Absence of Light or a True Darkness?

One specific extraordinary thing which characterized the Ten Plagues of Egypt was the creation effect on them. Darkness was the ninth plague. The darkness that engulfed Egypt was so complete that it seemed like there was no creation at all. We all know that darkness is the absence of light. In other words, it should have been called the “absence of light” plague rather than simply “darkness.”

But there is a very good reason why the name of this plague is darkness. It is because of what is    written in the original Hebrew: “va-yamesh choshech” {וימש חושך} usually translated as “a darkness to be felt” (Exodus 10:21). In fact, it is quite difficult to translate the verb “va-yamesh” {וימש} (in the English translation is “to be felt”) especially because it is the only time in the entire Hebrew Bible this wording appears! The meaning of this verb, if we look into the Hebrew root, could be one of the following: to realize, to implement, to execute and to put into action. So in fact there was a creation! This darkness was not caused by the absence of light, as normally would be the case, but instead as a creation in and of itself!

A nice anecdote, in Modern Hebrew, when there is complete darkness outside, it is called ‘Choshech Metzraim’ {חושך מצרים} which means ‘Egyptian Darkness!’