What do the commentators say is the message/meaning behind the miracles in Egypt?For example, i heard an explanation that the reason God turned the River into blood was to show that God had power over the Nile. So i'm looking for more explanations on what the miracles are supposed to say/represent. Please cite your sources, and if you could have them in Hebrew and English it would be the most helpful. To be more specific, i'm looking for broad treatises about the miracles as a whole.

  • I think splitting this into 10 different questions is a good idea. Were my vote not binding I'd use it to VTC as Too Broad.
    – Double AA
    Jan 11, 2016 at 23:28
  • i would imagine there are some treatises that are generally about the plagues as a whole, rather than as comments to each one individually
    – Aaron
    Jan 11, 2016 at 23:30
  • If you seek treatises on all 10 you should ask for that, but you haven't here. If there are such treatises, they can easily be posted as a source for 10 different answers. Shulchan Arukh, for instance, is used to answer many halacha questions around here.
    – Double AA
    Jan 11, 2016 at 23:31
  • @Aaron If you are asking about explanations for the plagues in general (on a macro level), it would be good to clarify that in the question. Otherwise, asking about what any commentators say about any or all of the individual plagues seems too broad.
    – Fred
    Jan 11, 2016 at 23:33
  • 1
    I recommend removing "but would not turn down anything that was specific" to keep the question focused.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 12, 2016 at 14:19

2 Answers 2


Rav Hirsch groups the plagues as shown in the Hagadah as three groups. He groups them in three rows each with three columns and explains both the rows and the columns and explains in וארא 7:15

...דצך remedy Egyptians from the erroneous ideas of גרות עבדות ועינוי by the revelation of Hashem's Power and Almightiness on water and land אדש by the revelation of Hashem's Power and Almightiness on the living inhabitants of the land, and באחב on the air which encompasses land and people.

The first plague of each group of three are under גרות.

he whose stay in a country is dependent on the goodwill and tolerance of others.

The second of each group is under עבדות which destroys the two main ideas

which fill the breast of the slave owner with the conceit that his superiority over a slave is justified, a) the idea that he belongs to an altogether higher order of beings and b) the idea of the haughty superiority due to power and riches.

The third of each group come under the heading of ענוי.

And what it means to lead a harassed, painful, and starving life was taught by the corporal plagues.

As we have observed, the first two plagues of each group were rather more to teach a lesson and only the third was a punishment, and that was why the two first ones only came after having been announced beforehand.

There is much more that follows and he explains each plague and how it connects to this general reasoning. However, it is too long to go into here. See the commentary in the Hirsch Chumash in Parshiyos וארא and בו.

All the other commentaries also go into much more detail.

  • I think you've got some typos going on. And I can't tell if you are transliterating with an Ashkenazi style so I dont know if the words end with sav, samekh, or sin
    – Aaron
    Jan 12, 2016 at 2:01

Ramban Shemos 13:15

ועתה אומר לך כלל בטעם מצות רבות: הנה מעת היות עבודה זרה בעולם מימי אנוש החלו הדעות להשתבש באמונה, מהם כופרים בעיקר ואומרים כי העולם קדמון, כחשו בי"י ויאמרו לא הוא (ירמיהו ה':י"ב), ומהם מכחישים בידיעתו הפרטים, אמרו: איכה ידע אל ויש דעה בעליון (תהלים ע"ג:י"א), ומהם שיודו בידיעה ומכחישים בהשגחה ויעשו אדם כדגי הים שלא ישגיח האל בהם ואין עמם עונש או שכר, עזב י"י את הארץ (יחזקאל ט':ט'). וכאשר ירצה האלהים בעדה או ביחיד, ויעשה עמם מופת בשנוי מנהגו של עולם וטבעו, יתברר לכל בטול הדעות האלה כולם, כי המופת הנפלא מורה שיש לעולם אלוה מחדשו, יודע ומשגיח ויכול. וכאשר יהיה המופת ההוא נגזר תחלה מפי נביא יתברר ממנו עוד אמתת הנבואה, כי ידבר אלהים את האדם (דברים ה':כ') ויגלה סודו אל עבדיו הנביאים (עמוס ג':ז'), ותתקיים עם זה התורה כולה. ולכן יאמר הכתוב במופתים: למען תדע כי אני י"י בקרב הארץ (שמות ח':י"ח), להורות על ההשגחה, כי לא עזב אותה למקרים כדעתם. ויאמר: למען תדע כי לי"י הארץ (שמות ט':כ"ט), להורות על החדוש, כי הם שלו, שבראם מאין. ואמר: בעבור תדע כי אין כמוני בכל הארץ (שמות ט':י"ד) להורות על היכולת, שהוא שליט בכל, אין מעכב בידו, כי בכל זה היו המצרים מכחישים או מסתפקים. אם כן, האותות והמופתים הגדולים עדים נאמנים באמונת הבורא והתורה כולה.

And now I shall declare to you a general principle in the reason of many commandments. Beginning with the days of Enosh when idol-worship came into existence, opinions in the matter of faith fell into error. Some people denied the root of faith by saying that the world is eternal; they denied the Eternal, and said: It is not He [Who called forth the world into existence]. Others denied His knowledge of individual matters, and they say, How doth G-d know? and is there knowledge in the Most High? Some admit His knowledge but deny the principle of providence and make men as the fishes of the sea, [believing] that G-d does not watch over them and that there is no punishment or reward for their deeds, for they say the Eternal hath forsaken the land. Now when G-d is pleased to bring about a change in the customary and natural order of the world for the sake of a people or an individual, then the voidance of all these [false beliefs] becomes clear to all people, since a wondrous miracle shows that the world has a G-d Who created it, and Who knows and supervises it, and Who has the power to change it. And when that wonder is previously prophesied by a prophet, another principle is further established, namely, that of the truth of prophecy, that G-d doth speak with man, and that He revealeth His counsel unto His servants the prophets, and thereby the whole Torah is confirmed. This is why Scripture says in connection with the wonders [in Egypt]: That thou [Pharaoh] mayest know that I am the Eternal in the midst of the earth (Shemot 8:18), which teaches us the principle of providence, i.e., that G-d has not abandoned the world to chance, as they [the heretics] would have it; That thou mayest know that the earth is the Eternal's, which informs us of the principle of creation, for everything is His since He created all out of nothing; That thou mayest know that there is none like Me in all the earth, which indicates His might, i.e., that He rules over everything and that there is nothing to withhold Him. The Egyptians either denied or doubted all of these [three] principles, [and the miracles confirmed their truth].

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