One of the main stories in Exodus is about Moses rescuing the Hebrew’s from Egypt. The 10 plagues that Egypt faces are the most extreme things that the Egyptians have ever seen. There are many plagues to cover, but I am going to talk about hail, locusts, and darkness. How are they significant? What do they symbolize? Could the plagues of Egypt actually been an occurrence?
Scientist have found actual evidence that proves not only these three plagues have happened, but all of them. According to Xander Wolfe, http://www.theweeklyconstitutional.com/news/we-cant-explain-it/458-scientist-prove-the-ten-plagues-of-egypt-really-did-happen , “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 fallout 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.”
Scientist have also discovered volcanic rock through out the region that the plagues where supposed to occur in. So is the reason hail, locusts, and darkness are listed together because they actually happened that way? Science says yes, but not for biblical reasoning. The documentation of the plagues were prestige for that time period. An article by Richard Gray, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7530678/Biblical-plagues-really-happened-say-scientists.html ,suggests the same things about the volcanic activity from Thera, but in his research he quoted Dr Siro Trevisanato saying “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.” Also in Richard’s research, he found out more about the volcanic rock. He talks about how there was no volcanic activity in Egypt and the rock had to come from Thera. So, science proves the realness and actuality of what the Egyptian people had to face.
In other research, I found an article by Ziony Zevit, http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/exodus/exodus-in-the-bible-and-the-egyptian-plagues/, and it talks about many things in relation to the plagues. He states that hail, locusts, and darkness could represent gods:
“Hail (No. 7) and locusts (No. 8 ) were, according to this explanation, directed against Seth, who manifests himself in wind and storms; and/or against Isis, goddess of life, who grinds, spins flax and weaves cloth; or against Min, who was worshiped as a god of fertility and vegetation and as a protector of crops. Min is an especially likely candidate for these two plagues because the notations in Exodus 9:31 indicate that the first plague came as the flax and barley were about to be harvested, but before the wheat and spelt had matured. A widely celebrated “Coming out of Min” was celebrated in Egypt at the beginning of the harvest.10 These plagues, in effect, devastated Min’s coming-out party. Darkness (No. 9), pursuing this line of interpretation, could have been directed against various deities associated with the sun—Amon-Re, Aten, Atum or Horus.” This could be the Egyptian’s way of making sense of the natural phenomenons that were occurring at the time.
The next question I would like to cover why hail? We know from reading our text that hail is to be the worst that is yet to come to the Egyptian people.
“Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.” Exodus 9:18, The Literary Study Bible ESV
However, it seems that by the way each plague is listed to have happened, the plagues get worse as they reach higher in order. In an article by Edna Miriam Lister, http://miriams-well.org/lectures/Plagues.html, she states:
“Thunder, hail and fire represent crystallized imagination, emotions and thinking, in that order. Hail is frozen water and symbolizes emotion crystallized into prejudices and opinions that produce paralysis. Thinking is fire that burns and churns crystallized emotions. The low pole of crystallized imagination creates thundering, destructive pictures. Hail is under Sagittarius, the House of Ascension and Conquering to Ascend. Sagittarius is a fire sign. We must heat, melt and absorb all crystallization. For Egypt and Israel both, this represents the need to awaken Love and Compassion. The hail told Israel to dissolve its hatred of Egypt. No matter what sign we were born in, we conquer in Sagittarius.”
I think this is an odd outlook on what hail represents, but I don not think it is necessarily wrong. It is a great symbolism of comparison to the verse. Through further reading, I found an article by an unknown author stating that “The plague of hail was the first plague, of the third group of plagues in Egypt. This third group included plagues taking effect in the heavens: hail, locusts (via the wind), and darkness. God wished to demonstrate His control in all areas of the universe.” http://www.mesora.org/Hail-Mann.htm
This is an obvious Christian view on the verse, but it also opens up to questions. Why was the third cycle of plagues all coming from what is presumed to be heaven? It could be for literary purposes to get the significance of how serious the Hebrew people wanted their situation to be seen.
“The locusts came up all over the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again.” Exodus 10:14, The Literary Study Bible ESV
According to an article on, http://www.mazornet.com/holidays/passover/plagues/locust.htm, “Additionally, we see a “Measure for Measure” – The Egyptians used Jews as slave labor in their fields to grow their crops, and stole from them when they did not have sufficient inventory of their own. God punishes them by having their crops totally consumed by the locust.”
This could be the symbol that the Hebrew writers were trying to get across by using locusts. This is proof of the great representation of symbolism in the Bible. Another reason goes back to the god and goddesses I listed above.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, then there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.”” Exodus 10:21, The Literary Study Bible ESV
A post by Parashat Bo, a Jewish student, http://www.biu.ac.il/JH/Parasha/eng/bo/gre.html, talks about how darkness represents the bondage that the Hebrew people had to live in. The passage about the darkness in Exodus talks about how the Hebrew people had light unlike the Egyptians. Perhaps, the literary symbolism of the darkness is for the readers of Exodus to see that the Hebrew people where granted light because that’s when they started to trust in God.
All three of these plagues could represent 100 different things, but each one holds its own meaning. With the proof of science that these events actually did happen, the stories from these happenings could have gotten altered before being written down. To the Egyptian people, the events could have occurred because they had displeased gods, and to the Hebrew people, the events could have occurred because of a displeased God, and to the readers today, the events could have occurred because of actual scientific evidence.