1

Per the answer given here: אצבע אלוקים היא - *how* many?:

The magicians were acknowledging that the plages were a manifestation of Hashem's Power at the level of אצבע אלוקים היא. That is, the plagues as a general concept were a finger of Hashem, a small manifestation of His power. At the Yam Suf, the expression of the Power was that of a hand. It was a mightier manifestation of Hashem's control of nature and ability to overcome the laws of nature. Each of the plagues took an aspect of the natural world and showed that Hashem was able to manipulate it. etc.

I was wondering how the chartumim were able to measure Hashem's power-levels, so to speak, enough to understand that Hashem, in the first three plagues, was only revealing a small bit of His full might? It seems to me that for all they knew, the third plague could've been His ultimate power, further than that - and He'd be beat, chalilah.

2

It is not a measure of Hsshem's strength, it is an acknowledgement that it is a direct touch of Hashem and therefore beyond their power. Rav Hirsch explains that this is an idiom used to describe something that is directly performed by Hashem rather that using the laws of nature (or of magic) to cause something to take place. That is why the chartumim are not referred to again. Once they admit that this is something in the realm of the gods they are no longer capable of intervening in events.

Rav Hisch says:

... Both look at it from the point of view that Hashem lets ordinary illnesses occur by means of the ordinary laws of physical nature. In these, Hashem does not appear in direct contact with Man. But נגעים are direct touches of Hashem's Finger. The former, where it is only Nature that is directly governing, Egyptian art imagined or claimed to be able to master, but before the direct power of Hashem, they felt that they could bow their heads without shame.

  • So why use the phrase "finger" and not "hand"? – Harel13 Jan 22 at 15:27
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    @Harel13 As Rav Hirsch explains, this is the idiom for the touch. It is the basic statement of Hashem using His power on a basic level. Just the individual makah. – sabbahillel Jan 22 at 15:34
  • would it be right to say, then, that upon seeing the third plague as a direct touch from Hashem, the chartumim realized that the two previous plagues were also from Hashem? – Harel13 Jan 22 at 15:48
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    @Harel13 yes that would be correct – sabbahillel Jan 22 at 15:56

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