Verse Ex02-05c states
And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river;
and her maidens walked along by the riverís side;
and when she saw the ark among the reeds,
she sent her maid to fetch it.
Rashi notes the su13en shift in the underlined words
from singular to plural. Hence
the Rashi comment (with added explanation):
Pharoh, her father had issued a death decree on the Jewish babies.
So his daughter couldn't take the risk of allowing any maid to take
the baby since word would leak back to her father. Instead she sent
her personal maid, the one who was always in attendance on her.
The verse indicates this by the shift in plurality: The maidens
walked along the river but she sent her maid to fetch it.
Advanced Rashi and sermonic points:
Rav Hirsch points out that despite Pharoh's decree the Egypitan
people were not blood thirsty and didn't really care to participate
in the mass murder. Here we see Pharoh's own daughter violating his
decree and conspiring with the child's Jewish mother.
This has relevance for us today. Bad decrees very often emanate
from rulers; the masses however may be sympathetic to Jewish causes.
This allows formation of an underground that can help Jewish causes.
The Jews have frequently exploited this in their various struggles.
Rashi's literal language is as follows:
The verse refers to Pharoh's daughter's maiden. However the
Talmudic Rabbis referred it to her personal hand which stretched
forward several feet to save the baby.
I would interpret personal hand to mean her personal handmaid.
I would interpret stretched several feet to mean that Pharoh's daughter
carried a royal sceptre by which decrees can be made. We find such a sceptre
referred to by Achashveirosh who stretched forth his sceptre to prevent
his protective service from killing queen Vashti Es05-02. I would
apply this concept here also. Pharoh's daughter strecthed forth her sceptre
several feet and prohibited termination of the baby. The stretching forth
of her sceptre is picturesquely referred to by Rashi as stretching forth
Thus, although the literal interpretation of this Rashi appears difficult,
I believe that Rashi expresses the simple meaning of the text. We have arrived
at this simple meaning using the single-plural distinction and by
using well known idioms. Thus we interpreted her hand the same as
the English her right hand indicating her personal handmaid.
Similarly we have interpreted stretched forth her hand as stretched
forth her sceptre. Finally a review of the 6 times that the Hebrew word
Stretched occurs in the Talmud justifies interpreting this word not
as a physical stretching but as an extension of authority.
Consequently I consider this Rashi interpretation an ideal way to approach