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The Exodus

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BayGBM:
I admit, Iíve always been fascinated with the Exodus story: the 10 plagues brought on Egypt because Pharoah would not free the children of Israel, the pillar of fire, and the parting of the red sea.  The last one is pretty incredible (more on that later), but I have personally seen a pillar of fire big enough and hot enough to block an attack as mentioned in Exodus and dramatized in the movie the 10 Commandments. 

Fire pillars can occur when intense heat warps weather patterns and form a kind of tornado.  Essentially what you get is a small tornado made of fire.  Several of them formed during the recent fires in southern California!

To refresh your memory the 10 plagues are as follows:

1.  rivers and other water sources turned to blood or blood red.  Exodus 7:14-25
2.  the city overrun with amphibians (frogs).  Exodus 8:1-15
3.  the city overrun with lice or gnats.  Exodus 8:16-19
4.  the city overrun with flies or beasts.  Exodus 8:20-32
5.  a disease killing Egyptian--but not slave--livestock.  Exodus 9:1-7
6.  boils on the Egyptians--but not the Hebrews.  Exodus 9:8-12 
7.  hail mixed with fire.  Exodus 9:13-35
8.  locusts.  Exodus 10:1-20
9.  darkness on the Egyptians--but not the Hebrews.  Exodus 10:21-29
10.  death of the firstborn--for the Egyptians but not the Hebrews.  Exodus 11:1-12:36

What do you make of the 10 plagues?  Do you think they or some version of them happened?  Do you think they were natural disasters, divine intervention, or all made up?  Skeptics and science writers have noted and explained in some detail that there are natural explanations for all of the plagues.

MCWAY:

--- Quote from: BayGBM on November 18, 2007, 07:38:48 AM ---I admit, I’ve always been fascinated with the Exodus story: the 10 plagues brought on Egypt because Pharoah would not free the children of Israel, the pillar of fire, and the parting of the red sea.  The last one is pretty incredible (more on that later), but I have personally seen a pillar of fire big enough and hot enough to block an attack as mentioned in Exodus and dramatized in the movie the 10 Commandments. 

Fire pillars can occur when intense heat warp weather patterns and form kind of tornado.  Essentially what you get is a small tornado made of fire.  Several of them formed during the recent fires in southern California!

To refresh your memory the 10 plagues are as follows:

1.  rivers and other water sources turned to blood or blood red.  Exodus 7:14-25
2.  the city overrun with amphibians (frogs).  Exodus 8:1-15
3.  the city overrun with lice or gnats.  Exodus 8:16-19
4.  the city overrun with flies or beasts.  Exodus 8:20-32
5.  a disease killing Egyptian--but not slave--livestock.  Exodus 9:1-7
6.  boils on the Egyptians--but not the Hebrews.  Exodus 9:8-12 
7.  hail mixed with fire.  Exodus 9:13-35
8.  locusts.  Exodus 10:1-20
9.  darkness on the Egyptians--but not the Hebrews.  Exodus 10:21-29
10.  death of the firstborn--for the Egyptians but not the Hebrews.  Exodus 11:1-12:36

What do you make of the 10 plagues?  Do you think they or some version of them happened?  Do you think they were natural disasters, divine intervention, or all made up?  Skeptics and science writers have noted and explained in some detail that there are natural explanations for all of the plagues.


--- End quote ---

I've seen parts of these specials. What I find ironic about it is that, at one time, skeptics and some science writers (as you call them) swore up and down that the Exodus never happened. Now that they can't deny it, they're trying to marginalize it.

It's not that there are no natual explanations, per se. I would label them natural disasters, guided by supernatural force. These things occured when and how Moses said they would, as God told him. And they didn't stop, until Moses either called them off or Pharoah threw in the towel.

You mentioned the movie, The Ten Commandments. You will recall the scene where the priests tell Pharoah that the people have turned from the Egyptian gods. Pharoah shouts back at him "WHAT GODS??" and state that the prophets and priests invented to gods to prey upon the fears of men. After hearing a report of a mountain spewing red mud and poisioning the waters (the so-called natural explanation for the river turning to blood), Pharoah claims that the calamites now befalling Egypt were ordered of themselves, not of any god, and refused to release the Hebrews.

Notice another thing about the plagues. They pummeled Pharoah's land and his people. But, as long as they don't affect him personally, he remains defiant. It's when the plague of the firstborn strikes, killing his son, that Pharoah finally caves and releases the Israelites. And why would God use such plagues?

Recall another scene from the movie, in which Pharoah's priests and soldiers try to convince their ruler to free Israel. Pharoah asked whether fear rules Egypt or he does. One of his generals begs, "We fear no army of the earth, but can we fight plagues with swords? Israel left Egypt in freedom and with much of Egypt's loot, without lifting one sword or losing one man in combat.

Thanks for the info about fire pillars. I didn't know that. Such occuring (i.e. during the wildfires in CA) would be a mere natural occurence. Such occuring, when an angry Pharoah and his army are chasing some 600,000+ of his former slaves, whose trail is blocked by the sea, would be a supernatural occurence.

BayGBM:
MCWAY, thank you for your thoughtful reply.  Your memory of lines from the film is impressively accurate.

The pillar of fire holds a particular fascination for me because just hearing it described, reading about it, or seeing it in a movie, I never would have thought something like that could be possible.  But I have seen it--I have even seen two separate fire pillars merge into one bigger pillar--and my only reaction was, ďoh my god!Ē  :o


Assuming they all happened, what I find most interesting about the plagues is that there ARE natural explanations for them.  To me, that makes them much more compelling than simply thinking that god waved a magic wand making them happen.  In addition, if one accepts them as natural phenomena then several of the plagues are interconnected and logical, again, making them more compelling/believeable.

1.  skeptics and scientists note that the Nile turning red could have been caused by volcanic activity in the region (Santorini is believed to have erupted around this time.  Lots of ash from this volcano has been found in the Nile region).  Silt from the volcano could turn the Nile river red and make the water undrinkable.  This is just one of several scientific explanations for the river turning red.

2.  if the riverís water became toxic then frogs would have left the water for dry land over running Egypt (and eventually die).

3. & 4. the absence of frogs (which normally feed on insects) would  cause the fly and lice population to balloon and over run Egypt.

5. the huge rise in flies, lice, and other insects could cause the spread of diseases among livestock bitten by the disease carry insects, thus wiping them all out (pestilence).

6.  the boils among people could also be caused by insect bites.

7.  fiery hail seems like a more supernatural plague.  It destroyed virtually all the Egyptian crops thus cutting off their food supply in the short term.  But volcanic activity can bring brimstone in addition to ash.  Depending on the severity it can also change weather patterns and occasionally produce hail!

Again, the scientific explanations for these plagues make them (or some version of them) very believeable.

ATHEIST:


   is there historical proof that all these things did happen? aside from the Bible as a reference?
 
 

BayGBM:

--- Quote from: ATHEIST on November 19, 2007, 12:35:28 PM ---   is there historical proof that all these things did happen? aside from the Bible as a reference?

--- End quote ---

Probably not the kind of proof you would want, but you should know that the Hebrew Bible is not simply a religious text it is also an historical one.  http://www.amazon.com/Bible-as-History-Werner-Keller/dp/0553279432

The Hebrew Bible enjoys an unusual place among researches like historians, archeologists, medical anthropologists, Egyptologists (yes, that is a real academic specialty), etc, in part, because it is one of few texts that take us so far back in time with regard to things that are literally verifiable such as its many geographic references, for example.

There was an ancient Egyptian civilization.  There was (and still is) a Nile river.  Ancient Egypt did build pyramids, they did create artwork that we still have in museums today, they did own (Hebrew) slaves, etc.  These, and similar, verifiable facts give the Hebrew Bible much of its credibility with regard to the ancient world.

Again, this probably doesnít represent proof of the kinds of events you asked about, but as I said previously, the Santorini eruption did leave ash in the Nile valley that has been accepted as historical proof of its eruption in 1500 B.C.  Scientists and historians who study the ancient world use methods that many people would not normally think of or accept as proof.  For example, climatologists have discovered that layers upon layers of ice in the polar caps effectively record air quality going back centuries.  By digging deep into the ice and studying what they find at a given layer, they can tell you what the air was like on earth say 2000 or 20,000 years ago.  Would you accept that as proof of their claims about air quality centuries ago?

There are skeptics who still do not believe in dinosaurs because we have no "proof."  These skeptics do not accept the discovery of fossilized bones as proof dinosaurs existed.  Do you?

Alas, not everything can be proven to every oneís satisfaction, but today, we DO understand, for example, that frogs would leave river beds if a river became toxic, that frogs primarily feed on insects... that without frogs the insect population in given region might explode to unprecedented levels, and that insects can & do transmit diseases to livestock and people, etc.  These things were not understood in the ancient world but they are described in Exodus in such a way that they make perfect sense given what modern science has taught us.

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