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Moses, Water, Frogs

Moses, Water, Frogs

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Published by Avi Weinstein
The Plagues, the plagues, the plagues...Oh, the water.
The Plagues, the plagues, the plagues...Oh, the water.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Avi Weinstein on Apr 13, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ON WATER & FROGS...From Rabbi Avi Weinstein
"Allow me to introduce myself..." God says, and then announces thenew Name to Moshe. With this introduction, God attempts toinspire Moshe after Moshe's recalcitrant people have paid him noheed. He assures Moshe that even though Moshe has not been abig hit with his own people, Pharaoh, on the other hand, will be veryimpressed. So, Moshe and his brother Aharon pull a snake out of astaff, which swallows the snake/staffs of the Egyptian sorcerers.Pharaoh is still not impressed, as the Holy One has foreseen andnow Moshe is being ordered to bring out the heavy artillery. He isinstructed to:
" Go to Pharaoh in the morning, here, he goes out to the Nile,station yourself to meet him by the shore of the Nile,and the staff that changed into a snake, take in your hand,and say to him:YHWH, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you, saying:Send free my people, that they may serve me in the wilderness!But here, you have not hearkened thus far.Thus says YHWH:By this shall you know that I am YHWH:here, I will strike—with the staff that is in my hand—upon the water that is inthe Nile,and it will change into blood.The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will reek,and the Egyptians will be unable to drink water from the Nile." (Exodus 7:17-18)Note that Moshe is instructed to greet Pharaoh by himself. This is apersonal encounter "mano el mano", or as far as Pharaoh is concerned, "deoel deo". Aharon is nowhere to be found. It's a dramatic statement becausePharaoh, who is fresh from the waters, is told that they are about to bepolluted by the leader of the Hebrew slaves. After Moshe is told to confrontPharaoh the Holy One continues:YHWH said to Moshe:Say to Aharon:Take your staff 
and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt,over their tributaries, over their Nile-canals, over their ponds and over alltheir bodies of water,and let them become blood!There will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt—in the wooden-containers, in the stoneware.Moshe and Aharon did thus, as YHWH had commanded them.He raised the staff and struck the water in the Nile, before the eyes of Pharaoh and before the eyes of his servants,and all the water that was in the Nile changed into blood.The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile reeked,and the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile;the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt. (Ibid:19-21)The Holy One tells Moshe to use Aharon as the "plague-maker". Mosheis told to be the proposer and Aharon is the disposer. This is also true for theplague of "frogs". Moses is instructed to tell Pharaoh himself and then he istold to tell Aharon to make the plague happen:
Exodus 8:1-2
1 YHWH said to Moshe:Say to Aharon:
Stretch out your hand with your staff 
, over the tributaries, over the Nile-canals, and over the ponds,make the
ascend upon the land of Egypt!2 Aharon stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt,the
ascendedand covered the land of Egypt.3 Now the magicians did thus with their occult-artsthey made frogs ascend upon the land of Egypt.If Moshe's reluctance to lead the people hinges upon his "heavytongue", why is he given the speaking role while his silver tongued brother isrelegated to the mute role of "staff-stretcher"? If Moses has already provedcapable of addressing Pharaoh, why was it necessary to give Aharon a role?In later plagues Aharon is no longer part of the drama, why is he given a rolehere?One might say that just as Pharaoh does not do his own sorcery, Moshemust be seen as an equal and, therefore, must have his "man" who will dohis bidding. In order to show that Moshe belongs in the room with Pharaoh,Moshe also requires his "court". Otherwise, he may not be taken seriously.After Moshe's "credentials" are established, Aharon is no longer viewed asessential.Such a solution explains why the first plague was executed in thisfashion, but why the second plague? The Midrash in Exodus Rabba has an

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