“Scientific” Explanation of the 10 Plagues: Exodus Decoded and other sources
The basic cause for most of the plagues is hypothesized to be the eruption of the Santorini Volcano at approximately 1500 b.c. (A serious problem with the theory is that experts say the volcano actually erupted around 1625 b.c., a 100+ year difference!) Santorini ash HAS been found in the Nile Delta, which proves that at least the ash cloud from an eruption did reach all of the way to Egypt. It is also hypothesized that seismic activity around the African plate caused a series of small eruptions and then a large eruption of the Santorini Volacano. (This is the “Exodus Decoded” hypothesis).
Plague 1: Nile turned to blood. The earthquake caused high concentrations of iron to be released and bubble up to the surface, where it combined with oxygen. This caused rust to form, giving the water a reddish-brown appearance. Of course, with this explanation, we only account for the Nile, not all of the water in Egypt as stated in the Bible. Also, in the Bible, it was an immediate act that the Pharaoh’s magicians replicated. (Other sources claim it was red clay that caused the discoloration).
Plague 2: Frogs. All of the fish died from the lack of oxygen. Only the frogs, who were able to leave the water, survived. As the frogs fled the water, it was assumed to be a plague of frogs. Again, ignores some of the details of what occurred in the Bible.
Plague 3: Insects (lice, gnats, or mosquitoes…depending on translation). The “Exodus Decoded” rushes through plagues 3-5 by saying: “The lack of clean water then leads to lice, flies, and bacterial epidemics among humans and domestic animals.” Other sources hypothesize that after Moses killed/got rid of all the frogs, the insects and flies were allowed to breed rampantly with their natural predator (the frog) gone.
Plague 4: Flies
Plague 5: Epidemic
Plague 6: Boils & Blisters. By either an earthquake or other disturbance of the water, carbon dioxide was released (from where it was built up at the bottom of the water) and caused a type of semi-coma, in which the victims didn’t move very much. This lowered the circulation rate, resulting in boils and blisters.
Plague 7: Hail with fire. The “Exodus Decoded” refers to the Ipuwer Papyrus claiming an outside source that describes the condition, again ignoring the fact it is dated from the wrong range. “Exodus Decoded” claims that lava from the eruption fell along with volcanic ash that had combined with water moisture to make a type of “hail.”
Plague 8: Locusts. Sudden change in cold weather from the hail caused the locusts to land. As the weather warmed again, they left.
Plague 9: Darkness. Final large eruption caused the land to be covered in ash, making it seem to be dark. Ignores the fact that the distance between the volcano and Egypt is much too far for this amount of ash to travel.
Plague 10: Death of the firstborn. Firstborns slept on the place of honor on a low bed. Others slept on wagons and roofs? Carbon built up under the water released and turned to visible fog. Those close to the ground were suffocated. This entire idea is ridiculous beyond measure. I could write a page only on why the explanation for this plague is ridiculous.
For a very detailed analysis of why “The Exodus Decoded” is very probably not accurate, visit: http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?page_id=119
Now, as always, I have a question for my readers:
Do you think there IS a scientific explanation (not necessarily the one above) for the plagues? Do you think we’ll ever figure out what it is?
Does a lack of scientific explanation affect your belief of the reality of the plagues? Why or why not?
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
Witnessing by charity and love are above all. Studying the Bible and beyond helps me on this quest. Feel free to join my walk into the Bible.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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Sites I Recommend
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong