420. "And Hashem said to Moses, 'Pass before the people...'" (Shemot 17:5). Rabbi Chiya opened the discussion, saying: "The angel of Hashem encamps round about those who fear Him, and He delivers them" (Tehilim 34:8). Blessed are the Righteous, for the Holy One, blessed be He, cares about their honor more than His own. Come and behold, how many people in the world revile and blaspheme towards above, like Sancheriv who reviled and blasphemed, saying, "Which of all Elohim of the countries..." (II Melachim, 18:35). And the Holy One, blessed be He, forgave and did not order to punish him. As soon as he stretched out his hand against Chizkiyah, it is written "that the angel of Hashem went out and smote in the camp of Ashur (Assyria)..." (II Melachim 19:35).
421. Jerobaam, the son of Nevat, worshipped idols, sacrificed to them, and offered to them, yet the Holy One, blessed be He, did not order to punish him. But when Ido the prophet came and prophesied against Him, and Jerobaam stretched out his hand against him, it is written, "And his hand...dried up, so that he could not draw it back to him" (I Melachim 13:4).
422. Pharaoh reviled and blasphemed and said, "Who is Hashem" (Shemot 5:2). Yet the Holy One, blessed be He, did not punish him until he refused to send out Yisrael, as it is written, "If as yet you do exalt yourself against My people" (Shemot 9:17). "FOR IF YOU REFUSE TO LET THEM GO, behold, the hand of Hashem is upon the cattle" (Ibid. 2-3). So the Holy One, blessed be He, always avenges the honor of the righteous more than His own.
423. Here Moses said, "They are almost ready to stone me" (Shemot 17:4). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, Now is not the time to avenge your honor, Moses. Rather, "pass before the people," and we shall see who will stretch out his hand against you. Is it with their permission that you stand or with my permission?!