It would appear from the text that he did.

Firstly the fact he was there, and leading the army himself: (Exodus 14 verse 10) with Rashi

  1. Pharaoh drew near, and the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold! the Egyptians were advancing after them. They were very frightened, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. י. וּפַרְעֹה הִקְרִיב וַיִּשְׂאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת עֵינֵיהֶם וְהִנֵּה מִצְרַיִם | נֹסֵעַ אַחֲרֵיהֶם וַיִּירְאוּ מְאֹד וַיִּצְעֲקוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל יְהֹוָה:

Pharaoh drew near: Heb. וּפַרְעֹה הִקְרִיב, lit., and Pharaoh brought near. It [the verse] should have said: קָרַב. What is the meaning of הִקְרִיב ? He [Pharaoh] drew himself near and strove to go before them [his army], as he had stipulated with them. — (Rashi)

Secondly that there were no apparent survivors: verse 28:

  1. And the waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, the entire force of Pharaoh coming after them into the sea; not even one of them survived. כח. וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּיִם וַיְכַסּוּ אֶת הָרֶכֶב וְאֶת הַפָּרָשִׁים לְכֹל חֵיל פַּרְעֹה הבָּאִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם בַּיָּם לֹא נִשְׁאַר בָּהֶם עַד אֶחָד: and covered the chariots…the entire force of Pharaoh: Heb. לְכֹל חֵיל פַּרְעֹה So is the custom of Scriptural verses to write a superfluous “lammed,” such as in “all (לְכָל) its utensils you shall make copper” (Exod. 27:3); and similarly, “all (לְכֹל) the utensils of the Tabernacle for all its services” (Exod. 27:19); [and in the phrase] “their stakes and their ropes, along with all (לְכָל) their utensils” (Num. 4:32), and it [the “lammed”] is [used] merely to enhance the language. ויכסו את הרכב וגו' לכל חיל פרעה: כך דרך המקראות לכתוב למ"ד יתירה, כמו (להלן כג) לכל כליו תעשה נחשת, וכן (שם יט) לכל כלי המשכן בכל עבודתו, (במדבר ד לב) ויתדותם ומיתריהם לכל כליהם, ואינה אלא תיקון לשון:

Therefore it would appear obvious that Pharaoh was there, leading the army, and drowned with them, yet I have heard that there are some opinions that he alone did survive?

2 Answers 2


The Mechilta in Bishalach 2,6 makes a drasha from the words 'ad echad', seemingly the Torah lists there was none left 'until one', that is Pharaoh was left. It goes on to bring an opinion that afterwards Pharaoh went in and drowned.

There is also a Yalkut Shimoni #176 that says he was the king in Ninvei at the time of Yona's prophecy who knew to take the warning seriously.


The phrase used is: lo notar bahem ad echad -- "none were left, down to one." The simplest reading is "not a single one remained alive", but many Midrashim seize on the ambiguity to suggest that "one" did survive -- Pharaoh himself was spat back out of the sea.


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