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DID THE ISRAELITES LEAVE EGYPT AT NIGHT?
The word <brought #03318> in Deuteronomy 16:1 can have a figurative application – as
explained earlier.  The fact that the word supports a figurative usage does away with any
absolute requirement to understand it literally.  If one does a study of each time the bible
uses the phrase "God brought you out of Egypt" – you will see the strength and power of
<God> behind that thought.  What did God do that night that made it possible for the
Israelites to come out of Egypt?  Of course, we all know the answer; He slew the
firstborn of Egypt.  

Consider, the verse does not say that
Israel went out of Egypt that night, but that God
brought them out of Egypt by night.
 Some have assumed that God literally brought the
Israelites out of Egypt that night.  There is a world of difference in these two statements.  
One is literal; the other could be literal or it could be a figure of speech.  The Hebrew
Hiphil Perfect indicates a figure of speech, for the verb brought.  The full thrust of the
Hebrew is that God “caused them to be brought out” of Egypt by night.  In other words,
God’s actions to bring Israel out of Egypt took place by night.

The language the bible uses for the departure of Israel suggests a morning departure.  
There is a Hebrew word for <night>, and there is a Hebrew word for <morning>.  There
has to be a point when it is no longer night, and morning has begun.  The morrow, as in
Numbers 33:3 begins with daybreak.  There was no reason for the Israelites to linger.  
Pharaoh either came to Moses or sent an official with the message to “rise up and depart
from among his people”.  Moses could not leave his house until daybreak, and Pharaoh
had told him that he would kill him if he ever saw him again.  Therefore, the implication is
that Pharaoh came to Moses officially, if not literally, and was urgent for him to leave
Egypt with all the Israelites.  Moreover, the Egyptians followed Pharaoh’ lead and urged
the Israelites to leave the land in haste.  They were not to leave Egypt until morning, but
once daybreak arrived, they were free to go and there was no reason for them to
hesitate.  The whole tenor of the occasion implies a quick get-away at daybreak.  The
phrase “And he (Pharaoh) called for Moses” is more correctly translated, “And he called
to Moses”.  The Septuagint has, “And Pharao called Moses and Aaron by night” leaving
out the preposition altogether.  The Hebrew does use an inseparable preposition hv,mol.
(to Moses) and !roh]a;l.W (and to Aaron).  The same Hebrew preposition l. stands for
many different English prepositions – <for> is among them.  However, <to> seems to be
the best preposition for this context.

Exodus 12:29  And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of
Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that [was]
in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a
great cry in Egypt; for [there was] not a house where [there was] not one dead.
31 And he called for (to) Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, [and] get you forth from
among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.

LXX:
Exodus 12:31 And Pharao called Moses and Aaron by night, and said to them, Rise and depart from
my people, both ye and the children of Israel.  Go and serve the Lord your God, even as ye say.

Exodus 12:33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the
land in haste; for they said, We [be] all dead [men].

Deuteronomy 16:1  Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God: for in
the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night (03915).  

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03915 layil {lah'-yil} or (Isa. 21:11) leyl {lale}
also lay@lah {lah'- yel-aw}

from the same as 03883; TWOT - 1111; n m

AV - night 205, nights 15, midnight + 02677 4, season 3,
midnight + 02676 2, night + 01121 2, midnight 1, midnight + 08432 1; 233

1) night
1a) night (as opposed to day)
1b) of gloom, protective shadow (fig.)
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Morning is the break of day, the <end> of night.  

Ex 12:22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike
the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the
door of his house until the morning (1242).  

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01242 boqer {bo'-ker}

from 01239; TWOT - 274c; n m

AV - morning 191, morrow 7, day 3, days + 06153 1, early 3; 205

1) morning, break of day
1a) morning
1a1) of end of night
1a2) of coming of daylight
1a3) of coming of sunrise
1a4) of beginning of day
1a5) of bright joy after night of distress (fig.)
1b) morrow, next day, next morning
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Now, let us look at Ruth 3.

Ruth 3:13 Tarry this <night>, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part
of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee,
then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down <until the morning>.
14  And she lay at his feet until the <morning>: and she rose up before one could know another.  And
he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.  

Ruth lay at Boaz’ feet until the <morning>.  There is a specific point when morning
begins.  At that point, it is no longer night, but day.  The phrase <before one could know
another> simply means that at the first instant of dawn, Ruth left.  At this time, the stars
begin to fade away.  It can be rather hard to distinguish someone at this time of the
morning, especially on the dark of the moon.  However, some distinct changes begin to
occur in the sky.  The 11th edition of Britannica says for dawn, "the time when light
appears (dawns) in the sky in the morning.  The dawn colors appear in the reverse order
of the sunset colors and are due to the same cause.  When the sun is lowest in both cases,
the color is deep red; this gradually changes through orange to gold and brilliant yellow as
the sun approaches the horizon.  These colors follow each other in order of refrangibility,
reproducing all the colors of the spectrum in order except the blue rays, which are
scattered in the sky.  The colors of the dawn are purer and colder than the sunset colors
since there is less dust and moisture in the atmosphere and less consequent sifting of light
rays."

Do an experiment.  On the dark of the moon – 1st quarter – go out and observe the night
turn into dawn.  Get entirely away from city lights to do this project.  You will see that for
quite awhile one would have to be in your face for you to recognize him.  Even where city
lights are about sparsely, it is still difficult to distinguish someone unless he is very close.

There is no need to believe that the Israelites had to leave Egypt at night, because
Deuteronomy 16:1 can be understood figuratively or it can be understood literally as
applied to the crossing of the Red Sea.  It lends itself to a figurative understanding if
applied to the Passover and a literal understanding if applied to the crossing of the Red
Sea.  It is clear that the Israelites did not leave their houses until the night began to turn
into day.  They probably left a little later than Ruth did from Boaz.  They were probably
finishing their packing and tying it down during dawn.  By good daylight, they were almost
certainly on their way.