Unpacking the Ten Plagues of Egypt: A Scientific Explanation

Unpacking the Ten Plagues of Egypt: A Scientific Explanation

Could there be a scientific explanation and a sequence of natural disasters that caused the 10 Plagues of Egypt? Of all the characters in the Old Testament, Moses stands out, as a leader, as a lawgiver and as a prophet. It was Moses who was given the Ten Commandments and it was Moses who wrote the first five books of the Bible. Moses is the most important prophet in Judaism and features highly in Christianity. He is revered in Islam as one of the greatest men of all time and it was to Moses that Allah revealed the Torah; it is also believed that Moses foretold the coming of the prophet Mohammed. It was Moses who led the people of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt.

Moses lifts up the brass serpent, curing the Israelites from poisonous snake bites in a painting by Benjamin West (Public Domain)

Moses lifts up the brass serpent, curing the Israelites from poisonous snake bites in a painting by Benjamin West (Public Domain)

The Policy of the Pharaoh

The book of Exodus tells us that there was a new king ruling Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. Concerned by the number of ‘sons of Israel’ in Egypt, the new pharaoh had the Israelites build ‘store cities’ at Pithom and Raamses in the eastern part of the Nile Delta. In an effort to control the growing population the pharaoh ordered all new-born male children to be put to death, but the Hebrew midwives, fearing God more than the pharaoh, refused. Exodus then tells us that the pharaoh ordered all the male children to be thrown into the river. The Bible suggests that it was the possibility of the thousands of Israelites, living and working in the Delta, joining up with a potential enemy against Egypt, that made the pharaoh press-gang them into forced labor, but the Judaic texts say it was a warning from the pharaoh’s soothsayers that prompted the action. It was here, in the land of Goshen, in the Delta, that Moses was born.


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