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.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

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

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism