Story Twenty-Two

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 4
AFTER and Aaron had spoken to the people of Ĭś̝ ra-el the words which God had given them, they went to meet Phā́ raōh the king of É̄ ġy̆pt. You remember that all the kings of Ḗ ġy̆pt bore the name of Phā́ raōh. Mṓ s̞es̞ and Aâŕon did not at first ask Phā́ raōh to let the people go out of Ḗ ġy̆pt, never to return, but they said:
"Our God, the Lord God of Ĭś̞ ra-el, has bidden us to go out, with all our people, a journey of three days into the wilderness, and there to worship him. And God speaks to you through us, saying, 'Let my people go, that they may serve me.”
But Phā́ raōh was very angry. He said, "What are you doing, you Mṓ s̝es̝ and Aâŕ on, to call your people away from their work? Go back to your tasks and leave your people alone. I know why the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes are talking about going out into the wilderness. It is because they have not work enough to keep them busy. I will give them more work to do.”
The work of the Ĭś̝̝ ra-el-ītes, at that time, was mostly in making brick, and putting up the walls of buildings for the rulers of Ḗ ġy̆pt.
In mixing the clay for the brick they used straw, chopped up fine, to hold the clay together. Phā́ raōh said:
"Let them make as many bricks as before; but give them no straw. Let the Ĭś̞ ra-el-ītes find their own straw for the brick-making.”
Of course this made their task all the harder, for it took much time to find the straw; and the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes were scattered all through the land finding straw and stubble, for use in making the brick; and yet they were called upon to bring as many brick each day as before. And when they could not do all their task they were cruelly beaten by the Ē-ġy̆ṕ tians̝. Many of the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes now became angry with Mṓ s̝es̝ and Aâŕon, who, they thought, had brought more burden and trouble upon them. They said:
"May the Lord God judge you, and punish you! You promised to lead us out, and set us free; but you have only made our suffering the greater!”
Then Mṓ s̝es̝ cried to the Lord, and the Lord said to him: "Take Aâŕ on, your brother, and go again to Phā́ raōh; and show him the signs that I gave you.”
So they went in to Phā́ raōh, and again asked him in the Lord's name, to let the people go. And Phā́ raōh said:
"Who is the Lord? Why should I obey his commands? What sign can you show that God has sent you?”
Then Aâŕ on threw down his rod, and it was turned into a snake. But there were wise men in É̄ ġy̆pt who had heard of this; and they made ready a trick. They threw down their rods, and their rods became snakes, or seemed to. They may have been tame snakes, which they had hidden under their long garments, and then brought out, as if they had been rods.
But Aâŕ on's rod, in the form of a snake, ran after them, and swallowed them all; and then it became a rod again in Aâŕon's hand. But King Phā́ raōh refused to obey God's voice.
Then Mṓ s̝es̝ spoke to Aâŕ on, by God's command: "Take your rod and wave it over the waters of É̄ġy̆pt, over the river Nile, and the canals, and the lakes.”
Then Aâŕ on did so. He lifted up the rod, and struck the water, in the sight of Phā́ raōh. And in a moment all the water turned to blood, and the fish in the river all died; and a terrible stench, a foul smell, arose over the land. And the people were in danger of dying. But in the land of Gṓ shen, where the Ĭś̝ ra-el˗ītes were, the water remained as it had been, and was not turned to blood. So God made a difference between Ĭś̝ ra-el and Ḗ ġy̆pt.
The people of É̄ ġy̆pt dug wells, to find water; and the wise men of Ḗ ġy̆pt brought some water to Phā́ raōh, and made it look as though they had turned it to blood. And Phā́ raōh would not listen, nor let the people go.
After seven days Mṓ s̝es̝ took away the plague of blood, but he warned Phā́ raōh that another plague was coming, if he refused to obey. And as Phā́ raōh still would not obey, Aâŕon stretched forth his rod again, and then all the land was covered with frogs. Like a great army they ran over all the fields, and they even filled the houses. Phā́ raōh said:
"Pray to your God for me; ask him to take the frogs away, and I will let the people go.”
Then Moses prayed; and God took away the frogs. They died everywhere; and the Ē-ġy̆ṕ tians̝ heaped them up and buried them. But Phā́ raōh broke his promise, and would not let the people go.
Then, at God's command by Mṓ s̝es̝, Aâŕon lifted his rod again, and struck the dust; and everywhere the dust became alive with lice and fleas. But still Phā́ raōh would not hear, and God sent great swarms and clouds of flies all over the land, so that their houses were filled with them, and the sky was covered. But where the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes lived there were no lice, nor fleas, nor flies.
Then Phā́ raōh began to yield a little. He said:
"Why must you go out of the land to worship God? Worship him here in this land.”
But Mṓ s̝es̝ said, "When we worship the Lord, we must make an offering: and our offerings are of animals which the people of Ḗ ġy̆pt worship, oxen and sheep. It would make the Ḗ ġy̆pt angry to see us offering a sacrifice of animals which they call gods.”
"Well," said Phā́ raōh, "you may go; but do not go far away, and come back." But when Mṓ s̝es̝ and Aâŕon had taken away the plague, Phā́ raōh broke his promise again, and still held the people as slaves.
Then another plague came. A terrible disease struck all the animals in Ḗ ġy̆pt, the horses and asses, the camels, the sheep, and the oxen; and they died by the thousand in a day, all over the land. But no plague came upon the flocks and herds of the Ĭś̝ ra˗el˗ītes.
But Phā́ raōh was still stubborn. He would, not obey God's voice. Then Mṓ s̝es̝ and Aâŕ on gathered up in their hands ashes from the furnace, and threw it up like a cloud into the air. And instantly boils began to break out on men and on beasts all through the land.
Still Phā́ raōh refused to obey; and then Mṓ s̝es̝ stretched out his rod toward the sky. At once a terrible storm burst forth upon the land; all the more terrible because in that land rain scarcely ever falls. Sometimes there will not be even a shower of rain for years at a time. But now the black clouds rolled, the thunder sounded, the lightning flashed, and the rain poured down, and with the rain came hail, something that the Ē-ġy̆ṕ tians̞ had never seen before. It struck all the crops growing in the fields, and the fruits on the trees, and destroyed them.
Then again Phā́ raōh was frightened, and promised to let the people go; and again when God took away the hail at Mṓ s̝es̝ prayer, he broke his word, and would not let the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes leave the land. Then after the hail came great clouds of locusts, which ate up every green thing that the hail had spared. And after the locusts came the plague of darkness. For three days there was thick darkness, no sun shining, nor moon, nor stars. But still Phā́ raōh would not let the people go. Phā́ raōh said to Mṓ s̝es̝:
"Get out of my sight. Let me never see your face again. If you come into my presence you shall be killed.”
And Mṓ s̝es̝ said, "It shall be as you say, I will see your face no more.”
And God said to Mṓ s̝es̝, "There shall be one plague more, and then Phā́ raōh will be glad to let the people go. He will drive you out of the land. Make your people ready to go out of Ḗ ġy̆pt; your time here will soon be ended.”