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    Most stayed behind

    The Exodus from Egypt, Golden Haggadah, Catalonia, c.1300

    The Israelites who left Egypt “went up chamushim” (Ex. 13:17-18).

    Chamushim seems to be connected with chamesh, five. This – according to a view quoted by Rashi – means that only one Israelite in five left Egypt, i.e. only 20% of the people departed.

    Another view – also quoted by Rashi – is that chamushim means “armed”.

    If the first view is right, why did so many Israelites stay in Egypt? Was it that they had more or less made their peace with Egyptian conditions and were prepared to become assimilated and abandon the vision of Moses and the other Israelites?

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