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

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

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy