Do You Really Believe That? (III)

The Ten Plagues

The third installment of “Do You Really Believe That?” will examine another famous story of the Old Testament, the ten plagues of Egypt. As the Book of Exodus tells it, the Israelite prophet Moses was chosen by God to set his people free from their long slavery in Egypt. But when the hard-hearted Pharaoh refused to release them, God sent ten plagues upon the land, each more terrible than the last, until the Egyptians’ resistance finally crumbled.

These are the famous ten:

First plague: Water to blood.
“And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.” (7:21)

Second plague: Frogs.
“And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs.” (8:3)

Third plague: Lice.
“And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.” (8:17)

Fourth plague: Flies.
“And there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies.” (8:24)

Fifth plague: Murrain (death of cattle).
“And all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.” (9:6)

Sixth plague: Boils.
“And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.” (9:9)

Seventh plague: Hail.
“And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.” (9:25)

Eighth plague: Locusts.
“For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.” (10:15)

Ninth plague: Darkness.
“And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.” (10:22)

Tenth plague: Death of the firstborn.
“And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” (12:30)

The story of the ten plagues has been retold numerous times, including several successful cinematic dramatizations. Some skeptics have even accepted that they happened literally as written and have sought to provide non-miraculous explanations. However, there’s a problem that the text and all its retellings never address: What happened to Egypt after the Israelites left?

The kingdom must have been in a disastrous state. Between the hail and the locusts, all the trees had been smashed and all the crops eaten. The rivers turning to blood had not only left the water undrinkable, but all the fish and other marine life dead. The cattle and livestock were likewise dead of the murrain. Whatever food had been stored must have been corrupted and made inedible by the swarms of flies and frogs. The people were suffering from lice infestations and boils, and on top of that, an entire generation of children was dead, every house in Egypt mourning.

And on top of all this, the Israelites also plundered their former masters when they left, taking much clothing, silver and gold (12:35). The Pharaoh himself was dead, along with most of his army, drowned in the closing of the sea when they gave chase (14:28). And the slave labor that the Egyptian economy had depended on for centuries was suddenly gone, with nothing to replace them.

When all was said and done, the Egyptians had no ruler, no army, no money, no food, and no labor, and every family in the nation had been shattered by tragedy. What would have happened? What could have happened? There would have been looting, violence, societal breakdown. The kingdom should have dissolved into chaos and anarchy and either become a no-man’s-land or been swallowed up by its neighbors. Egyptian civilization should have taken centuries to reconstitute itself, if it ever did. Such a collapse would be readily visible in the archaeological and historical record, and if such a thing had been found, it would have provided dramatic corroboration for the stories of the Bible.

But the record reveals nothing like this. No such discontinuity is visible in ancient Egyptian history. Worse, some Christian apologists have placed the exodus during the New Kingdom period – the historical height of Egypt’s power and glory – without postulating any kind of societal impact. It’s as if they believe the shattered, ruined kingdom simply picked itself up and rebuilt within a few years, completely forgetting that any of this had ever happened.

To anyone who knows anything about human society, this is completely implausible. After a catastrophe of this magnitude, no civilization could recover within such a short period, and especially not without leaving abundant evidence of its decline. (Compare Hurricane Katrina today – the images of overwhelming crowds, of desperation to escape, of chaos among those who were trapped in the city, and a rebuilding that is still going on with painful slowness and unevenness.) If the ten plagues had really happened, they should be an established, unquestionable historical fact. But we have evidence of no such thing, and so I ask: Do you really believe that?

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • rob

    i saw a fascinating thing on the discovery channel about the plagues and how there could be a scientific basis for them (i.e. god had nothing to do with it). this is what i remember:
    the nile turned red because of bacteria (algae?) (this has occured often in history)
    the bacteria (algae?) lowered the oxygen content of the water killing all of the fish. this polluted the water and forced the frogs to move to land. the frogs died and their carcasses brought flies. i think the cattle dying was realated to bacterial or fungal growth on the hay. the death of the firstborns was related to the fact that the first born son traditionaly had to sleep on the floor. there was some chemical in the air (related to the hay i think–methane?) that is heavier then air. therefore, first born sons, since they slept on the floor, were exposed to the gas and got asphyxiated. the rest of the family slept higher up and did not.

    the rest of the plagues are common (hail, locusts)
    sorry that i only remember splotchy details.

  • rob

    i saw a fascinating thing on the discovery channel about the plagues and how there could be a scientific basis for them (i.e. god had nothing to do with it). this is what i remember:
    the nile turned red because of bacteria (algae?) (this has occured often in history)
    the bacteria (algae?) lowered the oxygen content of the water killing all of the fish. this polluted the water and forced the frogs to move to land. the frogs died and their carcasses brought flies. i think the cattle dying was realated to bacterial or fungal growth on the hay. the death of the firstborns was related to the fact that the first born son traditionaly had to sleep on the floor. there was some chemical in the air (related to the hay i think–methane?) that is heavier then air. therefore, first born sons, since they slept on the floor, were exposed to the gas and got asphyxiated. the rest of the family slept higher up and did not.

    the rest of the plagues are common (hail, locusts)
    sorry that i only remember splotchy details.

  • rob

    oops…didnt see that link about the scientific explanations. a little different tho

  • Brock

    An enlightening exegesis. Fascinating it may be, but it appears to rely on a heavy chain of coincidence, otherwise, whenever there was a high count of bacteria in the water, it would result in nations falling. In addition, I hate to think of the amount of methane that would have to be generated to cover Egypt to a depth of six to ten feet. Also this leaves Ebonmusing’s main point unanswered. How could a disaster of this magnitude go unnoticed in history? In fact, Scripture is rife with events, such as the parting of the Red Sea, the sun standing still in the book of Joshua, and moving backwards as recorded by Isaiah, that have no historical reference outside the Bible. It is not any one of these improbabilities that strain faitht to the breaking point, but the accumulated weight of hundreds.

  • Polly

    Hmmmm…*putting my fundy cap on*

    Oh those plagues were only in a small, local area around the capital of Egypt so not ALL the waters were polluted, grain destroyed, etc, etc. (even if that’s what the Bible says, that’s not what it means)
    Or, each plague hit a different part of Egypt, so the devastation wasn’t TOTAL.
    The WHOLE army didn’t go out, just enough to capture the escaped Israelites.
    Goshen, where the Israelites lived, is recorded as being unaffected by at least one of the plagues (darkness); and it can be assumed for the other plagues as well. So, maybe there were other regions where nothing happened.
    There you go, problem solved. A little ambiguity, some creative assumptions, some re-wroking of the narrative, and voila.

    I don’t believe either explanation, the red-algae nor the Biblical one. That’s in part because there’s no evidence that “Israel” was ever in Egypt for them to witness anything. Surely, the Egyptians would’ve recorded something about their own nation before a band of Canaanite nomads. It’s all just made up.

    (Suggested topic: Joseph’s fascist economic plan)

  • An Indonesian Atheist

    With supernatural explanation, it’s easy to exclude Israelites from the plagues just by saying that god protected them.

    OTOH, a non-miraculous explanation doesn’t have that luxury. Since Israelites share the same real estate with Egyptians, they would have been affected by the plagues and would be too weak to go anywhere, even if the Pharaoh allowed them to.

    There’s no middle ground. It either happened as the bible says or it was a big lie and I’m pretty sure it’ll be just like Noah’s flood and Tower of Babel… mere stories.

  • valhar2000

    How could a disaster of this magnitude go unnoticed in history?

    Another possibility is that what happened with this story was similar to what happened with the Noah’s Ark tale. If there plagues in a village, or in a city somehwere in Egypt, and a relatively large group of judean slaves managed to scape, that could have been exagerated beyond all reason during re-tellings. Nonetheless, if events on the scale I have described had happened, they would not likely have brought down the Egyptian kingdom.

    But, obviously, we must not understimate the ability of people to just make things up.

  • Dave

    And it tells such a wonderful moral lesson, too:
    Exodus 11:4-5:

    Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock.

    Exodus 12:29:

    At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.

    So God killed the firstborn children of slaves, prisoners, and animals!? Innocents who could not have possibly had any role in the Israelites captivity. Morality!

  • THarding

    The problems with all of these naturalistic explanations of biblical miracles are time and place rather than possibility. They are usually attached to a biblically literalist version of events wherein the Bible tells the true story but the miracles can be explained away as natural events.

    It has been suggested that the Thera eruption explains the Red Sea story in Exodus. The Thera eruption did in fact create tsunamis, but this is a one in several thousand years event. For this event to occur at exactly the right time and place to allow the Israelites to escape while drowning the Egyptian army if so utterly unlikely that it still qualifies as a miracle in a statistical sense. The same thing for the Nile getting a bunch of red algae immediately after Moses says that his god is getting pissed off. It is true about all the other wildly unlikely stories involving potentially naturalistic explanations of miracles.

    There are three sources of miracle stories in the Bible. Most are just made up. Some are actual events blown totally out of proportion. Some are taken from pre-existing folklore and some of that folklore came from real events. Consider the following purely speculative example of what might have happened in the Red Sea crossing. Almost certainly the Thera tsunamis would have been incorporated into folklore around the Mediterranean. At some point prior to or during the writing of the Red Sea story the folk tales of the sea drawing back, the beach being exposed, and the water rushing back in may well have been incorporated into a basically fictional story of the Egyptians chasing the Israelites. The creators of the stories didn’t know or care that these incidents occurred hundreds of years and hundreds of miles apart. They made a great story.

  • John Morales

    Nice post.

    What’s going on here?

    The Egyptians cowering and suffering through the days of plague whilst the Israelites are unaffected; then the Israelite plundering, fleeing and the smiting of the Egyptian army.

    Ah, the Israelites dished it out but good, snaffled the goods and got away clean, and the Egyptians were so cowed that they decided to “never speak of it again”.

    And we know this from the writings of the Israelites’ descendants. Hm.

  • javaman

    god the baby killer,cool!

  • anti-nonsense

    @rob I believe you are referring to “red-tide”, which is caused by dinoflagallates, which are often considered a type of red algae. They occasionally “bloom” to high numbers and some species produce neurotoxins which can be dangerous to humans that eat shellfish that have eaten large amounts of the dinoflagellates.

    Red tide could indeed be seen as a scientific explanation for the “waters turning to blood”, and it may be that the Biblical story is an exaggeration of a local algae bloom of this type.

    But I personally think the entire story is completely bullshit.

  • http://terrecuite.blogspot.com/ StewartP

    Don’t forget the fundie logic for these stories of god and/or the israelites being nasty: They are in themselves proof of the bible’s accuracy. Because (so the logic goes) surely human editors would not have included such tales when the bible was complied/handed down because they make god/the israelites look bad.
    The israelites record themselves as being stiff-necked and sinful. Therefore the stories are true, because if the bible were not “god breathed” the israelites would only record themselves as heroes and good guys.
    See?

  • Archi Medez

    “Second plague: Frogs.”

    Oh no! Frogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    I like the Simpsons explanation – mmmm, tasty frog legs.

    Still, if the stories are true we have to question the Egyptian problem solving skills here. Plagues start to wipe out your crops and cattle but leave your slaves crops and cattle alone. They’re your slaves’ cattle – just take them.

  • andrea

    Indeed. Frogs. What the heck is sooooo bad-ass about God sending frogs? I mean, yes, they might be annoying, but whoop.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    As I asked in a post I did on my blog, when you consider how blessed the land of Egypt was, with its fertile Nile Valley capable of feeding a large population, and deserts acting as defensive buffers to her east and west, wouldn’t it have made more sense for God to have given the Israelites the land of Egypt? Instead, he puts them in the worst possible place, a land sandwiched between larger hostile neighbors, lacking in natural resources and defensible borders. The God of the Bible gets an F in geography.

  • Entomologista

    Well, if there are some plagues of lice and flies I’ll at least have guaranteed employment :)

  • Entomologista

    I like the part where there is a magic contest between Moses (I think it’s Moses?) and the King’s sorcerers. Moses throws down his staff and it turns into a snake, and then the royal sorcerers are like “Psh. Kiddie magic!” and they turn their staves into snakes.

  • Marty

    Ingersoll said that there were no common words in ancient Egyption and Hebrew, which would be evidence that the Isrealites were never captive in Egypt, and certainly not for 400 years. I’m not a linguist and cannot verify that as fact, but I’m inclined to trust the source.

    Yeah, the morality of striking down every first born, without regard to the innocence of the victim is one of many such mass murders by god. He does not seem to be a very good shot. That’s why the Isrealites had to mark their doors with blood. The all knowing, infinitely just creator of the universe couldn’t tell his chosen people from the Egyptians.

  • Yoyo

    leaving aside the babies, we know that the christian/hebrew god has no problem killing those, what has he got against fish, cattle frogs and the natural envronment?

    oh I forgot, he was happy killing everyting in the flood too.

  • A bergus

    Thats a nice analysis is all those plagues had happened we would not expect to find a relatively modern country at the end of this but rather somewhere like Scunthorpe.

    Did you mean “chaos and anarchy” or “chaos or anarchy” its rather hard to have both, although it is often argued and probably true that anarchy would quickly descend to chaos these are not the same states.

  • Damien

    Long-time lurker, first-time poster. Felt I had to say something about this:

    When all was said and done, the Egyptians had no ruler, no army, no money, no food, and no labor, and every family in the nation had been shattered by tragedy. What would have happened? What could have happened? There would have been looting, violence, societal breakdown. The kingdom should have dissolved into chaos and anarchy and either become a no-man’s-land or been swallowed up by its neighbors. Egyptian civilization should have taken centuries to reconstitute itself, if it ever did. Such a collapse would be readily visible in the archaeological and historical record, and if such a thing had been found, it would have provided dramatic corroboration for the stories of the Bible.”

    In fact the historical record does show such periods, known as the “First” and Second Intermediate Periods”, in the transitions from Old to Middle Kingdom and Middle to New Kingdom. The Second Intermediate Period period is associated with Semitic chariot warriors known as the Hyksos, who might-with-a-capital-M have been the origins of the Biblical Joseph story.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I discuss the Hyksos and their potential connection to the Bible stories in part 2 of my essay on Old Testament archaeology, “Let the Stones Speak“.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I discuss the Hyksos and their potential connection to the Bible stories in part 2 of my essay on Old Testament archaeology, “Let the Stones Speak“.

  • Damien

    Yes, sir, I’ve read it, and I don’t take issue with your conclusions. I’m only reminding your readers that though Pharonic culture may have survived throughout the Biblical period, there were definitely points during that period where social organization collapsed, and such phenomena as famines and natural disasters were common. There was looting, violence and societal breakdown; the kingdom did dissolve into chaos and anarchy, it was periodically a no-man’s-land or one swallowed up by its neighbors. And as you say, Egyptian civilization really did take centuries to reconstitute itself after each of these episodes.

    Now, whether that somehow proves Joshua fit’ de Battle of Jericho, that’s altogether different.

  • Damien

    Yes, sir, I’ve read it, and I don’t take issue with your conclusions. I’m only reminding your readers that though Pharonic culture may have survived throughout the Biblical period, there were definitely points during that period where social organization collapsed, and such phenomena as famines and natural disasters were common. There was looting, violence and societal breakdown; the kingdom did dissolve into chaos and anarchy, it was periodically a no-man’s-land or one swallowed up by its neighbors. And as you say, Egyptian civilization really did take centuries to reconstitute itself after each of these episodes.

    Now, whether that somehow proves Joshua fit’ de Battle of Jericho, that’s altogether different.

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  • k

    anybody see that movie “the reaping” ? its explained in that

  • jerry

    We certainly seem to have a lot of Egyptologists writing here. Almost all seem to claim that the historic records of Egypt do not substantiate the biblical story of the plagues. This point will be in dispute anywhere people talk about it. Are there any in this forum who have given the bible any scholarly research time? I ask this question: if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it? He would be the rightful owner, so to speak. Logic here, nothing more.

  • jerry

    We certainly seem to have a lot of Egyptologists writing here. Almost all seem to claim that the historic records of Egypt do not substantiate the biblical story of the plagues. This point will be in dispute anywhere people talk about it. Are there any in this forum who have given the bible any scholarly research time? I ask this question: if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it? He would be the rightful owner, so to speak. Logic here, nothing more.

  • Alex Weaver

    if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it?

    Yes.

  • Alex Weaver

    if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it?

    Yes.

  • Brit-nontheist

    We certainly seem to have a lot of Egyptologists writing here.

    Sarcasm doesn’t become you, Jerry.

    Almost all seem to claim that the historic records of Egypt do not substantiate the biblical story of the plagues. This point will be in dispute anywhere people talk about it.

    Whether it’s disputed has no bearning on whether it is true, and does not reflect whether it is genuinely disputed within academic circles – those who claim biblical accuracy always seem to come up woefully short on evidence, surprisingly enough.

    Are there any in this forum who have given the bible any scholarly research time?

    Why would biblical scholarship (I dislike the term, since I don’t think that the Abrahamic texts have much worth beyond being examples of bad literature, bad history and questionable sociology) matter to us? The exodus story is pretty clear, unlike some of the rest of the biblical texts, and egyptian history is pretty well documented too.

    I ask this question: if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it? He would be the rightful owner, so to speak.

    Is a parent unjust in taking the life of a child he/she has brought into the world? Is s/he the rightful owner? (I’d really hope you answer “no” to those questions.) Christians are so fond of calling their god ‘father’ while never stopping to think what an abusive father their god would appear to be!

  • goyo

    I ask this question: if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it? He would be the rightful owner, so to speak. Logic here, nothing more.

    Wow, I remember using this same logic when I used to argue in favor of god.
    Yes, he would be unjust. Just think about it, it would be reducing your creation to play-doh creatures that you could torture and kill at your whim. How is that love?
    How is that intelligence?
    It’s pretty sad when the old testament is so bad that you have to argue that torture and murder is actually ok, because you can’t interpret the bible any other way.
    So rather than admit that it’s all fiction, you have to say that god’s ways are mysterious, and it’s all good.

  • goyo

    I ask this question: if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it? He would be the rightful owner, so to speak. Logic here, nothing more.

    Wow, I remember using this same logic when I used to argue in favor of god.
    Yes, he would be unjust. Just think about it, it would be reducing your creation to play-doh creatures that you could torture and kill at your whim. How is that love?
    How is that intelligence?
    It’s pretty sad when the old testament is so bad that you have to argue that torture and murder is actually ok, because you can’t interpret the bible any other way.
    So rather than admit that it’s all fiction, you have to say that god’s ways are mysterious, and it’s all good.

  • http://wilybadger.wordpress.com Chris Swanson

    I’m doing a project on my blog where I’m going through and reading the Bible, blogging about it as I go (an idea I stole from Slate.com). Later today I’ll be posting the part about the Plagues, and I gotta say… what an icky, awful, nasty, horrible story. God comes off basically as an arrogant jerk who goes around doing all these things simply to make himself look better. It’s probably the least pleasant part of the Bible I’ve read so far. :(

  • http://boomcoach.blogspot.com Alan

    At least in the story of the plagues we see the origins of Abrahmaic terrorism. Did God tell his followers to gird their loins and face the Egyptians mano a mano? No, he poisoned the water, destroyed the food, killed children, etc. Standard terror techniques.

  • http://boomcoach.blogspot.com Alan

    At least in the story of the plagues we see the origins of Abrahmaic terrorism. Did God tell his followers to gird their loins and face the Egyptians mano a mano? No, he poisoned the water, destroyed the food, killed children, etc. Standard terror techniques.

  • lpetrich

    My pet theory about the plagues of Egypt is that they were memories of the 1650-BCE Minoan caldera eruption of Thera, a volcano also known as Santorini. Those memories were brought to Egypt by refugees, who related them to the Hyksos rulers of northern Egypt.

    When the Hyksos were expelled, they took those memories with them back to their original homes in Canaan. On the way, they traveled through some marshes that seemed like a sea of reeds. The Egyptian pharaoh who led this effort was Ahmose, whose name sounds like “Brother of Moses” in Hebrew.

    Later storytellers elaborated on who “Moses” was, turned “the Brother of Moses drove us out of Egypt” into “Moses led us out of Egypt”, and “explained” how someone in the royal court of Egypt had changed sides. They also wove those dimly-remembered Thera disasters into that narrative as those plagues of Egypt.

    So the Exodus story is a tangled mess of fact and fiction.

    I don’t mean to do argument-by-scenario, but the hypothesis is a bit easier to follow when presented as a scenario.

  • Tom

    [b]I ask this question: if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it? He would be the rightful owner, so to speak. Logic here, nothing more.[/b]

    Something given is no longer owned. Even if god gave us life, he’d have no right to take it back. Saying god only loaned you life, under a long list of strict terms and conditions and reserving the right to reposess it at any time without justification, doesn’t make him sound so benevolent, does it?

  • Tom

    [b]I ask this question: if there actually is an almighty God, is he unjust in the taking of life if He created it? He would be the rightful owner, so to speak. Logic here, nothing more.[/b]

    Something given is no longer owned. Even if god gave us life, he’d have no right to take it back. Saying god only loaned you life, under a long list of strict terms and conditions and reserving the right to reposess it at any time without justification, doesn’t make him sound so benevolent, does it?

  • lpetrich

    This reminds me of something that Greta Christina has blogged on: The “Pick Two” Game, Or, Do Believers Really Believe What They Say They Believe?.

    She proposes that many people who profess to believe in a God who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent really believe in a God who is only two of those — or less.

    Catholicism: God is not omniscient because you need to perform an elaborate liturgy to get his attention. Also, you pray to saints to intercede with God, which seems rather bureaucratic.

    Fundamentalism: God is always right, but he is not only far from omnibenevolent, he has an absolute right to be as malevolent as he wants to. That seems like the position of certain people here.

    Liberalism: God is far from omnipotent; he’s very nice and concerned, and he knows all about your suffering, but he couldn’t help you even if he wanted to.

  • Johnny

    There are a few errors in the article, one of which is the belief there is no evidence of Egypt ever suffering such a castrophe. Egyptian records tell of Egypt being in such a stat of destruction, and foreign people were able to enter without any problem. People were starving,cattle were dead, fruit trees were destroyed,people were being killed by hail,fires were everywhere, people were looting,the wealthy lost everything, princes were dieing. Archeologists have verified the destruction and found out it took years for Egypt to recover. Buildings were destroyed and a major famine followed.

  • MountainHumanist

    Johnny…please give sources.

  • jane hay

    There are many factual problems with the Exodus story – one being that fundies can’t agree on the timeline – some say 1500 BC, some 1400 BC, all the way down to 1200. Another problem is, the New Kingdom controlled most of Canaan in the late Bronze Age, and this involved Egyptian garrisons, temples, etc. in Canaanite cities. Even if the Israelites had escaped, Canaan wasn’t available for colonizing. Egypt, Mitanni, the Hittites and other powers fought over control of the region continually clear down to the general collapse in 1200 – somehow this all seems to have escaped the authors of the Torah. Sorry, they’ll have to change the timeline or their story.

  • lpetrich

    Johnny might be referring to the Ipuwer Papyrus, which was likely composed during the collapse of Egypt’s Old Kingdom. Meaning that it is too early to fit.

    My own pet theory about the Exodus is that it is a garbled memory of the expulsion of the Hyksos, as told by the Hyksos themselves when they arrived in Canaan. The Egyptians were led by Pharaoh Ahmose, whose name sounds like “Brother of Moses” in Hebrew (Akh Moshe). Later generation of storytellers then invented a whole biography for Moses, and turned “we were driven out of Egypt by Ahmose” into “we were led out of Egypt by Moses”.

    The Red Sea? That’s the Septuagint mistranslation of Hebrew yam suph (Reed Sea). So they went through some marsh that seemed like a sea of reeds. The Egyptians getting drowned in it? That’s more dramatic than the Egyptians stopping chasing the escaping Hyksos and going home.

    And when the Hyksos were in Egypt, they could have learned of the Thera disaster from Cretan refugees.

  • http://www.robinlionheart.com/ Robin Lionheart

    Since reading this, this has become a favorite topic of mine to bring up when someone argues the historical accuracy of the Bible.

    A detail that also bears mentioning is that the ancient Egyptians were a record-keeping people who valued literacy. We have ancient records of crop yields, land holdings, and taxes. This is the civilization that invented paper.