Wednesday, January 09, 2008


In an earlier post I incorrectly remembered R' Samson Raphael Hirsch's view on the court magicians of Egypt and the plague of frogs. [To be fair, the act of misremembering was two years ago when I wrote the original post; earlier this week I simply relied on what I had written earler]

What I said

What RSRH said

Summary of RSRH's view

The magicians were attempting to remove the frogs from Egypt when they "did likewise with their secret arts" [8.3: וַיַּעֲשׂוּ-כֵן הַחַרְטֻמִּים, בְּלָטֵיהֶם.] However they failed and instead "they brought up frogs upon the land" [8.3: וַיַּעֲלוּ אֶת-הַצְפַרְדְּעִים, עַל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם]

The ellipse, RSRH says, creates a parallel between this verse, and the one that appears later [8:16] about Kinim: ויעשו כן החרטמים בלטיהם להוציא את הכנים ie: the magicians did likewise with their secret arts to remove (להוציא ) the lice. The words ויעשו כן החרטמים בלטיהם appear in both places, and from this RSRH concludes that in both places, the magicians were attempting to perform the same sort of act. Thus, according to RSRH the verse about frogs should be read: "The magicians did likewise with their secret arts... (to remove the frogs; and instead)... they brought frogs upon the land."

In both cases, RSRH says, the magicians were attempting to undo the plague. In both cases they failed, and in the plague of frogs they succeeded only in bringing up more frogs (or so it appeared to them.)

DovBear regrets the error.

No comments: