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I was wondering whether, before the first time Moshe went to Pharaoh, he knew that there would be 10 plagues, and what they would be.

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His staff had דצ"ך עד"ש באח"ב engraved on it,so I would assume yes –  sam Dec 29 '13 at 2:17
    
ראה רמב"ן על ו:ב, ו:יג –  WAF Dec 29 '13 at 2:30
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@sam Assuming that Midrash is true, do we know he knew what those letters meant? –  Double AA Dec 29 '13 at 3:22
    
Assuming that medrash is true!? ,I don't understand? –  sam Dec 29 '13 at 3:43
    
@sam I assume Double AA was referring to mi.yodeya.com/q/4037 –  msh210 Dec 29 '13 at 5:15
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1 Answer

I once heard a Shiur where the Rabbi said that originally there were not going to be 10 plagues, Just the threat of death of Egyptian firstborns should Pharaoh not listen. It was only once Pharaoh denied knowledge of G-d that G-d said there would be 10 plagues, so that the whole of Egypt would know who G-d is.

In Shemot 4:21-23, G-d says to tell Pharaoh that if he does not let His firstborns go (i.e. the Jews), G-d will kill his firstborn sons. G-d mentions nothing about the other plagues. (note that the wonders mentioned in Shemot 4:21 do not refer to the plagues, at least according to Rashi).

In Shemot 5:2 Pharaoh says he does not know G-d. and then, in Shemot 7:2-5 G-d tells Moshe that He will increase His signs and wonders, but Pharaoh will not listen because G-d will harden his heart, "And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch forth My hand over Egypt, and I will take the children of Israel out of their midst."

This is also emphasized during the different plagues, where G-d tells Moshe to tell Pharaoh that the plague of mixed animalas will be "in order that you know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth." (Shemot 8:18). The plague of hail, "in order that you know that there is none like Me in the entire earth." (Shemot 9:14), and even more so, "in order to declare My name all over the earth." (Shemot 9:16)


However, I don't know where this Rabbi got this idea from, so I can't look it up inside to verify the details. For example, how does this explanation fit with Shemot 3:19-20, which seems to have G-d telling Moshe about the plagues before Moshe even goes to see Pharaoh for the first time.

Also, it seems a little bit difficult to say Rashi understood it this way.

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