Exodus

Version 2
Work in progress.
Still adding and reorganizing material.

Main page

— PREAMBLE —

- Pharaohs

- Moses


— IN MIDIAN —

- Midian

- Wilderness

- Burning bush

- Mountain of Fire


— WHEN —

- Generations

- New chronology 1

- New chronology 2


— PREAMBLE —

- 10 plagues

- Tiny Exodus

- Big Exodus

- Travel days


— RED SEA —

- Unknown

- Reeds, papyrus

- Located

- Changes


— PLACES —

- Succoth

- Etham/Shur


— ROUTES #1 —

Pharaoh → Red Sea

- Routes map

- Roads to Etham

- Wadis to Etham

- Etham → Tip Aqba

- Etham → Nuweiba


— CROSSING —

- Tip of the gulf

- Nuweiba Beach


— ROUTE #2 —

Red Sea → Mt. Sinai

- Marah

- Dopkah

- Alush

- Sinai option 1

- Sinai option 2


— MISC —

- Moon Mountain

- In the land of

- Travel days

- List of stops

- Water from rock

- Jordan crossing



- Maps & Lists



This page was last updated on 20 March, 2017.

The 10 plagues


Exod 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

Just below the chapter heading are the names of the gods.

So among other things our God was mocking the false gods of Egypt. The exodus account is not unique in this.

In Rev 1:18, 6:8, 20:13-14 we read about Hades. Hades isn’t just another word for grave or something like that. Hades was the name of the Greek underworld ruled by their powerful god Hades. According to their myths nobody, not even gods could escape from Hades’ kingdom. But in revelation, especially 20:13 we see our God just shatters that myth and reclaims the dead.

Leviathan Job 3:8, 41:1 Ps 74:14, 104:26, Isa 27:1 is extremely powerful and violent god nobody could tame in mythology. But this god also is mocked and totally defeated, Ps 74:14, by our God.




The plagues of Egypt heavily affected the Egyptian gods like the Nile-god, the bulls that were worshipped, the sun god and the pharaoh-gods.

Ipuwer

Exo 12:12 On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD.





The Egyptian scribe Ipuwer about the plagues




◊──────────────────◊──────────────────◊


Several time we read that the Israelites were not harmed by the plagues. Why not? If God was punishing all Egyptians then the Israelites should have the same problems because they lived among the Egyptians, and the area they lived in was spared by God.

Exod 11:2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbor, and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold.


Exodus 8:22-23 And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.”


One thing is sure, God’s main target was Pharaoh, His secondary targets likely were the court’s magicians. Ramesses II lived in the capitol city named after him. That city is located in the Nile delta when the present day city Qantir is located; at the purple dot - click

Certainly one of the most fertile parts of Egypt. The area was irrigated with fresh water from upstream, and the nutrients that water carried. Beats the most of Egypt which mainly was desert land. A delta is a complex play of the forces of nature. It’s near the salt sea which also supplied water and nutrients to the delta.

This may be of importance understanding the plagues and what caused/triggered them.


If true some of the plagues where fairly local. That may no sit well with many Christians because they believe each and every square inch of Egypt was under God’s punishment. Each and every Egyptian felt the scourge of God’s wrath.

As shown in the verses above that was not so.

While many Christians reject all archeology that contradicts what they believe, there are also many Christians open to other interpretations that don’t blatantly contradict the Bible.


Most of the plagues can be summarized as follows. Something really messed up the balance in the eco-system. That messed up balance kept triggering plague after plague. The plagues were not unique. Some happened frequently, even every year. The unusual thing about this particular year was threefold:







1. River of blood


Month: Flooding peaks in September.

Trigger: Fish killed by algae. Red soil.

Affected: Egyptians & Israelites.

Severity: Minor inconvenience.

Duration: 7 days.

Link: Wikipedia - 10 plagues


Dr. Stephen Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin believes that rising temperatures could have turned the Nile into a slow-moving, muddy watercourse—conditions favorable for the spread of toxic fresh water algae. As the organism known as Burgundy Blood algae dies, it turns the water red.

Alternatively, a bloody appearance could be due to an environmental change, such as a drought, which could have contributed to the spread of the Chromatiaceae bacteria which thrive in stagnant, oxygen-deprived water.


Exod 7:20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as Jehovah commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.

Exod 7:21 And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt.


Indeed, the river is blood, yet men drink of it. Men shrink from human beings and thirst after water.

The admonitions of Ipuwer -click - Dated c.1860-1803 BCE -click


So 5 centuries before the Exodus a similar plague was recorded. The dating may be off a bit but not that much.

Ipuwer also wrote that the Nile was flooding, which happened every summer; so some believe the blood color was red soil from upstream. That indeed causes reddish water but it doesn’t kill fish.


Several scientific explanations exist:



Flooding means:

All those things combined are needed for algae bloom.

There are many types of algae, most are harmless and most of the toxic ones live in salty water. But the Nile most certainly is a fresh water river.

Well mostly; as I wrote at the start of this page the delta area where the Pharaoh lived was mixture of river and seawater.


There are several well documented rivers of blood in recent history.

In 1997, during the extreme heat caused by Eli Nino, millions of fish died in the rivers of North Carolina.
The fish were killed by algae called Pfiesteria that  secretes a neuro-toxin that stuns the fish and eat them alive. That cause the dead (almost) dead fish to bleed and turn the river red.

If the algae blooms it’s red. While the algae are microscopically small they turn the water visibly red when in plague quantities of billions.

Pfiesteria is one of the few toxic algae that thrives in fresh water and the only known algae that attacks fish.


So there we have it, dead fish, not just red water but real blood. The Nile might have been even redder because the red earth.

But my guess is that this algae might not have been contained in the delta area as it likes fresh water better than silty delta water.


Algae, rotting fish, neuro-toxins, blood and red dirt surely classifies as undrinkable.


It looks like a Biblical plague. The waters around Hong Kong have succumbed to a scourge known as the red tide, which is gobbling up marine life. This lethal build-up of toxic microscopic organisms has occurred before but never with the vengeance with which it has hit Hong Kong in recent weeks. Sham Cun-hung, assistant director of agriculture and fisheries, said yesterday that it had wiped out 150,000 tons of fish, half of Hong Kong's fish stock, in just four weeks. It is still spreading fast.

The Independent, 14 April 1998.




There is no way to be certain of anything but there several explanations. Especially the algae match the Biblical account closely.



2. Frogs

Any blight on the water that killed fish also would have caused frogs to leave the river and probably die.


Month: The amount of toads peaks in September-October

Trigger: Lack of toad egg eating fish.

Affected: Egyptians & Israelites.

Severity: Inconvenient.

Link: Wikipedia - 10 plagues


Exod 8:2 And if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your borders with frogs:

Exod 8:3 And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, and into your bedchamber, and on your bed, and into the house of your servants, and on your people, and into your ovens, and into your kneading troughs:

Exod 8:4 And the frogs shall come up both on you, and on your people, and on all your servants.

Exod 8:5 And the LORD spoke to Moses, Say to Aaron, Stretch forth your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.

Exod 8:6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.

Exod 8:7 And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.

Exod 8:8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice to the LORD.

Exod 8:9 And Moses said to Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I entreat for you, and for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only?

Exod 8:10 And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to your word: that you may know that there is none like to the LORD our God.

Exod 8:11 And the frogs shall depart from you, and from your houses, and from your servants, and from your people; they shall remain in the river only.

Exod 8:12 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried to the LORD because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh.

Exod 8:13 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields.

Exod 8:14 And they gathered them together on heaps: and the land stank.



What’s translated as frogs also includes toads. Each female produces hundred of thousands eggs. Usually almost all those eggs are eaten by fish. But with the fish killed by the algae all toad eggs hatch. So the toad population exploded from the usual minimal to enormous.

Bufo toads are attracted by heat and light (in house) when they search for food. They search in al places mentioned in verse 3; unlike most species of frogs and toads.

The fact that the water was still polluted by rotting fish and algae, possible drove out all toads out the Nile river.


This plagues has two parts. First the frog population exploded as explained as above.  The second part is that the frogs suddenly died. Why did they die? Possibly partly due to being sick from the polluted water. But just as well the toads might be totally  immune to the algae. More likely is that they starved to death because of the lack of insects. Nature is usually in a perfect balance with the right mount of insect available for the toads. But this time the balance was disturbed because there were many more toads as usual.

Usually they stay close to the water to hunt for food; but now they were forced to go further from the water to find to hunt insects. And without water they die. The fact that the algae deoxygenated the river hastened their death even more.




3. Sand flies a.k.a. Gnats

Plagues 3 and 4 — biting insects

The lack of frogs in the river would have let insect populations, normally kept in check by the frogs, increase massively. The rotting corpses of fish and frogs would have attracted significantly more insects to the areas near the Nile.



Month: Somewhere in Oktober-November.

Trigger: Rotting toads. Lack or predatory frogs and toads.

Affected: Egyptians & Israelites & their livestock

Severity: Non lethal suffering.
Link: Wikipedia - 10 plagues

Link: Wikipedia - Sand fleas


Exod 8:16 And the LORD said to Moses, Say to Aaron, Stretch out your rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

Exod 8:17 And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

At the time Exodus were written insects were grouped in large collective groups. Not the thousands sub-groups we have today. So the Hebrew word usually translated as grants, can just as well mean (sand) lice, spiders, mites, ticks. Usually they are very small insects. Much smaller than the ordinary house fly. But not all of them affect both human and beast. So that greatly narrows down the list of possible suspects. Obviously they also have to live in the Egyptian climate.

The best  candidate is the ‘Culicoides canithorax’, the biting midge Commonly known by the name of gnats or sand flies. These blood suckers also feed micro-organisms found in rotting material like frogs gathered into heaps (v14)

This irritating insect is potentially very dangerous because, as we will see in plague five, also can spread viruses.


Gnats reproduce very quickly and without toads and frogs to keep their numbers under control we smoothly move from a frog to a gnat plague.




4. Stable flies

Plagues 3 and 4

The lack of frogs in the river would have let insect populations, normally kept in check by the frogs, increase massively. The rotting corpses of fish and frogs would have attracted significantly more insects to the areas near the Nile.


Month: September - December. Likely November.

Trigger: Rotting fish and frogs, no predators, receding Nile.

Affected: Egyptians & Egyptian livestock.

Severity: Discomfort.
Link: Wikipedia - 10 plagues

Link: Wikipedia- stable flies


Exod 8:21 Else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you, and on your servants, and on your people, and into your houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground where on they are.

Exod 8:22 And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, to the end thou may know that I am LORD in the midst of the earth.


By now the Nile is past it's flooding peak and steadily receding. Massive amounts of rotting fish and frogs. That attracted flies from far. Without any predators things get even more out of control.


Again by looking at this plague as an isolated event it's hard to be sure which type of fly was responsible for the plague. We know they must be able to live in the Egyptian climate. To become a plague (in a short time) they must breed very fast. Research has narrowed down the list to just one candidate. The stable fly. The female lays 500  eggs in one batch. That's surely causes a massive population growth very quickly.


The bite of this fly is quite painful. I creates an open wound and the fly licks up the blood coming out of that wound.


Other proof for this plague comes from the next plague. The female stable fly feeds on blood from both man and animal. Their habitat is moist land. River shores and especially the delta.

Likely the land of Goshen was a bit to dry for those flies, if so that could be the reason the flies didn’t hurt the Israelites and their animals (v22)



5. Cattle killed


Month: November-December

Trigger: Blue tongue and horse sickness virus transmitted by sand fleas.

Affected: Egyptian livestock.

Severity: Death.

Link: Wikipedia - 10 plagues

Link: Wikipedia - Stable flies



Plagues 5 and 6 — livestock disease and boils

There are biting flies in the region which transmit livestock diseases; a sudden increase in their number could spark epizootics.



Exod 9:2 For if you refuse to let them go, and will hold them still,

Exod 9:3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is on your cattle which is in the field, on the horses, on the asses, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.

Exod 9:4 And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children's of Israel.

Exod 9:5 And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.

Exod 9:6 And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.

Exod 9:7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.



Stable flies (plague 4) continued…

Female horse-flies can transfer blood-borne diseases from one animal to another through their feeding habit. In areas where diseases occur, they have been known to carry equine infectious anaemia virus, some trypanosomes, the filarial worm Loa loa, anthrax among cattle and sheep, and tularemia.


While all of the mentioned deceases in the Wikipedia article kill cattle, some must be removed from the list of potential suspects. The reason is that some on that list also affect humans and animals not mentioned in the Bible.


The only remaining virus spread by the horse fly is causing 'African Horse Sickness' which causes horses and mules to drown in their own blood within hours. But it doesn't affect sheep, goats and cows. But they are affected by a very similar virus causing Bluetongue and die a similar death.


But this plague was localized (Exo 9:4) that makes them a less likely candidate for this plague because they may swarm out.


Sand lice spread both viruses and can hardly fly. That keeps them fairly local. And that makes them a very likely candidate because Exo 9:4 states the animals of the Israelites were not affected. So the virus never spread to the land of Goshen were they and their animals lived.




6. Boils - Glanders, skin anthrax


Month: December-January.

Trigger: A virus transmitted by stable flies

Affected: Egyptian & Egyptian livestock.

Severity:Lethal for man and animal.

Link: Wikipedia - 10 plagues

Link: Wikipedia - Glanders

Link: Ohio.gov - Skin anthrax


Exod 9:3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is on your cattle which is in the field, on the horses, on the asses, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.

Exod 9:4 And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children's of Israel.

Exod 9:5 And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.

Exod 9:6 And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.

Exod 9:10 So they took ashes from a kiln, stood in front of Pharaoh and threw them in the air; and they became infected sores on men and animals.



This Pseudomonas mallei virus, is so deadly it was used  in WW I as a biological warfare agent. Spread though the air, direct contact or… stable fly bites.


The Hebrew word for boils is so genral it can be about anything, but elsewhere we find a description.


Deut 28:27 ADONAI will strike you down with the boils that broke out on the Egyptians, tumors, skin lesions and itching, all incurable.

Deut 28:35 ADONAI will strike you down in the knees and legs with painful and incurable boils; they will spread from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.



The above verses explain the boils from Exo 9:10 start at the feet and spread all over the body to the head. But the bite (strike) the knees and legs.


Humans usually get bitten on the legs, behind the knees, and on the elbows. - click

Yeah, I admit elbows aren’t mentioned in v35, sorry for that! :-)
But still I think it’s still a good piece of information to narrow down the attacker.



The chain reaction of the first 6 plagues.

1. Algae kill the fish.

2. Toad population explodes due to fish not eating their eggs.

3. Sand lice/midges has lots of food and toads not eating them.

4. Stable flies. See toads

5. Cattle die because of virus transmitted by the sand lice.

6. Boils due to a virus transmitted by the horse fly.


This concludes the biological terrors (for now).




7. Fiery hail


Plague 7 — fiery hail

Volcanic eruption, resulting in showers of rock and fire.

Source: Wikipedia - Click


Month: February-March

Trigger: ?

Affected: All humans and animals outdoors in whole Egypt, except Goshen.

Severity: Lethal



Exod 9:22 And the LORD said to Moses, Stretch forth your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man, and on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.

Exod 9:23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along on the ground; and the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.

Exod 9:24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

Exod 9:25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.

Exod 9:26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.

Exod 9:31 And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom.



I must admit I have nothing really worthwhile to share about this plague…

Verse 31 gives a rough time indication.

I have no idea what the fire is, besides lightning.




8. Locusts


According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), when they get hungry, a one-ton horde of locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as 2,500 humans can.

Source: Wikipedia - Click


Month: February-March.

Trigger: Damp soil

Affected: Crops destroyed throughout Egypt.

Severity: Potential famine.



The colors indicate the stage of maturity.



Stats:



Exod 10:4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to-morrow will I bring locusts into thy border:

Exod 10:5 and they shall cover the face of the earth, so that one shall not be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:

Exod 10:6 and thy houses shall be filled, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; as neither thy fathers nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned, and went out from Pharaoh.

Exod 10:12 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch out thy hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.

Exod 10:13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and Jehovah brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all the night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

Exod 10:14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the borders of Egypt; very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.

Exod 10:15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing, either tree or herb of the field, through all the land of Egypt.


The Hebrew word for locust is a general name, but most likely it was the Schistocerca gregaria, the desert locust. This locust is known from Egyptian writings predating the Exodus.


Exod 9:33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands to the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth.

That’s damp soil, and that’s exactly what locust need because they lay eggs in it. link

Soil dries pretty fast under the right conditions but not this time. The hail snapped all crops and other vegetation. It acted as a blanket to keep the soil damp. While it’s possible all the locust migrated from elsewhere, it’s very well possible many were born in Egyptian fields.

Those locust migrate with the wind. Verse 13 mentions that an east wind brought the locust to Egypt.

A bit of knowledge about their lifecycle may be useful.


So God’s east wind brought in the hungry young adults.


It must be noted the locust very likely didn’t land in Goshen because their harvest wasn’t destroyed by hail and rain. That means their soil wasn’t moist enough for the eggs of the locust. When the locust eventually swarmed out and also attacked Goshen the Israelites likely started harvesting like the Egyptians. But their crops were far less damp, so less prone to mold.

Perhaps they didn’t harvest at all because they knew the leftovers from last year would be enough for the few remaining days they would spend in Egypt.



9. 3 days of darkness


The immediate cause of this plague is theorized to be the "hamsin", a south or southwest wind charged with sand and dust, which blows about the spring equinox and at times produces darkness rivaling that of the worst London fogs.

Source: Wikipedia - Click









Month: March

Trigger: Sandstorm, plague 1

Affected: Whole Egypt except Goshen (Verse 23)

Severity: ???, Doubt in their sun god?


Exod 10:21 And the LORD said to Moses, Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.

Exod 10:22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

Exod 10:23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.


This plague likely was a khamsin sandstorm. The Biblical timetable seems to align perfectly with the time the sandstorm season begun. There first sandstorm of the year is usually the most severe one. Those storms typically last 2-3 days as described in verse 3. Those storms are well documented as they still happen quite frequently. They can be as severe as the Bible describes. They can bury buildings, and tombs… Archeologists have found tombs completely hidden for thousands years under a tick layer of sand.


Verse 21 states the darkness can be felt. Sure it could be a figure of speech, but likely it was literal.

In first plague we saw the red earth from upstream was mixed in the river water. That earth was deposited on the land as the river receded. The first dust storm picks up this red earth and form a rather dark cloud.


Are the 3 days of darkness somehow linked to the 3 hours of darkness during His crucifixion?

Matt 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land to the ninth hour.

The Sibylline oracle written between after crucifixion-160AD write about the darkness during crucifixion. Click

Line 990 is believed to be a reference to the crucifixion. And describes the darkness as a sandstorm.




10. Firstborns killed


If the last plague indeed selectively tended to affect the firstborn, it could be due to food polluted during the time of darkness, either by locusts or by the black mold Cladosporium. When people emerged after the darkness, the firstborn would be given priority, as was usual, and would consequently be more likely to be affected by any toxin or disease carried by the food. Meanwhile, the Israelites ate food prepared and eaten very quickly which would have made it less likely to be contaminated. However, this does not explain how the firstborn cattle alone also would have perished.

Source: Wikipedia - Click


Month: Late March - late April (Passover)

Trigger: Toxin caused by a combination of hail, locust and sandstorm.

Affected: Egyptian firstborn humans and animals.

Severity: Death.


Exod 11:4 Moshe said, "Here is what ADONAI says: 'About midnight I will go out into Egypt,

Exod 11:5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the slave-girl at the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock.

Exod 11:6 There will be a horrendous wailing throughout all the land of Egypt - there has never been another like it, and there never will be again.

Exod 11:7 But not even a dog's growl will be heard against any of the people of Isra'el, neither against people nor against animals. In this way you will realize that ADONAI distinguishes between Egyptians and Isra'el.


How can a plague this selective (only firstborns) be explained in a natural, scientific way?


10a. The toxin

Around the time that Marr and Malloy were carrying out their research, they became aware of a series of mysterious child deaths in the Cleveland area of Tennessee. Eduardo Montana, of the Atlanta Center for Disease Control, had been called in to investigate. When he began his investigation, an eight-week-old boy had just become the 33rd Cleveland baby in four years to be diagnosed with Pulmonary haemosclerosis, a rare lung disease that is believed to be caused by a toxic black mould or fungus found in water-saturated wood and paper materials. Montana and his colleagues conducted surveys of the babies' homes; in each case, they found significant water penetration in the basements and, associated with it, a black, slimy mould.


It wasn't the mould itself, Stachybotris atra, that was responsible for the babies' illness, but a mycotoxin carried on the fungal spores. It is thought that this airborn poison enters the bloodstream of its victims through the lungs, where it causes capillary bleeding. The mycotoxin released by the mould, although known to cause disease in animals, had not been associated with human ailments before. But since its identification by Montana in the Cleveland cases, it has been linked to a number of other mysterious human illnesses in places where the same sort of conditions -- damp, decaying buildings in poor, often inner-city areas -- occur.



Summary: The fungi (mold) growing on the moist stored crops, create the highly toxic mycotoxin.



The conditions for the toxic mold to grow. When all conditions are met the mold thrives greatly:



#= The ventilation in the storehouses was designed for ripe and properly dried produce; not the wet stuff that was stored then. The sandstorm made the problem even worse because all ventilation holes got plugged by the heaps of sand.


The effects of being poisoned with that toxin:



10b. Why the Jews didn’t die

Reasons why the Jews didn’t get sick:


-1- = The locust prefer to land on wet fields for laying eggs.

-2- = No damp locust feces infected crops in their storehouses.


A Dead Sea Scroll fragment contains instructions to totally destroy any dwelling in which mildew was found. It’s claimed those instructions originated from Moses.Sure, it’s extremely unlikely they knew about the exact toxins involved, but they knew the dangers.

They Jews had their own diet, practices, hygienic rules. That terrible night they had an extra special diet of new born sheep, herbs and unleavened bread.

It could very well be that observing all those rules, customs and regulations meant they, unknowingly, avoided they plague of death that night.


10c. Why the Egyptians died

I think that’s obvious by now :-)

The Egyptians ate contaminated food and did breath air with the spores.


Egyptians stored their crops in above and below ground storehouses. That was obviously done after drying them. This year things were different. Hail badly damaged their crops.

Possibly they (partly) harvested the severely damaged crops. They had only 2 options, let it rot in the fields or harvest the green moist crops.


When the locust attacked the crops that grew after the hail, it wasn’t harvest ready. Meaning green and moist. But again the Egyptians had only two options let the locusts eat everything or harvest the crops.

I think it’s highly likely they went to the last option because a famine was pending. Nearly all marine life in the Nile died. Lots of animal died. Likely the remaining animals provided little milk because they were still (a little) sick from the previous plagues.


So the Egyptians simply couldn’t have the locust to eat all what was left.

So they harvested and stored damp and badly damage crops. In addition those crops were covered with locust fasces which contain a lot of fungus and bacteria. Combine that with moist and damaged crops, soon to be damp storehouses and you have a recipe for disaster.



10d. Why only first-borns - Very speculative

Exod 11:5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the slave-girl at the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock.

Please note that the verse states all firstborns died. Perhaps it’s implied but the verse does not specifically state others didn’t die that night or later on. Or got (very) sick but survived.

So in extreme cases the whole family could have died. The Bible would still be correct because that includes the first born…


If the above is correct things are much easier to understand because the plague suddenly is far less selective. And with that the explanations suggested below is much more likely.


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In the ninth plague we saw nobody left their houses for 3 days during the plague of darkness. That means the humans weren’t able to get food from their storehouses and the animals didn’t get fed. So all were hungry. I think that’s a quite important fact. They would eat more (toxins) and the rules of the first-born likely were (even) more strictly observed.


If the Egyptian cattle was holy to them they would be fed first. Likely the Egyptian priests were planning mass sacrifices to their gods, so they would stop the plagues. But only the best animals are suited for that.

It’s possible those sacrificial candidates got fed first and very well so they were  healthy enough for sacrifice. Remember the fields were stripped by the locusts so there wasn’t much to graze.

If that were the first-born animals then they got:

Combined that’s a recipe for death.


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The first born child had the right to not only eat first but also get a double portion.

Num 18:17 But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy: you shall sprinkle their blood on the altar, and shall burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet smell to the LORD.

Num 18:18 And the flesh of them shall be yours, as the wave breast and as the right shoulder are yours.


Animals were simply fed with raw food so the first-born would literally get the food from the top of the stack.

With humans that’s different. Food is usually cooked in one pot for the whole family. So everyone’s food was equally toxic.

The only difference I see is that the first-born got the double amount of toxins.




Not much, but it’s all I can think of. God is full of mysteries :-)