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Plagues--Natural Explanations?

Plagues--Natural Explanations?

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Plagues--Natural Explanations?

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  1. Plagues--Natural Explanations? • Excessive flooding; mountain algae (water becomes blood) • Anthrax bacillus in frogs; they were forced from water • Mosquitoes multiplied since there were breeding pools all over the land • Flies in decaying vegetation • Anthrax spores from frogs kill livestock • Flies carried anthrax into stalls as boils

  2. Plagues according to the Pentateuchal Sources • J Moses main actor; Aaron silent. Let my people go! People living apart from Egyptians, in Goshen. Negotiations. Goal--that Pharaoh may know me. 7 in number (cf. Psalm 78). 8:20-32 • P Aaron chief actor; magicians; signs and wonders validate Moses and Aaron and glorify Yahweh. No “Let my people go.” 8:16-19; 9:8-12

  3. Israel Exempt • flies (4)--land of Goshen set apart (8:22) • cattle (5)--no cattle of Israel died (9:4-6) • No hail (7) in Goshen (9:26) • Israel exempt from darkness even though they did not live separately from Egyptians (10:23) • Death of firstborn (11:7)

  4. Pharaoh: Pray for me! • Pray to take away frogs (8:8-9) • Don’t go far; pray for me (after flies) (8:28) • I have sinned (9:27) (after hail) • I have sinned against Yahweh and against you (10:16-17) (after locusts) • Get a blessing for me (12:31-32)

  5. Concessions by Pharaoh • I will let people go to sacrifice (8:8 frogs) • Sacrifice to your God within the land (8:25 flies) • Don’t go very far (8:28 flies) • Only men may go (10:11 locusts) • Little ones may go, not animals (10:24 darkness) • Go, also flocks and herds; bless me also (12:31-32 firstborn)

  6. Magnification of Miracles in P • Aaron’s Rod becomes a dragon • Blood in trees (sap) and stones (springs) 7:19 • Crossing of Red Sea (contrast J) • I will get glory over Pharaoh (14:4, 17) • Glory in tabernacle (40:1) • 16:10 (quails); Num 14:10 (spies); 16:42 (murmuring); 20:6 (water)

  7. Magicians: Who Gets Glory? • Change rods into dragons by secret arts (7:12) • Change water into blood; phenomenon already nation-wide (7:22 bring up frogs; already nation-wide) 8:7 • no gnats; this is God’s finger (8:19) • boils on magicians (9:11; acne kids!)

  8. Passover and Unleavened Bread • Unleavened bread was originally a harvest festival; presupposes life in the land • Passover originally was a festival when herds changed location in spring. • First of months; at home; eat in haste • Slave or stranger may participate if he is circumcised (12:44, 48)

  9. Passover (continued) • Writer uses occasion to lay down legislation • Passover 1-14; Unleavened Bread 1-15--1-21 • Significance of blood on the doorposts • In Egypt for 430 years • Significance of redemption of firstborn humans and animals

  10. Despoiling of EgyptiansExod 11:2; 12:35-36 • Wages for their slavery? (Jubilees 48:18 in return for the bondage in which they had forced them to serve) • Put to better use with Israel? (Augustine) • Materials for tabernacle? • Israel leaves Egypt as victors in a battle (spoils of war)

  11. Despoiling of Egyptians • Psalm 105:37-38 Yahweh brought Israel out with silver and gold--Egypt was glad when they departed. • They honored the Hebrews with gifts so that they might depart more quickly, others because of the neighborly relations they had with them. Josephus

  12. Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart • J: Pharaoh does hardening himself and is negative reaction to the signs of Yahweh; Hardening keeps Egyptians from knowing Yahweh • P: Yahweh hardens Pharaoh’s heart in order to magnify miraculous; Plagues don’t reveal Yahweh--crossing of Reed Sea does (14:4). Hardening motif connects plagues to crossing motif.