The Plagues of Frogs and Darkness Were an Assault on Ancient Egyptian Theology

April 3 2020

To a modern reader of the book of Exodus, the plague of frogs doesn’t seem quite so terrible as the destruction of food supplies by hail and locusts or the rivers turning to blood. Raheli Shalomi-Hen and Ilan Ben Zion argue that it was a way for the Israelite God to show his superiority over Egyptian deities:

Ancient Egyptians . . . associated the frog goddess Heqet with life after death. . . . Through the plague of frogs, God was establishing His dominance over the ancient Egyptians’ gods as well as over their pharaoh, [whom they believed responsible for maintaining the natural order]. By disturbing the natural order, God showed that He is master over every aspect of the world that the ancient Egyptian gods—and the king—were thought to control.

The message become even more clear with the plague of darkness:

Throughout ancient Egyptian history, the sun god was considered the head of the pantheon. . . . The sun god was believed to have a solar barque, or boat, and an entourage with which he crossed the sky every day from east to west. . . . Every night, the sun god fought his way through the Netherworld to be reborn again in the morning. In the Netherworld, the giant chaos serpent Apophis would try to stop him and prevent his rebirth. Each night, the sun god and his entourage managed to fetter Apophis and cross the Netherworld successfully, and consequently guaranteed the continuous existence of the world.

Ancient Egyptian society was very anxious about the possibility that the sun god might fail his nocturnal voyage in the Realm of the Dead, and never rise again. It was believed that this would allow chaos to take over creation and bring the world to its pre-creation state of endless dark, inert, and opaque waters. Hence, the solar priests of ancient Egypt performed detailed nightly rituals to secure the sun god’s journey. It is against the ancient Egyptian fear of chaos that one must read the biblical text about the plague of darkness.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Ancient Egypt, Hebrew Bible, Paganism, Passover, Ten Plagues


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria