The Exodus Narrative and the Four Children

Introduction

The Hidden Subtext

The Torah is often laconic in the descriptions of the lives of its protagonists, and this can sometimes be a source of frustration to the reader who yearns to know more details. This is especially true when it comes to characters' thoughts and emotions which are often not made explicit. Thus, while the story of the Exodus speaks at length about both the hardships of the enslaved and the punishments meted out to Paroh and his nation, it hides how all of this was viewed by the Israelites. When Moshe spoke about Hashem redeeming the people, what were they feeling?  What did they know of Hashem beforehand?  Were they long time monotheists, or mired in the polytheism of Egypt?  Were they exuberant or hesitant about the idea of leaving Egypt, eager or skeptical about following Hashem?

Impact on the Larger Story

The way one answers the above questions has widespread ramifications for understanding the entire story of the Exile and Exodus, and touches on numerous topics raised by the opening chapters of Sefer Shemot:

The "Four Children" in Egypt

This topic will use the "Four Children" of the Pesach Seder as prototypes through which to consider the various types of Israelites that might have existed in Egypt:

The nation was obviously not monolithic in its make-up, and it presumably was a complex composite of all of these types.  Nonetheless, the Approaches presented here will separate the models, looking at each individually so as to more clearly define the implications of these various portraits.  The exact proportions in which these models existed among the Children of Israel are harder to ascertain, but any accurate representation of the reality in Egypt will most definitely combine elements of each.
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