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Who said that little Tzfardeaim jumped out of the big one's mouth?

As far as I can tell, the gemara in Sanhedrin, as well as all of the mainstream medrashim, use a lashon of וישרצו, which, as Rashi points out in Chulin, is a lashon of leidah, the Zohar says וילודו, which is definitely a lashon of giving birth, and rashi al hatorah uses a lashon of vaýifritzu mimenah nichilim nichilim, it sprayed out from it (same lashon as the medresh Agadah (Rav Moshe haDarshan)).

I always assumed that it started with one squeamish preschool teacher saying "it came out of it", and the kids assumed that it meant from it's mouth and told that to their kids...

Is there a mekor for this? I've been looking for years.

  • Dish out the bounty to @רבותמחשבות already!!! He deserves it... – ezra Apr 23 '18 at 3:28
  • @ezra - I meant to; I just haven't been online since it was eligable – Uber_Chacham Apr 24 '18 at 4:39
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+500

I don't know if you will find an early source (I'm assuming recent Parsha sheets etc. are no good for this). (Here's a recent one). However, two additional notes:

  1. There are various Midrashim about the frogs going in and out of Pharaoh's mouth, perhaps this was part of the source of confusion here.

  2. An actual partial source for this may be what I have found in this Christian Bible (see notes to Shemos 8:3), which claims that the word Vesharatz (ἐξερεύξεται) according LXX here (Septuagint, or תרגום שבעים) means to belch, which would mean that the Passuk says "And the river belched out frogs". Clearly, if nothing else, it is employing this terminology, so it is not hard to see why others might have also, even if there is no real source. The same terminology is found in another recent book here.

  3. Similarly, some translations of Chochmas Shlomo (Wisdom of Solomon) 19:10/19:12 have:

    They remembered how the river had vomited up frogs instead of its normal wildlife.

(Here's a link to the Latin in the Vulgate, which apparently means vomited)

In the Hebrew translation of Chochmas Shlomo at Daat, the word used is Sharatz.

Being that Rashi (really Rabbi Akiva in the Gemara/Midrash) takes the same word used in the Passuk, Vesharatz to describe what the frog does, it is not crazy to say that they came out of it's mouth, at least from an illustrative perspective.


This is too good to just leave as a comment, so here it is as an answer...

Some frogs have been known to give birth from their mouths.

Thus, those opinions that say that the frog "gave birth" could be referring to this.

  • BTW, just to clarify, I don't actually believe this. – רבות מחשבות Apr 2 '18 at 3:34
  • Gastric brooding frogs, which are native only to Australia, as far as I can tell,do give birth from their mouths, but I still don't know thy someone would assume that they were the Tzfardiim – Uber_Chacham Apr 5 '18 at 15:29
  • Also, even these frogs gave birth normally, and then swallowed the eggs before they hatched – Uber_Chacham Apr 5 '18 at 15:36
  • This doesn’t help if you hold the tzefarde’im were reptiles/amphibians in general rather than specifically frogs, and it also assumes that it was these particular types of frogs. +1 for creativity, though. – DonielF Apr 5 '18 at 15:55
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Sanhedrin 67b

ותעל הצפרדע ותכס את ארץ מצרים אמר ר' אלעזר צפרדע אחת היתה השריצה ומלאה כל ארץ מצרים כתנאי רבי עקיבא אומר צפרדע אחת היתה ומלאה כל ארץ מצרים אמר לו רבי אלעזר בן עזריה עקיבא מה לך אצל הגדה כלה מדברותיך ולך אצל נגעים ואהלות צפרדע אחת היתה שרקה להם והם באו:

Rashi there:

השריצה - ממעיה ויצאו ולדות:

שרקה להם - ושמעו קולה כל הצפרדעים שבעולם והם באו:

Shemos Rabba 10,4 quotes this medrash in Sanhedrin word for word, with no mention of anyone hitting the frog.

The frogs did not come out of the mouth rather as regular frog spawn from its innards (see Rashi Quoted) which all miraculously grew into frogs which covered the whole land according to Rabbi Akiva.
Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria's interpretation that that the frog croaked and Rashi explains all the frogs heard its voice, and that caused the other frogs to jump out of the Nile so all the frogs already existed according to Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaria.According to this Medrash There was no hitting a frog.

So this interpretation could be a mistaken hybrid between the 2 opinions and Rashis opinion that the frog was hit see bellow, and when hit, the frog's mouth caused the other frogs to come out, which pre school thought that meant they spawned from the mouth when in actuality according to R' Elazar ben Azaria they came from the river as it was a "natural occurrence", and according to Rabbi Akiva this was one big frog that had miraculous offspring through regular spawning which covered the entire land of Egypt.

Rashi on the torah Shemos 8,2 seams to quote a different Medrash's opinion:

צפרדע אחת היתה, והיו מכין אותה והיא מתזת נחילים נחילים -
There was 1 frog and the Mitzrim hit the frog and it split open and out spurted river-loads of frogs

This opinion does mention hitting a frog, but thatthey spurted out from the place of the wounds which means the frogs came out of the many wounds as it says מכין plural, if they happened to smite the frog on the mouth then frogs could of gushed out from the mouth as well but they did not uniquely come out of the mouth and there is no evidence that one of the wounds was on the mouth.
So here the mistake of the preschool teacher is to falsly attribute the gushing out of frogs uniquely from the mouth.

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I feel that this is a different answer than mine above, so I made it separate.

The answer is nowhere, really. The Midrash Says (the earliest source I found that says this directly) explains that the big frog spit out frogs. The source there is Midrash Agadah 8, which says nothing any more specific than what has been listed in the other answers (and question) above:

ותעל הצפרדע. צפרדע אחת היתה והיו מכים אותה ומתזת נחלים נחלים. ועוד שהיתה הצפרדע מקרקרת מבחוץ וחברתה עונה לה מבטן המצרי, וכשהיו טוחנין את הסם היה מתמלא מן הצפרדעים, וכשהתפלל משה רבינו ע"ה נתנערו מן היבשה:

Certainly The Midrash Says is a classic source for elementary school teachers and many other people and it would be unlikely that those people would look it up themselves before repeating it.

  • @user15464 pretty much agree, except that I identified a source that says it, that many people rely on... But my analysis is exactly the same. – רבות מחשבות Apr 8 '18 at 11:33
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Not from a Medrash, but from an illustration of the Golden Haggadah (c. 1320, northern Spain) in British Library, MS. 27210, fol. 12 verso.

Its illustration has many little frogs “coming out” from the big one, as Moshe (not Aharon) is hitting it.

One interpretation could see it "as if it were vomiting" other little ones (although unlikely, if one looks carefully). I suspect that, lay or imaginative people (perhaps children; they do this a lot) start saying that they jumped out of the big one's mouth and then this spread in a darshening sense.

This is the image in high resolution:

enter image description here

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Tana Devai Eliyahu brings this in the name of Rabbi Akiva.

רבי עקיבא אומר צפרדע אחת היתה, והיו המצרים מכין אותה במקל, והיו מנשרין ממנה צפרדעים עד שנתמלאה כל ארץ מצרים צפרדעים

  • 3
    How are you translating מנשרין? It normally means something to the effect of falling off, which is kind of vague in context over here, and funny because in every other version of this machlokes between R' Akiva and R' Elazar, such as in Sanhedrin and Medresh Rabba, it says וישרצו. Still, I don't see where it says that it came out of it's mouth. – Uber_Chacham Feb 18 '18 at 20:05
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    How does this answer the question? – Uber_Chacham Feb 21 '18 at 3:08
  • I can not find a translation anywhere for the word מנשרין. From where do you get or see a translation of falling off? – Gershon Gold Apr 5 '18 at 15:46
  • I would have translated it as “flying out” in the colloquial sense, the same way that a נשר is an eagle, specifically used throughout Tanach to refer to traveling quickly (כנפי נשרים). This doesn’t prove it was from its mouth, though, which was the OP’s main point. – DonielF Apr 5 '18 at 15:57
  • Nashar does mean to fall out, as far as I know – רבות מחשבות Apr 5 '18 at 18:09

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