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.