Didn’t Pharaoh Have Servants to Prepare His Chariot?

When Pharaoh sent away B’nai Yisrael, it was under the premise that they would pray in the desert for three days and then return to Egypt.


In Shmot, 14:5 we read: “The king of Egypt was told that the people had fled. Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart regarding the people, and they said, ‘What have we done? How did we release Israel from serving us?’”


Siftei Chachamim asks: If Pharaoh was the one who sent them away then why did he need to be told?


According to Rashi, Pharaoh sent officials with them. Once they reached the point of three days journey which had been fixed for them to go and to return and the officials saw that they were not returning to Egypt, they came on the fourth day and told Pharaoh. On the fifth and sixth days they pursued them, and on the night of the seventh they went down into the sea. In the morning they sang shira, “Az Yahir”, the song of praise at the crossing of the Reed Sea. That day was the seventh day of Pesach. For this reason we read the shira on the seventh day of Pesach.


In the next pasuk we read: “He (Pharaoh) harnessed his chariot and he took his people with him.”


Rashi quoting the Mechilta says that Pharaoh harnessed his chariot by himself.


Breisheet Raba asks: Didn’t he have enough servants to harness his chariot?


The Mechilta explains: He did it with his own hand. Kings usually stand by, while others prepare their chariot and harness it. Pharaoh the wicked on the other hand prepared and harnessed his own chariot. As soon as the courtiers saw what he was doing they followed suit.


We can see from here that Pharaoh never intended to free the Jewish people from slavery and was going to try to do everything in his power to bring them back. Even though he saw all of the miracles that God preformed, he still thought of himself as a God and actively went to bring them back. Pharaoh abused his power.


The Mechilta points out that Avraham saddled his donkey on his own and Yosef made ready his own chariot. They too had servants who could have taken care of it for them but Avraham wanted to prepare for the Akeda (Binding of Isaac) on his own and Yosef wanted to put the extra effort into honoring his father. Avraham and Yosef rushed to do good while Pharaoh and Bilaam (another enemy of Israel) rushed to do evil.