Tag Archive | Book of Exodus

Did the Biblical Plagues Really Happen?

Scientists have claimed that the Biblical plagues that had devastated Ancient Egypt were a result of volcanic eruption and global warming. Modern researchers feel they have found evidences for these natural disasters based on which the ten plagues of Egypt happened. The Ten Plagues of Egypt led Moses freeing the Israelites from their slavery as depicted in the book of Exodus. But unlike the Bible scientists do not think these were the wrathful act of God. Scientists feel these were caused by a natural chain of phenomenon. The plagues were triggered by some climatic and environmental changes that happened hundreds of miles away.

 

Ten Plagues of Egypt happened due to various scientific reasons

There are various evidences that explain the logical reasons for the plagues of Egypt. The plagues happened in the ancient Egyptian city of Pi-Rameses along the Nile Delta. Pi-Rameses was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Rameses II who ruled between 1279-13 BC. This city was abandoned about 3,000 years ago and the plagues were the reason. Climatologists studying the ancient climactic trends have reported a sharp shift in the climate of the area towards the end of Rameses IIs reign.

 

Nile turned red due to Burgundy Blood algae

Researchers have studied the stalagmites found in the Egyptian caves to rebuild the weather patterns. They used radioactive elements which the rocks contained. They claimed that Rameses IIs reign started with warm and wet climate but towards the end of his reign the climate switched to a dry period. Some researchers feel Rameses II reigned during a very unfavourable climactic period. There was a period in Egypt which had adverse consequences. The change in climate was the root cause of the first plague. The rising temperatures led the Nile to dry up. Nile turned from a fast flowing river providing essential lifeline to Egypt to a slow moving and muddy watercourse.

 

Frogs died due to lack of water in Nile and led to insect infestation

These were perfect conditions for the arrival of the first plague. The first plague is described in the Bible with the water turning into blood. This is the description for toxic fresh water algae. This bacterium also known as Burgundy Blood algae has existed for over 3,000 years and still causes the similar effects. This algae multiples drastically in slow moving warm water streams which provide it with high levels of nutrition. When these algae die they live a red stain in water. The scientists feel these algae were also contributors to the second, third and fourth plagues of Egypt. Nile was breeding places for flies, lice and frogs. Frogs developed from tadpoles and their speed of growth was very quick. Arrival of toxic algae forced the frogs to live out of water. As these frogs died mosquitoes, flies and various other insects flourished without existence of any predators. This led to the fifth and sixth plagues where the livestock was diseased. With the increase in insects there was rise of various epidemics such as malaria and others. This caused a large number of human beings falling ill.

 

Insects caused various diseases and epidemics

Another major natural disaster that happened more than 400 miles away were also triggering factors for the seventh, eighth and ninth plagues which brought hail, locusts and darkness to Egypt. One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history happened when Thera, which is a volcano in the Mediterranean islands of Santorini (North of Crete), exploded spewing billions of tons of volcanic ash into the atmosphere. It is believed that volcanic ash clashed with the thunderstorms converting them into hailstorms. The locusts were also a result of the volcanic ash. Ash caused weather change with high precipitation and higher humidity. These are exact conditions needed for presence of locusts. The volcanic ash was so heavy that it blocked the sunlight causing the stories about plague of darkness. Recently scientists have discovered pumice (which is a stone made after cooling of volcanic lava) though there are no volcanoes in Egypt. Closer analysis of the rock shows that it came from Santorini volcano. This provides evidence that ash fallout from the eruption at Santorini could easily reach Egypt.

 

Ashes from the Santorini volcano eruption caused severe climactic change

Cause of the final plague where the first borns of Egypt died has been suggested to be caused by a fungus that poisoned the grain supplies. These supplies would be provided to the male first borns and they were the first to fall victims.

 

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Are Moses and Pharaoh Akhenaten Same Personalities?

Moses is a prominent figure both in the Bible and Quran. He has been described as a prophet, leader and lawgiver. According to the Book of Exodus Moses was born at Goshen (in lower Egypt) and was adopted by a member of the Egyptian royal family. Later Moses flees across the Red Sea to Midian. He leads the Exodus and takes the Israelites out of Egypt to their new base at Mount Sinai across the Red Sea. He receives the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and then dies at the age of 120 after wandering through the deserts for 40 years. This is as much we know about Moses from the Bible.

Statue of Moses at San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

Artapanus’ Account of Moses

Now let us run through some Egyptian texts. According to Artapanus Israelites were being executed by a Pharaoh named Palsmanothes, but his daughter Merris adopted a Hebrew child and the young Prince was named Mousos, later Merris married pharaoh Khenephres. When Price Mousos grew up he was given the duty of administering the lands on the Pharaoh’s behalf. He even led successful military campaigns against the invading Ethiopians. But his immense popularity made Khenephres jealous and ordered for Prince Mousos’ execution. The Prince fled to Arabia and returned back only after the death of Khenephres and lead the Israelites to freedom. This account presents a similar story to Bible of Moses.

Baby Moses Being Floated Downstream by Royal Midwives

Jesophus’ Account of Moses

In 93 AD Josphus mentioned of Moses in the Ethiopian or the Kushite War. According to him, Moses led the Egyptian army down the Nile Valley deep into Kush or modern day Ethiopia. A stela preserved in the British museum also testified this account. There is also a statue of Khanephres at Kerma dating back to the 13th Dynasty in Egypt. Kerma is many hundred kilometres south of the boundaries of Egyptian empire. May be this place was built to strengthen the Egyptian annexation of Ethiopia and served as the residence of the local governor. Bible states that Moses was forty years old when he fled to Arabia, so he could have easily led this Kushite War.

Moses Preaching his Religious Beliefs

Jacob in Annals of Ramses II

Bible tells us that Moses was the son of Jacob and Jochebed. Annals of Ramses II states that Joseph was sold as a slave in 1720 BC and later was appointed a Governor having powers only second to the Pharaoh. His father Joseph and 70 other family members came to Goshen (where he resided) after a famine struck Canaan (modern day Palestine). Ramases II built grain storehouses for the Israelites.

Statue of Pharaoh Akhenaten

Jewish Texts

According to the early Jewish texts Joseph went to Egypt in the early 15th century. He was soon appointed the chief minister to the Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV. The Egyptians called Joseph the Vizir as Yuya. When Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV died his son ascended the throne after marrying his sister Sitamun as was the Pharonic tradition. He assumed the title of Amenhotep III. The Pharaoh also married Joseph’s daughter Tiye. When Tiye was pregnant it was decreed that if she gave birth to a son, then the baby would be killed. This was done to stop the Jewish influence on the throne. So Tiye was sent to Sarw to give birth to her baby. Eventually she gave birth to a baby boy but the royal midwives floated the baby downstream and the basket bearing the baby reached the house of Tiye’s half brother Levi.

Carving Showing Pharaoh Akhenaten as a Sphynyx

The boy was named Aminadab and he was educated by the Egyptian priests of Ra. Aminadab went to live in Thebes when he was a teenager. By this time his mother Tiye had become more influential than Sitamun who had borne only a girl child named Neferetiti. Soon Aminadab become popular and became a close associate of the Pharaoh. After the death of Amenhotep III he ascended the throne with the title of Amenhotep IV. Soon after coming to the throne he started changing the religious beliefs of the Egyptians. He started the practice of monotheism and took on the title of Akhenaten. He even banished the Ra priests and brought down the temples. The capital of Akhenaten was shifted from Heliopolis to Thebes. But his radical religious views did not go well with the staunch priests and he was banished from the kingdom. Akhenatan fled to Sinai with many of his monotheist followers. He started preaching his new religion from Sinai.

Thus there are close resemblances between the history of Moses and the often interpreted “heretic” king Akhenatan. Recent studies are strengthening their link even further.

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