Explain how the Plagues could have been natural events rather than supernatural events.the ten plagues

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Jen Sambdman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Think of it in two ways: natural selection, and the laws of supply and demand. In natural selection, it is the fittest of the fit that survive and flourish. When there are no natural predators, a species is free to reproduce without the population control of a natural enemy. Look at the deer problem that plagues the Midwest or the rabbit problem that desecrated the wild bush in Australia. The laws of supply and demand also play a part in the plagues. Food keep a species alive. The locusts involved in the plague had, at their disposal all the food that they could consume. It wasn't until they began to starve to death that the population began to decline and regulate. Any plague is never honestly a supernatural event because they can all be linked back to some scientific reasoning.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume you're referring to the 10 Biblical Plagues found in the Book of Exodus.  If so, see the links below for explanation.  If you consider the  Bible as recorded history, its stories within their contexts make sense -- but we must understand the culture of several thousand years ago to understand the context. Certainly a series of disasters bzck then could not be explained any other way than through an Act of God -- but we know a little better now.  Current theory suggests a volcanic eruption could have triggered the sequence of events as the Bible described.  Happy reading!

swimma-logan | Student

Death of every first borne male. In the1986 enigma at Lake Nyos, Cameroon, carbon dioxide gas that turned the lake blood red had reached a critical point. Surface of the lake was keeping the gas dissolved in the water until another earthquake caused a landslide of rock into the lake breaking the surface pressure and releasing the gas. The invisible fog of carbon dioxide then rolled across the land suffocating everything in its path. Those on higher ground found 1800 people dead and hundreds of animals dead. Then the cloud simply dissolved into the atmosphere, leaving no trace of its deadly effect. The Bible tells that the selectivity of the deaths of the firstborn males caused Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. The Egyptian custom was for the firstborn sons to sleep on beds near the ground while their brothers slept in lofts and roof-tops. Archaeologists at Avaris have discovered mass graves dating to 1500 BCE containing only males who were all buried at the same time. The mummy of Pharaoh Ahmose’s son Prince Sapair, preserved in the Cairo Museum, shows that he died at the age of 12.

The parting of the Sea. The Hebrew text names the sea that Moses parted Yam Suf. Jacobovici says that the correct translation of Yam Suf is “reed sea”, not Red Sea. Reeds, or marshes, grow in sweat water, not salt water, in lakes, not oceans. In the Ismailia Regional Museum, Jacobovici found an ancient hieroglyphic inscription, the El Arish inscription, on a granite monument that tells the entire story of the Exodus from Pharaoh’s point of view, and that provides the exact location of Yam Suf. If also provides the first archaeological evidence of the parting of the sea. Moses is called the Prince of the desert. The Israelites are called the evil ones. There is a symbol, three waves and two knives, suggesting the parting of a sea or body of water. The engravings on the stone identified the place where the water was parted as Pa Tufe, the marshy sea. Tuff, the Egyptian word for reed, is the same word as Suf in Hebrew, now called the El Balah Lake, which in Hebrew means the lake where God devoured. This ancient lake survived until the 1850’s when the Suez canal drained its waters. Jacobovici speculates that seismic activity associated with the earthquakes could have caused temporary drainage of the REED Lake or Sea, and a subsequent tsunami could have buried the perusing Egyptian army. The missing piece to the puzzle however is the lack of discovery of chariots and horses bones in the dry El Balah Lake bed.

swimma-logan | Student

Based on the Ahmose stele which tells of a great storm and darkness that enveloped Egypt, Jacobovici looks for a volcanic eruption as the likely cataclysmic event described in the carving.
Around 1500 BCE was there was such an eruption of the Santorini volcano in modern Greece, one of the most cataclysmic events in history. Island of Santorini, is 700 Km from the Egyptian coast, and this was one of the worst volcanic eruptions in human history bringing to an end the Minoan civilization that once flourished here. Jacobovici theorizes that such an eruption would have been preceded by numerous earthquakes, since the Nile delta is in an earthquake zone.

By now Jacobovici has correlated the Pharaoh named Ahmose, the Hyksos expulsion, the Exodus, and the Santorini eruption all to 1500 BCE. He then explores possible scientific explanations for the Biblical story of Moses’ ten plagues, and the parting of the sea.

The ten plagues of Moses:

The Nile river was turned to blood. When earthquakes trigger gas leaks, such as at Lake Nyos, Cameroon in 1986, the water suddenly turned blood red, due to an underground gas leak. Bottom layers contained high concentrations of iron. When the gas brought this iron to the surface, it formed iron hydroxide or rust, which caused the reddish color to the surface of the lake. Earthquakes could cause the gas leaks. Water becomes devoid of oxygen. Everything in the water would die except frogs, which unlike fish, could hop out. The lack of clean water then leads to lice, flies, and bacterial epidemics.
Frog epidemics.
Boils and blisters for men and animals. At Lake Nyos, Cameroon, carbon dioxide mixed with air and put people into a kind of coma, reducing circulation to the skin resulting in boils and blisters.
Hail of ice and fire mixed together. An Egyptian papyrus, called the Ipuwer Plague Papyrus, dated by many scholars to the Hyksos period says that Egypt was struck by a strange hail made of ice and fire mingled together, what scientist describe as volcanic hail. When the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption goes into the upper atmosphere it causes a hail storm which then falls to the earth along with the volcanic ash.
Locusts. The volcanic eruptions and the hail would have caused large swarms of locusts which are common in this part of the world to land in Egypt. Cold weather produces a drop in their body temperature and makes them land in mass. They swarm in groups of 40 to 80 million locusts per square Km. Darkness. Finally, the major Santorini eruption. Santorini pumice was found in Avaris that dates to 1500 BCE. Santorini ash was found in the Nile delta.

swimma-logan | Student

Over 100 years ago archaeologists unearthed a broken stone monument at Karnack, a village of east-central Egypt on the right bank of the Nile River on part of the site of ancient Thebes, erected by a Pharaoh named Ahmose I, from the eighteenth dynasty, who lived around 1550 BCE. The Ahmose stele, now in the basement of the Cairo Museum, and discovered by Henri Chevalier, may hold the key to the Exodus enigma. It tells of a furious storm, which is very unusual in the dry arid climate of Egypt. Hieroglyphic inscriptions on the stone mirror the Biblical tale. The Bible tells of a great storm at the time of the Exodus. The Ahmose stele also tells of an incessant tempest all over Egypt and that Egypt was enveloped in darkness when the God manifested his power. Jacobovici states that in Hebrew, the Egyptian name Ahmose would mean "Brother of Moses.” The Ahmose stele tells that the statues of the God’s of Egypt were toppled to the ground (probably from an earthquake storm).

In the 17th century BCE, (according to traditional chronology), the Hyksos who, like the Israelites, were Semites, invaded Egypt and ruled Lower and Middle Egypt for over 100 years, forming the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Dynasties of Egypt (c. 1648–1540 BC). (Wikepeidia). In the 1960’s the ancient Hyksos capital Avaris was discovered north of Cairo. The Hyksos were expelled in a mass exodus, known as the Hyksos expulsion, by Pharaoh Ahmose I about 1500 BCE.

Most scholars date the Hebrew Exodus to 1270 BCE during the rein of Ramses II, but he Bible gives evidence that the exodus occurred about 480 years before the rein of Solomon in the middle of the 15th century BC, or 1470 BCE, less than 100 years from the traditional date of the Hyksos expulsion. (Prof. John Bismon, Trinity College).

Jacobovici, like the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus before him, equates the Hyksos with the Israelites, and postulated a new date for the Exodus around 1500 BCE. Israelites arrived in Egypt some 200 years before their Exodus, which would have been 1700 BCE, the same time as the arrival of the Hyksos in Egypt. Hebrew Bible calls the Israelites, “God’s People,” or “Amo Israel.” About 400 Km south of Avaris is the tomb of Beni Hassan, which dates to about 1700 BCE. A perfectly preserved wall painting records a migration into Egypt from the area of modern Israel. Bearded Semites are depicted riding donkeys and bringing their families and flocks into Egypt and wearing multi-colored tunics, like the Biblical Israelites. The Hieroglyphic inscription on this painting calls these people the “Amo,” or God’s People.

As confirmation that the Israelites where the same as the Hyksos, Jacobovici explores the artifacts unearthed at the archaeological excavations of Avaris, and finds that nine signet rings made of clay were found bearing the inscription Yakov (or Jacob). The Bible tells that Joseph wore a ring with the seal of Pharaoh. Joseph, son of Jacob, would have been identified by his family name. A Hebrew name on an Egyptian royal seal seems to directly connect Avaris with the Joseph and Jacob of the Bible.