Calculating the Redemption

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Exodus 13:17 “Now when Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Phillistines, although it was nearer…”

Shemos Rabbah (20:11) explains that members of the tribe of Ephraim were overly anxious in their anticipation of the Ge’ulah, the Redemption from Egypt, and miscalculated when it was to occur. They were thirty years too early. However, confident in their own calculation, despite opposition from all of their fellow Jews, they took it upon themselve to leave Egypt and enter the promised land. They were all killed. Their bones littered the direct route to Israel, through Phillistine land, and God did not want the other Jews to have to see those bones. That is why he took them on a different route.

For practical application of this midrash about the disastrous repercussions of even slightly miscalculating the Redemption, see my introduction to Kuntres Bikores Ha-Ge’ulah.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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