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  • Ten plagues of Egypt

    Ten plagues of Egypt


    • The Plagues of Egypt (Hebrew: מכות מצרים, Makot Mitzrayim), also called the ten biblical plagues, were ten calamities that, according to the biblical Book of Exodus, Yahweh inflicted upon Egypt to persuade the Pharaoh to release the ill-treated Israelites from slavery. The Pharaoh capitulated after the tenth plague, triggering the Exodus of the Hebrew people.

      The plagues served to contrast the power of the God of Israel with the Egyptian gods, invalidating them. Some commentators have associated several of the plagues with judgment on specific gods associated with the Nile, fertility and natural phenomena. According to Exodus 12:12, all the gods of Egypt would be judged through the tenth and final plague: "On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD."

      The reason for the plagues appears to be twofold: to answer Pharaoh's taunt, "Who [is] the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?", and to indelibly impress the Israelites with God's power as an object lesson for all time, which was also meant to become known "throughout the world".

      According to the Book of Exodus, God hardened Pharaoh's heart so he would be strong enough to persist in his unwillingness to release the people, so that God could manifest his great power and cause his power to be declared among the nations, so that other people would discuss it for generations afterward. In this view, the plagues were punishment for the Egyptians' long abuse of the Israelites, as well as proof that the gods of Egypt were false and powerless. If God triumphed over the gods of Egypt, a world power at that time, then the people of God would be strengthened in their faith, although they were a small people, and would not be tempted to follow the deities that God proved false. Exodus 9:15–16 (JPS Tanakh) portrays Yahweh explaining why he did not accomplish the freedom of the Israelites immediately: "I could have stretched forth My hand and stricken you [Pharaoh] and your people with pestilence, and you would have been effaced from the earth. Nevertheless I have spared you for this purpose: in order to show you My power and in order that My fame may resound throughout the world."



      Children's books
      • Plague 1 — water turned into blood; fish died
        • Dr. Stephen Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin believes that rising temperatures could have turned the Nile into a slow-moving, muddy watercourse—conditions favorable for the spread of toxic fresh water algae. As the organism known as Burgundy Blood algae dies, it turns the water red.
        • Alternatively, a bloody appearance could be due to an environmental change, such as a drought, which could have contributed to the spread of the Chromatiaceae bacteria which thrive in stagnant, oxygen-deprived water.
      • Plague 2 — frogs
        • Any blight on the water that killed fish also would have caused frogs to leave the river and probably die.
      • Plagues 3 and 4 — biting insects and wild animals
        • The lack of frogs in the river would have let insect populations, normally kept in check by the frogs, increase massively. The rotting corpses of fish and frogs would have attracted significantly more insects to the areas near the Nile.
      • Plagues 5 and 6 — livestock disease and boils
        • There are biting flies in the region which transmit livestock diseases; a sudden increase in their number could spark epizootics.
      • Plague 7 — fiery hail
        • Volcanic eruption, resulting in showers of rock and fire.
      • Plague 8 — locusts
        • According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), when they get hungry, a one-ton horde of locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as 2,500 humans can.
      • Plague 9 — darkness
        • The immediate cause of this plague is theorized to be the "hamsin", a south or southwest wind charged with sand and dust, which blows about the spring equinox and at times produces darkness rivaling that of the worst London fogs.
      • Plague 10 — death of the firstborn
        • If the last plague indeed selectively tended to affect the firstborn, it could be due to food polluted during the time of darkness, either by locusts or by the black mold Cladosporium. When people emerged after the darkness, the firstborn would be given priority, as was usual, and would consequently be more likely to be affected by any toxin or disease carried by the food. Meanwhile, the Israelites ate food prepared and eaten very quickly which would have made it less likely to be contaminated. However, this does not explain how the firstborn cattle alone also would have perished.
      • Dr. Stephen Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin believes that rising temperatures could have turned the Nile into a slow-moving, muddy watercourse—conditions favorable for the spread of toxic fresh water algae. As the organism known as Burgundy Blood algae dies, it turns the water red.
      • Alternatively, a bloody appearance could be due to an environmental change, such as a drought, which could have contributed to the spread of the Chromatiaceae bacteria which thrive in stagnant, oxygen-deprived water.
      • Any blight on the water that killed fish also would have caused frogs to leave the river and probably die.
      • The lack of frogs in the river would have let insect populations, normally kept in check by the frogs, increase massively. The rotting corpses of fish and frogs would have attracted significantly more insects to the areas near the Nile.
      • There are biting flies in the region which transmit livestock diseases; a sudden increase in their number could spark epizootics.
      • Volcanic eruption, resulting in showers of rock and fire.
      • According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), when they get hungry, a one-ton horde of locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as 2,500 humans can.
      • The immediate cause of this plague is theorized to be the "hamsin", a south or southwest wind charged with sand and dust, which blows about the spring equinox and at times produces darkness rivaling that of the worst London fogs.
      • If the last plague indeed selectively tended to affect the firstborn, it could be due to food polluted during the time of darkness, either by locusts or by the black mold Cladosporium. When people emerged after the darkness, the firstborn would be given priority, as was usual, and would consequently be more likely to be affected by any toxin or disease carried by the food. Meanwhile, the Israelites ate food prepared and eaten very quickly which would have made it less likely to be contaminated. However, this does not explain how the firstborn cattle alone also would have perished.
      • Let My People Go! by Tilda Balsley
      • The 10 Plagues of Egypt by Shoshana Lepon
      • The Bible (2013 miniseries) - Episode 2 has a scene of these plagues.
      • Haven - In "A Tale of Two Audreys," the town of Haven is afflicted by almost all of the plagues of Egypt.
      • A Rugrats Passover
      • Hermann and Anna Levinson, Zur Biologie der zehn biblischen Plagen, DGaaE Nachrichten 22 (2008), 83–102 (in German)
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