I have found some specific reasons for each one of the plagues that GOD brought upon Egypt. Each Plague was a measure to measure punishments for the Egyptians:

According to Midrash Tanchuma the first plague of blood was related to menstrual blood. The Egyptians prevented Jewish women from ritually immersing after they finished menstruating. This prevented a husband and wife from having marital relations. Besides a cruel disruption of family life, the Egyptians intended it as a form of forced birth control.

The Nile River might have been a prime location for ritual immersion. (That’s where the daughter of Pharaoh performed her ritual immersion when, according to the Midrash, she converted to Judaism). Perhaps this was G-d’s message. You prohibited Jewish women from immersing in the Nile after their menstrual blood stopped flowing, I will turn the Nile river into blood. Just as the Egyptians disrupted marital relations among the Jews, G-d disrupted the Egyptians entire way of life. According to the Midrash all water in Egypt turned to blood. So no Egyptian could have a drink of water, wash their clothes or take a bath.

According to the Midrash, the Jews were forced to fetch reptiles, so in the second plague, Egypt was overrun with frogs. The Egyptians tormented the Jews by forcing them to sweep dirt from the streets and markets. The third plague turned the dirt into lice which tormented the Egyptians. The Jews were put in mortal danger by being forced to fetch wild animals. (Some commentaries saw this as a public show where Jews were matched against wild animals). Therefore in the fourth plague, Egypt were overrun by wild animals. The Jews were forced to graze the livestock of Egyptians on far away hills and deserts, to keep them separated from their wives. In the fifth plague, Pestilence killed off the Egyptian livestock. The Jews were forced to pamper the bodies of the Egyptians. On the sixth plague, the skin of the Egyptians was plagued with boils from which nothing could soothe the pain. The Jews were forced to plant gardens, trees, and vineyards. All were destroyed by the seventh plague of hail.

And the reason for the Final One, death of the Firstborn, is well known - since the Egyptians oppressed the "Firstborn" of the GOD.

But one of the Ten Plagues was missing, what is the specific reason (the midah keneged midah reason) for the Plague of Darkness? How was the darkness related to the Egyptian oppression of the Israelites?

1 Answer 1


There are several middah knegged middah (measure for measure) reasons for darkness:

  1. Yalkut Shimoni 182 - The Egyptians sought to completely eradicate the Jews making them no longer "visible" - thus Hashem brought darkness to separate Egypt from the rest of the nations.

  2. Midrash Tanchuma - The Egyptians sought to incarcerate the Jews deep in the darkness of their prisons, therefore Hashem plunged them into darkness so "no man could see his friend".

  3. Me'am Loez - They forced the Israelites to carry torches in front of them to light their way, because the alleys in Egypt are dark.

  4. Midrash Seichel Tov - An Egyptian would say, "Stand before me until I dine, and the candle shall be placed on your head, and you shall not move, and if you move, I will cut off your head with a sword", therefore darkness came where the Egyptians couldn't move.

  5. Shemos Rabbah 14:3 - There were sinners in Israel who had a patron from the Egyptians and they had a reputation for wealth and honor and they did not want to leave, so Hashem said, "If I bring a plague on them publicly and they die, the Egyptians will say that just as it happened to us so it happened to them, therefore He brought darkness upon the Egyptians for three days so that they could bury their dead and the Egyptians wouldn't see.

  6. Kli Yakar, Shemos 7:17 - Due to the edict to throw the baby boys in the Nile, the Jews had to hide their newborns, so the Egyptians also became concealed in darkness.

  7. Me'am Loez - The Egyptians worshipped the sun, therefore darkness was brought to show it had no strength.

  8. Abarbanel - The Bnei Yisrael were in the Egyptian exile and exile is likened to darkness (Eichah 3:6) "In darkness I will sit as an eternal death", and on the contrary the deliverance is called light (Yeshayah 9:1) "The people who walk in darkness saw a great light". Thus the Egyptians were condemned to darkness and all the Israelites had light.

  9. Sifsei Kohen - According to the fact that they darkened and closed their eyes from slavery, that's why Hashem darkened the Egyptians' eyes.

  10. Me'am Loez - They would make the Bnei Yisrael work hard all day long until late at night, and they would also have to get up first thing at dawn in order to go to work and collect straw for the bricks. So, they went out in the dark and returned in the dark. Accordingly, Hashem brought darkness on the Egyptians.

  • 5
    10 answers deserves 10 upvotes
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 10 at 10:51
  • Thank you @RabbiKaii :-)
    – Dov
    Jan 10 at 11:24
  • 1
    Thank you @Dov for taking time to answer my question Jan 17 at 6:30
  • Absolute pleasure @GembaliNoach
    – Dov
    Jan 17 at 6:41
  • @Dov seems like the going rate these days of a good answer is half a point
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 22 at 18:43

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