Shemot 7:19 states:

The Lord said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch forth your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their canals, over their ponds, and over all their bodies of water, and they will become blood, and there will be blood throughout the entire land of Egypt, even in wood and in stone.' "

Yet, when bringing on the plague we see that not only did Aharon strech forth his hand, he also struck the water: Shemot 7:20:

Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord had commanded, and he raised the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile before the eyes of Pharaoh and before the eyes of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile turned to blood.

On the other hand, the verse sates that "Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord had commanded" - so does this mean that really Hashem commanded Aharon to strike the water,( even though it wasn't clearly mentioned in the command in the previous verse)?

1 Answer 1


At first glance, this appears to be a great question, and it immediately brings to mind the controversy over the rock in the wilderness.

But upon further consideration, I'm wondering if this question is based on a faulty interpretation (although perfectly fine translation) of "struck".

In English, we say the Egyptians were "struck" with 10 plagues. Same in Hebrew; we call the plagues "מכות" (lit. "strikings"). See also אונקלוס there, who translates ויך as "ומחא", which has the same inherent ambiguity in Aramaic.

In other words, it's not clear that אהרן used blunt force to hit the water. The word there is interchangeably used to mean struck, as well as "caused a plague" to occur. So, no, unless there is some Midrash to the contrary, I don't think it needs to be assumed that HaShem commanded him to hit the water, nor does it need to be assumed that אהרן did hit it.

  • 1
    Major props to my amazing wife for suggesting that I look at Onkelos!!
    – Seth J
    Jan 14, 2013 at 16:09

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