The Torah describes where the nation went right after being sent out of Egypt. They did not take “the path of the Land of the Plishtim” because it was too close (Shemot 13:17). They started in Rameses and Sukkot (ibid. 12:37). They continued in Eitam (ibid. 13:20). Then we find the command which took Bnei Yisrael to the place of Kri’at Yam Suf: “… before Pi Hachirot, between Migdol and the sea, before Ba’al Tzfon” (ibid. 14:2).
Last time we started discussion of the apparent contradiction between the depictions of the exile in Egypt as 400 or 430 years and the indications that it was only 210 years. This condensed piece finishes our discussion. The Rashbam understands the pasuk (Shemot 12:40) as referring to the inhabitance of Bnei Yisrael in Egypt finishing a period of 430 years that began with Brit Bein Habetarim. It did not mean that the whole period had to do with Egypt. The Alshich arrives at a novel explanation based on the fact that the pasuk refers to Mitzrayim and not Eretz Mitzrayim. He says that Mitzrayim does not refer only to Egypt but to all different types of difficulties, based on the etymological associations of the word. The Malbim picked up on the fact the pasuk refers to the exodus of “all the bands of Hashem” and says that since there were heavenly beings that were with Bnei Yisrael in Egypt and since Bnei Yisrael were worked day and night, the time that they needed to stay in Egypt only needed to be, from a calendar perspective, half of the 430 mentioned by the pasuk.
Last week, we introduced the idea that the lack of full cooperation between Yosef and Yehuda prevented the early Exodus from Egypt. We continue with this basic theme this week. Chazal (see Sota 36b) tell us that at the critical moment, right before the splitting of the Sea, the various tribes were in competitive mode. Rabbi Meir relates the following, based on his understanding of Tehillim 68:28. When Bnei Yisrael stood by the sea, each tribe claimed that they were going to jump in first. The Tribe of Binyamin went in first, and the Tribe of Yehuda stoned them. That is why Binyamin merited hosting the Divine Presence in the Beit Hamikdash. Rabbi Yehuda had a different version. Each tribe was trying to avoid going in. Since Nachshon, head of the Tribe of Yehuda, was the first, they merited having dominion in Israel, as it says: “Yehuda was for His holiness, Israel was for His kingdom” (Tehillim 114:2). Why did Yehuda have this kingdom? Because the “sea saw and fled” (ibid. 3).
Great rabbis have said that “ki karov hu” refers to the fact that Hashem is close to us, not the path. Even during difficult national times, let us remember that events that seem to be to our detriment can really be for our benefit.