Shmos 12:27 --------------- שמות יב כז

וַאֲמַרְתֶּ֡ם זֶֽבַח־פֶּ֨סַח ה֜וּא לַֽיהוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר פָּ֠סַח עַל־בָּתֵּ֤י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם בְּנָגְפּ֥וֹ אֶת־מִצְרַ֖יִם וְאֶת־בָּתֵּ֣ינוּ הִצִּ֑יל...׃

And you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the LORD, because He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but saved our houses..

The pasuk tells us that The korban Pesach was brought for, and called so - (and so too is called (by chazal) the name of the Holiday itself), because Hashem was "poseach" (which means either skipped over or had mercy on, or let escape, depending on different meforshim (commetaries), and did not kill the firstborn sons of the Jew during Makas B'choros (plague of the firstborn) when he killed the firstborn sons of the Mitzrim (Eygyptians).

As the pasuk says (ibid 23 - פסוק כג)

וְעָבַ֣ר יְהוָה֮ לִנְגֹּ֣ף אֶת־מִצְרַיִם֒ וְרָאָ֤ה אֶת־הַדָּם֙

עַל־הַמַּשְׁק֔וֹף וְעַ֖ל שְׁתֵּ֣י הַמְּזוּזֹ֑ת וּפָסַ֤ח יְהוָה֙ עַל־הַפֶּ֔תַח וְלֹ֤א יִתֵּן֙ הַמַּשְׁחִ֔ית לָבֹ֥א אֶל־בָּתֵּיכֶ֖ם לִנְגֹּֽף׃

For when the LORD goes through to smite the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, and the LORD will pass over the door and not let the Destroyer enter and smite your home.

Question: Why is so much emphasis put on the saving/sparing of the Jewish people specifically at Makas Bechoros more than at any one of the other Makos which also affected only the Mitzrim and not the Jews?

I would even go further and say that there were other Makos at which sparing the Jews from being smitten was a greater wonder and miracle than that of Makas B'choros. for example, Makas Arov, the plauge of wild animals. When there are many wild animals roaming the city, and they stay away from any Jewish person, that is quite a wonder. Also Makas Arbeh, The locust, where huge throngs of locust cover the cities and eat every drop of vegetation of any kind belonging to the Mitzrim, and they selectively spare anything beolonging to a Jew. This phenominon is quite evident during other Makos also.

At Makos B'choros there was no desease or epidemic going on which may have been contracted by some Jewish people along the way. It was totally like what the Israeli Mosad calls "chisul m'mukad" "pointedly targeted elimination", where each specific target is pointed out and exclusivly eliminated.

[Although chazal tell us, in regard to Makas B'choros "כיון שניתן רשות למשחית אינו מבחין בין צדיק לרשע" - once permission is given to the destroying angel, he makes no distinction between righteous and wicked - But this was avoided by the Jews not leaving their homes during Makos B'choros. (see RASHI ibid 12:22, together with the fact that Hashm did not allow the Malach Hamoves, the Angel of death, to go out on his own that night but accompanied him on this mission of this targeted elimination. (see Da'as Z'keinim, and Chizkuni).

So, why is all the excitement about the posachti/saving/sparing the Jews at Makas B'choros more than at any of the other Makos, when the same took place during the other Makos, and is seemingly even more pointworthy?


One reason (sadly I don't have sources to hand) is that the Jews also served Idols, and the firstborns were the family priests in Egyptian society (some go as far as saying they were semi-worshipped). This was a focus of Makkos Bechoros (which also included the destruction of the Egyptian idols (see Shemos 12 12); as such by rights the Jewish firstborn should have died, and Hashem sparing them was in itself a kindness.

  • 1
    Such a revolutionary answer needs sources. I'm aware of the part about "the Jews also served Idols," but the rest needs sources. – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jun 6 '18 at 12:56
  • @RibbisRabbiAndMore its not actually that revolutionary, but I'll try to update with sources when I have time. – Orangesandlemons Jun 6 '18 at 13:08
  • The source of "the Jews also served Idols," is Yalkut Shimoni Beshalach 138. And there it says that Hashem said "שוטה שבעולם וכי לדעתם עבדוה והלא לא עבדוה אלא מתוך שעבוד ומתוך טרוף דעת ואתה דן שוגג כמזיד ואונס כרצון" So Why do you say "the Jewish firstborn should have died"? – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jun 6 '18 at 13:29

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