Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Went in alone. Aaron was substituted instead of the ancients, chap. iii. 16. — Pharao Amasis, Cenchres, or Amenophis. (Usher.) — Sacrifice, which is the principal part of a religious festival. (Menochius)
Ver. 2. The Lord. Is there any one above me?
Ver. 3. Upon us. They include themselves in the common danger, in case of disobedience; and they admonish the king respectfully, that there is no resisting the God of the Hebrews with impunity.
Ver. 4. Get you. He knew not that Moses had been so long absent; and if he had known, he would not probably have treated him more mildly. (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Increased, the edict against children being abrogated. (Menochius) — He insists upon their labour being so intense and toilsome, as to thin their ranks.
Ver. 6. Overseers, natives of Egypt, who had under them some Hebrews for task-masters, as the people were more willing to obey them, ver. 14.
Ver. 7. Straw, beaten small and mixed with clay, to make brick and mortar. See Ezechiel xiii. 11, 15; Chardin, Perse ii. p. 76.
Ver. 8. Idle. Thus the impious speak of those who consecrate any part of their time to the service of God: and thus Protestants often condemn the holy-days prescribed by the Catholic Church!
Ver. 9. Lying words, alluding to the proposals of Moses. (Haydock) — Let them not spend their time in idle conversation. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Straw. While some continued at the works, (Menochius) others went about the fields to gather up every grain of chaff and piece of straw which they could find.
Ver. 14. And they, the officers of the children of Israel, established over their brethren, as the Hebrew more clearly insinuates, were scourged, or bastinadoed on the soles of the feet, as smaller faults are commonly punished in the East; (Calmet) or they were beaten also with rods, ver. 16. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Withal. Hebrew, “the fault is in thy own people,” who require impossibilities. (Calmet) — They throw the blame upon the king’s officers, (Menochius) though it was his own. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Kill us. You are the occasion of our more cruel treatment. You have made the king have a bad opinion of us. Hebrew, “you have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharao.” So Jacob said, (Genesis xxxiv. 30,) you have made me stink or become odious. Those who attempt to do a kindness, unsuccessfully, often experience a similar ingratitude, chap. xiv. 11. (Menochius) — It does not appear from the original, whether the officers or Moses was coming from the king’s presence. They met in some appointed place. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Wherefore. These are not words of anger, but of earnest prayer. (St. Augustine, q. 14.) Moses does not attempt to satisfy the exasperated officers, but commits the whole to God. (Menochius) — In great undertakings, there are commonly many difficulties; which ought not to discourage us. (Tirinus)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Pharao refuseth to let the people go. They are more oppressed.
1 After these things, *Moses and Aaron went in, and said to Pharao: Thus saith the Lord God of Israel: Let my people go, that they may sacrifice to me in the desert.
2 But he answered: Who is the Lord, that I should hear his voice, and let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.
3 And they said: The God of the Hebrews hath called us, to go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and to sacrifice to the Lord our God; lest a pestilence or the sword fall upon us.
4 The king of Egypt said to them: Why do you Moses and Aaron draw off the people from their works? Get you gone to your burdens.
5 And Pharao said: The people of the land are numerous; you see that the multitude is increased; how much more if you give them rest from their works?
6 Therefore he commanded the same day the overseers of the works, and the task-masters of the people, saying:
7 You shall give straw no more to the people to make brick, as before; but let them go and gather straw.
8 And you shall lay upon them the task of bricks, which they did before; neither shall you diminish any thing thereof, for they are idle, and therefore they cry, saying: Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
9 Let them be oppressed with works, and let them fulfil them; that they may not regard lying words.
10 And the overseers of the works, and the task-masters, went out and said to the people: Thus saith Pharao: I allow you no straw;
11 Go, and gather it where you can find it; neither shall any thing of your work be diminished.
12 And the people was scattered through all the land of Egypt to gather straw.
13 And the overseers of the works pressed them, saying: Fulfil your work every day, as before ye were wont to do, when straw was given you.
14 And they that were over the works of the children of Israel, were scourged by Pharao’s task-masters, saying: Why have you not made up the task of bricks, both yesterday and to-day, as before?
15 And the officers of the children of Israel came, and cried out to Pharao, saying: Why dealest thou so with thy servants?
16 Straw is not given us, and bricks are required of us as before; behold we, thy servants, are beaten with whips, and thy people is unjustly dealt withal.
17 And he said: You are idle, and therefore you say: Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.
18 Go therefore and work: straw shall not be given you, and you shall deliver the accustomed number of bricks.
19 And the officers of the children of Israel saw that they were in evil case, because it was said to them: There shall not a whit be diminished of the bricks for every day.
20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood over-against them as they came out from Pharao:
21 And they said to them: The Lord see and judge, because you have made our savour to stink before Pharao and his servants, and you have given him a sword, to kill us.
22 And Moses returned to the Lord, and said: Lord, why hast thou afflicted this people? wherefore hast thou sent me?
23 For since the time that I went in to Pharao to speak in thy name, he hath afflicted thy people: and thou hast not delivered them.
1: Year of the World 2513, Year before Christ 1491.