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VaEra

  
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 7:10
 7:11
 7:12
7:11 Pharaoh summoned his scholars and magicians. The master symbolists were able to do the same thing with their magic tricks.
Vayikra gam Par'oh lachachamim velamechashefim vaya'asu gam-hem chartumey Mitsrayim belahateyhem ken.
7:12 When each one threw down his staff, [the staffs] all turned into vipers.

Aaron's staff then swallowed up their staffs.
Vayashlichu ish matehu vayihyu letaninim vayivla mateh-Aharon et-matotam.




Commentary:

master symbolists
  See Genesis 41:8. Some say that they were astrologers (Targum Yonathan on Exodus 7:22).

magic tricks
  Lahat in Hebrew. Some say that this has the connotation of speed, and hence denotes sleight of hand (Ibn Ezra; Ralbag; Hirsch). Others say that it is a kind of hypnotism (Bachya), possibly involving a sword (Radak, Sherashim; cf. Genesis 3:24). According to other opinions, since the word lahat usually denotes fire or flame, this is a kind of fire magic (Ramban). Significantly, in Egyptian, the same word (reka) denotes both fire and magic. According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 67b; Rashi), this was magic involving the sword at the entrance of Eden (Genesis 3:24). It did not involve the 'Tree of Life,' but the forces of evil that form a shell around the tree. Other sources state that lahat is another form of lat meaning 'hidden arts' (Exodus 7:22; Ibn Janach; Ralbag).





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