Exodus 5

An Attempt At Diplomacy

Confidence is high when Moses and Aaron gain an audience with the Pharaoh. They have God's promise of success and the support of the people. They announce to Pharaoh that the Lord, the God of Israel says that he is to let his people go so that they may hold a feast in the wilderness. Pharaoh shows no respect for the God of Israel, and because he does not recognize him, he will not let the people go. They explain to Pharaoh that God met with them and they needed to go three days into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to him, and he feared that if they did not obey that he might strike with pestilence or sword. Pharaoh turns hostile and accuses Moses and Aaron of taking them away from their work. He commands them to return to their burdens, and he sees them as a threat to his reign. He instructs the taskmasters to stop supplying the straw for making bricks but the number of bricks they were to produce did not decrease. Pharaoh believes they are idle and by increasing their labor that they would stop asking to go and sacrifice. It seems that Pharaoh may have intended to drive a wedge between Moses and the people. 


The taskmasters and foremen deliver the decree of Pharaoh to the slaves and demand that their quota of bricks not be diminished. The people scattered in search of straw while their masters mercilessly pressured them to complete their work. The foreman of the people were beaten and asked why they had not finished their job. The situation must have been desperate because the foremen of the people risked their lives and came to Pharaoh asking why they were being treated this way? The foremen blame Pharaoh's leaders but don't seem to realize that these orders came as a punishment from Pharaoh himself in order to deter any uprising. They receive no sympathy from Pharaoh who accuses them of being lazy which is the real reason behind their request to go and offer sacrifices in the wilderness. Pharaoh dismisses the leaders of the people of Israel, and they realize that they are in serious trouble. They proceeded straight to Moses and Aaron and berated them by calling on God to judge them for making them deplorable to Pharaoh. They condemn them for giving Pharaoh an excuse to kill them. Moses descends into discouragement and offers a prayer of complaint to the Lord. He is distraught and blames God for all the trouble that the people and by extension he and Aaron are enduring. Moses wishes that he had not been sent and he accuses God of not delivering his people. 

Things To Consider:

  • Why is confidence sometimes dangerous?
  • In what ways to people dismiss God today?
  • Have you ever been falsely accused? How did you handle it?
  • Why do people abuse power?
  • Why is it difficult to communicate with leaders sometimes?
  • What do you think the leaders of Israel hoped to accomplish when they pled their case to Pharaoh?
  • Why is it so easy to aim anger at people that are not responsible for our frustration or suffering?
  • How do you respond to discouragement?
  • Do you ever complain to God like Moses? Why or why not?
  • Why is it so hard to be consistent?
  • Why do we sometimes blame God when things go wrong?