PARTICIPANT: Scripture tells that in the land of Canaan, at the time of a famine, our Patriarch, Jacob, sent his sons to Egypt to purchase food. They also sought permission from Pharaoh to allow their flocks to graze, for the pasture lands in Canaan were barren. It was not their intention to settle in Egypt; merely to visit and find relief from want.

PARTICIPANT: There were but seventy people who arrived in Egypt, but, in time, their number increased. Soon they grew also in strength and became a mighty people. The Egyptians came to fear them for, they reasoned, in time of war they might join with enemy nations and become a threatening force. They, therefore, decided to subdue them with forced labor, and to reduce their numbers by casting male children into the river. Task masters were placed over the Hebrews, who whipped and tortured them, compelling them to make bricks and build great cities for Pharaoh.

PARTICIPANT: The task was inhuman and great to bear. The Jewish people cried out. God called to Moses, charging him to appear before Pharaoh and to demand that the people be released. Pharaoh was obstinate and would not heed the word of God. It was then foretold the punishment which the Almighty would bring upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians: Plagues would be the land of Egypt, in which many would perish.

PARTICIPANT: Pharaoh defied God and placed his trust in his own powers. In the face of all pleas, he refused to free the Jewish people. In consequence the plagues descended upon Egypt. Many perished and the suffering was great. Pharaoh, nonetheless, remained obstinant; he would not yield. When the tenth plague visited upon them, the death of first-born sons of Egyptians, a great cry went up throughout Egypt, and Pharaoh finally ordered Moses to take his people out of the land.

haggadah Section: -- Exodus Story