Parshat Bo contains the last three of the ten plagues inflicted on Egypt in the period immediately before the dramatic Exodus heralding a new beginning for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The 10 plagues are often broken down into three groups: the first 3, the second 3, and the last 4. But why is the last group of 4 split up between two separate Torah portions? If anything, the only two plagues that were directly connected to each other by God and Moshe were the seventh and eighth, and yet they are separated.
There is much else that is puzzling about the last three plagues: Moses’ inflexibility in his dealings with a clearly weakened Pharaoh; the insertion of laws about the Jewish calendar; the particularity of firstborns as the victims of the tenth plague; the eventual complete capitulation by Pharaoh, which included his request for God’s blessing before the Jews left. These, and many other anomalies, create a confused picture and a muddled impression about the closing moments of Jewish slavery in Egypt.
Rabbi Dunner examines the text of the chapters closely, to reveal a subtext that opens up the ten plagues in a completely new way, enabling us to understand God’s strategy for the creation of a Jewish nation, and Moses’ tactics in his interactions with Pharaoh in order to achieve God’s objectives.