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The Ten Plagues

The Ten Plagues


1 - Blood

When Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to: liberate the children of Israel, Moses and Aaron warned him that G‑d would punish both him and his people. First, the waters of the land of Egypt were to be turned into blood. Moses walked with Aaron to the brink of the river. There Aaron raised his staff, struck the water, and converted them into streams of blood. All the people of Egypt and the King himself beheld this miracle; they saw the fish die as the blood flowed over the land, and they turned with disgust from the offensive smell of the sacred river. It was impossible for them to drink of the water of the Nile, far-famed for its delicious taste; and they tried to dig deep into the ground for water. Unfortunately for the Egyptians, not only the floods of the Nile but all the waters of Egypt, wherever they were, turned to blood. The fish died in the rivers and lakes, and for a whole week man and beast suffered horrible thirst. Yet Pharaoh would not give in.

2 - Frogs

After due warning, the second plague came to Egypt. Aaron stretched forth his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs swarmed forth. They covered every inch of land and entered the houses and bedrooms; wherever an Egyptian turned, whatever he touched, he found there the slimy bodies of frogs, the croaking's of which filled the air. Now Pharaoh became frightened, and he asked Moses and Aaron to pray to G‑d to remove the nuisance, promising that he would liberate the Jewish people at once. But as soon as the frogs disappeared, he broke his promise and refused to let the children of Israel go.

3 - Bugs

Then G‑d ordered Aaron to strike the dust of the earth with his staff, and no sooner did he do so than all over Egypt bugs crawled forth from the dust to cover the land. Man and beast suffered untold misery from this terrible plague. Although pharaoh's aids pointed out that this surely was G‑d's punishment, Pharaoh hardened his heart and remained relentless in his determination to keep the children of Israel in bondage.

4 - Wild Animals

The fourth plague to harass the Egyptians consisted of hordes of wild animals roving all over the country, and destroying everything in their path. Only the province of Goshen where the children of Israel dwelt was immune from this as well as from the other plagues. Again Pharaoh promised faithfully to let the Hebrews go out into the desert on the condition that they would not go too far. Moses prayed to G‑d, and the wild animals disappeared. But as soon as they had gone, Pharaoh withdrew his promise and refused Moses' demand.

5 - Pestilence

Then G‑d sent a fatal pestilence that killed most of the domestic animals of the Egyptians. How the people must have grieved when they saw their stately horses, the pride of Egypt, perish; when all the cattle of the fields were stricken at the word of Moses; and when the animals upon which they looked as gods died smitten by the plague! They had, moreover, the mortification of seeing the beasts of the Israelites unhurt. Yet Pharaoh still hardened his heart, and would not let the Israelites go.

6 - Boils

Then followed the sixth plague, which was so painful and horrible that it must have struck the people of Egypt with horror and agony. G‑d commanded Moses to take soot from the furnaces, and to sprinkle it towards heaven; and as Moses did so, boils burst forth upon man and beast throughout the land of Egypt.

7 - Hail

Now, Moses announced to the king that a hail-storm of unprecedented violence was to sweep the land; no living thing, no tree, no herb was to escape its fury unhurt; safety was to be found only in the shelter of the houses; those, therefore, who believed and were afraid might keep in their homes, and drive their cattle into the sheds. Some of the Egyptians took this counsel to heart; but the reckless and the stubborn left their cattle with their servants in the fields. When Moses stretched forth his staff, the hail poured down with violence; deafening thunder rolled over the earth, and lightning rent the heavens, and ran like fire along the ground. The hail did its work of destruction; man and beast who were exposed to its rage died on the spot; the herbs were scattered to the wind, and the trees lay shattered on the ground. But the land of Goshen, untouched by the ravages of the storm, bloomed like a garden amidst the general devastation. Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and acknowledged his sins (Exodus 9:27). "I have sinned this time. The L-rd is the righteous One, and I and my people are the guilty ones. Entreat the L-rd, and let it be enough of G‑d's thunder and hail, and I will let you go, and you shall not continue to stand."

Moses replied: "When I leave the city, I will spread my hands to the L-d. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, in order that you know that the land is the L-rd's." And it happened as Moses had said: the storm ceased-but Pharaoh's heart remained hardened.

8 - Locust

The next time Moses and Aaron came before Pharaoh, he appeared somewhat relenting, and asked them who was to participate in the worship the Israelites wanted to hold in the desert. When they told him that everyone without exception, young and old, men and women, and animals, were to go, Pharaoh suggested that only the men should go, and that the women and children, as well as all their possessions should remain in Egypt. Moses and Aaron would not accept this offer, and Pharaoh became angry and ordered them to leave his palace. Before leaving, Moses warned him of new and untold suffering. But Pharaoh remained adamant, even though his advisers advised against further resistance.

As soon as Moses left the palace, he raised his arms toward heaven and an east wind brought swarms of locusts into Egypt, covering the sun, and devouring everything green that had escaped the hail and previous plagues. Never in the history of mankind had there been such a devastating plague of locusts as this one. It brought complete ruin upon Egypt, which had already been thoroughly ravaged by the previous catastrophes. Again Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and implored them to pray to G‑d to stop the plague. Moses complied, and G‑d sent a strong west wind that drove the locusts into the sea. When relief came, Pharaoh's obstinacy returned to him, and he refused to liberate the people of Israel.

9 - Darkness

Then followed the ninth plague. For several days all of Egypt was enveloped in a thick and impenetrable veil of darkness which extinguished all lights kindled. The Egyptians were gripped with fear, and remained glued to their places wherever they stood or sat. Only in Goshen, where the children of Israel dwelt, there was light. But not all of the Jews were saved from this plague. There were a few who wanted to be regarded as Egyptians rather than as members of the Hebrew race, and who tried, therefore, to imitate the Egyptians in everything, or, as we call it, to assimilate themselves. They did not want to leave Egypt. These people died during the days of darkness.

Again Pharaoh tried to bargain with Moses and Aaron, bidding them depart with all their people, leaving their flocks and herds behind as a pledge. Moses and Aaron informed him, however, that they would accept nothing less than complete freedom for the men, women, and children, and that they were to take all their belongings with them. Now Pharaoh became angry and ordered Moses and Aaron to leave and never to return. He warned them that if they were to come before him again they would die. Moses replied that it would not be necessary for them to see Pharaoh, for G‑d would send one more plague over Egypt, after which Pharaoh would give his unconditional permission for the children of Israel to leave Egypt. Exactly at midnight, Moses continued, G‑d would pass over Egypt and smite all first-born, man and beast. Of the children of Israel, however, nobody was to die. A bitter cry would sweep Egypt, and all the Egyptians would be gripped with terror, lest they all die. Then Pharaoh himself would come to seek out the leaders of the Hebrews, and beg them to leave Egypt without delay!

With these words, Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, who was seething with rage.

The Passover Sacrifice

On the first day of the month of Nissan, two weeks before the Exodus from Egypt, G‑d said to Moses and Aaron: "This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year. Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying (Exodus 12:2-31), "On the tenth of this month, let each one take a lamb for each parental home, a lamb for each household." On the tenth of this month, let each one take a lamb... a lamb for each household... . a lamb for a household . . . And you shall keep it for inspection until the fourteenth day of this month... And this is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste it is a Passover sacrifice to the L-rd... And I will see the blood and skip over you, and there will be no plague to destroy [you] when I smite the [people of the] land of Egypt. And this day shall be for you as a memorial, and you shall celebrate it as a festival for the L-rd; throughout your generations, you shall celebrate it as an everlasting statute. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the preceding day you shall clear away all leaven from your houses... And it will come to pass if your children say to you, +What is this service to you?' you shall say, It is a Passover sacrifice to the L-rd, for He passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, and He saved our houses!"

Moses told all this to the children of Israel. It required a great deal of faith and courage for the children of Israel to carry out this Command, for the lamb was a sacred animal to the ancient Egyptians. But the children of Israel eagerly and fearlessly carried out all that G‑d had ordered.

10 - Death of the First-Born

Midnight of the fourteenth to the fifteenth of Nissan came, and G‑d struck all first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of King Pharaoh, down to the first-born of a captive in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the cattle, exactly as Moses had warned. There was a loud and bitter wail in each house a loved one lay fatally stricken. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron during that very night, and said to them: "Arise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel; and go, serve the L-rd as you have said; and take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also." At last, then, the pride of the stubborn king was broken.

Meanwhile the Hebrews had been preparing for their hasty departure. With beating hearts, they had assembled in groups to eat the Paschal lamb before midnight, arrayed as they had been commanded. The women had taken from the ovens the unleavened cakes, which were eaten with the meat of the roasted lamb. The preparations were at last concluded, and all was ready. At the word of command, the whole nation of the Hebrews poured forth into the cool, still Eastern morning. But not even amidst their trepidation and danger did they forget the pledge given by their ancestors to Joseph, and they carried his remains, with them, to inter them later in the Promised Land.

From Our People by Jacob Isaacs published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society 1946-1948
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Brown Oregon September 16, 2017

so with all the miracles they saw moses do why were they afraid of mere giants as recalled in deuteronomy ch. 1? Reply

Kacey Purcell OAKWOOD high school May 18, 2017

This helped a lot for R.E as I am doing Judaism Reply

Joe April 3, 2017

You wrote, Pharaoh hardened his heart. But the Bible actually states that G-D hardened Pharaoh's heart. Just something to think about. Reply

Anonymous Herriman August 27, 2017
in response to Joe:

G-d cant force anyone to harden their hearts since that would be cause enough to say g-d chooses who he damns rather then wanting to save all of his children Reply

Lorenzo Alton Williams Houston February 5, 2017

Was the lamb also considered one of Pharaoh's deity (Gods), Of whom they whorshiped Reply

Anonymous USA March 27, 2016

Nissan? Nissan? The auto was around back then? Were they the "official" sponsor of Passover seders? Reply

Art Frailey Marion, Il February 16, 2014

Passover date I am in complete agreement with Eugene Cole. I also point ot that in Ezra 16:19, the Passover was KEPT, (not started) on the Nisan 14.

Skip March 19, 2013

14th or 15th? The command was to kill the lamb in the afternoon (between the evenings) on the 14th. By the time the lamb was cooked, it was the beginning of the 15th. The first or were killed at midnight on the 15th. (That's how I understand it.) Reply

Anonymous April 9, 2006

yasher koach! what a beautiful website. my whole family really enjoys and learns a lot from it. Keep up the great work! Reply

Eugene Cole Miami Beach, FL November 29, 2008

Plague #10 How can Chabad Lubavitch posit that plague #10 occurred on the 15th, when Torah is clear that it was on the 14th?
Exodus 12:6 - on the 14th
Leviticus 23:5 - on the 14th
Numbers 28:16 - on the 14th
Joshua 5:10 - on the 14th
What could possibly be more clear and concise?
G-d has emphasized that The Passover MUST! be observed "at its appointed time" on the 14th day!
Throughout all generations, a permanent ordinance, on that same day, forever - Exodus 12:1-thru-13:10.
There is no warrant or sanction anywhere in Torah to support Pesach on the 15th.
While Chabad Lubavitch is not the only Hebrew-related Web site to promote this error, this is a clear example of purposeful
departure from God's commands and instructions in Torah. (See: Isaiah 29:13) Reply

Anonymous April 27, 2008

Passover Story Excellent and concise. I've never understood it this well. We used it to do an experiential seder which was a big success. Thanks again. Reply

yhwhisone detroit April 29, 2013

passover "in the evening" could also be translated "between the evenings"...the evening of the 14th and the evening of the 15th which is the daylight portion of the 14th. The meal was to begin on the 14th and continue into the 15th after killing, cooking, and smearing the blood of the sacrifice on the doorposts and getting dressed and ready to leave. Reply

Skip April 8, 2013

14th or 15th? The command was to kill the lamb in the afternoon (between the evenings) on the 14th. By the time the lamb was cooked, it was the beginning of the 15th. The first or were killed at midnight on the 15th. (That's how I understand it.) Reply

JOSH January 9, 2017

Thanks really helpful Reply

Barry b benson September 5, 2017
in response to JOSH:

Good yea! Reply

Player1 November 22, 2016

So what happened next Reply

Windchyme calfornia July 5, 2017
in response to Player1:

40 years of wandering the desert. Reply

Anonymous May 9, 2016

Plagues I know that God does everything for a reason,but I think that this was one of the worst yet helping things....Why these people?? Reply

Shaul Wolf December 21, 2015

Re: Time Frame The Mishnah in Eduyot 2:10 records that "The judgement of the Egyptians lasted 12 months". Midrash Rabbah 9:12, however, records that there was a month's time between each plague: 3 weeks of Moshe warning Pharaoh and one week of the plague itself. Seemingly the plagues would have only taken 10 months.

Many commentaries explain that the 12 month count is referring to Moshe's initial request of Pharaoh to let the Jews go, not to the plagues themselves. This is supported by another Midrash, that following his initial demand of Pharaoh Moshe left Egypt for 3 months, which would give a year's span until the final Exodus. The final plague, Death of the Firstborn, did not have the month-span, and only lasted one night.

There is another opinion in the Midrash (Pesikta Shmos 10) that the plagues lasted one week each, making the entire duration of the plagues only 10 weeks. Reply

Anonymous canada December 16, 2015

what was the time frame from the 1st plague to the 10th Reply

Anonymous May 11, 2015

Wild animals for number 4 instead of flies? Reply

Debbie Florida April 3, 2015

G-d is not spelled with the middle letter traditionally within the Jewish religion. If we wrote it on paper and it was ripped up or thrown out, that is disrespectful, so we choose not to write His name in full. That's what I was taught. Reply

anonymous March 4, 2015

G-d and not God i am assuming God is G-d in this article because it is to show respect to the name of God. Most jewish people would not say God or even type it out to show respect. I hope that answers your question Reply

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