The climax principle asserts that a sequence of similar phrases
should be interpreted climactically even if the words
and grammatical constructs used do not directly suggest this. That is
the fact of the sequence justifies
reading into the Biblical text
a climactic interpretation
even if no other textual source justifies it. For this reason we consider
the climax method a distinct and separate method.
the plague of Frogs
is written in a climactic manner as shown. For convenience
we have inserted the Rashi comments clarifying the nature of the climax
...the frogs will come to your house
your slave and national houses
We would expect the frogs to start in the slave houses and
then filter up to the palace but the Bible states that
the frogs will start with the palace since Pharoh,
not the people, instigated the enslavement of the Jews
(Ex01-08. So the climax here is that the frogs
started with Pharoh who instigated the enslavement of Jews and
finished by entering even the slave houses (who were merely
implementing Pharoh's orders))
your ovens and troughs
you yourself, your body
Advanced Rashi: A careful reading of Rashi shows two climaxes
- There is the climax that the frogs entered a) house, b) bedroom,
c) bed, d) ovens/bread troughs e) you, meaning you yourself, entering the body.
- There is a second climax: a) you b) your nation/slaves. Rashi explains that
although we might expect frogs to start in poorly kept slave houses they instead
started in the palace because Pharoh, not the people or staff, instigated
the enslavement of Jews Ex01-08.
We should emphasize that driving force behind Rashi is the climax.
That is Rashi is not being exegetical on the extra word ..in you
your nation and slaves. For it is not the extraness of the word in you
but rather the position and sequence of the word in you. The position of
the word in you coming after house, bedroom, bed, stoves implies in you
yourself, in your body. This is in fact the essence of the climax method which
infers interpretation based on position.
To appreciate Rashi we should be aware of an Egyptian torture practice. A small
animal (frog, rat) was placed on the stomach of a slave. A hot metallic cover was
then placed on the animal. The animal, to avoid the heat, would then start eating
away from the plate into the body of the slave. The animal would start eating the insides
of the slave. Thus the plague of frogs with frogs literally entering the bodies of the
Egyptians should be considered a punishment for slave torture practices.