The 10 Plagues of Egypt – Fact or Fiction?
One of the most well-known stories from The Bible’s Old Testament is that of the Plagues of Egypt. According to the book of Exodus, Moses tells Pharaoh that terrible afflictions will strike his kingdom if he doesn’t let the Israelite slaves leave. Pharaoh is unmoved, and so begins a series of devastating events that culminates in the death of all the first-born of the Egypt. First the Nile turns to blood, then Egypt is infested with frogs, then gnats, followed by flies, then the animals begin to die. The people are afflicted by boils and fall sick. The land is ravaged by hail, followed by the relentless destruction caused by locusts. The sun goes dark in the sky, and finally the Angel of Death takes the lives of all the eldest children. It was the last of these ten plagues that finally convinced Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. It’s a hugely complicated story that sets up the Exodus, but did it happen, and if so, how?
Most myths and legends are based, somewhere far back in time, on real historical events. Events that would have been talked about for years, handed down by word of mouth for generation after generation until they became so twisted and convoluted in their telling that they no longer reflected the real event. They became seemingly impossible incidents, often driven by supernatural forces. These twists and turns to the original stories have so obscured their own origins, that little scientific effort is made to search beyond the veil of myth and legend to find what might actually lie at their origin.
There have been many attempts to explain the plagues, most of which have proved unsatisfactory, especially regarding the final one, that of the slaying of the eldest child. Let us look at these 10 Plagues of Egypt with a 21st century eye and, through a mixture of modern and ancient thinking, derive a hypothesis as to how and why they could have happened.
We’re pleased to be joined once again by special Ancient Origins contributor and author Ted Loukes for an exploration into the mysteries of the past.
Ted Loukes is an independent researcher in the field of ancient civilisations. Born in the sixties, he has been on a voyage of discovery for over forty years, questioning man's origins by digging through ancient texts, inscriptions, myths and legends. He moved to South Africa in 1990 and set up home in Johannesburg, appropriately just a few kilometres from the Cradle of Humankind. His particular fascination with Ancient Egypt began in 1972 with a visit to the Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition, held at the British Museum. His book Moses and Akhenaten: Brothers in Alms grew from a single page blog post to a two and a half year project that incorporated two field trips to Egypt itself. He is currently learning to read hieroglyphic. Facebook | Twitter
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