We know that Israel was still in Goshen during their enslavement, because the text tells us that the plague of hail didn't affect Goshen "where b'nai Yisrael were" (Shemot 9:26). It sounds like they are still living apart from the Egyptians, else some Egyptians would have been spared by the hail (if they lived in Goshen too) or some of Israel would have been affected (if they lived outside of Goshen).

Right before the exodus, God instructs the people to borrow silver and gold from their neighbors (Shemot 11:1-3). "Neighbors" sounds like people who live nearby. In chapter 12 the Egyptians urge them to leave quickly, and that's when the borrowing occurs.

How isolated or how intermingled were Israel and the Egyptians at the time of the exodus? Did Israel have Egyptian neighbors, or did they actually borrow silver and gold from random Egyptians they encountered on the way out that night?

  • 2
    Given the somewhat well-known Midrash that a Jew and Mitzri could drink out of the same jug, but the Jew drank water while the Mitzri drank blood, I would imagine that even if they were intermingled it wouldn’t affect the Jews regardless of their location, nor would the plagues avoid the Mitzriim regardless of their location. – DonielF Dec 10 '17 at 18:49
  • I'm leaning toward the idea that Goshen was extremely isolated. Recall that Yosef requested that his family live in Goshen specifically because the Egyptians despised shepherds. Even during slavery, we have a Midrash that not everyone was enslaved, anyway. (Seems only men and Levites were exempt.) So, it seems that shepherding was done throughout. I'd be surprised if any Egyptians changed their attitude and desired to live among shepherds. Keep in mind that the term "neighbor" doesn't necessarily indicate geographical closeness. – DanF Dec 11 '17 at 17:01

The Netziv in Ha'amek Dovor on Shemos 1-7 (http://beta.hebrewbooks.org/reader/reader.aspx?sfid=40080#p=9&fitMode=fitheight&hlts=&ocr=) writes that when the people multiplied many of them moved out of Goshen into Mitzrayim proper. The proof for that is of course that HaShem had to "pass over" the houses of the Jewish people when killing the Egyptian first-born. If the Jewish people would all still have lived in Goshen, that wouldn't have been necessary. The Ibn Ezra actually writes the same.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .