Exodus 1:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 1:14, NIV: "They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly."

Exodus 1:14, ESV: "and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves."

Exodus 1:14, KJV: "And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour."

Exodus 1:14, NASB: "and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they violently had them perform as slaves."

Exodus 1:14, NLT: "They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands."

Exodus 1:14, CSB: "and made their lives bitter with difficult labor in brick and mortar and in all kinds of fieldwork. They ruthlessly imposed all this work on them."

What does Exodus 1:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Egyptians affected the daily lives of the Israelites as described by the Hebrew marar, translated "bitter," a term that will later become important at the introduction of Passover in Exodus 12:8. Their bitterness includes two major areas. First, they worked with "mortar and brick." The hot, strenuous, monotonous work of making bricks and using them in construction would serve as the form of labor for Hebrews in urban areas. Second, they were forced into "all kinds of work in the field." Their efforts included the planting and harvesting of food for the Egyptians. This may have also included caring for the livestock of the Egyptians.

The final sentence refers to working the people "ruthlessly" (Exodus 1:13). Though the Hebrews had already worked as servants for the Egyptians, their current situation was much different. They had moved from servants to oppressed slaves, given no mercy and no rights. This difference is important to the Bible's stance on slavery; even the most strict servanthood is not the same as the sub-human practices of racial, lifelong, oppressive bondage.

The following verses will show this oppression even included attempts to kill the newborn sons of the Jews, something God particularly despised (Exodus 1:20–21).