Sh'mot 8:7:

וְסָרוּ הַצְפַרְדְּעִים, מִמְּךָ וּמִבָּתֶּיךָ, וּמֵעֲבָדֶיךָ, וּמֵעַמֶּךָ: רַק בַּיְאֹר, תִּשָּׁאַרְנָה.

Artscroll says it means "depart", implying the frogs will hop away. A few p'sukim later the frogs just drop dead. Although they do physically leave the houses, it is because they are being cleared away by humans.

What did G actually say concerning frog removal? Was he intending on being technically within the letter of his promise (in the manner of Lavan cheating someone)?

  • 1
    I don't understand the Lavan line. Can you explain?
    – WAF
    Dec 27, 2018 at 15:04
  • Imaging Lavan goes to Pharoah and says, give me $100,000 and the frogs will be removed tomorrow. Lavan knows that if he just kills the frogs, the people wil have to get rid of them else they smell. So he takes the money and releases gas to kill them. Pharoah sues him for breach of contract, claiming that he didn't remove the frogs. Lavan counters by arguing that he never promised to remove the frogs, only that they would be removed. Dec 27, 2018 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


According to the Sforno on 8:7, the pasuk says that they will be removed from the houses

but not from the whole country; on the contrary, they will die in the land and cause a stench, but in the future they will not leave their habitat in or near the river.

The Malbim indicates that the pasuk indicates the order of the removal (which, I guess, means that after they stank, then they were removed, since m'amecha is 4th).

The Shadal draws a different distinction

כמו וסר מהם הנגע, ואין הכוונה שילכו להם חיים, ולפיכך לא אמר רק אל היאור ישובו, אלא ימותו במקום שהם; והכורם טעה בהבנת מלת וסרו, וחשב כי משה הבטיח שישובו אל היאור חיים, וה' לא רצה.

That the "remove" wasn't a physical removal, but a "remove the plague" which just means the frogs would die and stop being a plague.

This is echoed by the Tur Ha'aroch on 8:9 regarding the death of frogs

How do we square this with verse 7 in which Moses predicted the frogs as “departing?” Moses had referred to the frogs as a plague departing, he did not predict that they would depart under their own power, as did the locusts in the eighth plague. On this occasion the dead frogs remained wherever they had died.

A bunch of the commentators point out that the ones in the ovens did not die.

All citations from Sefaria.

  • Also here it means to die Bamidbar 14,9 in Rashi "סר צלם" - מגינם וחזקם כשרים שבהם מתו איוב שהיה מגין עליהם (סוטה לח) well done
    – user15464
    Dec 27, 2018 at 14:31

According to the Targum Onkeles, סרו is an expression of restriction, like יסר or אסר. The actual targum is ויעדון from the root יעד which means the frogs were given a designation, like when a women is betrothed to her future husband, she is designated to him and not others. That originally she is available to all men, but then restricted to her betrothed.

The frogs were implanted with a particular purpose that did not involve Pharaoh, nor his home and property or his people.

This means that what Moshe was demonstrating was that G-d can change the instinctive nature of all things. That is why the two names of G-d, that pertaining to what transcends nature and that which pertains to nature were referenced by Moshe when addressing Pharaoh.

The frogs operate only according to their natural instinct, their innate behavior. Their normal instinct is to behave as an amphibian and live in and near the water. That innate behavior was changed and is what brought them to Pharaoh at the time of the plague. G-d again changed the innate behavior of those frogs as a consequence of Moshe's prayer and they had no further interest in Pharaoh. They returned to their original instinctive behavior as amphibians.

  • 2
    סרו is from the root ס(ו)ר . I don't understand the connection to restriction, do you mean to say it's related to אסר (tie), or to יסר (afflict/teach)? (In my opinion that would be incorrect.) ויעדון is from the root עדי, not יעד and isn't related to designation.
    – b a
    Dec 27, 2018 at 16:44
  • @ba Yes, אסר or יסר (both ideas of restriction). Onkeles clearly translates in the context of 'designation' or 'betrothal'. If I understand the Aramaic root you point to, it would be using a conversive Vav which is not in the Hebrew text. If you look at the statement from Moshe about what he was going to pray about in Shemot 8:5 and the concept of התפאר, a reference to Isaiah 10:15, it is talking about things in their natural state (the axe and the saw, etc.), like instinctive behavior. Instinct was unrestricted for the plague and then restricted via prayer. They remained only in the river. Dec 27, 2018 at 17:18
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    There is a conversive ו in וסרו (the verse is quoted above in the question) and it's not part of the root of ויעדון (here as elsewhere, Onkelos translates Hebrew ופעל with vav hahipuch as ויפעל). I don't think your translations are correct. וסרתם מן הדרך doesn't mean "you will restrict from the path." וְיַעְדֵּי יְיָ מִנָּךְ כָּל מַרְעִין (translation of וְהֵסִיר יְהוָה מִמְּךָ כָּל חֹלִי) doesn't mean "God will designate from you all sickness." Restriction isn't a meaning of סור or יסר
    – b a
    Dec 27, 2018 at 18:17

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