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    They came armed

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

    What did the Hebrews take on their trudge through the wilderness? Wives, children, clothing, matzah to eat, water to drink?

    All these, but the Torah says something more: they went chamushim (Ex. 13:18), which Onkelos and others understand as “armed”, ready for the journey ahead and for any encounter with hostile tribes.

    Cassuto says the word meant “disciplined”: they were not a mob but an organised people.

    The rabbis saw that chamushim is reminiscent of chamesh, five. Maybe each Hebrew had five children.

    Some thought that only a fifth of the people left with Moses (some said one in 50 or even only one in 500). This indicates that there were many who had made their peace with their degraded status and wanted what they were used to instead of the unknown future.

    Or does it mean that only a minority were really worthy of the redemption?

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