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 Holiday Central > Passover > The Ten Plagues > Swarms of Flies and/or Wild Beasts

The Fourth Plague:Wild Beasts/Flies  מכת עָרוֹב
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 וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, הַשְׁכֵּם בַּבֹּקֶר וְהִתְיַצֵּב לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה--הִנֵּה, יוֹצֵא הַמָּיְמָה; וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו, כֹּה אָמַר ה', שַׁלַּח עַמִּי, וְיַעַבְדֻנִי.  כִּי אִם-אֵינְךָ, מְשַׁלֵּחַ אֶת-עַמִּי--הִנְנִי מַשְׁלִיחַ בְּךָ וּבַעֲבָדֶיךָ וּבְעַמְּךָ וּבְבָתֶּיךָ, אֶת-הֶעָרֹב; וּמָלְאוּ בָּתֵּי מִצְרַיִם, אֶת-הֶעָרֹב, וְגַם הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר-הֵם עָלֶיהָ. וְהִפְלֵיתִי בַיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת-אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן, אֲשֶׁר עַמִּי עֹמֵד עָלֶיהָ, לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת-שָׁם, עָרֹב--לְמַעַן תֵּדַע, כִּי אֲנִי ה' בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ 
       שמות ח: ט"ז-י"ח --   

And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him: Thus saith the LORD: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Else, if thou wilt not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses; and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end that thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.
-- Exodus 8: 16-18

The Plague:
The fourth plague that God inflicted on the Egyptians was Arov. From Hebrew meaning mixture, commentators differ on how they interpret this plague. While many define it as a mixture of wild beasts (including Rashi, the most famous commentator of the Torah), others describe it as a mixture of flies.  Either one capable of harming both man and livestock. While the first three plagues had God commanding Moses to strike the Nile prior to the advent of the plague, this time all Moses was told was to let Pharaoh know of the impending calamity.

Why Arov (Wild Beasts/Flies?)
This plague may have consisted of more than one kind of animal, and as some suggest flies such as the dog fly and other insects were part of the mix. This plague again showed God's superiority, now also over all land dwelling animals.  Some of the commentators believe that flies were included, and suggest that this plague was also targeting the Egyptian belief in the mythological god, the"Lord of the Flies," or as he is some times referred to: The "Baal Zevuv."

Additionally, we see a "Measure for Measure" - retribution for the acts of Pharaoh's officers who burst into Jewish homes, like wild beasts, grabbing, kidnapping, and then killing Jewish baby boys, so did the wild animals and/or swarms of flies burst into the homes of the Egyptians and devastated their lives.

So the Pharaoh relented, promised to let the Israelites leave. And then, once the the Arov was removed, Pharaoh's heart hardened and he reneged on his promise.

The Ten Plagues of Egypt: Information and more
   Ten Plagues of Egypt, an Overview
Plague of Blood (דָם): Ex. 7:1425
   Plague of Frogs (צְּפַרְדֵּעַ): Ex. 7:258:11
   Plague of Lice (כינים): : Ex. 8:1619
   Plague of Wild Animals / Swarm of Flies (עָרוֹב): Ex. 8:2032
     Plague of Livestock Death (דֶּבֶר): Ex. 9:17
    Plague of Boils (שְׁחִין): Ex. 9:812
   Plague of Hail (בָּרָד): Ex. 9:1335
   Plague of Locusts (אַרְבֶּה): Ex. 10:120
   Plague of Darkness (חוֹשֶך): Ex. 10:2129
    Death of the Firstborn (מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת): Ex. 11:112:36

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