ויעשו. טעם ויעשו על משה. בעבור שדבר לאהרן שיכה במטה. כדרך ומטך אשר הכית בו את היאור: AND THEY DID SO. And they did refers to Moses and Aaron. Moses is included because he told Aaron to smite the dust with the rod. Our verse is similar to and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thy hand (Ex. 17:5).
ותהי הכנם. שם המין. והמ"ם נוסף. או הוא תחת ה"א ואיננו שורש ולפעמים הוא סימן לשון נקבות כמו צפרדעים. כי האחת ותעל הצפרדע. והעד כנים ותהיה מלת הכנם זרה בעבור תוספת המ"ם כמו ריקם חנם. ויפת אמר כי המ"ם סימן למצריים. כי האחת הן מן כנים. כמו פת מפתים. וזו המלה כדרך בתוך האהלי. ואל תתמה בעבור שאמר כל עפר הארץ היה כנים בעבור שהכה במטה במקום אחד. כי כן היה דבר המים. ודבר השחין. כי הטעם הוא כי אז תחל המכה: AND THERE WERE GNATS. Kinnam (gnats) is a generic name.21The word kinnam presents a problem. The Hebrew word for gnat is kinnah; for gnats, kinnim. Hence our verse should have read kinnim or kinnah if a collective noun were employed. The mem of kinnam is either superfluous or in place of a heh.22I.E. suggests that our verse employs a collective noun and that the word for gnat is ken (a variant of kinnah), the mem in kinnam being superfluous. He then suggests that the word for gnat is kinnah, with a mem substituted for a heh. In any case, it is not a root letter. The mem sometimes serves as the sign of the feminine plural, as in the word tzefardi’im (frogs). This term is a feminine, for when referring to the singular Scripture reads, va-ta’al ha-tzefarde’a (and the frog came up) (Ex. 8:2).23Va-ta’al (came up) is a feminine verb. Thus tzefarde’a (frog), the noun which it governs, must also be feminine. Hence tzefardi’im (frogs) is a feminine plural. I.E. makes note of this because a mem suffixed to a noun usually indicates that a word is a masculine plural. The term kinnim is proof of the aforementioned.24That the mem of kinnam is not a root letter, for the plural of kinnah. is kinnim, not kinnamim According to this interpretation the word ha-kinnam is irregular because of its superfluous mem.25For the usual word for gnat is kinnah. It is similar to the word rekam (empty) and chinnam (gratuitous).26See Vol. 1, p. 306. However, Yefet says that the mem of kinnam is a pronominal suffix relating to the Egyptians.27In other words, kinnam (gnats) means their gnats, for kinnam is a combination of the noun ken (gnat) and the pronoun she-lahem (their). He claims that the singular of kinnim (gnats) is kan, in the same way that the singular of pittim (morsels) is pat (morsel). He also says that the word ha-kinnam is similar to the word ha-oholi (my tent) (Josh. 7:21).28Words that result from the combination of a noun and a pronoun do not usually have the definite article (ha) prefixed to it. Thus prima facie, ha-kinnam cannot mean their gnats. Hence Yefet points out that we occasionally do find the definite article prefixed to a noun combined with a pronoun, as in the word ha-oholi. Do not be amazed that Scripture records that after one spot was struck, all the dust of the earth became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.29I.E. assumes that this would strain some people’s credulity. Its meaning is that the plague then started.30In other words, all the dust of the earth did not turn to gnats the moment Aaron struck the earth. The same is true regarding the plagues of the water31All the rivers, streams, pools, and ponds of Egypt did not turn into blood the moment Aaron smote the waters that were in the river (Ex. 7:20). and the boils.32The boils did not break out upon all men and beasts the moment Moses threw the soot heavenward.