ויאמר. דע כי על יד אהרן היו השלש המכות הראשונות. והאותות היו בשפלים כמו שפירשתי למעלה. כי השתים היו במים והשלישית בעפר הארץ. והמכות שהיו על יד משה במטה היו בעליונים. כמו שמעלתו עליונה ממעלת אהרן. כמו מכת הברד והארבה שהרוח הביאם והחשך שהיה באויר גם מכת השחין היתה על ידו. רק שלש בלא מטה והם ערוב ודבר ומכת בכורים. ואחת בלא מטה ע"י משה. ומעט שיתוף לאהרן והיא מכת השחין: AND THE LORD SAID. Note that the first three plagues and signs which Aaron brought about pertained to the lowest elements,15For the four elements, see Vol. 1, p. 74, note 53. as I have explained previously, since two were related to water and one to the dust of the earth. However, the plagues brought about by Moses with his rod related to a higher element. This was so because Moses was on a higher plane than Aaron. Thus the hail and the locusts were brought by the wind, and the darkness was in the air.16Air (wind) was believed to be a higher element. Moses also brought about the plague of boils.17It was Moses who threw the soot of the furnace heavenward and caused boils to break out upon man and beast. See Ex. 9:10. This plague entailed the element of air. However, three plagues came about without the use of the rod, namely, the swarms of beasts, murrain, and the death of the first-born.18These three plagues did not entail any interaction with any of the elements. Thus Aaron brought three plagues via the rod, i.e., blood, frogs, and gnats. Moses similarly brought three plagues via the use of the rod, i.e., hail, locusts, and darkness. One plague was brought jointly by Moses and Aaron without the use of the rod, i.e., the plague of boils. Three other plagues came about without any action by Moses and Aaron, i.e., the swarms of beasts, (J.P.S. renders swarms of flies), murrain, and the death of the first-born. One plague, that of the boils, was brought about by Moses with Aaron’s minor participation and without the use of the rod.
טעם והיה לכנם. כמו והיה לאבק כאילו בעפר שיכה אהרן יעלה ויוליד כנים בכל ארץ מצרים: [THAT IT MAY BECOME GNATS THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND OF EGYPT.] This is similar in meaning to And it shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt (Ex. 9:9).19The lamed prefixed to kinnim does not mean to, but for, i.e.; le-kinnim does not mean to gnats but for gnats, that is, so that gnats will result. Similarly, le-afar does not mean to dust but for dust, i.e., so that dust will result. I.E. comments thus because the lamed usually has the meaning of to. The dust which Aaron struck gave birth, as it were, to gnats which went up over all the land of Egypt.20Our verse does not teach that the dust literally turned into gnats. It only seemed so.