5:10 So the slave masters of the people and their foremen went to the Israelites and said, 5 “Thus says Pharaoh: ‘I am not giving 6 you straw. 5:11 You 7 go get straw for yourselves wherever you can 8 find it, because there will be no reduction at all in your workload.’” 5:12 So the people spread out 9 through all the land of Egypt to collect stubble for straw. 5:13 The slave masters were pressuring 10 them, saying, “Complete 11 your work for each day, just like when there was straw!” 5:14 The Israelite foremen whom Pharaoh’s slave masters had set over them were beaten and were asked, 12 “Why did you not complete your requirement for brickmaking as in the past – both yesterday and today?” 13
5:15 14 The Israelite foremen went and cried out to Pharaoh, “Why are you treating 15 your servants this way? 5:16 No straw is given to your servants, but we are told, 16 ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are even 17 being beaten, but the fault 18 is with your people.”
5:17 But Pharaoh replied, 19 “You are slackers! Slackers! 20 That is why you are saying, ‘Let us go sacrifice to the Lord.’ 5:18 So now, get back to work! 21 You will not be given straw, but you must still produce 22 your quota 23 of bricks!” 5:19 The Israelite foremen saw 24 that they 25 were in trouble when they were told, 26 “You must not reduce the daily quota of your bricks.”
1 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.”
2 tn The expression “for making bricks” is made of the infinitive construct followed by its cognate accusative: לִלְבֹּן הַלְּבֵנִים (lilbon hallÿvenim).
3 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.”
4 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.
5 tn Heb “went out and spoke to the people saying.” Here “the people” has been specified as “the Israelites” for clarity.
6 tn The construction uses the negative particle combined with a subject suffix before the participle: אֵינֶנִּי נֹתֵן (’enenni noten, “there is not I – giving”).
7 tn The independent personal pronoun emphasizes that the people were to get their own straw, and it heightens the contrast with the king. “You – go get.”
8 tn The tense in this section could be translated as having the nuance of possibility: “wherever you may find it,” or the nuance of potential imperfect: “wherever you are able to find any.”
9 tn The verb וַיָּפֶץ (vayyafets) is from the hollow root פּוּץ (puts) and means “scatter, spread abroad.”
10 tn Or “pressed.”
11 tn כַּלּוּ (kallu) is the Piel imperative; the verb means “to finish, complete” in the sense of filling up the quota.
12 tn The quotation is introduced with the common word לֵאמֹר (le’mor, “saying”) and no mention of who said the question.
13 sn The idioms for time here are found also in 3:10 and 5:7-8. This question no doubt represents many accusations shouted at Israelites during the period when it was becoming obvious that, despite all their efforts, they were unable to meet their quotas as before.
14 sn The last section of this event tells the effect of the oppression on Israel, first on the people (15-19) and then on Moses and Aaron (20-21). The immediate reaction of Israel was to cry to Pharaoh – something they would learn should be directed to God. When Pharaoh rebuffed them harshly, they turned bitterly against their leaders.
15 tn The imperfect tense should be classified here with the progressive imperfect nuance, because the harsh treatment was a present reality.
16 tn Heb “[they] are saying to us,” the line can be rendered as a passive since there is no expressed subject for the participle.
17 tn הִנֵּה (hinneh) draws attention to the action reflected in the passive participle מֻכִּים (mukkim): “look, your servants are being beaten.”
18 tn The word rendered “fault” is the basic OT verb for “sin” – וְחָטָאת (vÿkhata’t). The problem is that it is pointed as a perfect tense, feminine singular verb. Some other form of the verb would be expected, or a noun. But the basic word-group means “to err, sin, miss the mark, way, goal.” The word in this context seems to indicate that the people of Pharaoh – the slave masters – have failed to provide the straw. Hence: “fault” or “they failed.” But, as indicated, the line has difficult grammar, for it would literally translate: “and you [fem.] sin your people.” Many commentators (so GKC 206 §74.g) wish to emend the text to read with the Greek and the Syriac, thus: “you sin against your own people” (meaning the Israelites are his loyal subjects).
19 tn Heb “And he said.”
20 tn Or “loafers.” The form נִרְפִּים (nirpim) is derived from the verb רָפָה (rafah), meaning “to be weak, to let oneself go.”
21 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.”
22 tn The imperfect תִּתֵּנּוּ (tittennu) is here taken as an obligatory imperfect: “you must give” or “you must produce.”
23 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).
24 tn The common Hebrew verb translated “saw,” like the common English verb for seeing, is also used to refer to mental perception and understanding, as in the question “See what I mean?” The foremen understood how difficult things would be under this ruling.
25 tn The text has the sign of the accusative with a suffix and then a prepositional phrase: אֹתָם בְּרָע (’otam bÿra’), meaning something like “[they saw] them in trouble” or “themselves in trouble.” Gesenius shows a few examples where the accusative of the reflexive pronoun is represented by the sign of the accusative with a suffix, and these with marked emphasis (GKC 439 §135.k).
26 tn The clause “when they were told” translates לֵאמֹר (le’mor), which usually simply means “saying.” The thing that was said was clearly the decree that was given to them.