The Seder is in a particular order essential to correctly observe Pesach. Is there a comprehensive source (or discussion) of the sequence of plagues, especially for insights of how to apply to our practice and actions?


1 Answer 1


The Midrash Tanchuma, Bo §4 compares the order to a king conquering a rebellious province of his (translation follows Sefaria

מֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם כְּשֶׁמְּדִינָה מוֹרֶדֶת עָלָיו, מְשַׁלֵּחַ עָלֶיהָ לִגְיוֹנוֹת וּמַקִּיפִים אוֹתָהּ. בַּתְּחִלָּה סוֹכֵר אַמַּת הַמַּיִם שֶׁלָּהֶם. חָזְרוּ, מוּטָב, וְאִם לָאו, מֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם קְלָאנִים. חָזְרוּ, מוּטָב. וְאִם לָאו, יוֹרֶה בָּהֶם חִצִּים. חָזְרוּ, הֲרֵי מוּטָב. וְאִם לָאו, מֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם בַּרְבָּרִיִּים. חָזְרוּ, מוּטָב. וְאִם לָאו, מֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם דּוֹרְמַסְיוֹת. חָזְרוּ, מוּטָב. וְאִם לָאו, זוֹרֵק בָּהֶם נֵפְט. חָזְרוּ, מוּטָב. וְאִם לָאו, מַשְׁלִיךְ עֲלֵיהֶן אַבְנֵי בְּלִסְטְרָאוֹת. חָזְרוּ, מוּטָב. וְאִם לָאו, מְגָרֶה בָּהֶן אֻכְלוֹסִין הַרְבֵּה. חָזְרוּ, יָפֶה. וְאִם לָאו, אוֹסֵר אוֹתָן בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִין. חָזְרוּ, יָפֶה. וְאִם לָאו, הוֹרֵג גְּדוֹלִים שֶׁבָּהֶם.

When the people of a province rebel, a human king dispatches his legions to surround them. First he dams up their water supply. If the people repent, well and good; but if not, he orders thunderous noises to be directed against them. If they are contrite, good; but if not, he commands that arrows be shot at them. If they relent (their actions), well and good; but if not, he sends barbarians against them. If they retract, good; but if not, he orders other reprisals to be taken against them. If they are contrite, well and good; but if not, he orders naphtha to be hurled upon them. If they are repentant, good; but if not, he catapults stones upon them. If they repent, good; but if not, he turns a large population against them. If they retract, good; but if not, he imprisons them. If they relent, good; but if not, he destroys their leaders.

כָּךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בָּא עַל הַמִּצְרִים כַּטַּקְסִין שֶׁל מְלָכִים. בַּתְּחִלָּה סָכַר אַמַּת הַמַּיִם שֶׁלָּהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיַּהֲפֹךְ לְדָם יְאֹרֵיהֶם (תהלים עח, מד). לֹא חָזְרוּ, הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם קְלָאנִים, אֵלּוּ צְפַרְדְּעִים. רַבִּי יוֹסִי בַּר חֲנִינָא אָמַר: קִרְקוּרָן הָיָה קָשֶׁה לָהֶם מֵהַשְׁחָתָתָם. לֹא חָזְרוּ, יָרָה עֲלֵיהֶם חִצִּים, אֵלּוּ הַכִּנִּים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַתְּהִי הַכִּנָּם בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה, הָיוּ נִכְנָסִים בְּגוּפָם שֶׁל מִצְרִים כְּחִצִּים. לֹא חָזְרוּ, הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן בַּרְבָּרִיִּים, זֶה עָרוֹב, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: יְשַׁלַּח בָּהֶם עָרֹב (תהלים עח, מה). לֹא חָזְרוּ, הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם דּוֹרְמַסְיוֹת, זֶה הַדֶּבֶר וְהָרַג אֶת מִקְנֵיהֶם. לֹא חָזְרוּ, הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם נֵפְטְ, זֶה הַשְּׁחִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיְהִי שְׁחִין אֲבַעְבֻּעוֹת פֹּרֵחַ בָּאָדָם. לֹא חָזְרוּ, הִשְׁלִיךְ עֲלֵיהֶם אַבְנֵי בְּלִסְטְרָאוֹת, זֶה הַבָּרָד. לֹא חָזְרוּ, גִּירָה בָּהֶן אֻכְלוֹסִין הַרְבֵּה, זֶה אַרְבֶּה. לֹא חָזְרוּ, חֲבָשָׁן בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים, זֶה חֹשֶׁךְ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיְהִי חֹשֶׁךְ אֲפֵלָה. לֹא חָזְרוּ, הָרַג גְּדוֹלִים שֶׁבָּהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַה' הִכָּה כָל בְּכוֹר.

The Holy One, blessed be He, attacked Egypt with the tactics employed by a king. The first thing He did was to cut off their water supply, as it is said: And he turned their rivers into blood. They were not contrite, and He therefore brought tumultuous noises upon them. These were the frogs. R. Yosé the son of Hanina said: Their croaking was harder to bear than the havoc they wrought. Still they did not repent, and so he shot arrows at them. These were the gnats, as it is said: And there were gnats upon man, and upon beast (Exod. 8:13). They penetrated the bodies of the Egyptians like spears. However, they did not become contrite, and so He sent barbarians against them. These were the swarms, as it is said: And there came grievous swarms of beasts (ibid., v. 20). Still they did not relent, and so He took other reprisals against them. He brought the murrain: And all the cattle of Egypt died (ibid. 9:6). Nevertheless, they did not repent, and so He poured naphtha over them. These were the boils, as it is said: And a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast (ibid., v. 9). Still they were not contrite, and so He catapulted projectiles upon them. This was the hail. But even then they did not repent, and so he stirred up a large population against them, that is, the locusts. Even so, they did not mend their ways, and so He imprisoned them. This was the darkness, as it is said: And there was a thick darkness (ibid. 10:22). When they refused to repent, He killed their important men, as it is said: The Lord smote all the firstborn (ibid. 12:19).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .