5:5 Pharaoh was thinking, 1 “The people of the land are now many, and you are giving them rest from their labor.”
5:6 That same day Pharaoh commanded 2 the slave masters and foremen 3 who were 4 over the people: 5 5:7 “You must no longer 6 give straw to the people for making bricks 7 as before. 8 Let them go 9 and collect straw for themselves. 5:8 But you must require 10 of them the same quota of bricks that they were making before. 11 Do not reduce it, for they are slackers. 12 That is why they are crying, ‘Let us go sacrifice to our God.’ 5:9 Make the work harder 13 for the men so they will keep at it 14 and pay no attention to lying words!” 15
5:18 So now, get back to work! 16 You will not be given straw, but you must still produce 17 your quota 18 of bricks!”
1 tn Heb “And Pharaoh said.” This is not the kind of thing that Pharaoh is likely to have said to Moses, and so it probably is what he thought or reasoned within himself. Other passages (like Exod 2:14; 3:3) show that the verb “said” can do this. (See U. Cassuto, Exodus, 67.)
2 tn Heb “and Pharaoh commanded on that day.”
3 tn The Greek has “scribes” for this word, perhaps thinking of those lesser officials as keeping records of the slaves and the bricks.
4 tn The phrase “who were” is supplied for clarity.
5 sn In vv. 6-14 the second section of the chapter describes the severe measures by the king to increase the labor by decreasing the material. The emphasis in this section must be on the harsh treatment of the people and Pharaoh’s reason for it – he accuses them of idleness because they want to go and worship. The real reason, of course, is that he wants to discredit Moses (v. 9) and keep the people as slaves.
6 tn The construction is a verbal hendiadys: לֹא תֹאסִפוּן לָתֵת (lo’ to’sifun latet, “you must not add to give”). The imperfect tense acts adverbially, and the infinitive becomes the main verb of the clause: “you must no longer give.”
7 tn The expression “for making bricks” is made of the infinitive construct followed by its cognate accusative: לִלְבֹּן הַלְּבֵנִים (lilbon hallÿvenim).
8 tn Heb “as yesterday and three days ago” or “as yesterday and before that.” This is idiomatic for “as previously” or “as in the past.”
9 tn The jussive יֵלְכוּ (yelÿkhu) and its following sequential verb would have the force of decree and not permission or advice. He is telling them to go and find straw or stubble for the bricks.
10 tn The verb is the Qal imperfect of שִׂים (sim, “place, put”). The form could be an imperfect of instruction: “You will place upon them the quota.” Or, as here, it may be an obligatory imperfect: “You must place.”
11 tn Heb “yesterday and three days ago” or “yesterday and before that” is idiomatic for “previously” or “in the past.”
12 tn Or “loafers.” The form נִרְפִּים (nirpim) is derived from the verb רָפָה (rafah), meaning “to be weak, to let oneself go.” They had been letting the work go, Pharaoh reasoned, and being idle is why they had time to think about going to worship.
13 tn Heb “let the work be heavy.”
14 tn The text has וְיַעֲשׂוּ־בָהּ (vÿya’asu-vah, “and let them work in it”) or the like. The jussive forms part of the king’s decree that the men not only be required to work harder but be doing it: “Let them be occupied in it.”
sn For a discussion of this whole section, see K. A. Kitchen, “From the Brickfields of Egypt,” TynBul 27 (1976): 137-47.
15 sn The words of Moses are here called “lying words” (דִבְרֵי־שָׁקֶר, divre-shaqer). Here is the main reason, then, for Pharaoh’s new policy. He wanted to discredit Moses. So the words that Moses spoke Pharaoh calls false and lying words. The world was saying that God’s words were vain and deceptive because they were calling people to a higher order. In a short time God would reveal that they were true words.
16 tn The text has two imperatives: “go, work.” They may be used together to convey one complex idea (so a use of hendiadys): “go back to work.”
17 tn The imperfect תִּתֵּנּוּ (tittennu) is here taken as an obligatory imperfect: “you must give” or “you must produce.”
18 sn B. Jacob is amazed at the wealth of this tyrant’s vocabulary in describing the work of others. Here, תֹכֶן (tokhen) is another word for “quota” of bricks, the fifth word used to describe their duty (Exodus, 137).