Patterns in the Plagues

Introduction

R. Yehuda's Acronyms

A very famous set of acronyms for the Ten Plagues is cited in the Passover Haggadah1 in the name of R. Yehuda:

רבי יהודה היה נותן בהם סימנים: דצ"ך עד"ש באח"ב.

What is the need for and significance of R. Yehuda's teaching?2 Is he simply providing a mnemonic to facilitate keeping track of all of the miracles,3 or is he attempting to convey a more profound understanding of how to categorize and comprehend the relationships between the various plagues?

Multiple Divisions

Regardless of R. Yehuda's personal intent, his acronyms have inspired many commentators, even some who do not ordinarily engage in structural analysis, to search for patterns among the plagues and to attempt to understand their ordering. While some suffice with showing how the Plagues form a cohesive linear progression, others split the larger series into pairs, triads, pentads, and hextads, each unified either in purpose or by certain common characteristics.

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