Exodus 5:13
And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
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(13) The taskmasters hasted them.—The Egyptian monuments show us foreign labourers engaged in brick-making under Egyptian overseers, or “taskmasters,” who are armed with sticks, and “haste” the labourers whenever they cease work for the purpose of resting themselves. The overseers are represented as continually saying to the workpeople, “Work without faintness.” (See Wilkinson, in Rawlinson’s Herodotus, vol. ii. p. 214.)

As when there was straw.—Heb., as when there, was the strawi.e., as. when the straw was furnished to you.

5:10-23 The Egyptian task-masters were very severe. See what need we have to pray that we may be delivered from wicked men. The head-workmen justly complained to Pharaoh: but he taunted them. The malice of Satan has often represented the service and worship of God, as fit employment only for those who have nothing else to do, and the business only of the idle; whereas, it is the duty of those who are most busy in the world. Those who are diligent in doing sacrifice to the Lord, will, before God, escape the doom of the slothful servant, though with men they do not. The Israelites should have humbled themselves before God, and have taken to themselves the shame of their sin; but instead of that, they quarrel with those who were to be their deliverers. Moses returned to the Lord. He knew that what he had said and done, was by God's direction; and therefore appeals to him. When we find ourselves at any time perplexed in the way of our duty, we ought to go to God, and lay open our case before him by fervent prayer. Disappointments in our work must not drive us from our God, but still we must ponder why they are sent.Stubble instead of straw - Rather, for the straw: i. e. to be prepared as straw. This marks the season of the year, namely, early spring, after the barley or wheat harvest, toward the end of April. Their suffering must have been severe: at that season the pestilential sand-wind blows over Egypt some 50 days, hence, its name - Chamsin. (compare Genesis 41:6 note). 13-19. And the taskmasters hasted them … officers … beaten—As the nearest fields were bared and the people had to go farther for stubble, it was impossible for them to meet the demand by the usual tale of bricks. "The beating of the officers is just what might have been expected from an Eastern tyrant, especially in the valley of the Nile, as it appears from the monuments, that ancient Egypt, like modern China, was principally governed by the stick" [Taylor]. "The mode of beating was by the offender being laid flat on the ground and generally held by the hands and feet while the chastisement was administered" [Wilkinson]. (De 25:2). A picture representing the Hebrews on a brick field, exactly as described in this chapter, was found in an Egyptian tomb at Thebes. No text from Poole on this verse.

And the taskmasters hasted them, Kept them tight and close to their work, and were urgent on them to make quick dispatch of it:

saying, fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw; they insisted upon it, that they did the same business at the brickkilns, made the same number of bricks every day, as they used to do when they had straw at hand. See Exodus 5:11.

And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
13. your daily tasks] Heb. the matter of a day in its day, a Heb. idiom implying a daily portion, amount, or duty. See Exodus 16:4, Leviticus 23:37 (RV. ‘each on its own day’), 1 Kings 8:59, 2 Kings 25:30 al.

] i.e. asked. ‘Demand’ in Old English meant simply to ‘ask’ (Fr. demander), not, as now, to ask with authority. See Aldis Wright’s Bible Word-Book, or DB. s.v. So Job 38:3, 2 Samuel 11:7, Matthew 2:4, &c. Here ‘and demanded’ is a paraphrase, the Heb. being simply saying.

13–14. Although however the number of workers was thus materially diminished, the ‘taskmasters,’ carrying out the Pharaoh’s injunctions, still demand the same tale of bricks; and as it is not forthcoming, the ‘officers’ (v. 6) of the Israelites are held responsible for the deficit, and beaten.

Verses 13, 14. - The taskmasters hasted them. The Egyptian overseers, armed with rods, went about among the toiling Israelites continually, and "hasted them" by dealing out blows freely on all who made any pause in their work. The unceasing toil lasted from morning to night; yet still the required" tale" could not be produced; and consequently the native officers, whose business it was to produce the "tale," were punished by the bastinado at the close of the day not giving in the proper amount. Kalisch observes - "Even now the Arabic fellahs, whose position is very analogous to that of the Israelites described in our text, are treated by the Turks in the same manner. Arabic overseers have to give an account of the labours of their countrymen to the Turkish taskmasters, who often chastise them mercilessly for the real or imputed cf. fences of the Arabic workmen."

CHAPTER 5:15-19 Exodus 5:13בּיומו יום דּבר, the quantity fixed for every day, "just as when the straw was (there)," i.e., was given out for the work.
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