A nice way to understand the story of Exodus is to see in it a lesson about soul leaving the body. “When Pharaoh sent the people away” is setting the stage, it means “When the soul (the people) is leaving the body”. Egypt – Mitzraim – means “boundaries,” and Pharaoh – Oreph (neck) – means body that is stubborn and stiff-necked. At this time, the Evil forces (the people's tormentors) are pursuing the soul (which is spiritual and thus never gets sullied), and want to harm it. These are the same materialistic evil inclinations that seduce the soul, they are the ones that cause its demise, and they are the ones that accuse it later on.
And God strengthened the heart of Pharaoh, and he pursued the people and overcame them, encamped at the sea, “chonim al ha yam” - means Gehinnom, and that is the “sea,” or the stream, by the name of Dinor. Now when the Pharaoh approached them, they “were very afraid of suffering and cried out to God.” They then said to Moses, “Why did you have to take us out of Egypt? Wasn't there enough graves there?” This means, “We don't want to die. We had enough trouble in this earthly existence, and now we are subjected to the cleansing in the grave! We were better off with in our known troubles during lifetime, than flying to others, that we know not of.”
On the contrary, the righteous always desire to die (that is, in this world, and to live in the next one, the world of Truth). With this, one can understand the three days of darkness, which correspond to the travel from “Migdol” to “Pi Chirot” - from “Tower” to “Freedom.”
Moses, who represents man's good potential, told them, “Do not be afraid (of the punishment), because it is for your own good.” Moses continued “You will not see your tormentors ever again” – they will stay in the sea – which is the stream of Dinor. After you are cleansed in Gehinnom, you will not see your bad part again.
Art: Ferdinand Hodler - A Troubled Soul