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Pharaoh rose up in the night of the smiting of the first- born. He waited not for the third hour of the morning, when kings usually arise, nor did he wait to be awakened, but he himself roused his slaves from their slumber, and all the other Egyptians, and together they went forth to seek Moses and Aaron.[222] He knew that Moses had never spoken an untruth, and as he had said, "I will see thy face again no more," he could not count upon Moses' coming to him. There remained nothing for him to do but go in search of the Israelitish leader.[223] He did not know where Moses lived, and he had great difficulty and lost much time in looking for his house, for the Hebrew lads of whom he made inquiries when he met them in the street played practical jokes on him, misdirected him, and led him astray. Thus he wandered about a long time.[224] all the while weeping and crying out, "O my friend Moses, pray for me to God!"

Meanwhile Moses and Aaron and all Israel beside were at the paschal meal, drinking wine as they sat and leaned to one side, and singing songs in praise of God, the Hallel, which they were the first to recite. When Pharaoh finally reached the door of the house wherein Moses abode, he called to him, and from Moses the question came back, "Who art thou, and what is thy name?"--"I am Pharaoh, who stands here humiliated."--Moses asked again: "Why dost thou come to me thyself? Is it the custom of kings to linger at the doors of common folk?"--"I pray thee, my lord," returned Pharaoh, "come forth and intercede for us, else there will not remain a single being in Egypt."--"I may not come forth, for God bath commanded us, 'None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.' " --But Pharaoh continued to plead: "Do but step to the window, and speak with me," and when Moses yielded to his importunities, and appeared at the window, the king addressed these words to him: "Thou didst say yesterday, 'All the first-born in the land of Egypt will die,' but now as many as nine-tenths of the inhabitants have perished."[225]

Pharaoh was accompanied by his daughter Bithiah, Moses' foster-mother. She reproached him with ingratitude, in having brought down evil upon her and her countrymen. And Moses answered, and said: "Ten plagues the Lord brought upon Egypt. Hath evil accrued to thee from any of them? Did one of them affect thee?" And when Bithiah acknowledged that no harm had touched her, Moses continued to speak, "Although thou art thy mother's first- born, thou shalt not die, and no evil shall reach thee in the midst of Egypt." But Bithiah said, "Of what advantage is my security to me, when I see the king, my brother, and all his household, and his servants in this evil plight, and look upon their first-born perishing with all the first-born of Egypt?" And Moses returned, "Verily, thy brother and his household and the other Egyptians would not hearken to the words of the Lord, therefore did this evil come upon them.[226]

Turning to Pharaoh, Moses said: "In spite of all that hath happened, I will teach thee something, if thou desirest to learn, and thou wilt be spared, and thou wilt not die. Raise thy voice, and say: 'Ye children of Israel, ye are your own masters. Prepare for your journey, and depart from among my people. Hitherto ye were the slaves of Pharaoh, but henceforward ye are under the authority of God. Serve the Lord your God!' " Moses made him say these words three times,[227] and God caused Pharaoh's voice to be heard throughout the land of Egypt, so that all the inhabitants, the home-born and the aliens, knew that Pharaoh had released the children of Israel from the bondage in which they had languished. And all Israel sang, "Hallelujah, praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the Name of the Lord," for they belonged to the Lord, and no more were the servants of Pharaoh.[228]

Now the king of Egypt insisted upon their leaving the land without delay. But Moses objected, and said: "Are we thieves, that we should slink away under cover of the night? Wait until morning." Pharaoh, however, urged and begged Moses to depart, confessing that he was anxious about his own person, for he was a first-born son, and he was terrified that death would strike him down, too. Moses dissipated his alarm, though he substituted a new horror, with the words, "Fear not, there is worse in store for thee!" Dread seized upon the whole people; every one of the Egyptians was afraid of losing his life, and they all united their prayers with Pharaoh's, and begged Moses to take the Israelites hence. And God spake, Ye shall all find your end, not here, but in the Red Sea!"[229]

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