Ten Plagues and Why
1 א
  1. Introducing the concept of the Ten Plagues, wonders vs calamities

    1. Divided into 3 categories DA'TZ'CH, A"DA"SH, BA"A"CH", BECHOROT

    2. Destroying their gods/ Domain of Hashem/ Unity of Hashem-Ramban, Malbim

  2. Purpose of plagues

    1. Egyptians

      1. Punishment, measure for measure

      2. Revelation of G-d.

    2. Jews
  3. Conclusion
2 ב
(ג) ראה נתתיך אלקים לפרעה - לך והפרע ממנו. אמר לו היאך אביא עליו עשר מכות? אמר לו (שמות ד, יז): ואת המטה הזה תקח בידך. אמר רבי יהודה: המטה משקל ארבעים סאה היה, ושל סנפרינון היה, ועשר מכות חקוקות עליו נוטריקון: דצ"ך עד"ש באח"ב.

Go and enact retribution from him. He said how will I bring ten plagues? So He said to him (Ex. D, Q): take in your hand this staff. Rabbi Judah said, The staff weighed forty SeAH and was made of Saffire, and ten plagues were engraved on it as an acronym: Dtz"c Adash Bah"b.

3 ג

Why were the waters first transformed into blood? Because Pharoah and the Egyptians worshipped the Nile. Said the Holy One Blessed be He: I shall strike first his God, and then his nation! As the saying goes, Strike the God, and the priests will tremble!

Midrash, Shemot (Exodus) Rabbah, 9,8

4 ד
(כא) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁה֒ בְּלֶכְתְּךָ֙ לָשׁ֣וּב מִצְרַ֔יְמָה רְאֵ֗ה כָּל־הַמֹּֽפְתִים֙ אֲשֶׁר־שַׂ֣מְתִּי בְיָדֶ֔ךָ וַעֲשִׂיתָ֖ם לִפְנֵ֣י פַרְעֹ֑ה וַאֲנִי֙ אֲחַזֵּ֣ק אֶת־לִבּ֔וֹ וְלֹ֥א יְשַׁלַּ֖ח אֶת־הָעָֽם׃

(21) And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘When thou goest back into Egypt, see that thou do before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in thy hand; but I will harden his heart, and he will not let the people go.

5 ה
(ו) לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנִי ה' וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים. (ז) וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם לִי לְעָם וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹקִים וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם הַמּוֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלוֹת מִצְרָיִם. (ח) וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת יָדִי לָתֵת אֹתָהּ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב וְנָתַתִּי אֹתָהּ לָכֶם מוֹרָשָׁה אֲנִי ה'.

(6) Wherefore say unto the children of Israel: I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments; (7) and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and YOU shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (8) And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for a heritage: I am the LORD.’

6 ו
(א) וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה רְאֵה נְתַתִּיךָ אֱלֹקִים לְפַרְעֹה וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ יִהְיֶה נְבִיאֶךָ.

(1) And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘See, I have set thee in God’s stead to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

7 ז
(ה) וְיָדְעוּ מִצְרַיִם כִּי אֲנִי ה' בִּנְטֹתִי אֶת יָדִי עַל מִצְרָיִם וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִתּוֹכָם.
(5) And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth My hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.’
8 ח
(יז) כֹּה אָמַר ה' בְּזֹאת תֵּדַע כִּי אֲנִי ה' הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי מַכֶּה בַּמַּטֶּה אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדִי עַל הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר בַּיְאֹר וְנֶהֶפְכוּ לְדָם.

(17) thus saith the LORD: In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD—behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.

9 ט
(יט) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֱמֹ֣ר אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֡ן קַ֣ח מַטְּךָ֣ וּנְטֵֽה־יָדְךָ֩ עַל־מֵימֵ֨י מִצְרַ֜יִם עַֽל־נַהֲרֹתָ֣ם ׀ עַל־יְאֹרֵיהֶ֣ם וְעַל־אַגְמֵיהֶ֗ם וְעַ֛ל כָּל־מִקְוֵ֥ה מֵימֵיהֶ֖ם וְיִֽהְיוּ־דָ֑ם וְהָ֤יָה דָם֙ בְּכָל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם וּבָעֵצִ֖ים וּבָאֲבָנִֽים׃ (כ) וַיַּֽעֲשׂוּ־כֵן֩ מֹשֶׁ֨ה וְאַהֲרֹ֜ן כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר ׀ צִוָּ֣ה ה' וַיָּ֤רֶם בַּמַּטֶּה֙ וַיַּ֤ךְ אֶת־הַמַּ֙יִם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּיְאֹ֔ר לְעֵינֵ֣י פַרְעֹ֔ה וּלְעֵינֵ֖י עֲבָדָ֑יו וַיֵּהָֽפְכ֛וּ כָּל־הַמַּ֥יִם אֲשֶׁר־בַּיְאֹ֖ר לְדָֽם׃ (כא) וְהַדָּגָ֨ה אֲשֶׁר־בַּיְאֹ֥ר מֵ֙תָה֙ וַיִּבְאַ֣שׁ הַיְאֹ֔ר וְלֹא־יָכְל֣וּ מִצְרַ֔יִם לִשְׁתּ֥וֹת מַ֖יִם מִן־הַיְאֹ֑ר וַיְהִ֥י הַדָּ֖ם בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (כב) וַיַּֽעֲשׂוּ־כֵ֛ן חַרְטֻמֵּ֥י מִצְרַ֖יִם בְּלָטֵיהֶ֑ם וַיֶּחֱזַ֤ק לֵב־פַּרְעֹה֙ וְלֹא־שָׁמַ֣ע אֲלֵקֶ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר ה'

(19) And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Say unto Aaron: Take thy rod, and stretch out thy hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’ (20) And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. (21) And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt. (22) And the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken.

10 י
(יח) וְהִפְלֵיתִי בַיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן אֲשֶׁר עַמִּי עֹמֵד עָלֶיהָ לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת שָׁם עָרֹב לְמַעַן תֵּדַע כִּי אֲנִי ה' בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ.

(18) And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end that thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.

11 יא
(יד) כִּי בַּפַּעַם הַזֹּאת אֲנִי שֹׁלֵחַ אֶת כָּל מַגֵּפֹתַי אֶל לִבְּךָ וּבַעֲבָדֶיךָ וּבְעַמֶּךָ בַּעֲבוּר תֵּדַע כִּי אֵין כָּמֹנִי בְּכָל הָאָרֶץ.

(14) For I will this time send all My plagues upon thy person, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like Me in all the earth.

12 יב
(א) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁה֒ אֱמֹ֣ר אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן נְטֵ֤ה אֶת־יָדְךָ֙ בְּמַטֶּ֔ךָ עַל־הַ֨נְּהָרֹ֔ת עַל־הַיְאֹרִ֖ים וְעַל־הָאֲגַמִּ֑ים וְהַ֥עַל אֶת־הַֽצְפַרְדְּעִ֖ים עַל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (ב) וַיֵּ֤ט אַהֲרֹן֙ אֶת־יָד֔וֹ עַ֖ל מֵימֵ֣י מִצְרָ֑יִם וַתַּ֙עַל֙ הַצְּפַרְדֵּ֔עַ וַתְּכַ֖ס אֶת־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (ג) וַיַּֽעֲשׂוּ־כֵ֥ן הַֽחֲרְטֻמִּ֖ים בְּלָטֵיהֶ֑ם וַיַּעֲל֥וּ אֶת־הַֽצְפַרְדְּעִ֖ים עַל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (ד) וַיִּקְרָ֨א פַרְעֹ֜ה לְמֹשֶׁ֣ה וּֽלְאַהֲרֹ֗ן וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ הַעְתִּ֣ירוּ אֶל־ה' וְיָסֵר֙ הַֽצְפַרְדְּעִ֔ים מִמֶּ֖נִּי וּמֵֽעַמִּ֑י וַאֲשַׁלְּחָה֙ אֶת־הָעָ֔ם וְיִזְבְּח֖וּ לַה'
(1) And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Say unto Aaron: Stretch forth thy hand with thy rod over the rivers, over the canals, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.’ (2) And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. (3) And the magicians did in like manner with their secret arts, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. (4) Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said: ‘Entreat the LORD, that He take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice unto the LORD.’
13 יג
(יג) וַיַּֽעֲשׂוּ־כֵ֗ן וַיֵּט֩ אַהֲרֹ֨ן אֶת־יָד֤וֹ בְמַטֵּ֙הוּ֙ וַיַּךְ֙ אֶת־עֲפַ֣ר הָאָ֔רֶץ וַתְּהִי֙ הַכִּנָּ֔ם בָּאָדָ֖ם וּבַבְּהֵמָ֑ה כָּל־עֲפַ֥ר הָאָ֛רֶץ הָיָ֥ה כִנִּ֖ים בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (יד) וַיַּעֲשׂוּ־כֵ֨ן הַחַרְטֻמִּ֧ים בְּלָטֵיהֶ֛ם לְהוֹצִ֥יא אֶת־הַכִּנִּ֖ים וְלֹ֣א יָכֹ֑לוּ וַתְּהִי֙ הַכִּנָּ֔ם בָּאָדָ֖ם וּבַבְּהֵמָֽה׃
(13) And they did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and there were gnats upon man, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt. (14) And the magicians did so with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; and there were gnats upon man, and upon beast.
14 יד
(ג) הִנֵּ֨ה יַד־ה' הוֹיָ֗ה בְּמִקְנְךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה בַּסּוּסִ֤ים בַּֽחֲמֹרִים֙ בַּגְּמַלִּ֔ים בַּבָּקָ֖ר וּבַצֹּ֑אן דֶּ֖בֶר כָּבֵ֥ד מְאֹֽד׃ (ד) וְהִפְלָ֣ה ה' בֵּ֚ין מִקְנֵ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּבֵ֖ין מִקְנֵ֣ה מִצְרָ֑יִם וְלֹ֥א יָמ֛וּת מִכָּל־לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל דָּבָֽר׃ (ה) וַיָּ֥שֶׂם ה' מוֹעֵ֣ד לֵאמֹ֑ר מָחָ֗ר יַעֲשֶׂ֧ה ה' הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּ֖ה בָּאָֽרֶץ׃ (ו) וַיַּ֨עַשׂ ה' אֶת־הַדָּבָ֤ר הַזֶּה֙ מִֽמָּחֳרָ֔ת וַיָּ֕מָת כֹּ֖ל מִקְנֵ֣ה מִצְרָ֑יִם וּמִמִּקְנֵ֥ה בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֹא־מֵ֥ת אֶחָֽד׃ (ז) וַיִּשְׁלַ֣ח פַּרְעֹ֔ה וְהִנֵּ֗ה לֹא־מֵ֛ת מִמִּקְנֵ֥ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עַד־אֶחָ֑ד וַיִּכְבַּד֙ לֵ֣ב פַּרְעֹ֔ה וְלֹ֥א שִׁלַּ֖ח אֶת־הָעָֽם׃ (פ)

(3) behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which are in the field, upon the horses, upon the donkeys, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks; there shall be a very grievous murrain. (4) And the LORD shall make a division between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there shall nothing die of all that belongeth to the children of Israel.’ (5) And the LORD appointed a set time, saying: ‘Tomorrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.’ (6) And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. (7) And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go.

15 טו
(ח) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹן֒ קְח֤וּ לָכֶם֙ מְלֹ֣א חָפְנֵיכֶ֔ם פִּ֖יחַ כִּבְשָׁ֑ן וּזְרָק֥וֹ מֹשֶׁ֛ה הַשָּׁמַ֖יְמָה לְעֵינֵ֥י פַרְעֹֽה׃ (ט) וְהָיָ֣ה לְאָבָ֔ק עַ֖ל כָּל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וְהָיָ֨ה עַל־הָאָדָ֜ם וְעַל־הַבְּהֵמָ֗ה לִשְׁחִ֥ין פֹּרֵ֛חַ אֲבַעְבֻּעֹ֖ת בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (י) וַיִּקְח֞וּ אֶת־פִּ֣יחַ הַכִּבְשָׁ֗ן וַיַּֽעַמְדוּ֙ לִפְנֵ֣י פַרְעֹ֔ה וַיִּזְרֹ֥ק אֹת֛וֹ מֹשֶׁ֖ה הַשָּׁמָ֑יְמָה וַיְהִ֗י שְׁחִין֙ אֲבַעְבֻּעֹ֔ת פֹּרֵ֕חַ בָּאָדָ֖ם וּבַבְּהֵמָֽה׃

(8) And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron: ‘Take to you handfuls of soot of the furnace, and let Moses throw it heavenward in the sight of Pharaoh. (9) And it shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.’ (10) And they took soot of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses threw it up heavenward; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast.

16 טז
(טו) כִּ֤י עַתָּה֙ שָׁלַ֣חְתִּי אֶת־יָדִ֔י וָאַ֥ךְ אוֹתְךָ֛ וְאֶֽת־עַמְּךָ֖ בַּדָּ֑בֶר וַתִּכָּחֵ֖ד מִן־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (טז) וְאוּלָ֗ם בַּעֲב֥וּר זֹאת֙ הֶעֱמַדְתִּ֔יךָ בַּעֲב֖וּר הַרְאֹתְךָ֣ אֶת־כֹּחִ֑י וּלְמַ֛עַן סַפֵּ֥ר שְׁמִ֖י בְּכָל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יז) עוֹדְךָ֖ מִסְתּוֹלֵ֣ל בְּעַמִּ֑י לְבִלְתִּ֖י שַׁלְּחָֽם׃
(15) Surely now I had put forth My hand, and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou hadst been cut off from the earth. (16) But in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth. (17) As yet exaltest thou thyself against My people, that thou wilt not let them go?
17 יז
(יג) וַיֵּ֨ט מֹשֶׁ֣ה אֶת־מַטֵּהוּ֮ עַל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַיִם֒ וַֽה' נִהַ֤ג ר֥וּחַ קָדִים֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ כָּל־הַיּ֥וֹם הַה֖וּא וְכָל־הַלָּ֑יְלָה הַבֹּ֣קֶר הָיָ֔ה וְר֙וּחַ֙ הַקָּדִ֔ים נָשָׂ֖א אֶת־הָאַרְבֶּֽה׃ (יד) וַיַּ֣עַל הָֽאַרְבֶּ֗ה עַ֚ל כָּל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַיָּ֕נַח בְּכֹ֖ל גְּב֣וּל מִצְרָ֑יִם כָּבֵ֣ד מְאֹ֔ד לְ֠פָנָיו לֹא־הָ֨יָה כֵ֤ן אַרְבֶּה֙ כָּמֹ֔הוּ וְאַחֲרָ֖יו לֹ֥א יִֽהְיֶה־כֵּֽן׃
(13) And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all the night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. (14) And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the borders of Egypt; very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.
18 יח
(יז) עוֹדְךָ֖ מִסְתּוֹלֵ֣ל בְּעַמִּ֑י לְבִלְתִּ֖י שַׁלְּחָֽם׃ (יח) הִנְנִ֤י מַמְטִיר֙ כָּעֵ֣ת מָחָ֔ר בָּרָ֖ד כָּבֵ֣ד מְאֹ֑ד אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹא־הָיָ֤ה כָמֹ֙הוּ֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם לְמִן־הַיּ֥וֹם הִוָּסְדָ֖ה וְעַד־עָֽתָּה׃ (יט) וְעַתָּ֗ה שְׁלַ֤ח הָעֵז֙ אֶֽת־מִקְנְךָ֔ וְאֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְךָ֖ בַּשָּׂדֶ֑ה כָּל־הָאָדָ֨ם וְהַבְּהֵמָ֜ה אֲשֶֽׁר־יִמָּצֵ֣א בַשָּׂדֶ֗ה וְלֹ֤א יֵֽאָסֵף֙ הַבַּ֔יְתָה וְיָרַ֧ד עֲלֵהֶ֛ם הַבָּרָ֖ד וָמֵֽתוּ׃ (כ) הַיָּרֵא֙ אֶת־דְּבַ֣ר ה' מֵֽעַבְדֵ֖י פַּרְעֹ֑ה הֵנִ֛יס אֶת־עֲבָדָ֥יו וְאֶת־מִקְנֵ֖הוּ אֶל־הַבָּתִּֽים׃ (כא) וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־שָׂ֛ם לִבּ֖וֹ אֶל־דְּבַ֣ר ה' וַֽיַּעֲזֹ֛ב אֶת־עֲבָדָ֥יו וְאֶת־מִקְנֵ֖הוּ בַּשָּׂדֶֽה׃ (פ) (כב) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁה נְטֵ֤ה אֶת־יָֽדְךָ֙ עַל־הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וִיהִ֥י בָרָ֖ד בְּכָל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם עַל־הָאָדָ֣ם וְעַל־הַבְּהֵמָ֗ה וְעַ֛ל כָּל־עֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃
(17) As yet exaltest thou thyself against My people, that thou wilt not let them go? (18) Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. (19) Now therefore send, hasten in thy cattle and all that thou hast in the field; for every man and beast that shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.’ (20) He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses; (21) and he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field. (22) And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Stretch forth thy hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.’
19 יט
(כא) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה נְטֵ֤ה יָֽדְךָ֙ עַל־הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וִ֥יהִי חֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וְיָמֵ֖שׁ חֹֽשֶׁךְ׃ (כב) וַיֵּ֥ט מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־יָד֖וֹ עַל־הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וַיְהִ֧י חֹֽשֶׁךְ־אֲפֵלָ֛ה בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים׃ (כג) לֹֽא־רָא֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־אָחִ֗יו וְלֹא־קָ֛מוּ אִ֥ישׁ מִתַּחְתָּ֖יו שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים וּֽלְכָל־בְּנֵ֧י יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל הָ֥יָה א֖וֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבֹתָֽם׃
(21) And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Stretch out thy hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.’ (22) And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days; (23) they saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
20 כ
(כח) וַיֵּלְכ֥וּ וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֖וּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֧ה ה' אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֥ה וְאַהֲרֹ֖ן כֵּ֥ן עָשֽׂוּ׃ (ס) (כט) וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּחֲצִ֣י הַלַּ֗יְלָה וַֽה' הִכָּ֣ה כָל־בְּכוֹר֮ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַיִם֒ מִבְּכֹ֤ר פַּרְעֹה֙ הַיֹּשֵׁ֣ב עַל־כִּסְא֔וֹ עַ֚ד בְּכ֣וֹר הַשְּׁבִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּבֵ֣ית הַבּ֑וֹר וְכֹ֖ל בְּכ֥וֹר בְּהֵמָֽה׃ (ל) וַיָּ֨קָם פַּרְעֹ֜ה לַ֗יְלָה ה֤וּא וְכָל־עֲבָדָיו֙ וְכָל־מִצְרַ֔יִם וַתְּהִ֛י צְעָקָ֥ה גְדֹלָ֖ה בְּמִצְרָ֑יִם כִּֽי־אֵ֣ין בַּ֔יִת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵֽין־שָׁ֖ם מֵֽת׃
(28) And the children of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. (29) And it came to pass at midnight, that the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the first-born of cattle. (30) And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
21כא

אור גדליהו פרשת בא: כי בכל מאמר נשתלשל אורו ית' למטה, ונכנס לתוך הסתר יותר, והמכות באו לגלות ולהסיר זה ההסתר, ולכן שחושבים ממטה למעלה שמכה הראשונה הוא כנגד המאמר העשירית, הי' יכול במכה אחת לענוש המצריים, וכן מצינו כתוב אצל מכת ברד שכתיב "כי בפעם הזאת אני שלח את כל מגפתי אל לבך וגו' ואולם בעבור זאת העמדתיך בעבור הראתך וגו' ולמען ספר שמי בכל הארץ"

The Ten Sayings of Creation were a process whereby an initial creation of light was successively brought down further and further, the light becoming more and more hidden. The ten plagues came to reveal these layers of hiddenness, working in reverse.

22 כב

Rebbe Yehuda gave the ten plagues an acronym DeTzaCh, ADaSh, BaChAB

23כג

מלבי“ם הסדר הראשון בא לברר מציות ה‘ שפרעה כחש בו ויאמר לא הוא כמ“ש מי ה‘ אשר אשמע בקולו...

Malbim: The first set of three plagues [blood, frogs, and lice] was to demonstrate the reality and existence of God [alluded to in the verse: “Know that I am God”]. This was due to the fact that Pharaoh denied God’s existence when he said, “Who is God, that I should listen to His voice?” (Shemot 5:2)

24כד

ובאשר סדר הזה השני של עד“ש בא לברר פנת ההשגחה, שפרעה לא האמין שה‘ העליון משגיח ”בקרב הארץ“ בהשגחה פרטית, וכמ“ש לְ מַ עַ ן תֵּ דַ ע כִּ י אֲ נִ י ה‘ בְּ קֶ רֶ ב הָ אָ רֶ ץ.

Malbim: The second set of three plagues [wild animals, epidemic, and boils] demonstrated God’s Providence. Pharaoh did not believe that the Supreme God supervises each person and event individually – “in the midst of the land.” This demonstration of God’s Providence is alluded to in the verse, “So that you shall know that I am God in the midst of the land.”

25כה

באר יוסף: ולכן אמר ג“כ, תשחת ”הארץ“ מפני הערוב, היינו ששינוי האויר המשתנה בכל שעה ורגע מקור לחום ומחום לקור, היא השחתה הארץ, וכידוע ששינוי האויר הפתאומי והתחלפתו התדירית מזיק להביא חליים רעים ומשחית את הארץ.

Be’er Yosef: Therefore, when the verse states “[a severe swarm of wild animals came] … and the land was being destroyed because of the swarm” [Shemot 8:20], it is referring to the suddenly changing weather and temperatures that accompanied each animal, from cold to hot, and hot to cold. This caused the “destruction of the land,” since drastic changes in climate conditions, from one extreme to the other, cause the spread of disease and physical damage to the soil and ground.

26 כו

(1) Blood: Why did the Holy One bring a plague of blood? It was measure for measure. God said to Abraham: “The nation that you served I shall judge.” (Genesis 15) Since the Egyptians did not allow the daughters of Israel to immerse themselves in water to be purified from their impurity so that they could fulfill the commandment of “Be fruitful and multiply, so God punished them with water.

27כז

5 ע"פ המדרש רבה יד לפי רב יהודה שם שהחושך היה מחושך של מעלה ... וידוע בדברי האריז"ל שחושך שלמעלה הוא מחמת רב האור קדוש ונעלה שאין התחתונים יכולין לקבלו ע"ש

Both the Shem Mishmuel and the Nesivos Shalom state that the darkness was a revelation of a hidden light too powerful to be seen and therefore blinding . Moshe was ordered to reach up to great spiritual heights and bring down a light that would only be good for someone who was very spiritual . For the impure Egyptians, this was a great darkness .

28 כח

Both the plague of Boils and pestillence furthered the idea to Pharoh that Hashem is not only the ruler of the elements or large scale things such a the Nile river or the earth, rather Hashem is invested into the smallest microbe and bacterium for they all fall under the kindom of Hashem.

29כט

יהי חשך אפלה שלשת ימים וגו': חשך של אופל שלא ראו איש את אחיו אותן שלשת ימים. ועוד שלשת ימים אחרים חשך מוכפל על זה, שלא קמו איש מתחתיו. יושב אין יכול לעמוד, ועומד אין יכול לישב. ולמה הביא עליהם חשך, שהיו בישראל באותו הדור רשעים, ולא היו רוצים לצאת, ומתו בשלשת ימי אפלה כדי שלא יראו מצרים במפלתם ויאמרו אף הן לוקין כמונו. ועוד שחפשו ישראל וראו את כליהם, וכשיצאו והיו שואלין מהן והיו אומרים אין בידינו כלום אומר לו אני ראיתיו בביתך ובמקום פלוני הוא:

and there was thick darkness… for three days, etc.: Thick darkness in which they did not see each other for those three days, and another three days of darkness twice as dark as this, so that no one rose from his place. If he was sitting, he was unable to stand, and if he was standing, he was unable to sit. Now why did He bring darkness upon them [the Egyptians]? Because there were among the Israelites in that generation wicked people who did not want to leave [Egypt]. They died during the three days of darkness, so that the Egyptians would not see their downfall and say, “They too are being smitten like us.” Also, the Israelites searched [the Egyptians’ dwellings during the darkness] and saw their [own] belongings. When they were leaving [Egypt] and asked [for some of their things], and they [the Egyptians] said, “We have nothing,” he [the Israelite] would say to him, “I saw it in your house, and it is in such and such a place.” -[from Jonathan; Tanchuma, Bo 3; Tanchuma, Va’era 14; Tanchuma Buber, Bo 3]

30 ל

“I am He Who discerned in Egypt between the drop of seed which conceived a first-born and one which did not conceive a first-born” (Bava Metziah 61b).

31 לא

Rabbi Avigdor Miller, A Nation is Born, p. 81 – The plagues each contained lessons about God. The Ten Plagues were Ten Tests of Israel, whether they would properly learn the lessons of the plagues. All the plagues had common lessons, in addition to the individual purpose of each plague. Among the general lessons of all the plagues were the following: • In order to know God, meaning: to gain more awareness of God • In order to demonstrate that Israel was God’s chosen people, “set apart” from Egypt and all the nations • In order to demonstrate the emptiness of the worship of false gods that were unable to protect even themselves • In order to engender in Israel a powerful emotion of gratitude so that they would eagerly accept the Torah at Sinai and remain loyal to it forever

32 לב

Plague

Attribute of God

Physical Location

1. Blood (דם)

Of the first nine plagues, the first set of three demonstrated the existence of God – in response to Pharaoh’s denial of God (Shemot 7:17, Malbim)

The first set of plagues came from below, from the water and the earth, and being a lesser form of plague, they were performed by Aharon (Shemot 7:17, 7:28, 8:12; Tosafos on the Haggadah)

2. Frogs (צפרדע)

3. Lice (כִנִם)

4. Wild Animals (עֹרב)

The second set demonstrated God’s Providence and control of all the world’s details – in response to Pharaoh’s claim that even if God exists He has no authority over the world (Shemot 8:18, Malbim).

The second set of plagues came from above the ground and from the air, and being a higher form of plague they were performed by Moshe (Shemot 8:17, 9:3, 9:9; Tosafos on the Haggadah)

5. Epidemic (דבר)

6. Boils (שחין)

7. Hail (ברד)

The third set demonstrated that God’s power is absolute and unparalleled – in response to Pharaoh’s claim that even if God has powers, other gods have equal powers (Shemot 9:14, Malbim).

The last four came from the sky, being the highest form of plague, they were performed by God Himself (Shemot 9:18, 10:4, 10:21, 12:12; Tosafos on the Haggadah)

8. Locusts (ארבה)

9. Darkness (חֹשך)

10. Death of the firstborn (מכת בכורות)

The tenth plague signifies God’s direct control over life and death (Chaye Olam Vol. I, 15).

33לג

ִּ י בַּ פַּ עַ ם הַ זּ ֹאת אֲ נִ י שׁ ֹלֵ חַ אֶ ת כָּ ל מַ גֵּ פֹתַ י אֶ ל לִ בְּ ךָ וּ בַ עֲ בָ דֶ יךָ וּ בְ עַ מֶּ ךָ בַּ עֲ בוּ ר תֵּ דַ ע כִּ י אֵ ין כָּ מֹנִ י בְּ כָ ל הָ אָ רֶ ץ. מלבי“ם הודיע לו שזה הסדר השלישי של המכות שיביא עליו, תכליתו הוא לברר לו פנה השלישית שה‘ לו היכולת המוחלט מאין כמוהו, שהגם שכבר ברר מציות ה‘ ושה‘ משגיח בקרב הארץ, היה פרעה חושב שנמצאו עוד אלוקים זולתו השולטים בארץ ושלפעמים ינחצו אותו ... כדי לברר הפנה הזאת ”בַּ עֲ בוּ ר תֵּ דַ ע כִּ י אֵ ין כָּ מֹנִ י בְּ כָ ל הָ אָ רֶ ץ“.

For this time I will send all My plagues against your heart, and upon your servants, and your people, so that you will know that there is none like Me in the entire world. Malbim: Moshe was being instructed to tell Pharaoh that the purpose of the third set of plagues [hail, locusts, and darkness] was to demonstrate that God has absolute and unparalleled power and ability. Even though God’s existence and Providence were already demonstrated, Pharaoh still thought that there existed other gods and powers, who might sometimes overpower God … This point is alluded to in the verse, “So that you will know