Take the list in this week’s reading (Ex. 6:15) of the sons of Simeon. There were six sons – Yemu’el, Yamin, Ohad, Yachin, Zohar and Sha’ul.
Now look at the list in B’midbar (Num. 26:12). Lo and behold, a few changes in spelling, but no Ohad!
Ibn Ezra is of the view that he must have died in Egypt or the wilderness, leaving no descendants to be part of Simeon’s group of families.
We wonder whether Jewish history would have been different had Ohad survived and left progeny.
It doesn’t really help, though, to apply the word “if” to historical study.
If circumstances had been different… if other influences had been at work… if external events had not affected us in the same way… if a certain leader had not been there, if we had reacted differently, chosen a different option, gone somewhere else, married into another family – there are countless speculative possibilities and permutations
Looking backwards in this way is highly intriguing and highly unsatisfying. The realistic course is not to say, “I wish things had been different”, but “Whatever transpires, I have to handle it wisely!”