Reproduced by permission of Alexandra Szyk Bracie in cooperation with Historicana, Burlingame, CA/

The ten plagues are depicted sequentially in this illustration from a lavish 1957 Haggadah by the American artist and political caricaturist Arthur Szyk, a Polish-born Jewish refugee from Nazism. One main argument for interpreting ‘arov as swarms of insects is that the ten plagues seem to occur in five sets of thematically related pairs: The Nile turning to blood and frogs swarming out of the river (plagues one and two) both pertain to the Nile; the third plague is lice, so it makes sense that the mysterious ‘arov would be insects rather than the wild beasts shown here; five and six—cattle disease and boils—are both diseases; hailstorms and locusts (seven and eight) come from the sky and destroy crops; and the three days of darkness and the death of the firstborn at midnight (nine and ten) share darkness as a theme.