describing how God overthrew the pursuing
Egyptian Army near dawn states
And it came to pass at the morning guard, that HaShem looked forth upon the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians.
Rashi explains the idiom, morning guard, as illustrating
the figure of speech technique, metonomy, naming by
The night was divided up into three shifts -- each shift had a different
round of guards for palaces, temples etc. Even the ministering angels
are seen as having shifts. The morning guard refers to the last shift
of the night, the one near morning. Here, a time slot--prior to dawn--is named
by related activities -- the morning guard. The naming of an entity
by something related is called in literature, metonomy.
of metonomy include
- naming sexual passion and anger heat
- naming concealing murder covering blood Gn37-26b;
- naming Temple coins holy coins Ex30-13c
- naming a person with numerous assets heavy
- naming the arm the hand Gn24-18a
- naming the nations of the word,
one end of heaven to the other end of heaven
- naming the household, the inhabitants of the house,
the house Gn12-17b
Sermonic points: Humorously, Rashi is actually painting
a typical western movie drama. The Egyptians are pursuing the Jews.
The Jews complain they have been defeated. God could just shoot the Egyptians
down immediately. But no the ride goes on. It is morning and still no word
from God. The Egyptians are about to overtake the Jews. The Jews are fleeing
and totally helpless. And then in typical movie style, God steps in and defeats
the Egyptians. The Jews escape and sing songs of praise.
I have not seen such an approach in our traditional commentaries but Rashi's
emphasis that this happened near morning seems to support such a perspective.