Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Ten Plagues In Egypt

In Exodus, Pharaoh refused to let the Hebrew people leave Egypt. The 10 plagues were a divine demonstration of power and displeasure designed to persuade Pharaoh to "let my people go".

Water to blood
The Bible says: the Nile turned to blood at the touch of Moses's staff. Equinox says: a red- blooming algae called Pfisteria, which makes fish bleed, could have been the cause.
Pfisteria would have killed all the fish; no fish means more frog spawn, which means more frogs. And a polluted river would drive them on to the land in their millions.
Without moisture the frogs died, removing the only obstacle to an insect explosion - and the biblical story is long before "lice" were distinguished from other insects.
The Bible says: there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh. Equinox says: fly swarms are not uncommon, and this plague was probably of stable flies, which bite.
Sick animals 
Equinox concludes that two diseases decimated Egypt's livestock: African Horse Sickness and Blue Tongue, transmitted by tiny midges (the "lice" of the third plague.
A disease causing boils and blisters struck next - perhaps the ancient disease "Glanders", which is spread by stable flies. As a result, the crops went unharvested.
Only last year hailstorms hit Israel and Jordan. They're not rare, but to the weakened Egyptians, whose crops were their whole livelihood, a hailstorm at this time would be a cruel blow.
Again, locusts have been known to swarm since ancient times, stripping crops. But to the Egyptians, like the hail, a locust plague now couldn't come at a worse time.
The Bible says a three-day darkness fell next .A sandstorm is the likely culprit: one in Cairo in 1997 blacked out the sky for three days. The sand would cover any food supplies remaining.
First-born die
Micro-toxins found in locust droppings contaminating the food were lethal; and in famine conditions the custom was to give the eldest double portions. End of story

The ten plagues may be divided into 4 sections, three groups of three and a final plague. The first three sections are each introduced by a warning to pharaoh that occurs in the morning. They are each ended by a plague that comes without warning. Within the three sections we also see a distinct progression with regard to the long term effect the plague has upon the land.
In section one we get temporary inconveniences that are applied to the Israelites and the Egyptians alike.
In the second section we get the separation between Israelite and Egyptian, we also get plagues that may have some long-term side effects.
In the third section Pharoah is told that God is going to destroy Egypt  and the people saw this happen . The interesting point of section three is that the servants of Pharoah (and later the people of Egypt) start to get far more involved with proceedings.
Each plague may also be viewed as an attack on one of the Egyptian Gods.

The Ten Plagues
PlagueWarningReplicationRespiteResponseGod Attacked
Water into BloodPharoah was warned and allowed to watchYesThe Egyptions managed to work around the problemPharoahs heart was hardenedHapi (the God of the Nile)
FrogsPharoah warned but was not with Moses when it happenedYesPharoah named the time the frogs would goCompromise but then Pharoah hardened his heartHeqt (interestingly many frogs was usually viewed as a good thing)
LiceNo WarningNo. The magicians saw the lice as an act of GodWe're not told but presumablyPharoahs heart was hardened. He doesn't even speak to Moses.Kheper (God of beetles and flies)
FliesPharoah warned but not with Moses when it happenedNo. In fact they didn't even tryThe flies were removed when Pharoah promised to let the Israelites goPharoah hardened his heartKheper
MurrainPharoah warned and told when it would happenAgain they didn't tryIt was a one off action.. but the cattle stayed dead.The heart of Pharoah was hardened.Apis (Sacred Bull)
BoilsPharoah not warned but was there when Moses did itMagicians could not even heal themselvesWe're not told but one would imagine scarring would resultThe Lord hardened Pharoah's heart.Imhotep (physician God) & Thoth (Magic and healing)
HailPharoah and servants warned. Those that heeded the warning escaped.Didn't try.No respite, crops destroyed although some crops left.Pharoah admits sin but then sins more by hardening his heartNut (Sky Goddess)
LocustsPharoah warned and his servants almost cause him to give inDidn't tryComplete devastation, this years harvest gone.Pharoah acts in haste and compromises. The Lord hardens Pharoahs heart.Seth (God of Crops)
DarkNo WarningDidn't tryYes, three days onlyPharoah heart hardened by God. Tells Moses to "get out of sight"Ra (Sun God)
First BornYesNoNo - firstborn deadIsraelites let goPharoah

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