The Ten Plagues

According to some theologians and commentators the miracles of the Bible did not happen the way that the writers suggested. These people try to replace the miracles with natural phenomena. While God did often use nature itself to get the attention of His people or those amongst the heathen, it is foolishness and unbelieving to disregard miracles in favour of human interpretation. There are in fact greater problems raised than the miracles themselves when we try to explain them away. For instance: If Jesus did walk on submerged stones as He went across Lake Galilee, then the stones needed to be huge enough to touch the bottom. Added to this is the fact that no boat would be able to cross such a hazardous stretch of water. If the Red Sea were really the Reed Sea being just a shallow land bridge, then how is it possible for all of Pharaoh’s men to be drowned? The same can be said for the ten plagues that God sent upon the Egyptians. Unbelieving scholars put forward explanations that side-step the fact that God worked wonders before the Pharaoh. The God of the sceptics has no divine power. Below are some of the reasons given to why we should not see a miracle regarding God’s signs to the king of Egypt:

Plague 1: Water turned to blood (Exodus 7:19-25)

The water turned blood-red because of a mixture of poisonous algae and red soil that had been washed down from the African mountains through the Blue Nile into the Nile itself These poisonous substances were responsible for killing off the fish and leaving the Egyptians with no drinking water.

If this were the case, then the magicians had no need to duplicate Moses’ trick (which of course it could not be since it was a natural disaster) but simply point to the fact that this happens every year in that part of Egypt. Also, if the algae and dirt was washed into the Nile thus polluting the water, how did the water in the pools, rivers, streams, wooden and stone containers become blood-red too?

Plague 2: Frogs (Exodus 8:1-5)

The frogs were forced out of the water because of the pollution the river contained. The biggest problem with this argument is not why the frogs were forced to leave the water, but the actually timing of the event. Are we to believe that the fish died immediately due to the poisonous and stinking water (7:21), but that the frogs lasted another seven days until Moses came before Pharaoh again (7:25)? Again, why would the magicians duplicate this? The king saw this as the hand of God and pleaded with Moses to pray that the frogs be taken away.

Why would he do so if he knew that the frogs would die in a few days anyway because of the natural occurrence of the polluted waters?

Plagues 3-6: Lice (8:16-19): Flies (8:20-24): Murrain (9:1-7): Boils (9:8-12)

The sceptics do not treat these plagues as four separate events but as united with or the result of one another.

The lice and flies are not two plagues but one in the eyes of the liberal theologian. In this explanation the dead frogs and stagnant waters become perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, gnats, tse-fly and other flying insects that infect livestock and men with infectious diseases. The plague then becomes a simple natural event whereby the animals come down with anthrax, and humans with open sores that will not heal.

If these plagues came as a result of the original pollution caused by the algae and the red dirt, then how did those in Goshen (the Jews) escape them. We then have to assume that there was some natural barrier that kept the insects out!

Plague 7: Hail (9:22-35)

We are informed that it was normal for hail and thunderstorms such as this to hit the Nile basin around February and March each year, thus destroying crops of flax and barley. But the Bible tells us that there was fire mixed in with the hail, this was no ordinary storm. The questions have to be asked again, “How did the Jews in Goshen escape this?” and “Why would Pharaoh ask Moses to pray if he had seen this every year of his life?”

Plague 8: Locust (10:12-20)

The terrible storm is said to have blown the locusts into Egypt sometime in March. Though the Lord sent an east wind to blow the locusts into Egypt we are left with the problem of the land of Goshen once again. The “storm” interpretation removes the divine element from the explanation calls for a miracle though. For the dust storm not only extinguished the natural light of the sun, moon and stars, but it also put out the artificial light of the oil lamps. Scripture tells us that the Egyptians did not move for three days because even their oil lamps could not penetrate the darkness. This fact is borne out with the statement, “They saw not one another, neither arose any from his place for three days: but the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” .This proves that the darkness was a miracle otherwise the dust storm that stopped the Egyptians having even artificial light could not hinder the oil lamps of the Jews.

Plague 10: Death (12:29-30)

This is the most difficult for the sceptics to explain away, but they still suggest that the first born of humans and animals were infected with a killer disease caused by the flies and lice. The younger population escaped because they were healthier and stronger. For this to be true we have to first assume that their were no young firstborn in the land of Egypt, that there were no mothers with their first baby in their arms. Then, why did not the disease affect the Jews who had the blood daubed on their doors? Anything other than the direct action of God cannot explain what happened that night when the angel of death appeared in Egypt.

Sceptics inform us that none of the plagues were strange or uncommon to the Egyptians. In some sense this is probably true. They would have seen the water pollution, diseases, dust storms, locusts as described above, but never at the command of a man sent by God, and certainly not in such a powerful way. God did manipulate nature in certain of the plagues, but the fact remain that the Egyptians had never seen anything like them. They recognised God’s hand behind every command that Moses made. In another sense, the plagues were also God’s way of showing that the gods of Egypt (Hapi, Hathor, Re) were no gods at all. And finally we must ask why the Israelites would follow a man that they knew was simple a cunning magician. They had been in Egypt for over 400 years so must have had records of such things happening. If they did know the real reasons for the plagues then they were a lot wiser than the Egyptians.