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    Light in the darkness

    The plague of darkness, Doré's English Bible, 1866

    The plague of darkness, Doré’s English Bible, 1866

    Though the Egyptians were plagued with three days of thick darkness, the Israelites still had light in their homes.

    According to Rashi, the Israelites were not only able to see what was happening in their own houses but could see what was happening in Egyptian homes too.

    There is a view that they used their ability to see to the advantage of the Egyptians, helping them to sustain their lives at a difficult time.

    If this view is correct, it shows that there was a decent relationship between the two groups and suggests that the Israelites conducted themselves as neighbours and did not act with any rancour or revenge towards their oppressors.

    Presumably they could have stolen whatever they fancied but restrained themselves, which indicates that an ethical instinct was at work.

    They probably also could have used the opportunity to escape and get out of Egypt without the Egyptians knowing.

    Why they did not escape at that point is hinted at in the Midrash, which says that they promised Joseph that they would not “force the hour” and leave before the set time, and this held them back from succumbing to temptation.

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