After that, Moshe and Aharon came and said to Pharaoh, "Here is what ADONAI, the God of Isra'el, says: 'Let my people go, so that they can celebrate a festival in the desert to honor me.'"
But Pharaoh replied, "Who is ADONAI, that I should obey when he says to let Isra'el go? I don't know ADONAI, and I also won't let Isra'el go."
They said, "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go three days' journey into the desert, so that we can sacrifice to ADONAI our God. Otherwise, he may strike us with a plague or with the sword."
The king of Egypt answered them, "Moshe and Aharon, what do you mean by taking the people away from their work? Get back to your labor!
Look!" Pharaoh added, "the population of the land has grown, yet you are trying to have them stop working!"
That same day Pharaoh ordered the slavemasters and the people's foremen,
"You are no longer to provide straw for the bricks the people are making, as you did before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves.
But you will require them to produce the same quantity of bricks as before, don't reduce it, because they're lazing around. This is why they're crying, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.'
Give these people harder work to do. That will keep them too busy to pay attention to speeches full of lies."
The people's slavemasters went out, their foremen too, and said to the people, "Here is what Pharaoh says: 'I will no longer give you straw.
You go, yourselves, and get straw wherever you can find it. But your output is not to be reduced.'"
So the people were dispersed throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw.
The slavemasters kept pressing them. "Keep working! Make your daily quota, just as when straw was provided."
The foremen of the people of Isra'el, whom Pharaoh's slavemasters had appointed to be over them, were flogged and asked, "Why haven't you fulfilled your quota of bricks yesterday and today, as you did formerly?"
Then the foremen of the people of Isra'el came and complained to Pharaoh: "Why are you treating your servants this way?
No straw is given to your servants, yet they keep telling us to make bricks. And now your servants are being flogged, but the fault lies with your own people."
"Lazy!" he retorted, "You're just lazy! That's why you say, 'Let us go and sacrifice to ADONAI.'
Get going now, and get back to work! No straw will be given to you, and you will still deliver the full amount of bricks."
When they said, "You are not to reduce your daily production quota of bricks," the foremen of the people of Isra'el could see that they were in deep trouble.
As they were leaving Pharaoh, they encountered Moshe and Aharon standing by the road;
and they said to them, "May ADONAI look at you and judge accordingly, because you have made us utterly abhorrent in the view of Pharaoh and his servants, and you have put a sword in their hands to kill us!"
Moshe returned to ADONAI and said, "ADONAI, why have you treated this people so terribly? What has been the value of sending me?
For ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has dealt terribly with this people! And you haven't rescued your people at all!"