4

Hashem's instructions to Moshe to bring the locusts reads as follows:

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל משֶׁה נְטֵה יָדְךָ עַל אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בָּאַרְבֶּה וכו

And Hashem said to Moses, "stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts..."

The vowel under the ב of בארבה is a qamatz, which is in place of the definitive article ה. (See here for more about that.) This indicates that there were some specific locusts that were being referred to by this verse (i.e. send the locusts as opposed to send locusts).

I think Rashi is addressing his point with his comment to this word,

בארבה: בשביל מכת הארבה

For the locusts: for the plague of locusts

thus making the definitive article referring to the plague, as opposed to the locusts.

However, I am wondering if there is any other approach to this in the commentaries. Does anyone explain that there were some specific, otherwise known, locusts that were involved in this plague?

1

See Rashi's explanation in Shemot 10:14 regarding the phrase "... there was never Arbeh like it and afterwards there will not be...". Rashi explains that there are different species of locusts one of which is called arbeh. He explains that this plague of locusts in Egypt was only of that species called arbeh. So, I'm assuming that the use of the definite article in your verse parallels this idea, that Moshe should cause the arbeh, meaning to exclude the other species of locusts.

English has similar usage of the definitive article. Example: Mom says to child, "You have so many marbles - blue, red, green and yellow. Which do you want to play with?" Child says, "I'll play with the blue ones"

  • An interesting suggestion, +1. Note that when Moshe tells Pharaoh, he refers to indefinite locusts (10:4) - with your explanation, Moshe could just as well have told Pharaoh about the arbeh (although I realize it wouldn't be necessary, but thought I would point it out). – Y     e     z Jan 26 '15 at 18:35
  • @YeZ - It's possible that G-d didn't tell Moshe the exact nature of the plague, i.e., being just 1 species. Also, keep in mind that we're projecting an explanation of future events onto a "current" event. I.e. - Rashi is trying to resolve a conflict between the Torah's "prediction" and what eventually occurred. – DanF Jan 27 '15 at 1:40

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