting vav prefix. The verb is a third-person imperfect consequence of the preceding action, May .. look.
וַיָּשָׁב מֹשֶׁה אֶל־יְהוָה וַיֹּאמַר אֲדֹנָי לָמָה הֲרֵעֹתָה לָעָם הַזֶּה לָמָּה זֶּה שְׁלַחְתָּנִי 5:22
Exod. 5:22 So Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought evil to this people? Is this why You have sent me?”
וּמֵאָז בָּאתִי אֶל־פַּרְעֹה לְדַבֵּר בִּשְׁמֶךָ הֵרַע לָעָם הַזֶּה וְהַצֵּל לֹא־הִצַּלְתָּ אֶת־עַמֶּךָ 5:23
Exod. 5:23 “For since I have come to Pharoah to speak in Your name, evil is for this people, and You have not at all delivered Your people.”
Can you hear Moses complaining to God in this verse? We will hear it again from time to time.
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