It is one of the touchstones of faith in the Old Testament: a wrathful God caused the plagues that devastated the ancient city of Pi-Rameses on the Nile Delta and led to the Israelites leaving Egypt. Scientists believe that, rather than divine punishment, Pharaoh Rameses the Second fell victim to global warming.
The biblical story details ten plagues leading to the death of the first born sons:
Plague of Blood (דָם): Ex. 7:14–25
Plague of Frogs (צְּפַרְדֵּעַ): Ex. 7:25–8:11
Plague of Lice (כִּנִּים): Ex. 8:16–19
Plague of Flies (עָרוֹב): Ex. 8:20–32
Plague of Livestock Death (דֶּבֶר): Ex. 9:1–7
Plague of Boils (שְׁחִין): Ex. 9:8–12
Plague of Hail (בָּרָד): Ex. 9:13–35
Plague of Locusts (אַרְבֶּה): Ex. 10:1–20
Plague of Darkness (חוֹשֶך): Ex. 10:21–29
Death of the Firstborn (מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת): Ex. 11:1–12:36
This led to Moses leading his people from Egypt and the Pharaoh’s demise. However, scientists now have a fairly complete record of massive climate changes that would have produced these same plagues. It is an interesting scientific study. The cascading problems began with the sudden start of a dry period in the region after about three decades of ample rain. That led to the drying up of the river Nile which became muddy and thick. That would have introduced the bacterium, known as Burgundy Blood algae or Oscillatoria rubescens, that was a problem 3000 years ago and still appears today. That algae would have easily triggered a massive increase in frogs, lice, and flies.
The exponential increase in pests would have caused the spreading of disease among livestock and boils among humans.
Another event then contributed to the plague: the eruption of a volcano hundreds of miles away, which could have caused further increases in locust as well as hail.
What is particularly interesting is a theory on the death of the first born children. Scientists believe a fungus would have resulted from these changes and was responsible for poisoning grain supplies. Since first male born children were routinely given first pickings and more food, they were likely more exposed to the fungus.
Of course, God could have put all of these natural causes into motion — preserving the Old Testament account. However, it does not read quite as dramatically to have God order warmer weather to cause the growth of Oscillatoria rubescens.
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