Six Plagues: Frogs, Lice, Flies, Boils, Death of Cattle, & Magicians and Plagues – 1491 B.C.

You would think Pharaoh would believe that You are who You say You are.  I see that the magicians were able to turn their rods into serpents too, but Yours ate theirs.  What comes next?”

The Plague of Frogs, engraving published in “La Saincte Bible, Contenant le Vieil and la Nouveau Testament, Enrichie de plusieurs belles figures/Sacra Biblia, nouo et vetere testamento constantia eximiis que sculpturis et imaginibus illustrata, De Limprimerie de Gerard Jollain.”
Researchers believe they have found evidence of real natural disasters on which the ten plagues of Egypt, which led to Moses freeing the Israelites from slavery in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, were based.

But rather than explaining them as the wrathful act of a vengeful God, the scientists claim the plagues can be attributed to a chain of natural phenomena triggered by changes in the climate and environmental disasters that happened hundreds of miles away.

Yet, archaeologists now widely believe the plagues occurred at an ancient city of Pi-Rameses on the Nile Delta, which was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses the Second, who ruled between 1279BC and 1213BC.

The city appears to have been abandoned around 3,000 years ago and scientists claim the plagues could offer an explanation.

Climatologists studying the ancient climate at the time have discovered a dramatic shift in the climate in the area occurred towards the end of Rameses the Second’s reign.

By studying stalagmites in Egyptian caves they have been able to rebuild a record of the weather patterns using traces of radioactive elements contained within the rock.

They found that Rameses reign coincided with a warm, wet climate, but then the climate switched to a dry period.

Professor Augusto Magini, a paleoclimatologist at Heidelberg University’s institute for environmental physics, said: “Pharaoh Rameses II reigned during a very favourable climatic period.

“There was plenty of rain and his country flourished. However, this wet period only lasted a few decades. After Rameses’ reign, the climate curve goes sharply downwards.

There is a dry period which would certainly have had serious consequences.”

The scientists believe this switch in the climate was the trigger for the first of the plagues.

The rising temperatures could have caused the river Nile to dry up, turning the fast flowing river that was Egypt’s lifeline into a slow moving and muddy watercourse.

These conditions would have been perfect for the arrival of the first plague, which in the Bible is described as the Nile turning to blood.

Dr Stephan Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, believes this description could have been the result of a toxic fresh water algae.

He said the bacterium, known as Burgundy Blood algae or Oscillatoria rubescens, is known to have existed 3,000 years ago and still causes similar effects today.

He said: “It multiplies massively in slow-moving warm waters with high levels of nutrition. And as it dies, it stains the water red.”

The scientists also claim the arrival of this algae set in motion the events that led to the second, third and forth plagues – frogs, lice and flies.

Frogs development from tadpoles into fully formed adults is governed by hormones that can speed up their development in times of stress.

The arrival of the toxic algae would have triggered such a transformation and forced the frogs to leave the water where they lived.

But as the frogs died, it would have meant that mosquitoes, flies and other insects would have flourished without the predators to keep their numbers under control.

This, according to the scientists, could have led in turn to the fifth and sixth plagues – diseased livestock and boils.

Professor Werner Kloas, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute, said: “We know insects often carry diseases like malaria, so the next step in the chain reaction is the outbreak of epidemics, causing the human population to fall ill.”

Another major natural disaster more than 400 miles away is now also thought to be responsible for triggering the seventh, eighth and ninth plagues that bring hail, locusts and darkness to Egypt.

One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history occurred when Thera, a volcano that was part of the Mediterranean islands of Santorini, just north of Crete, exploded around 3,500 year ago, spewing billions of tons of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.

Nadine von Blohm, from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Germany, has been conducting experiments on how hailstorms form and believes that the volcanic ash could have clashed with thunderstorms above Egypt to produce dramatic hail storms.

Dr Siro Trevisanato, a Canadian biologist who has written a book about the plagues, said the locusts could also be explained by the volcanic fall out from the ash.

He said: “The ash fall out caused weather anomalies, which translates into higher precipitations, higher humidity. And that’s exactly what fosters the presence of the locusts.”

The volcanic ash could also have blocked out the sunlight causing the stories of a plague of darkness.

Scientists have found pumice, stone made from cooled volcanic lava, during excavations of Egyptian ruins despite there not being any volcanoes in Egypt.

Analysis of the rock shows that it came from the Santorini volcano, providing physical evidence that the ash fallout from the eruption at Santorini reached Egyptian shores.

The cause of the final plague, the death of the first borns of Egypt, has been suggested as being caused by a fungus that may have poisoned the grain supplies, of which male first born would have had first pickings and so been first to fall victim.

But Dr Robert Miller, associate professor of the Old Testament, from the Catholic University of America, said: “I’m reluctant to come up with natural causes for all of the plagues.

The problem with the naturalistic explanations, is that they lose the whole point.

“And the whole point was that you didn’t come out of Egypt by natural causes, you came out by the hand of God.”

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.  And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: And the river shall  ring 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 kneading troughs: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.

And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.  And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.  Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD.

And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses that they may remain in the river only?  And he said, 1 Tomorrow.  And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God” (Ex 8:1-10).

God didn’t remove the frogs, He just killed them so Egypt stank a great deal.  Pharaoh was respite and He hardened his heart.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 

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. 

And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 

Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 

Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 

And I will sever in that day the land of  2 Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. 

And I will put a division between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be” (Ex 8:16-23).

“Pharaoh called on Moses and Aaron to ask God to get rid of the flies and in return, he would let the Israelites go into the desert for three days and worship God.  And again, Pharaoh refused to let them go.

The next plague were the cattle.  All of them in Egypt died, but none in Goshen.  The next plague were boils.  God had Moses sprinkle a handful of ashes from the furnace into the air and when it fell to the ground it became dust and then boils appeared on all the Egyptians.

The plague of hail and fire came next, which destroyed all the crop and trees.

And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 

And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses” (Ex 9:34-35).

1 You have to wonder why the Pharaoh said to get rid of the frogs tomorrow, instead of right then.

2 Remember, Goshen is where Joseph had Jacob and all his people move to that is why they are all there now.

Magicians and Plagues
1491 B.C.

The lead magicians that Moses and Aaron dealt with are Jannes and Jambres.  They are named by the Apostle Paul and are noted not only be the Jews (also called Israelites and Hebrews) in their Talmudical treatise of Oblations, c 9, where they are called by the names of Jochanne and Mamre. 

They are mentioned also in the Chaldee Paraphrase, where they are attributed to Jonathan, as well as among some heathen writers, for Numenius Apamea, a Pythagorean philosopher.  Eusebius related this account:

Jannes and Jambres, interpreters of the mysteries of Egypt, were in great repute at the time when the Jews were sent out of Egypt.

It was the opinion of all men that these were inferior to none in the art of magic.  For by the common opinion of the Egyptians, these two were chosen to oppose Moses, the ringleader of the Jews. 

Moses’ prayers were most prevalent with God and they alone were able to undo and end all those most grievous calamities that God brought upon all the Egyptians.

Pliny in reference to this stated:

There is also another sect of magicians, derived from Moses, Jannes, Lotapes, and the Jews.

Pliny is, however, incorrect on two counts:

a)   In reckoning Moses among the magicians, and

b)   In making Jannes and Lotapes to be Jews. 

But when Pharaoh’s magicians could not do no more, God through Moses sent his ten plagues upon the Egyptians. 

These are summarized in Ps 78:1-72 and 105:1-45.

According to the Jews, these plagues lasted a year, but in fact, they were all sent within one month, in the following order. 

About the 18th day of the sixth month of the year (which later became the 12th month {Ex 12:21}, God sent the first plague of the waters turning into blood {Ex 7:17-24}. 

After seven days, about the 25th day, came the second plague of the frogs, which were removed the next day {Ex 8:1-15}.  On about the 27th day, the third plague of lice was brought upon them {Ex 8:16-19}.

You would think Pharaoh would believe that You are who You say You are.  I see that the magicians were able to turn their rods into serpents too, but Yours ate theirs.  What comes next?

About the 28th day, Moses threatened them with a fourth plague of flies.  These came on the 29th day and were all taken away on the 30th day {Ex 8:20-32}.

About the 1st day of the seventh month (which shortly after was made the first month of the year {Ex 12:3}, Moses warned them of a fifth plague, which he brought upon them the following day.  This was the plague of murrain in cattle {Ex 9:1-7}.  About the 3rd day, the sixth plague of boils and botches came upon man and best.  This plague came on the magicians as well {Ex 9:8-11}.  Concerning this, Justin wrote:

The Egyptians were afflicted with scabs and sores.  When they were warned by an oracle, all that were infected with that disease expelled Moses out of Egypt, lest the plague should spread further among the people.  not only to his brethren but also to Pharaoh, who sought to kill him.  Moses fled from there unto the land of Midian.  He married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, and stayed there 40 years.

About the 4th day, Moses warned them of a 70th plague, which came upon them on the fifth day of the same month.  It was a plague of thunder and rain and grievous hail, mixed with fire, which ruined their flax and barley, because the barley was then in the ear and the flax bolled.  But the wheat and the rye were not harmed, because they were not yet out of the ground {Ex 9:12-25}.  Hence, Nicolaus Fullerus correctly noted that the plague happened in the month of Abib.

In Egyptian myth, magic (heka) was one of the forces used by the creator to make the world. Through heka, symbolic actions could have practical effects. All deities and people were thought to possess this force in some degree, but there were rules about why and how it could be used. The most respected users of magic were the lector priests. Priests were the main practitioners of magic in pharaonic Egypt, where they were seen as guardians of a secret knowledge given by the gods to humanity to ‘ward off the blows of fate’. The most respected users of magic were the lector priests, who could read the ancient books of magic kept in temple and palace libraries.

About the 7th day, Moses threatened them with an eighth plague.  The next day the plague of locusts came and devoured all the green plants.  He removed the plague about the 9th day {Ex 10:1-19}.

The month of Abib, which was the seventh month, was from this time on made the first month of the year {Ex 12:2 & 13:4}.  This was for a memorial of their departure from the land of Egypt.  From the beginning of this month, we deduce the epochs of the Jewish calendar.

On the 10th day of this month (which was Thursday, April 30 according to the Julian Calendar), the feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread was instituted.  The Pascal lamb was chosen and killed four days later.

Meanwhile, Moses brought upon them the ninth plague of three days of darkness.  It was so dark during that time, that none of the Egyptians left the place where they were while the darkness lasted.  The Israelites, however, had light in their dwellings throughout that time {Ex 10:22-23}.

On the 14th day (Monday, May 4) Moses spoke with Pharaoh for the last time.  Moses told him of the tenth plague which was to come upon him.  This was the death of all the firstborn of Egypt, which came to pass on the following night at midnight.  In a rage, Pharaoh ordered Moses to get out of his sight and never come back again {Ex 10:24-29 & 11:1, 4-8}.  That evening they celebrated the Passover {Ex 12:11-12}.