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Shemot. Disappointments and Setbacks

Moses had barely started his campaign against Pharaoh, when he experienced his first failure. He did not anticipate the brutality of Pharaoh. After his initial approach to the Egyptian ruler, Pharaoh retaliates by intensifying the workload for the Israelite slaves: “I will not give you any straw… but there shall be no decrease whatever in your work.” This cruel measure is a brilliant tactic as it sows discord between the desperate slaves and their new leader, Moses.

The suffering and disillusioned Israelites attack Moses:

“May the Lord … punish you for making us loathsome to Pharaoh …putting a sword in their hands to slay us.”[i]

Moses is in a difficult place. God’s plan has failed, and now his people have lost faith in him and turned against him. In failure and desperation, he turns his frustration to God:

“O Lord, why did You bring harm upon this people? Why did You send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has dealt worse with this people; and still You have not delivered Your people.”

Moses lays all the blame on God! But really, what did he expect? Did he think it would be easy? Nachmanides comments:

“Moses knew that God had told hi