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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Exodus 5

Verses 1-23

Chapter 5

And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told the Pharaoh, Thus saith Jehovah God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is Jehovah, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? [Well you'll find out, buddy.] I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go ( Exodus 5:1-2.5.2 ).

So a definite challenge to God by the Pharaoh. "Who is Jehovah that I should let the people go? I don't know him and I'm not gonna let them go."

And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, for three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their work? get back to your burdens. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you are making them rest from their burdens ( Exodus 5:3-2.5.5 ).

"Who do you think you are demanding that I let them off work? Get back to work yourself."

And Pharaoh commanded the same day that the taskmasters of the people, and the officers, and he said, You shall no more give the people straw to make their brick, as you've done before: but let them go and gather the straw for themselves. But the number of bricks, that they make, you will lay upon them; you shall not diminish: for they are idle; for they are crying, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God ( Exodus 5:6-2.5.8 ).

"They don't have enough to do. They want to go out and sacrifice to their God, so give them more work to do. Make them produce the same number of bricks but don't furnish the straw anymore. Let them go and gather the straw for themselves.

Let there be more work laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words. And so the taskmasters of the people went out, and the officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith the Pharaoh, I will not give you straw. You go, get your own straw where you can find it: and yet you must come up with the same quota of bricks. So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather the stubble instead of the straw. And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily quotas, the same as when you had your straw. And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and they demanded, they said, Why haven't you fulfilled your task in making the bricks both yesterday and today, as you've done before? The officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Why are you dealing with your servants like this? There's no straw given to your servants, and yet they say unto us, Make bricks: and, behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is with your own people. But he said, You are idle, you are idle: therefore you're saying, Let's go and sacrifice to Jehovah. Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall you deliver the same quota of bricks. And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in an evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not diminish from the number of bricks from your daily task. And so they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because you have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. And Moses returned to the Lord, and said, Lord, what have you done this evil to the people? why is it that you have sent me? ["God, I told you I didn't want to come. Why did you send me Lord? Why did you create this evil?"] For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he's only done evil to the people; and neither has he delivered your people at all ( Exodus 5:9-2.5.23 ).

Now it is interesting in the city of Pithom, which of course is one of the cities that is mentioned here when the children of Israel made for the Pharaoh, that the archeologists in uncovering the ancient city of Pithom found walls wherein the lower layers the bricks have cut, even straw in the bricks. As you get into the higher layers of the same wall, the bricks have uneven straw scattered in them, and in the upper layer of the bricks in the same wall there is all kinds of stubble, roots and everything else mixed in with the bricks which are a perfect proof of the story that is here in Exodus. There in the walls, in the ruins of Pithom, you can see the various bricks as the task was made harder. As first of all they refused to give them the straw, and made them gather straw, and then later said, "You just gather stubble whatever you can". And so there's the weeds and the roots and all that were in the upper level of the bricks. So a great confirmation of this particular chapter in Exodus is there today for the visitors to see, the proof of God's word, as that indeed did happen.

Moses is beginning his problems with the children of Israel. They are complainers and grumblers from the word "go". Here they're crying unto God, "Oh God deliver us." Now God sends a deliverer, and the first thing they do is start to give him a bad time. They continue to give him a bad time the rest of his life. I really feel for Moses and the task that he had in leading these people out and into the wilderness, that wandering in the wilderness. But we read how that Moses then went to the Lord and began to pour out his complaint to the Lord, "Lord why have You done this? Why did You send me, God? Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse since You sent me. The people aren't, they're worse off."

You know quite often Satan, when you embark on a work of God, throws so many things in the way that things look like they've just gotten so much worse, you wonder, "Oh man, did God really tell me that?" Or, "Did God really call me?" He does his best to discourage you right at the onset of any program that you endeavor for God. You'd be amazed how many problems can arise when you make a commitment to God, you desire to serve the Lord. Not gonna be peaches and cream, not gonna be roses. Satan will do his best to discourage you. So often things look like they have just gone from bad to calamity because you've launched out in faith to do a work for God. Satan will do his best to hinder it and stop it at the beginning. He'll do anything to stop it, discouragement, lies, anything to stop that work of God that you endeavor for Him. So that secret is "just keep on". If God has called you to a task, "just do it". Don't get discouraged at initial responses.

Years ago I thought God called me to the ministry. So I trained, went to school, prepared, and spent seventeen years trying to minister, until I got so discouraged that I thought "Well, maybe God didn't call me to the ministry." I was ready to quit, ready to give up so many times. Put out applications for different kinds of work, get out of the ministry, get into something secular. I was discouraged, I was tired, fighting, hassles, trying to feed a family, to patch the squabbles of people. The thing, the interesting thing is it was just after my period of greatest discouragement, I really just sort of resigning from the ministry, and going into home Bible studies that God really began to bless and anoint me. Just when I had a good job, started making money. Satan will do his best to discourage you. He'll make you question your call. He'll challenge you on every corner. If God has called you to do it, stick with it, God will bring you through. God will work.

I know exactly how Moses felt. I turned in my resignation to God so many times, "I've had it, through. Thought You called me to the ministry, but Lord there's nothing happening, I'm tired." Lord said, "Ah get out there and get back to work. What are you doing crying to Me?"

Next week we'll take the next five chapters of Exodus as we continue on and we find out how Moses finds out who Jehovah is. He'll be sorry he ever asked that question when God gets through with him. "





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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 5". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-5.html. 2014.