Eser Makot

June 20, 2006

[English: Ten Plagues]; the ten punishments administered by G-d to the Egyptians through the agency of Moses. They proved G-d’s mastery over water, land and air. Pharaoh resisted them all until the final one: the killing of the first-born.

1. “Dam” – All the water in Egypt turned to blood, including the waters of the Nile, the source of Egypt’s wealth and economy

2. “Tzefardea” – frogs; a total frog invasion of the Land of Egypt

3. “Kinim” – lice; Pharaoh’s magician’s admitted that they had no power over creatures as small as lice; they described it as “a finger of G-d”

4. “Arov” – swarms of wild beasts; this was first of the plagues which showed G-d’s mastery over the land.

5. “Dever” – epidemic of pestilence against the livestock of Egypt

6. “Shechin” – boils, or smallpox, which affected the magicians and all the Egyptian population

7. “Barad” – severe hailstorm with killing potential; mixed with violent thunder and lightning

8. “Arbeh” – total locust infestation of all the cropland of Egypt; what remained after the hail was consumed by the locusts

9. “Choshech” – Palpable darkness in which the Egyptians could not move

10. “Makat Bechorot” – Killing of the Egyptian first-born; the L-rd “Passed Over” the houses of the Jewish People [origin of the name of the holiday of Passover, or “Pesach”] who had smeared the blood of the Pesach sacrifice on their doorposts. This plague “broke the back” of the Egyptians and, in particular, broke the arrogance and resistance of Pharaoh, who now “chased,” so to speak, the Jewish People out of Egypt.