Rashi and Shemos Rabbah both do not say the frog was any larger than average.
The Gemara Sanhedrin 67b does not make sense to be understood that the first frog covered all of mitzrayim.
(I know that all the coloring pages show that but that's not a real proof.)
If you are giving me a source please use a source from a Rishon or earlier.

Some might want to say that the frog was large because why else would the Mitzriyim hit it; and if many other frogs came from it, then the first one was larger. A few points:

  1. See this question and some of the answers- there's not really a source that the other frogs came from the first one.
  2. One of the more famous writings about why the mitzriyim kept on hitting the frog is from the Steipler here. For some reason it seems that he specifically doesn't mention that the frog was big?
  3. Maybe the mitzriyim were hitting the frog because Moshe had said the whole plauge would come from it, so the mitzriyim thought that they would kill the frog and outsmart Hashem (no source).
  4. This is just a thought, there is no backing to it. And from the fact that all the commentators that I've seen about this don't mention a big frog seems to indicate that there wasn't one.

Here are some of the places where this is assumed as a fact (for some of them it might be easier to do ctrl f and type "frog" or "big frog"):
From Mi Yodeya: This Question, This Answer, This Answer.
Articles about the Makkos: Aish, Aish, PCCK, Aish, Revach, Kol Torah.
Shiurim: TorahAnytime(0:26), TA(7:56), TA(22:53), TA(9:14),TA(1:30).
I have also seen this in children's Parsha stories/ Midrash Says.

(Interesting side note: When this question was asked to me, I looked around in a few seforim but didn't find anything. But when I was going through the Pesukim I saw something else. (Please note that I do not know of any source for this.) Hashem brought the makkos with a יד חזקה, a strong hand. The gematria of יד is 14. If you start at the letter ג from the word הָאֲגַמִּ֑ים in Parshas Vaeira 8:1 and count fourteen letters, you get the ד of הַֽצְפַרְדְּעִ֖ים. Fourteen letters to the ו of וַיֵּ֤ט. Thirteen letters (I know it's off by one) you get the ל of עַ֖ל. Fourteen letters you get the beginning of the word הַצְּפַרְדֵּ֔עַ. That spells out "גדול הצפרדע," the big frog .)

  • 3
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. As it’s currently phrased, your question is not really answerable since we don’t know who assumed this (and certainly not why). You can edit this question to make it objectively answerable, e.g Do any sources imply that the first frog was larger?
    – Alex
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 20:26
  • the Torah Temimah quotes Sanhedrin as saying "ר׳ עקיבא אומר, צפרדע אחת היתה ומלאה כל ארץ מצרים, ור' אלעזר בן עזריה אמר, צפרדע אחת היתה ושרקה להם והם באו בר"ל שרקה לכל הצפרדעים שבעולם" at sefaria.org/… even though the linked gemara doesn't say this.
    – rosends
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 20:47
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/89471/… Commented May 15, 2020 at 21:04
  • 2
    @TurkHill Maybe I just don't see it, but where does he talk about a big frog?
    – Shmuel L
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 23:30
  • 2
    @TurkHill I read the whole thing- does it answer my question, or you were just showing me an interesting essay?
    – Shmuel L
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 1:36

3 Answers 3


Couldn't find any rishonim but מעם לועז writes that it was a big frog. Thank you Dov for the text:

למד רבי עקיבא שצפרדע אחת גדולה עלתה מן היאור והמצריים התחילו להכותה ובכל מכה יצאו ממנה הרבה צפרדעים

Rebbi Akiva taught that one big frog ascended from the river and the Egyptians began to hit it, and in every plague many frogs came out from it.

  • 1
    It writes: "למד רבי עקיבא שצפרדע אחת גדולה עלתה מן היאור והמצריים התחילו להכותה ובכל מכה יצאו ממנה הרבה צפרדעים"
    – Dov
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 15:11
  • 1
    "Rebbi Akiva taught that one big frog ascended from the river and the Egyptians began to hit it, and in every plague many frogs came out from it."
    – Dov
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 15:13
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    Where exactly is this written (link to source)?
    – Dani
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 17:09
  • 1
    @Dani the only one I could find online is a yiddish version on Hebrewbooks. There is one on the Otzar website but you need to pay to access as it exceeds the page allowance. The above quote is brought on his commentary on the pasuk in Shemos 8:2 - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 18:17
  • @Dov The books of me-Am Lo'ez on HebrewBooks are editions/printings of the original Ladino version (it even says "דיקלארו דיל ארבע ועשרים אין לאדינו...‏" on the first page). What you quote in Hebrew is probably from R. Shmuel Kravitzer's translation called "ילקוט מעם לועז" (Yalkut Me'am Lo'ez; see Wikipedia article "Me'am Lo'ez")
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 2:58

The midrash has a different version:

תנחומא וארא יד

רבי עקיבא אומר: צפרדע אחת היתה, והיו המצרים מכין אותה ומתזת צפרדעים הרבה.

Tanhuma Vera 14

At first there was only one frog, but after the Egyptians struck it, many frogs sprang from it

So, if many normal sized frogs came out of it, I guess it was large. Also, If it was just normal sized frog, why would the Egyptians mind about it?

  • 1
    I just added a response to this in my question.
    – Shmuel L
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 22:00
  • I wonder whats the deeper meaning of this
    – Adam
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 22:14
  • @ShmuelL I think that after my answer, you need to give some evidence that the frog was not large. I don't say it's impossible, but the burden of evidence is passed to you. Commented May 21, 2020 at 6:03
  • @AlaychemRM As I pointed out in my question in reason #4, this is not an answer, it's just a thought, and as I pointed out in reason #1 and 3, there is no reason to think this thought in the first place.
    – Shmuel L
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 18:50

This is an interesting question and requires establishing some ground rules as to how it should be addressed.

You require that any sources referred to must be from the time of the Rishonim or earlier. So the reference to the Steipler Gaon should be excluded even from your own considerations.

You don't limit sources to Jewish sources necessarily. So it seems to allow for archeological evidence.

It is important to remember that the story as recounted in the Torah of Moshe emphasizes that this judgment related to the 10 plagues was on both the Egyptians and their gods.

And it is in that context that the discussion you cite from Sanhedrin 67b between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya must be understood.

Hebrew words, generally have 3 letter roots. When you see a word that possesses more than that number of letters and certainly like צפרדע which has 5 letters, it suggests a compound word or something (a word or idea) from foreign origin.

This type of word requires linguistic analysis to understand what it means and what is implied.

This is what Rabbi Akiva attempted to do by saying from this single Tzefarde'ah it swarmed and divided into many and covered the entire land of Egypt. He is looking at the beginning letters of the compound word צפרדע and saying the root צפ״ר means to bring to the surface, to overflow and flood (הציף).

From Rabbi Akiva's opinion, it seems that the plague started from the source, the Nile River and somehow overwhelmed the canal system. So in his view, the flooding of the river was larger than anticipated and overwhelmed the smaller capacity of the irrigation system. The source Tzefarde'ah was bigger than the smaller Tzefarde'im.

So it appears that the idea that the first frog was larger follows the view and teaching of Rabbi Akiva.

If you are looking for a modern day example to understand the potential devastation, consider the overwhelming of the levee/canal system in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The waters from the ocean surge simply overwhelmed the flood canal drainage system and destroyed the entire city (See section: Damage in New Orleans).

This linguistic analysis was also what Rabbi Elazar was referring to in connection with Akiva's Aggadic interpretation system when he questioned Akiva's interpretation and said that the word somehow meant something about calling to others.

The second of the plagues was that of the frog. From archeological evidence it is understood that this is a reference to one of the gods of Egyptian worship related to the rising of the waters of the Nile at the time of flooding. This is referring to the Egyptian god Heqet, who was depicted with the head or complete form of a frog. The function of this female god is described in the Westcar papyrus as being connected with the final flooding stage, the process of birth and fertility.

Much of the Egyptian worship was based upon the flow of water in the Nile and the idea that Pharaoh, as a god, controlled and altered that flow of water (It rose and fell at his command.) . If you investigate the commentaries of the Rishonim, you will discover that this was accomplished through an elaborate system of irrigation using canals and water screws to manage water. It meant that human beings were no longer at the mercy of, nor under the control of the Creator of the universe. So the word in the Torah, Tzefarde'ah, which is referring to the Egyptian god, Heqet, who is appointed over the floodwaters from the Nile and is depicted as a frog, appears to relate to that flow of water wherever it is in the system, river or canals.

Interestingly, the Egyptian name for their god itself, Heqet, has a linguistic similarity to the Hebrew word meaning to hit or to strike hakah (, היכה הכאה) which is also associated to the root of naka or naki (נקא, נקי) which is also associated with Tumah and Taharah the subject of ritual fitness. And that connection is mentioned in Rabbi Elazar's critique and question to Rabbi Akiva.

And this leads to understanding the different meaning as presented by Rabbi Elazar, who suggests it means whistling or calling to others. This is from the initial letters of צפ״ר which has a meaning of whistling or calling to the others to assemble., like the words צפיר or צפור. In that view, it suggests that the origin of the plague was somehow associated with the canals and irrigation (their being called to the river) and not from the river itself. Rabbi Elazar seems to be saying the fault was in the design of the systems capacity. The initial frog was not exceptionally large.

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