(13:18) “V’Chamushim Alu Benei Yisroel M’Eretz Mitzrayim-
The children of Israel were armed when they went up from Egypt.” The word “Chamushim” cited by Rashi means that only one fifth came out of Mitzraim. The other four fifths died in the plague of darkness. How can we have a handle on this? If four times as many people died than were redeemed it would be 12 million people dying in three days? This would be much greater than our own recent Shoah? Would that not be important enough to merit being mentioned by the Torah?
The Targum Yonason says the word “Chamushim” means when Benei Yisroel came out of Mitzraim they each had five children. The question is how could this be? We learned that when they were having children in Mitzraim they produced six at a time. Also they all would not have had an equal amount? The Targum Yerushalmy says “Chamushim” means armed with good deeds (Ma'sim Tovim). But why good deeds? The fact that they had faith to go into the Midbar without knowing where they would get their next meal is not a good deed but rather a case of Emunah. The answer is that it might be true that four fifths died but that does not take into account the children who didn't deserve to die? What it means then is that each family took in an additional four orphaned families of children and now had five families of children. They had their own plus four fifths of the newly orphaned. This also explains the Targum Yerushalmy. The good deeds they are referring to are the fact that they would take in all these children even though they had no idea how they would sustain them. Children that might never have connected their souls to Hashem. If 12 million souls were lost, it means that there were 6 million couples who each had a minimum of 6 children. That’s 36 million saved Neshamas!
This may also define the praise Hashem mentioned of Klal Yisroel when it says “Zocharty Loch Chesed N’urayich-I remember the Chesed of your youth.” Following Hashem into the desert is not chesed. It’s Emunah. The Chesed of the Youth should rather refer to the Chesed performed towards the orphaned youth that were taken in after the plague of darkness.