During the confrontation with Paro Moshe repeats God's demand several times: let my people go that they may serve Me -- שַׁלַּח עַמִּי וְיַעַבְדֻנִי . During the plague of frogs Paro makes this offer (Shemot 7:4):

. וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה לְמשֶׁה וּלְאַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמֶר הַעְתִּירוּ אֶל יְהֹוָה וְיָסֵר הַצְפַרְדְּעִים מִמֶּנִּי וּמֵעַמִּי וַאֲשַׁלְּחָה אֶת הָעָם וְיִזְבְּחוּ לַיהֹוָה:

Thereupon, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and said, "Entreat the Lord that He remove the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let out the people [of Israel] so that they may sacrifice to the Lord."

This morning I had the chance to ask somebody who's spent a fair bit of time studying ancient cultures if animal sacrifice was part of Egyptian religious practice at this time. He said it was not (humans yes, animals no). I didn't grill him for sources. (But Google doesn't seem to disagree with him, from what I've found.)

Moshe never said anything about the form of the divine service for which the people needed to be released. Where did Paro get the idea that it would be sacrifices and not something else?

Rashi has nothing to say on this, nor did any of the miscellaneous chumashim we had on hand.

  • what other form of service do you have in mind? Jun 1, 2014 at 4:01
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    @MoriDoweedhYaa3qob could be anything -- bowing down to idols, ritualized singing/dancing, sexual practices, fasting, self-abuse (like flagellation or cutting), all these were, if I understand correctly, done by some ancient cultures. (What was done in ancient Egypt I do not know.) Jun 1, 2014 at 4:05
  • paro3 knows that jews dont bow to idols since HaShem yeethborach is not an idol and HaShem yethborach was not on his idol list. none the less he treated HaShem yeethborach like an idol in that he believed HaShem yeethborach and idols were on the same level. when sacrificing offerings you would bow and sing songs/praises. and basically everything else you said goes along with sacrificing. sacrificing was the umbrella and everything else went below it. Jun 1, 2014 at 4:16
  • @MoriDoweedhYaa3qob if you can source that it sounds like you have the beginnings of an answer. (But you still haven't shown Paro making this leap -- that all this other stuff could, theoretically, be part of a ritual involving sacrifices doesn't mean that it automatically was.) Jun 1, 2014 at 4:19

1 Answer 1


In Shemos 5:3, Moshe introduces his request:

נלכה נא דרך שלשת ימים במידבר ונזבחה ליהוה

Now let us go on a three day journey in the desert and sacrifice to the Lord our God

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    Oh, missed that in scanning back! Thanks. Jun 1, 2014 at 4:27

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