Bricks Without Straw

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go,(A) so that they may hold a festival(B) to me in the wilderness.’”

Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord,(C) that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”(D)

Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey(E) into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues(F) or with the sword.”

But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor?(G) Get back to your work!” Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous,(H) and you are stopping them from working.”

That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers(I) and overseers in charge of the people: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks;(J) let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota.(K) They are lazy;(L) that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’(M) Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”

10 Then the slave drivers(N) and the overseers went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced(O) at all.’” 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” 14 And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed,(P) demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”

15 Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? 16 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.”

17 Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy!(Q) That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Now get to work.(R) You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”

19 The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” 20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, “May the Lord look on you and judge(S) you! You have made us obnoxious(T) to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword(U) in their hand to kill us.”(V)

God Promises Deliverance

22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people?(W) Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued(X) your people at all.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand(Y) he will let them go;(Z) because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”(AA)

God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord.(AB) I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty,[a](AC) but by my name(AD) the Lord[b](AE) I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant(AF) with them to give them the land(AG) of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners.(AH) Moreover, I have heard the groaning(AI) of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.(AJ)

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.(AK) I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem(AL) you with an outstretched arm(AM) and with mighty acts of judgment.(AN) I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.(AO) Then you will know(AP) that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land(AQ) I swore(AR) with uplifted hand(AS) to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.(AT) I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”(AU)

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.(AV)

10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Go, tell(AW) Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”(AX)

12 But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen(AY) to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips[c]?”(AZ)

Family Record of Moses and Aaron

13 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.(BA)

14 These were the heads of their families[d]:(BB)

The sons of Reuben(BC) the firstborn son of Israel were Hanok and Pallu, Hezron and Karmi. These were the clans of Reuben.

15 The sons of Simeon(BD) were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These were the clans of Simeon.

16 These were the names of the sons of Levi(BE) according to their records: Gershon,(BF) Kohath and Merari.(BG) Levi lived 137 years.

17 The sons of Gershon, by clans, were Libni and Shimei.(BH)

18 The sons of Kohath(BI) were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.(BJ) Kohath lived 133 years.

19 The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi.(BK)

These were the clans of Levi according to their records.

20 Amram(BL) married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses.(BM) Amram lived 137 years.

21 The sons of Izhar(BN) were Korah, Nepheg and Zikri.

22 The sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan(BO) and Sithri.

23 Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab(BP) and sister of Nahshon,(BQ) and she bore him Nadab and Abihu,(BR) Eleazar(BS) and Ithamar.(BT)

24 The sons of Korah(BU) were Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph. These were the Korahite clans.

25 Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas.(BV)

These were the heads of the Levite families, clan by clan.

26 It was this Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring the Israelites out of Egypt(BW) by their divisions.”(BX) 27 They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh(BY) king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt—this same Moses and Aaron.(BZ)

Aaron to Speak for Moses

28 Now when the Lord spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29 he said to him, “I am the Lord.(CA) Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”

30 But Moses said to the Lord, “Since I speak with faltering lips,(CB) why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God(CC) to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.(CD) You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart,(CE) and though I multiply my signs and wonders(CF) in Egypt, he will not listen(CG) to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment(CH) I will bring out my divisions,(CI) my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord(CJ) when I stretch out my hand(CK) against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded(CL) them. Moses was eighty years old(CM) and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,(CN)’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”(CO)

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers,(CP) and the Egyptian magicians(CQ) also did the same things by their secret arts:(CR) 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart(CS) became hard and he would not listen(CT) to them, just as the Lord had said.


  1. Exodus 6:3 Hebrew El-Shaddai
  2. Exodus 6:3 See note at 3:15.
  3. Exodus 6:12 Hebrew I am uncircumcised of lips; also in verse 30
  4. Exodus 6:14 The Hebrew for families here and in verse 25 refers to units larger than clans.

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