Purpose of the Plagues


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Three Purposes

The Torah gives three main reasons for the Plagues, and it is unclear how they relate to each other:

Israelites or Egyptians

According to the possibility that the Plagues come to educate, it is unclear to whom the lesson is directed. While most verses indicate that the lesson is for Paroh and the Egyptians (e.g. Shemot 7:5 "וְיָדְעוּ מִצְרַיִם כִּי אֲנִי ה'"), there are two verses that appear to say that the Plagues and the splitting of Yam Suf were designed so that the Children of Israel would learn to believe in Hashem:

וּלְמַעַן תְּסַפֵּר בְּאָזְנֵי בִנְךָ וּבֶן בִּנְךָ אֵת אֲשֶׁר הִתְעַלַּלְתִּי בְּמִצְרַיִם וְאֶת אֹתֹתַי אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי בָם וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי ה'. (שמות י':ב')
וַיַּרְא יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַיָּד הַגְּדֹלָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה ה' בְּמִצְרַיִם וַיִּירְאוּ הָעָם אֶת ה' וַיַּאֲמִינוּ בַּה' וּבְמֹשֶׁה עַבְדּוֹ. (שמות י"ד:ל"א)
And so that you may be able to tell your son and your son's son what things I have wrought upon Egypt, and the signs which I have done among them, and you may know that I am Hashem. (Shemot 10:2)
And Israel saw the mighty hand which Hashem had used against Egypt, and the nation feared Hashem, and they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant. (Shemot 14:31)

What Should They Know?

There are also differences regarding what exactly the Plagues are designed to teach about Hashem: