God Rebukes Moses, continued
6:2 God rebuked Moses for having asked him "why have You mistreated this people?" by saying to him: "I am God; this is My proper Name, which indicates that I can be relied upon to reward those faithful to Me.
3 Yet, I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob only as El Shadai
["God Almighty"], which is just an appellation indicating My omnipotence, when I promised them the Land of Israel. Since I did not fulfill these promises in their lifetimes, I was not manifest to them by My Name God, which indicates My trustworthiness, even though they were aware of this Name.
4 Nonetheless, they did not question My trustworthiness. The proof is that when I appeared to them as El Shadai, I also made My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourning in which they stayed. But when Abraham had to bury Sarah and pay an exorbitant price for a gravesite, and when Isaac had to defend his rights to the wells he dug, and when Jacob had to pay for a field in which to camp, none of them questioned My justice. In contrast, the first thing you asked Me when I approached you for this mission was 'When they ask me, "what is His Name?"—when they ask me what kind of God is it that fails to fulfill His promises—what shall I tell them?' You suspected Me of sending you on a doomed venture. And now, at the first setback in your mission, you have questioned My justice!"
These same words contain the instructions God gave to Moses after rebuking him:
2 He said to him, "I am God; this is My proper Name, which indicates that I can be relied upon to reward those faithful to Me, for because of My transcendence, nothing can prevent Me from fulfilling My promises. This, then, is why I have sent you:
3 I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when I made promises to them, only as El Shadai
["God Almighty"], which indicates My omnipotence, but was not known to them by the Name indicating My trustworthiness—God—for I did not fulfill these promises to them. They knew of this Name, but did not experience its full significance firsthand.
4 On these occasions, I also made My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourning in which they stayed.
5 I have therefore heard the Israelites' groaning, complaining that the Egyptians are enslaving them, and I have recalled My covenant to punish the nation that enslaves them.
6 "Therefore, in accordance with these promises, convey to the Israelites: 'I am God, who can be relied upon to reward those faithful to Him. I will therefore free you from the burdens of the Egyptians, as I promised, save you from their servitude, and redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great chastisements.
7 I will take you to Myself as a nation, and I will be your God. And thus you shall know that I am God, your God, who is freeing you from the burdens of the Egyptians.
8 I will bring you to the land regarding which I raised My hand to swear that I would give it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am God.' "
9 When things got worse after Moses announced the redemption, the scoffers and skeptics again succeeded in demoralizing the people and making them despair of being redeemed. So Moses related God's message via Aaron to the Israelites, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their anguish of spirit evinced by their shortness of breath, which had made them despair of being redeemed, and because of the harsh labor, which had made them skeptical of Moses' promises.
10 God then spoke to Moses, saying,
11 "Come and speak to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, so that he will send the Israelites out of his land."
12 But Moses spoke before God, saying, "Even the Israelites have not listened to me, so how will Pharaoh listen to me? For it is clear now that not only do I stammer and have a slow tongue; even when I addressed the people via Aaron I was so inept at transmitting Your message that I may as well be a man of blocked lips, who cannot speak altogether. Now answer me; tell me if you plan to redeem the Jews or not."
13 God therefore spoke to both Moses and to Aaron, giving them specific instructions regarding how they were to address Pharaoh. In addition, He commanded them to speak patiently to the Israelites and to speak respectfully to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, in order to successfully take the Israelites out of Egypt.
Moses' and Aaron's Lineage
Second Reading 14 Moses' and Aaron's lineage was an important factor contributing to the esteem the people accorded them as leaders. They were members of the most respected tribe, Levi, and of the most respected Levite family, that of Amram. The Torah therefore now articulates Moses' and Aaron's lineage. In order to highlight their place amongst the descendants of Jacob, the Torah lists Jacob's descendants in order as far back as Levi, in order to establish Moses and Aaron as descendants of Jacob's third son. By emphasizing how they were the sons of Amram and Yocheved, the Torah further highlights how they were born and raised in an environment of dedication to ideals and bravery: Yocheved fearlessly defied Pharaoh's order to murder the newborn Jewish boys, and Amram remarried his wife despite Pharaoh's order. Finally, since Jacob had reprimanded Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, the progeny of these sons are now listed again, indicating that their status as Jacob's sons was not compromised by his rebuke.
The following are the heads of the paternal clans of the first three tribes:
The sons of Reuben, Israel's—i.e., Jacob's—firstborn, were Chanoch, Palu, Chetzron, and Karmi; those are the families of Reuben.
15 The sons of Simeon were Yemuel, Yamin, Ohad, Yachin, Tzochar, and Shaul, the son of Dinah, who was considered the Canaanite woman; those are the families of Simeon.
16 These are the names of the sons of Levi in their order of birth: Gershon, Kehot, and Merari. The years of Levi's life came to 137 when he died, in the year 2332.
17 The sons of Gershon were Livni and Shimi, with their respective families.
18 The sons of Kehot were Amram, Yitzhar, Chevron, and Uziel. The years of Kehot's life came to 133 when he died, in the year 2370 or a year or two before.
19 The sons of Merari were Machli and Mushi. The above are the families of Levi, in their order of birth.
20 Amram married Yocheved, who was both the daughter of Levi—having the same father as Kehot, and Amram's aunt—having the same mother as Kehot. She was thus a woman of nobility. She bore him Aaron and Moses. The years of Amram's life came to 137 when he died, some time before the year 2399.
21 The sons of Yitzhar were Korach, Nefeg and Zichri.
22 The sons of Uziel were Mishael, Eltzafan and Sitri.
23 Aaron married Elisheva, daughter of Aminadav and sister of Nachshon, the prince of the tribe of Judah—from this we see that when someone is considering marrying a certain woman he should examine her brothers—and she bore him Nadav, Avihu, Eleazar, and Itamar.
24 The sons of Korach were Asir, Elkanah, and Aviasaf; those are the families of the clan of Korach.
25 Eleazar, the son of Aaron, married one of the daughters of Putiel—i.e., a descendant of Jethro, who fattened [pitem] calves to sacrifice them to idols, and of Joseph, who talked [pitpeit] his evil inclination out of making him sin with Potiphar's wife—and she bore him Pinchas. The above are the heads of the paternal clans of the Levites, by their families.
Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh
Having now established the lineage of Moses and Aaron, the Torah finishes describing how Moses and Aaron were suited for their mission:
26 These are the same Aaron and Moses to whom God said, "Bring the Israelites out of Egypt according to their tribal groups." They both played integral roles in this mission; in this sense, they were both equal.
27 They are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, in order to take the Israelites out of Egypt. They were selected for this mission because they were raised in an environment of selfless dedication and bravery, and they lived up to these expectations. They were Moses and Aaron: each accepted and fulfilled God's mission in accordance with his unique qualities, and both were consistent in their dedication and integrity throughout their mission.
28 The Torah now resumes the narrative: On the day that God had spoken to Moses in the land of Egypt,...
Third Reading 29 ...when God had spoken to Moses, saying, "I am God; tell Pharaoh, king of Egypt, all that I am saying to you,"
30 Moses had replied, "The people themselves did not listen to me, even though I spoke to them via Aaron. It is clear now that not only do I stammer and have a slow tongue; I am so unskilled in transmitting Your message that I may as well be a man of blocked lips, so how will Pharaoh ever listen to me?"
7:1 To this, God now replied to Moses: "Observe! I have made you a master over Pharaoh. You will rebuke him forcefully and afflict him with plagues and suffering. Your brother Aaron shall be your spokesman. Specifically, despite your speech impediment and inarticulateness, I will give you the ability to speak authoritatively:
2 You shall repeat before Pharaoh everything that I shall command you, exactly as you heard it from Me, in Hebrew. Pharaoh does not understand Hebrew, but that does not matter—the purpose of your oratory will be to establish you as 'a master over Pharaoh,' and repeating My exact words in a stern tone will have this effect. Afterwards, your brother Aaron shall repeat it to Pharaoh, translating it into his language and articulating it eloquently so that he be convinced to send forth the Israelites from his land.
3 Nonetheless, I will harden Pharaoh's heart. He refused to listen to Me, brazenly asserting that he can do as he pleases. Measure for measure, I will punish him for this by limiting his free choice. At first I will harden his heart indirectly, by allowing him to think that you are performing witchcraft and the like. If he persists in refusing to submit to Me, I will then harden his heart directly, as a punishment for his own obstinacy. I will thereby have cause to increase My miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. This will impress the people with My power and bolster their faith in Me. Nonetheless, even though I will harden his heart, if he truly wishes he will still be able to repent.
4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. I will then stretch forth My arm over Egypt and bring forth My hosts—My people, the Israelites—from the land of Egypt, bringing great chastisements upon Egypt.
5 The Egyptians, too, will recognize that I am God, when I raise My hand over Egypt and bring out the Israelites from their midst."
6 Moses and Aaron did exactly as God had instructed them, as will be described presently.
7 Moses was ten months short of 80 years old and Aaron was 83 years old when they spoke to Pharaoh in the year 2447.
Fourth Reading 8 In addition, God said to Moses and Aaron as follows:
9 "When Pharaoh speaks to you and says, 'Produce a marvel for yourselves, to prove that God, who sent you, is powerful enough that I should listen to you,' Moses shall say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh. It will become a serpent.' " God knew that this would not overly impress the Egyptians, but it would enable a further miracle to occur that would demonstrate His dominion over Egypt.
10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did exactly as God had commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and in front of his courtiers, and it became a serpent. Once the staff had turned into a serpent, this miracle had fulfilled its purpose, so after a short while it reverted back into its former state, a staff.
11 Pharaoh too summoned his wise men and magicians, and the necromancers also did likewise with their incantations:
12 Each of them threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff—even though it was once again a staff—swallowed up their staffs, but did not become any thicker because of this. Since a staff is a symbol of power and dominion, this miracle demonstrated God's power and dominion over Egypt.
13 But despite this, Pharaoh's heart stiffened and he paid no heed to Moses and Aaron, just as God had said.
The First Plague: Blood
14 So God told Moses and Aaron to announce the first plague. On Sivan 15, 2447, He said to Moses, "Although I indirectly hardened Pharaoh's heart by allowing the necromancers to make him think that your demonstration was simply magic, he did not pay attention to the fact that Aaron's serpent swallowed their staffs. He hardened his heart on his own beyond what I did to harden it. Pharaoh's heart is therefore unmoved; he refuses to send the people forth and deserves to be punished.
15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, for that is when he goes out to the water to relieve himself privately, so he can pretend to be a god the rest of the day. Station yourself opposite him on the bank of the Nile River. Tell Aaron: "Take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent."
16 You shall have Aaron say to him: 'God, God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you to say, "Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness!" Until now you have not paid attention, and I know that you will not pay attention until the tenth plague, the slaughtering of the firstborn.
17 Now this is what God has said: "Through this you will recognize that I am God." I am now going to strike the water in the river with the staff in my hand, and it will turn into blood.
18 The fish in the river will die and the river will become putrid, and the Egyptians will grow weary of trying ways to treat the river in order to drink water from it.' " Since the Egyptians worshipped the Nile as their source of life-giving and irrigating water, God struck it first, in order to demonstrate its vulnerability. This demoralized the Egyptians. Aaron continued to warn Pharaoh for three weeks.
19 On the 8th of Tamuz, God said to Moses, "Since the Nile served to protect you when you were a baby, you should not strike it yourself. Instead, say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and raise your hand over the waters of Egypt—over their rivers, their canals, their ponds, and all their bodies of water—and they shall turn into blood. There will be blood even in the bathhouses and private baths throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone, for the water in them will also turn to blood.' "
20 Moses and Aaron did exactly as God had commanded: Aaron raised the staff and struck the water in the Nile River in the sight of Pharaoh and his courtiers, and all the water in the river turned into blood.
21 The fish in the river died and the river became putrid, so that the Egyptians were unable to drink water from the river. There was blood everywhere in Egypt, wherever the river water was drawn. The plague also affected the river in Goshen, where the Jews lived, in order that Pharaoh not have the opportunity to say that the Nile, the Egyptian's deity, was immune to God's plague there. The people were, however, able to dig wells that provided fresh water. This made it clear that the object of the plague was only the Egyptians' deity.
22 The necromancers of Egypt then did likewise, changing some of the well water into blood with their demon-conjuring incantations. So Pharaoh rationalized that Moses and Aaron were just performing magic, which was commonplace in Egypt. His heart stiffened and he paid no heed to Moses and Aaron, just as God had said.
23 Pharaoh turned and went into his palace, paying no attention even to this, just as he paid no attention to how Aaron's staff turned into a serpent. In the both cases, he convinced himself that Moses and Aaron were just performing magic.
24 All the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink, since they could not drink any water from the river.
25 Seven full days passed from the time God struck the river until the blood reverted to water, but Pharaoh did not relent.
Each plague lasted a month: Moses and Aaron spent three quarters of the month informing Pharaoh about what was going to happen and warning him of the consequences of his obstinacy, and the plague itself lasted a week. Thus, the ten plagues spanned a time-period of ten months.
The Second Plague: Frogs
26 On the 15th of Tamuz, immediately after the first plague ended, God told Moses to announce the second plague: frogs. He said to Moses, "Come to Pharaoh and say to him: This is what God has said: 'Let My people go so they may serve Me.
27 If you refuse to let them leave, I will plague all your territory with frogs.
28 The river will swarm with frogs, and when they emerge, they will go first into your palace and your bedroom and on to your bed, and then into the homes of your courtiers and among your people, and into your ovens and kneading bowls. Since you were the first to propose oppressing the people, you will be the first to suffer.
29 The frogs will enter alive into you, your people, and all your courtiers and croak from within your stomachs.' "
8:1 After three weeks, on the 8th of Av, God said to Moses, "This plague involves the Nile river, as well, so you will not initiate it, either. Instead, say to Aaron, 'Raise your hand with your staff over the rivers, the canals, and the ponds, and make the frogs come up over the land of Egypt.' "
2 Aaron raised his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the swarm of frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt in the following way: one frog emerged from the water, but when the Egyptians struck it, it miraculously split into many swarms. Frogs also swarmed out of the river in Goshen, where the Jews lived, again, in order that Pharaoh not have the opportunity to say that the river—which was the Egyptian's deity—was immune to God's plague there.
3]The necromancers did the same with their incantations: they too made a frog that split into many swarms of frogs come up over the land of Egypt. So Pharaoh could again rationalize that Moses and Aaron were performing magic.
4 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Entreat God to remove the frogs from me and my people, and I will let the people leave so that they may sacrifice to God!"
5 Moses replied to Pharaoh, "Try and pride yourself over me by daring me to do something you don't think I can do: have God remove the frogs at a specific time. For what time shall I pray—for you and your courtiers and your people—to eradicate the frogs from you and your homes so that they remain only in the river?"
6 Pharaoh would have preferred to be rid of the frogs immediately. But he still thought that Moses and Aaron were just practicing magic, and that if God was involved in this plague at all, it was because Moses and Aaron were using magical means to conjure Him into doing their bidding. He therefore assumed it would take them some time to perform the rites necessary to end the plague. With this in mind, he replied, "Pray now that they disappear at least by tomorrow." So Moses said, "It will be as you say, so that you will recognize that there is none like God, our God.
Fifth Reading 7 "The frogs will depart from you, as well as from your houses and your courtiers and your people, and they will remain only in the river, as a constant reminder of how this plague proved your deity to be powerless against God."
8 Moses and Aaron then left Pharaoh's presence, and Moses cried out to God concerning the frogs that He had brought upon Pharaoh, that He should remove them the next day, which happened to be the seventh day of the plague in any case.
9 God did as Moses asked, and the frogs in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields died.
10 The Egyptians piled them into heaps, and the land stank.
11 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he continued to harden his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as God had said, since his necromancers had also produced swarms of frogs, allowing him to rationalize that this plague, too, was just magic.
The Third Plague: Lice
12 So, on the 15th of Av, God told Moses to announce the third plague—lice—and to warn Pharaoh about it. But Pharaoh did not listen, so, after warning Pharaoh for three weeks, on the 8th of Elul, God said to Moses, "This plague involves the dirt, which you used to hide the Egyptian you slew. Therefore, in recognition of its help, you shall not initiate this plague, either. Instead, say to Aaron, 'Raise your staff and strike the dust of the earth, and it will turn into lice throughout the land of Egypt.' "
13 They did this. Aaron raised his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and the swarm of lice came upon man and beast. All the dust of the earth turned into lice throughout the land of Egypt. This plague, too, struck the Jews in Goshen, for it was necessary to demonstrate to Pharaoh's necromancers that it affected all of Egypt and therefore could only be an act of God, rather than affecting only a part of Egypt, which could allow them to think that Moses and Aaron produced it by means of magic.
14 The necromancers tried likewise to bring forth lice from some other source with their demon-conjuring incantations, but they could not, for the demons had no power over anything smaller than a barleycorn, the minimum size a bone from a corpse must be to carry defilement. The swarm of lice remained on man and beast.
15 The necromancers said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God, and not magic, for we cannot imitate it." But nevertheless, since this plague was produced by something Aaron did, Pharaoh rationalized that it was done by some kind of magic, but that Moses and Aaron were more skilled magicians than his necromancers. So Pharaoh's heart stiffened and he paid no heed to Moses and Aaron, just as God had said.
The Fourth Plague: The Mixed Horde
16 So, on the 15th of Elul, God told Moses to announce the fourth plague—the mixed horde—and warn Pharaoh about it. God said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and station yourself before Pharaoh as he is going out to the water, and you shall say to him: This is what God has said: 'Let My people go so that they may serve Me.
17 For if you do not let My people leave, I will incite a mixed horde of wild beasts, snakes, and scorpions against you, your courtiers, your people, and your homes. I will incite them to be especially vicious, and they will harm you and wreak destruction throughout your land. I will bring them into Egypt from the surrounding areas, and they will miraculously come in a chaotic mixture. This will be more terrifying than if they were to have come naturally, species by species. The houses of the Egyptians will be filled with the mixed horde of wild beasts, as will the ground upon which they stand be filled with snakes and scorpions.
18 On that day, unlike the first three plagues, I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people dwell, so that there will not be any mixed horde there. Thus you will realize that I am God not only in heaven but also on earth, in the midst of the land.
Sixth Reading 19 "I will make a redemptive distinction between My people and your people. This miraculous sign will come about tomorrow.' "
20 But Pharaoh did not heed Moses' warning, so, on Tishrei 8, 2448, God did this, and a huge mixed horde of wild beasts came upon the homes of Pharaoh and of his courtiers; throughout the land of Egypt the land was devastated by the mixed horde of wild beasts. Since Moses and Aaron did not perform a specific act to cause this plague, the necromancers had no illusions that it was performed by magic, and therefore did not try to imitate it.
21 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Go and sacrifice to your God in this land. You can serve him here and there is no need for you to make a journey into the desert."
22 Moses said, "It would not be proper to do so, for it is the deity of Egypt that we would sacrifice to God, our God. We are going to sacrifice sheep, one of the animals you worship as an idol. If we were to sacrifice the deity of the Egyptians before their very eyes, would they not stone us?!
23 We must make a three-day journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to God, our God, according to what He will tell us."
24 Pharaoh said, "Very well; I will let you leave so that you can sacrifice to God, your God, in the wilderness, but you must not travel far. And pray for me!"
25 Moses answered, "I am now going to leave your presence and I will pray to God, and tomorrow the horde of wild beasts will go away from Pharaoh and his courtiers and his people. But let Pharaoh never again deceive us by not allowing the people to leave and sacrifice to God!"
26 Moses then left Pharaoh's presence and prayed to God.
27 God did as Moses asked and removed the mixed horde of wild beasts from Pharaoh and his courtiers and his people. They went back to where they came from and not one remained. They did not simply die, as did the frogs, for then the Egyptians could have made use of their hides.
28 But this time, too, Pharaoh hardened his heart, and he did not let the people leave.
The Fifth Plague: Epidemic
9:1 So, on the 15th of Tishrei, God told Moses to announce the fifth plague—an epidemic—and warn Pharaoh about it. On the last day of the warning, God said to Moses, "Come to Pharaoh and tell him, 'This is what God, God of the Hebrews, has said: "Let My people go so that they may serve Me."
2 For if you refuse to let them leave and continue to detain them,
3 the power of God will be directed against your livestock in the field—against the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the cattle, and the flocks—with a very serious epidemic. It will not affect the animals in the barns and stables, however.
4 God will also differentiate between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of the Egyptians, and nothing belonging to the Israelites will die.
5 God has fixed a time, saying, "Tomorrow God will do this thing in the land." ' "
6 So Moses and Aaron went to warn Pharaoh, but Pharaoh did not heed their warning. Nonetheless, there were Egyptians who had learned by now to take Moses seriously, and they gathered their animals into their barns and stables. Thus, when God did this thing the next day, the 8th of Marcheshvan, all the livestock of the Egyptians that were left in the fields died. But of the livestock of the Israelites not a single animal died, even those in the fields. Here, too, Moses and Aaron did not perform any specific act to cause this plague, so the necromancers did not try to prove that it was magic by imitating them.
7 Pharaoh inquired and discovered that not even one animal of the livestock of the Israelites had died, but nevertheless, Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he did not let the people leave.
The Sixth Plague: Inflammation of the Skin
8 So, on the 15th of Marcheshvan, God told Moses to announce the sixth plague—inflammation of the skin—and warn Pharaoh about it. But Pharaoh did not pay heed, so on the 8th of Kislev, God said to Moses and Aaron, "Take for yourselves two handfuls each of soot from a hot kiln, and Moses will then miraculously take hold of both his and Aaron's two handfuls in one of his fists (which normally holds only half a handful). Then, let Moses throw all four handfuls at once heavenwards before Pharaoh's eyes.
9 It will miraculously spread and become dust over the entire land of Egypt, and even though by then it will be cold, it will miraculously cause an inflammation erupting into blisters on man and beast throughout the land of Egypt. Furthermore, the inflammation will miraculously erupt over the whole body, not only where the dust falls. Nonetheless, here too, the plague will affect only the animals left out in the fields."
10 They took the soot of a kiln and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses threw it heavenwards. It spread and became dust over all of Egypt, and caused an inflammation that erupted into blisters on man and beast.
Unlike the previous two plagues, this one was produced by specific acts that made it appeared to be caused by magic: Moses and Aaron had to use soot of a hot kiln; Moses had to hold a relatively large amount of soot; he had to throw it forcibly into the air; and the inflammation did not erupt until the dust hit the skin. But the results were too miraculous to have been caused by magic: the soot was already cold when it hit the skin; the amount Moses held was still far too little to spread over all Egypt; he could not have naturally thrown something as light as soot heavenward, let alone over all Egypt; and once the dust hit the skin, the inflammation erupted even where the dust had not hit it. Thus, this plague demonstrated decisively that God has power over nature. Until now, the necromancers had admitted that the plagues were "the finger of God" only when they were caused either by something that could not be manipulated by magic (because it was too small, as was the case with the third plague, lice) or when they were caused without any manipulation at all (as was the case with the fourth and fifth plagues, the mixed horde and the epidemic). They still believed, however, that God's power over the forces of nature that are susceptible to magic was no greater than their own. Here, they had to admit that God could manipulate the forces of nature that are susceptible to magic far beyond their ability to do so.
11 The necromancers were therefore completely demoralized: they could not stand before Moses to challenge him because the nature of this inflammation overthrew their stance, for the inflammation had attacked the necromancers together with all of Egypt. From this point on, the necromancers no longer tried to expose Moses as a magician, even when he did seem to produce a plague by a specific action.
12 There was thus no room for Pharaoh to rationalize, but now God hardened Pharaoh's heart directly, as a punishment for his earlier obstinacy, so he did not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as God had said to Moses.
The Seventh Plague: Hail
13 On the 15th of Kislev, God told Moses to announce the seventh plague—hail. God did not have Moses warn Pharaoh, because He had already deprived him of his free choice, and warning would therefore be pointless. He simply had Moses demand that Pharaoh release the people and inform him that He was going to send the next plague. On the last day of the this announcement-period, God said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and station yourself before Pharaoh, and you shall say to him: This is what God, God of the Hebrews, has said, 'Let My people go so that they may serve Me.
14 For this time I am about to send a plague that will prove as devastating to your beliefs as all My other plagues together. I will send it against your very heart and against your courtiers and your people, so that you will know that there is none like Me in all the world.
15 I could now have stretched forth My arm and smitten you and your people with the epidemic I sent against the animals, and you would have been obliterated from the world.
16 Nevertheless, I have spared you for this purpose: in order to show you My power, and in order that My Name may resound throughout the world. I will spare you until the end—even when I kill all the firstborn, even though you yourself are a firstborn—for this purpose.
Seventh Reading 17 " 'Yet you are still treading upon My people and not letting them leave.' "
18 Moses made a scratch on the wall where the sun had cast a shadow and continued to deliver God's message: " 'I will demonstrate My absolute power over the forces of nature by showing you that I can control them with perfect timing. At this time tomorrow, when the shadow reaches this mark again, I will rain down a very heavy hail. Never before in Egypt, from the day it was founded until now, has there been anything like it. I am using the sun to measure the time—rather than any kind of man-made timer—so no one will be able to contest the accuracy of My prediction because of the inaccuracy of their clocks or because someone tampers with them.
19 So now, send word and gather in your livestock and everything you possess in the field. Any man or beast that is in the field and is not brought indoors will be pelted by the hail and will die."
20 Pharaoh did not heed Moses' warning, but those among Pharaoh's courtiers who by now feared the word of God made their slaves and livestock flee indoors,
21 while those who did not heed the word of God left their slaves and livestock in the field.
22 On the 8th of Tevet, God said to Moses, "Raise your hand heavenwards, and I will give your hands power over the heavens: there will be hail throughout all the land of Egypt—on man and on beast and on all the plants of the field in the land of Egypt."
23 Moses raised his staff heavenwards. God gave forth thunder and hail, and fire miraculously came down to the ground inside the hail, even though fire by its nature rises rather than descends, and God rained down hail over the land of Egypt.
24 The hail was very heavy—with lightning flashing miraculously in the midst of the hail—such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.
25 Throughout the land of Egypt, the hail struck down whatever was outdoors, whether man or beast. The hail struck down all the plants of the field, and shattered every tree in the fields.
26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were, was there no hail.
27 Pharaoh sent word and summoned Moses and Aaron and said to them, "This time I have sinned. God is the Righteous One, and I and my people are the wicked ones.
28 Pray to God: there has been enough heaven-sent thunder and hail. I will let you leave and you need stay no longer."
29 Moses said to him, "Now that some of your people have gathered their sheep into the city, your city is full of the object of your idol-worship, so I cannot pray within it. But when I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to God. The thunder will cease and there will no more hail—so that you will know that the world belongs to God.
30 But as for you and your courtiers, I know that you are not yet afraid of God, despite what you say."
31 The flax and barley were crushed by the hail, since the barley was ripe and the flax had formed stalks.
32 But the wheat and spelt were not crushed, since they are late in sprouting and were therefore still pliable. They merely bent from the force of the impact. Even so, it was a miracle that the hail did not destroy them, too.
Maftir 33 Moses left Pharaoh's presence and went out of the city, and spread his hands out to God. The thunder and hail ceased: the hailstones in mid-flight disappeared before reaching the ground. The rain stopped pouring down on the ground: even the drops that were falling stopped in midair when Moses prayed; they either fell to the ground later or evaporated on the spot.
34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had ceased, he continued to sin. His heart, like that of his courtiers, remained unmoved.
35 Pharaoh's heart was stiffened and he did not let the Israelites leave, just as God had said through Moses.