The word repent in Exodus 13:17, the Hebrew translation of 5162 nacham, which means to be sorry, console oneself.
nacham: to be sorry, console oneself
Original Word: נָחַם
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (naw-kham’)
Definition: to be sorry, console oneself
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent (5162) when they see war, and they return to Egypt: – Exodus 13:17
Exodus 13:17 in context
11 And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, 12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S. 13 And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. 14 And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: 15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16 And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.
17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.
Pharaoh was hard hearted to let God’s people go, and the LORD repeatedly had to cause destruction to the Egyptians, and in this instance in His anger He slew all of the firstborn of man and beast in the land of Egypt. This was to show the strength of the LORD God and when Pharaoh had let the people go, GOD didn’t want His people to see the war and return to Egypt. Repent as a change of mind is only relevant in the New Testament, so many modern translations of the bible write this word repent in the King James Bible as a ‘change of mind’, but this is not what the verse says. God didn’t want His people to feel sorrowful (repent) about seeing war and return to Egypt because of fear. He wanted them to continue in faith through the help of Moses.