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    Sequence of the Ten Plagues – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is there any logic in the sequence of the Ten Plagues?

    The Ten Plagues, Venice Haggadah, 1609

    A. Nachum Betzer, an Israeli environmental engineer, suggests that that the first nine plagues represent a chain reaction of ecological disasters.

    (Classical commentators like Abravanel also explained the plagues as natural phenomena, adding that what was miraculous was that they came at just the right moment to achieve Pharaoh’s final capitulation.)

    Betzer says the plague of blood was the result of red microscopic organisms in the river Nile. These could have affected photosynthesis and made the water recede. This provided a breeding ground for frogs, the second plague. The Egyptians killed them and the decomposing bodies bred lice. Ecological imbalance led to a swarm of wild animals and cattle disease followed.

    One thing followed another, ending with clouds of locusts creating the plague of darkness. Only the tenth plague, the killing of the first born, can not be explained so easily, and this was where the real miracle occurred.

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