Once Moses and Aaron had the support of the Israelite people, their next stop was Pharaoh, where they would try to convince him to let the Israelite people go – but just for three days. This request was not to be set free – not yet – this request was just for the Israelites to go to the mountains so that they could sacrifice to “their” God.
This initial exchange with Pharaoh has many indications that the confrontation is really only getting started:
- The request was only to go hold a feast in the wilderness, and not for total freedom
- Once Pharaoh says no, Moses and Aaron, instead of bringing up the wrath of God upon Pharaoh, show fear that the Israelites will incur the wrath of God if they do not go
- No indication as of yet of the Egyptians’ gods’ power vs. the Israelites’ God’s power
Like many bad leaders that wish to retain their power, Pharaoh takes this opportunity to tighten his hold on the Israelites. Pharaoh surmises that they are asking for this “holiday” because they are idle, with not enough to do. So Pharaoh adds to their burden: instead of providing them with the straw they need to make bricks, they are told to gather it themselves, and they still have to meet the same quota. When they are unable to reach this tough demand, they are chastised.
In the midst of this activity, the Israelite people blame Moses and Aaron for these difficulties, asking – what was it all for? Now we just have more work to do!
And Moses displays the typical novice aspects of impatience and worry when it comes to spiritual things. Like even so many of us, things do not happen quickly enough, and they do not happen as smoothly as we would like them to. Moses does not yet have an inkling of all of the events that are to come. At this early stage, he is asking, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”
Moses, like Pharaoh, will learn much as events unfold.