Thursday, April 10, 2008

Archaeological Evidence for the Ten Plagues

I was recently priviledged to read a fascinating book detailing the amazing parallels between ancient Jewish sources regarding the Exodus and Egyptian archaeological records. I highly recommed The Riddle of the Exodus by James D. Long.

While the book presents proof and evidence that is far beyond the scope of this post, I wanted to show proof the the Ten Plagues. In an ancient papyrus, the Egyptain priest Ipuwer presents a lengthy diatribe to the Pharaoh (who certainly is the cause of the Plagues) and laments a series of catastrophes that have shaken the core of the nation. "And Pharaoh's servants said unto him: 'How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God, knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?'" (Shemot 10:7)

The Torah records:
7:20 "…all the waters of the river were turned to blood."
7:21 "...there was blood thoughout all the land of Egypt …and the river stank".
7:24 "And all the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river."

Ipuwer laments:
"Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere."
"The river is blood."
"Men shrink from tasting - human beings, and thirst after water."
"That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin!"

The Torah says:

9:23-24 ...and the fire ran along the ground... there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous.
9:25 ...and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.

9:31-32 ...and the flax and the barley was smitten; for the barley was in season, and flax was ripe.

But the wheat and the rye were not smitten; for they were not grown up.

10:15 ...there remained no green things in the trees, or in the herbs of the fields, through all the land of Egypt.

Ipuwer writes:

"Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire."
"Lower Egypt weeps... The entire palace is without its revenues. To it belong [by right] wheat and barley, geese and fish."

"Forsooth, grain has perished on every side."

"Forsooth, that has perished which was yesterday seen. The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax."

The plague of pestilence:

9:3 ...the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field... and there shall be a very grievous sickness.
9:19 ...gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field...

9:21 And he that did not fear the word of the Lord left his servants and cattle in the field.

Ipuwer continues:

"All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan..."
"Behold, cattle are left to stray, and there is none to gather them together."


10:22 And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt

"The land is without light."

The Slaying of the Firstborn:

12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the prison.
12:30 ...there was not a house where there was not one dead.
12:30 ...there was a great cry in Egypt.

"Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls."
"Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets."

"The prison is ruined."

"He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere."

"It is groaning throughout the land, mingled with lamentations."

The Pillar of Fire:

13:21 ... by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.

"Behold, the fire has mounted up on high. Its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land."
The Spoiling of Egypt:

12:35-36 ...and they requested from the Egyptians, silver and gold articles and clothing. And God made the Egyptians favour them and they granted their request. [The Israelites] thus drained Egypt of its wealth.

"Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze... are fastened on the neck of female slaves."

There are many more parallels and proofs of the Exodus. Of course, the greatest proof is that for 4 000 years Jews have sat down by the Seder table and repeated the exact same story to their children. This is a chain of a direct unbroken tradition passed down from fathers who saw the events, to their children who in turn passed it down to their children, who passed it down to their children... As soon as the Jews left Egypt, they were commanded to rememeber the Exodus. All of the holidays are designed to commemorate the Exodus. Jews wear tefillin every morning which records the Exodus and have mezuzot on every door to remember G-d passing over the houses of the Jews.

Have a chag kasher v'sameach!


Batya said...

Fantastic post.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher v'Sameach

Yehudi said...

This is fascinating! Chag Kasher v'Sameach, achi!

Papa Frank said...

It is also very interesting to see the artifacts, such as chariot wheels, that they have found on the underwater land bridge between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. How awesome it must have been to see God use Moses to part the Red Sea.

WomanHonorThyself said...

perfect pre Pesach post my friend!

Rita Loca said...

I want to read that book!

nanc said...


i cannot wait to hear the entire story unfold from the lips of the Lord Himself!

blessed and peaceful pesach to you and yours, b.k.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the recommendation, extremely interesting.

Chag Kasher sounds like a studly rugby player.........what's the translation? :-)

Avi said...

Joe, Chag Kasher v'Sameach means have a happy and kosher holiday.

sanjay said...

God YHWH bless Israel