Vaera – The 10 Plagues

By the 10 sayings the world was created, by the 10 Sefirot the world is sustained, by the 10 plagues the world was destructed and recreated, through which the 10 names of God are revealed, in order to receive the 10 commandments.

The Parallels

Blood Malchut Adonai

The 1st plague of “blood” corresponds to the 10th saying of creation, “And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed…for food” (Gen 1:29).

The food is digested and transported through blood to sustain life. The plague of blood represents the antithesis of life. This corresponds to the 6th commandment: you shall not kill.

Red is the color of Malchut, which corresponds to the name Adonai אֲדֹנָי.

Frog Yesod Shadai

Frog in Hebrew צְפַרְדֵּעַ can be split to mean: bird of knowledge צִפֹּר-דַּע.

In the same way that knowledge is connection, so is Yesod that connects Tiferet with Malchut.

In the same way that bird (created from mire) is the intermediary between beast (created from dust) and fish (created from water), so is the frog the amphibian that connects the domain of water with the domain of land.

Shadai שַׁדַּי is connected with “be fruitful and multiply”, as represented by frogs, or Yesod, which is the site of circumcision.

The 2nd plague “frog” correspond to the 7th saying: “And God said: Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures…” (Gen 1:20), and the 7th commandment: you shall not commit adultery.

Lice Hod Elohim Tzevaot

Lice in Hebrew כִנִּים is cognate with “ken” כֵּן meaning “yes”, corresponding to the Sefirah of Hod, meaning thanks-giving, acknowledgement, and sincerity.

The 3rd plague “lice” corresponds to the 4th saying: “And God said: …let the dry land appear… “(Gen 1:9), for the plague of lice was made from the dust and the whole land was covered by lice. In other word, the land “disappeared” because of the lice.

Elohim of Hosts אֱלֹהִים צְבָאוֹת denotes multitude, as represented by lice. This is the 9th commandment: “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”, in other word, “let your communication be: yea, yea, nay, nay” in sincerity (Mat 5:37).

Horde of Beast Netzach YHVH Tzevaot


“Horde of Beasts” in Hebrew is עָרֹוֹב, which also means mixture in multitude, corresponding to YHVH of Hosts יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת.

The 4th plague “horde of beasts” parallels the 8th saying: “And God said:  Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind…”(Gen 1:24), corresponding to the mixture of beasts.

In the same way that Hod pairs with Netzach, so does the plague of lice with the plague of horde of beasts, in that they come in multitude.

Similarly, the name Elohim Tzevaot pairs with YHVH Tzevaot.

This corresponds to the 8th commandment: you shall not steal.

Pestilence Tiferet YHVH

The 5th plague “pestilence” corresponds to the 6th saying: “And God said: Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven…” (Gen 1:14), for the pestilence on earth is influenced by the planetary movement in heaven.

This is the only plague that was inflicted by the “hand of YHVH” יַד-יְהוָה (Ex 9:3) which is upon five types of beasts, alluding to the 5 fingers of hand.

Pestilence is the antithesis of beauty, and Tiferet (beauty) is the middle Sefirah corresponding to the name YHVH and unifies 5 other Sefirot, i.e. Chesed, Gevurah, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod.

This corresponds to the 3rd commandment: you shall not take the name of YHVH in vain.

Boil Gevurah Elohim

The plague of boil was inflicted by the ashes from the furnace corresponding to fire, which is Gevurah, which in turn corresponds to the name Elohim.

The 6th plague “boil” corresponds to the 9th saying: “And God said: Let us make man in our image…” (Gen 1:26), for the boil represents the attack on the image of man.

This corresponds to the 10th commandment: you shall not covet…which is to take (Gevurah), rather than to give (Chesed).

Hail Chesed El

The 7th plague “hail” corresponds to the 3rd saying: “And God said: Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” (Gen 1:6)

The hail is a form of water which represents the Sefirah of Chesed, the loving kindness, the name of God is El.

This corresponds to the 5th commandment: you shall honor your father and mother, the act of giving (Chesed).

Locusts Binah Eloha

Locusts in Hebrew is אַרְבֶּה, which is the same word for “I will multiply” (Gen 3:16), corresponding to the Sefirah of Binah, in that Binah multiples the seed of Chochmah.

The 8th plague “locusts” correspond to the 5th saying: “And God said: Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed…” (Gen 1:11), for the locusts do nothing except to destroy the greens on earth.

The name of God Eloha is the intermediary between Yah and El, for the name of Eloha is the same name YHVH with the first two letters Yah substituted by El, as follows:

יָהּ Yah – Chochmah
אֱלוֹהַּ Eloha – Binah
אֵל El – Chesed

This corresponds to the 2nd commandment: you shall not make any graven image.

Darkness Chochmah Yah

Darkness is the antithesis of light, which is of the Sefirah of Chochmah, the flashing of light from darkness.

The 9th plague “darkness” corresponds to the 2nd saying: “And God said: Let there be light…” (Gen 1:3) corresponding to the 7th commandment: remember Shabbat, for the gematria of Shabbat שָׁבַת is 702, which is the mirror image of 207, the gematria of light אוֹר, and the customs is to light the candle before and after Shabbat to dispel darkness.

First-born Keter Ehyeh

Keter is the crown, the unknowable head, the ultimate faith in God, corresponding to the 1st commandment: I am the LORD your God.

The Sefirah of Keter corresponds to the name of God Ehyeh אֶהְיֶה, which can be progressively iterated as follows:

Ehyeh אֶהְיֶה  
  א אה אהי אהיה 44

44 is the gematria of blood דָם, connecting back to the Sefirot of Malchut with the blood of the first-born sons.

The 10th plague “killing of the first-born” corresponds to the 1st saying: “In the beginning…” (Gen 1:1), for the first word Bereshit בְּרֵאשִׁית can also mean “for the firstborn”.

The gematria of Bereshit is 913, which is the same gematria of “And God said ten”, this comes to reveal that all ten sayings are concealed within the first saying:

In the beginning בְּרֵאשִׁית 913
And God said ten וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים עֶשֶׂר 913

The Ten Plagues

The gematria of the ten plagues is 2480, which is 10 x 248, where 248 is the gematria of “And YHVH said” וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, alluding to the 10 sayings of YHVH:

Blood דַּם 44
Frogs צְפַרְדְּעִים 494
Lice כִנִּים 120
Beasts עָרֹוֹב 278
Pestilence דֶּבֶר 206
Boils שְׁחִין 368
Hails בָּרָד 206
Locusts אַרְבֶּה 208
Darkness חֹשֶׁךְ 328
First-born בְּכוֹר 228

248 is also the gematria of Abraham אַבְרָהָם, for the world was created due to the merit of Abraham, as is known:

אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, בְּהִבָּרְאָם These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created (Gen 2:4)

“When they were created” בְּהִבָּרְאָם can be rearranged to spell “for Abraham” בְּאַבְרָהָם, which is rabbinically understood as the reason for creation, for the children of Abraham will ultimately receive the Torah, or five books of Moses.

2480 is exactly the gematria of the five books of Moses:

Bereshit – Genesis בְּרֵאשִׁית 913
Shemot – Exodus שְׁמוֹת 746
Vayikra – Leviticus וַיִּקְרָא 317
Bamidbar – Numbers בַּמִּדְבָּר 248
Devarim – Deuteronomy דְּבָרִים 256

The Ten Commandments

The 10 Names juxtaposing the 10 Sefirot with their gematria are as follows:

620 כֶּתֶר Keter Ehyeh אֶהְיֶה 21
73 חָכְמָה Chochmah Yah יָהּ 15
67 בִּינָה Binah Eloha אֱלוֹהַּ 42
72 חֶסֶד Chesed El אֵל 31
216 גְּבוּרָה Gevurah Elohim אֱלֹהִים 86
1081 תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiferet YHVH יְהֹוָה 26
148 נֵצַח Netzach YHVH Tzevaot יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת 525
15 הוֹד Hod Elohim Tzevaot אֱלֹהִים צְבָאוֹת 585
80 יְסוֹד Yesod Shadai שַׁדַּי 314
496 מַלְכוּת Malchut Adonai אֲדֹנָי 65
2868         1710

1710 (Sefirot) + 2868 (10 Names) = 4578.

The gematria of the ten plagues, when the killing of the firstborn is used, is 3346:

Malchut Blood דַּם 44
Yesod Frogs צְפַרְדְּעִים 494
Hod Lice כִנִּים 120
Netzach Beasts עָרֹוֹב 278
Tiferet Pestilence דֶּבֶר 206
Gevurah Boils שְׁחִין 368
Chesed Hail בָּרָד 206
Binah Locust אַרְבֶּה 208
Chochmah Darkness חֹשֶׁךְ 328
Keter Killing of firstborn מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת 1094

Since the 10 plagues represent destruction, therefore the gematria must be subtracted from the union of the 10 Names and the 10 Sefirot:

4578 – 3346 = 1232

1232 is exactly the gematria of “ten commandments” עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדְּבָרִים plus a kollel (1).

Mind over body

What is the eternal lesson of the Exodus story?

At the personal level, it is the story of the redemption of the soul.

Israel symbolizes the soul that is in exile, Egypt symbolizes the physicality, Pharaoh symbolizes the evil inclination, and Moses symbolizes the mind.

The essence of evil inclination is self, i.e. ego, as personified in “I am Pharaoh”, which must be countered by the mind, as personified by Moses.

The gematria of “the mind” is exactly the same as Pharaoh:

The mind הַשֵׂכֶל 355
Pharaoh פַּרְעֹה 355

The mirror image of “I am Pharaoh” is the gematria of “wisdom, understanding, knowledge”, which are the three attributes of the mind:

Wisdom, understanding, knowledge חָכְמָה בִּינָה דָעַת 614
I am Pharaoh אֲנִי פַרְעֹה 416

This comes to teach us that the secret to overcome the temptation of the evil inclination as manifested in one’s ego is through one’s intellectual faculties, known in Kabbalah as wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.

Israel represents the heart (Ruach) which can be either influenced by the mind (Neshamah) or by the physicality (Nefesh). Physicality is bondage, and mind over body is redemption. The gematria of “Mind of Israel” is exactly the same of “Exodus of Egypt” and “End of the Nefesh (physicality)”

Mind of Israel שֵׂכֶל יִשְׂרָאֵל 891
Exodus of Egypt יְצִיאַת מִצְרָים 891
End of the Nefesh כְּלוֹת הַנֶפֶש 891
About the Author
Insight into the weekly Torah study with a focus on gematria...
Related Topics
Related Posts