TASKMASTER. Two Heb. words are so tr. in the VSS. The first is the less common, נָגַשׂ, H5601, a noun meaning “oppressor,” “driver of workmen” (Exod 3:7 et al.). Such words are common in the Egyp. ostraca which detail the labors of the work gangs who excavated and built the tombs of the pharaohs. The other, more common Heb. term is actually a phrase סַר מַס, “overseer of forced service” which is similar to other phrases in which semantic parallels appear. The term is of very old W Sem., possibly pre-Mosaic origin. It is tr. “taskmaster” in the KJV only in Exodus 1:11.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

task’-mas-ter. (sar mac, "chief of the burden" or "levy" (Ex 1:11); noghes, "distress," "driver," "oppressor," "raiser of taxes," "taskmaster" (Ex 3:7; 5:6,10,13,14)): Officials of this class seem to have been officially appointed by Pharaoh for the purpose of oppressing the Israelites and subduing their spirits, lest they seek complete independence or organize a rebellion against the government (Ex 1:11). The condition of the Israelites at this time became one of complete vassalage or slavery, probably owing to the fact that the Hyksos were driven out and a new dynasty was established, which knew nothing of Joseph and his people.SARIS">RAB-SARIS /JL(which see) and JL:Jump,"RABSHAKEH"RABSHAKEH /JL(which see) with a great host against Jerusalem. The names of the-two officials are not known.

Frank E. Hirsch