We ask the following database query:
What are the characteristics of the 10 plagues?
The reader is encouraged to perform the query using a standard Biblical Konnkordance or search engine.
This database query yields the list below.
The list justifies the following Rashi inference:
The 10 plagues were delivered in military formation.
The 10 plagues punished Pharoh by sea(plagues #1,4), by land (plagues #2,5),
and by air (plagues #7,8). The 10 plagues punished Pharoh for making the
the Jews go through the three stages of non-citizenship mentioned at
Gn15-13 in the Convenant of cuts. Pharoh was punished for making
the Jews feel like non-citizens (#1,4,7), like slaves (#2,5,8)
and for inflicting pain (#3,6,9).
The list below presents the results of the database query.
||No Social Prominence
||Blood Non Ownership of Nile
||Frogs Embarassment in one's own house
||Lice Pure pain
||Animal mixtures Non ownership of your land
||Animal plagues Loss of Egyptian Prominence - Egypt known for horses
||Boils Pure pain
||Hail Non ownership of your air space
||Locusts Loss of Egyptian Prominence - Egypt exported flax
||Darkness /immobilization Pure pain
Just to clarify the use of the table we illustrate with the first plague, blood.
Recall that Moses was sent to free the Jews from Egypt. In his dialogue with Pharoh,
Moses, at the order of God, brought 10 plagues on Egypt. The plague of blood
consisted of turning the Nile river into blood. Thus this plague attacked Egypt by sea.
Furthermore the message in this plague was You do not even own your own Nile...if I,God,
want I will turn it into blood. So the plague of blood is the intersection of
the two parameters sea and non-citizenship.
The correspondences of Gn15-13 and the 3 sets of punishments should be clear:
- non-citizenship is punished by lack of ownership.
- slavery is punished by lack of honor and social prominence.
- pain is punished by pain.
While presented this Rashi this week someone asked my about the 10th plague, the plague
of the firstborn. Rav Hirsch points out that the plague of the firstborn combines aspects
of all three punishments:
- Lack of ownership: People don't own their own family (Their children die)
- Lack of Social Prominence: The eldest son who continues the family name, dies.
- Pure pain: Loss fo a child.
Rashi Hirsch, following Rashi, points out that because plagues #3,6,9, dealt with pure pain,
there was no warning to Pharoh. By contrast, plagues #1,2,4,5,7,8 were to educate Pharoh to his
lack of citizenship and his lack of social honor in God's world, and consequently, Moses was
told to prepare Pharoh for the plague by warning him.
Rashi Ex08-17b introduced the idea of the plagues being in military formation.
Rav Hirsch further developed this idea and corresponded the three sets of plagues
to the three stages of non-citizenship mentioned in the convenant of cuts at Gn15-13.
I introduced the idea that the Pain plagues were not by sea,land and air while
the non citizenship and slavery plagues were by sea,land and air.
Praise be Him who chose them and their learning.