‘Daber el Bnei Yisroel veyoshvu veyachanu… veomar Phaorah levenei yisroel nevuchim heim boaretz’ ‘Speak to the Children of Israel and let them turn back and encamp…Pharaoh will say to the Children of Israel they are confined in the land’ (CH 14, V 2,3)
How could Pharaoh speak to the Children of Israel if they had already left Egypt?
Rashi explains it to means about the children of Israel instead of to the children of Israel.
Targum Yonason interprets the verse literally, ‘Pharaoh will say to Dosson and Avirom, the Children of Israel that remained behind in Egypt.
In the beginning of the parsha we are told that only a fifth off Jews came out of Egypt, the remaining four-fifths having died during the plague of darkness including those who didn’t want to leave Egypt. If Doson and Avirom remained in Egypt it must have meant they didn’t want to leave so why did they not die with the rest of the Jews? Secondly we know that these two people caused trouble with the Mon as well as joining in the rebellion of Korach, so when did they cross the sea and rejoin the Jews.
The Torah at the end of parshat Shemos tells us that Moshe and Aron asked Pharoh to let my people go, Pharaoh responded by making them work harder. He stopping giving them the straw to create bricks yet still demanded the same daily quota. It was the taskmasters job to educate the Jews about the new edict and take responsibility thus if the Jews couldn’t manage to complete their quota, the jewish guards got beaten. Doson and Avirom complained to Moshe and Aron that their interference had made it worse and that Hashem should judge them. The Medrash explains that Doson and Avirom were part of the Jewish guards who took beatings on behalf of the Jews, the reward being that they became the Elders of the nation .
Dosson and Avirom who had this tremendous zechus of being beaten for the sake of Bnei Israel, were not able to join and be part of the Elders of the Jews due to their wicked ways. When Pharaoh left Eygpt to bring back his slaves – the Jews, he took along Dosson and Avirom along with him. They crossed the sea together with the Egyptians but when the sea unsplit and the Egyptians drowned, in the merit of the beatings that Dosson and Avirom undertook for the sake of their brother jews, the Mahril Diskin explains that they were saved during the plague of darkness and Hashem made a second splitting of the sea just for them.
We can learn from here that although Dosson and Avirom were wicked and their relationship to God bein adam L’Makom was lacking/non-existent their bein adam lachavero was exemplary and this merited them to their own personal Keriat Yam suf. People who appear to be bad often have good points as it says ‘Poshei Yisrael are full of mitzvot like a rimon’ (Chagigah 27a) , unfortunately the merit of Dosson and Avirom’s good deeds didn’t save them in the end as they got involved in the conflict of Korach which led to their ultimate downfall.