Thursday, April 2, 2009

Plagues: Punishment or Enforcement?

בראשית טו

  יג וַיֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָם, יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי-גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם, וַעֲבָדוּם, וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם--אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת, שָׁנָה.  יד וְגַם אֶת-הַגּוֹי אֲשֶׁר יַעֲבֹדוּ, דָּן אָנֹכִי; וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן יֵצְאוּ, בִּרְכֻשׁ גָּדוֹל.

שמות ג

יט וַאֲנִי יָדַעְתִּי--כִּי לֹא-יִתֵּן אֶתְכֶם מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם, לַהֲלֹךְ:  וְלֹא, בְּיָד חֲזָקָה.  כ וְשָׁלַחְתִּי אֶת-יָדִי, וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶת-מִצְרַיִם, בְּכֹל נִפְלְאֹתַי, אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה בְּקִרְבּוֹ; וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן, יְשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם.


It’s is evident from the prophecy in Genesis the plagues were an integral part of the broad scheme. Egypt deserved to be punished for enslaving the Israelites four centuries as God promised in the Abrahamic Covenant. According to what God told Abraham, the plagues were a punishment for crimes committed in the past.

But in Exodus, the plagues serve as a means of enforcement. Had Pharaoh released the Israelites immediately, Egypt would have been spared. From the mission prophecy at the Burning Bush and throughout Exodus, Pharaoh is kicked for being stubborn.

That’s puzzling.


fluffykneidle said...

this is old......... bechira and yedia. Go ask the rambam.

A Pusheter Yid said...

Welcome Fluffy; your the first commenter of substance on this blog.

I’m questioning the purpose of the plagues as punishment or enforcement. The debate over predetermination or choice both view the plagues as a means of enforcement, but discuss how God could have foretold just enforcement would be necessary.