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5 Facts About the Parsha Bo (That Maybe) You Didn't Know!

Published on Friday February 19th, 2021



וַיַּ֣עַל הָֽאַרְבֶּ֗ה עַ֚ל כָּל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַיָּ֕נַח בְּכֹ֖ל גְּב֣וּל מִצְרָ֑יִם כָּבֵ֣ד מְאֹ֔ד לְ֠פָנָיו לֹא־הָ֨יָה כֵ֤ן אַרְבֶּה֙ כָּמֹ֔הוּ וְאַחֲרָ֖יו לֹ֥א יִֽהְיֶה־כֵּֽן׃

Locusts invaded all the land of Egypt and settled within all the territory of Egypt in a thick mass; never before had there been so many, nor will there ever be so many again.

  1. How many Locust species were sent?

  • The word “arbeh/Locust” is mentioned 7 times in the verses, to teach us that the 7 destructive species of locusts mentioned in the Torah attacked all at once. The 7 species are: Arbeh (Chulin 65a describes it as the gobay, an edible kosher insect), Salam, Chargol, Chagav, Gazam, Yelek and Chasil.



וַיְכַ֞ס אֶת־עֵ֣ין כָּל־הָאָרֶץ֮ וַתֶּחְשַׁ֣ךְ הָאָרֶץ֒ וַיֹּ֜אכַל אֶת־כָּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב הָאָ֗רֶץ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־פְּרִ֣י הָעֵ֔ץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הוֹתִ֖יר הַבָּרָ֑ד וְלֹא־נוֹתַ֨ר כָּל־יֶ֧רֶק בָּעֵ֛ץ וּבְעֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃

They hid all the land from view, and the land was darkened; and they ate up all the grasses of the field and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left, so that nothing green was left, of tree or grass of the field, in all the land of Egypt.

2. Did the Locusts attack alone?

  • Along with the locusts, Egypt was invaded by snakes and wasps which killed many people.


וַיֵּ֥ט מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־יָד֖וֹ עַל־הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וַיְהִ֧י חֹֽשֶׁךְ־אֲפֵלָ֛ה בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים׃

Moses held out his arm toward the sky and thick darkness descended upon all the land of Egypt for three days.

3. What time and how did the plague of darkness come about?

  • The plague started at about 9AM so that it should begin after sunrise, in broad daylight, to make the miracle even more obvious.

  • The Plague of darkness was split into 3. The first 3 days were simply total darkness. Then there were 3 more days of a darkness that didn’t allow the Egyptians to move. Although all plagues lasted 7 days, this one only lasted 6 days. The “7th day” was postponed until the splitting of the Red Sea, when Pharaoh’s army was engulfed in a heavy darkness so that they couldn’t attack the Jews.

  • During this plague it was virtually impossible to breathe and the fact that the Egyptians even survived, was a miracle of its own. Some say that the darkness came from the purgatory.


4. What were the reasons for the plague of darkness?

  • There were 2 main reasons for the plague of darkness.

  1. To hide from the Egyptians the fact that many Jews, who were unworthy of being freed, died during this plague. We are told that 4/5th of the Jewish population died, which was roughly 12 million Jews.  (It is interesting to note that there were 4 times the number of women than men in Egypt)

  2. To allow the Jews, who were unaffected by the plague of darkness, to roam freely within the Egyptians’ homes and locate their valuables, which they would later ask to “borrow.” The Egyptians were deeply impressed that the Jews didn’t take advantage of the plague to loot them.



לֹֽא־רָא֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־אָחִ֗יו וְלֹא־קָ֛מוּ אִ֥ישׁ מִתַּחְתָּ֖יו שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים וּֽלְכָל־בְּנֵ֧י יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל הָ֥יָה א֖וֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבֹתָֽם׃

People could not see one another, and for three days no one could get up from where he was; but all the Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings.

5. What miracle took place for the Jews during the plague of darkness?

  • For the Jews, the days were even brighter than normal during this plague. The nights were bright too, similar to the amount of light outside as the sun begins to set.

  • Isaiah, in his prophecy, predicted that a similar phenomenon will happen again in messianic times.

  • The plague of darkness was a “measure for measure” punishment, because the Egyptians made the Jews work day and night. It was also because they worshipped the sun as a deity and made the Jews carry torches to illuminate the way for them. Account

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