Making Sense of the Plagues: The Education of Pharaoh


Then YHVH said to Mosheh, "Pharaoh\'s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the
people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water; stand
by at the river bank to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was
turned into a snake. Say to him, \'YHVH, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you
to say, "Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness." But
until now you have not listened.\' Thus says YHVH, "By this you shall know that I
am YHVH." See, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is
in the Nile, and it shall be turned to blood. (Sh\'mot [Exodus] 7:14-17)

In this account of the warning of the first plague (blood), there are several
details which show up again in some - but not all - of the other plagues:

1) Mosheh warns Pharaoh about the upcoming plague - but not every time (only
before the plagues of frogs, wild beasts, pestilence, hail, locusts and the

2) Some of these warnings take place in the early morning by the banks of the
Nile (wild beasts and hail) while others take place in Pharaoh\'s palace.

3) A theological message (e.g. "By this you shall know that I am YHVH") is
appended to the warning - whereas other warnings are bereft of such a message.

4) Mosheh\'s staff is used in some of the plagues - but not all (it is only used
in the plagues of blood, frogs, lice, hail and locusts).

Our first simple and straightforward question is: Is there any rhyme or reason
to the plagues and their attendant warnings which would explain these apparent

Category: Social Issues