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    The eye of the earth

    A strange phrase occurs in Sh’mot, verse 5, chapter 10: A plague shall cover the eye of the earth, ein ha-aretz.

    The plague of locusts, from the “Sister Haggadah”

    According to Rashi, this means the appearance (i.e. the face) of the earth. The plague will be a total epidemic preventing normal life.

    The question is whether we are talking about the earth or the sun, about a plague below or a plague above.

    If it is the earth, no-one will be able to move because locusts will get into every nook and cranny. If it is the sun, there will be darkness above which will blot out the sunlight. A person standing on earth will find that the plague of locusts will be so powerful that the sunlight will not be able to penetrate.

    Targum Onkelos clarifies the verse by saying that “the eye of the sun over (upon) the earth” will be obscured.

    The halachah uses the word ayin (an eye) in the Rashi sense, so that if a thing is b’ayin it is visible and perceptible.

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