Moses and Aaron went to the Pharaoh of Egypt and asked him to free the people of Israel from their slavery.
'The Lord God of Israel has told us to go and hold a feast in his honour in the wilderness，' said Moses.
'Who is this Lord God？' said Pharaoh. 'Why should I obey him？ You may not go.'
'Only for a journey of three days，' said Moses. 'We want to make a sacrifice to God.'
'No，' said Pharaoh. 'Get back to work. We can't afford to let the Israelites stop working， even for three days.'
Pharaoh gave orders to his taskmasters.
'This idle talk about holding a feast to their God is because you don't make them work hard enough. More work will soon tire them out. In future， don't give them any straw for their brick-making. Let them find their own straw.'
The taskmasters drove the Israelites to work with whips.
''Why have you not made more bricks？' they shouted. 'Work harder. Harder！ You lazy layabouts！'
The Israelites complained to Pharaoh.
'How can we produce enough bricks when we don't have the straw for them？' they grumbled. 'Why should we be beaten all the time？ Give us the straw and we will make as many bricks as you want.'
'No，' said Pharaoh. 'You are lazy. You want time off to hold a feast. Go back to work. No straw， and just as many bricks！ Do you understand？'
The Israelites went to find Moses and Aaron.
'Look what you have done now！' they said. 'The taskmasters will kill us with work soon. Why can't you keep your mouths shut？ We are worse off than we were before.'
Moses was worried and prayed to God.
'Why did you bother to send me to help them？' he asked. 'I told you I was the wrong man. Ever since I came， things have got worse and worse.'
'It will all right in the end，' said God. 'Pharaoh will not only set them free， but he will drive them out by force. I made promise to Abraham， to Isaac and to Jacob that I would give the Israelites the land of Canaan. I will keep my promise.'
'I have told them that，' said Moses. 'They don't believe me， and I can't say I blame them.'
'Speak to Pharaoh again，' said God. 'Don't expect everything to happen at once. His heart may be hardened against you at first， even when I have shown him many miraculous signs， but you will go free in the end.'
'It's all very well，' grumbled Moses， but I get the blame when things go wrong.'
He plucked up his courage and went again with Aaron to see pharaoh.
'Will you let us go and worship in the wilderness？' he asked.
'Why should I？' said Pharaoh. 'Show me a sign that your God wants me to let you go.'
Aaron threw his rod on to the ground and it changed into a snake that hissed at Pharaoh's feet.