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The Ten Plagues of Egypt: Miracles or Natural Phenomena? A possible scientific explanation of the biblical Ten Plagues of Egypt.

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Presentation on theme: "The Ten Plagues of Egypt: Miracles or Natural Phenomena? A possible scientific explanation of the biblical Ten Plagues of Egypt."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Ten Plagues of Egypt: Miracles or Natural Phenomena? A possible scientific explanation of the biblical Ten Plagues of Egypt

2 1 st Plague: Nile River Turns to "Blood." Characteristics common in the Nile Delta Region, especially in the summer: Nutrient rich red soil particles spill into the Nile River Harmful, toxic red algae called “Dinoflagellates” grow to very high levels (especially in September.) Harmful algae levels require 3 major factors: Long hours of daylight Warm temperatures Water rich in nutrients Harmful algae live in saltwater seas and estuaries where fresh water is blocked from reaching the open sea by salt marshes and barrier islands. This normally kills the fish in the river within days to a week of the algae outbreak.

3 2 nd Plague: The Frogs According to the bible this plague happens 7 days after the first plague. Frogs are forced from the polluted Nile river caused by the decaying fish. Nile is infested with huge numbers of frogs in Sept. and Oct. Frogs will seek sources of light and heat in search of insects to feed upon. Frogs move into the palace where there: Sources of light: Oil lamps and fires for example. Sources of heat and warmth: Cooking stoves in the kitchens. Food in the kitchens will also draw flying insects which in turn would attract the frogs.

4 3 rd Plague: The Gnats (Midges) Rotting bodies of fish and frogs attract swarms of gnats and flies. Gnats will breed rapidly because their natural predators, the frogs, have died by the hundreds. Hebrew word for Gnats includes many different small flying insects. Gnat larvae feed on microorganisms in decaying animals and result in swarms of Gnats and midges swirling up from the ground like clouds of dust. Culicoides canithorax: biting midge/gnat Common in Egypt in Oct./Nov. for swarms of gnats to emerge. Nile turns red with algae in Sept., the plague of frogs in Sept./Oct. and the gnats or midges in Oct./Nov.

5 4 th Plague: The Flies 5 possible types of flies: House flyBlack flyHorse flyStable flyTsetse fly Housefly not very destructive. Black flies do not breed rapidly and don't swarm. Horseflies do not breed rapidly. Tsetse fly lives mainly in tropical regions with high rainfall. Stable Fly, Stomoxys calcitrans: Has a painful bite that punctures the skin Leaves an open wound that can become infected They swarm and breed rapidly.

6 4th Plague: The Flies A comparison of adult stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans ( (left), and house fly, Musca domestica (right). A pair of flies beginning operation in April, if all were to live to adulthood, would result in 191,010,000,000,000,000,000 (191 quintillion 10 quadrillion) flies by August. Assuming 1/8 cubic inch per fly, this number would cover the earth 47 feet deep.

7 THE STABLE FLY The stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans, is 1/4 inch long with a pale spot behind the head, indistinct stripes on the thorax, and seven dark spots on the abdomen. It is a common biting fly pest. Although the stable fly adult is similar to the house fly in size and appearance, it differs in one important area. Stable flies have biting mouthparts that stick out like a bayonet from the front of the head for sucking blood. Unlike many other fly species, both male and female stable flies suck blood. Each fly feeds several times per day, taking only a drop or two of blood at a time. The bite is painful and the fly stays on the animal long enough to obtain a blood meal, then seeks a shaded place to digest it. The pain caused by the stable fly's bite as its mouthparts saw into the flesh and draw blood is just one of its hazards. This fly is also an intermediate host of the small-mouthed stomach worm and has been known to transmit such diseases as anthrax, equine infectious anemia, and anaplasmosis. In addition, bite wounds can be sites for secondary infection. It bites mainly on the legs and flanks of horses and is active only during the day. In its normal environment, the stable fly is not considered a pest to man. However, in the absence of an animal host humans are seen as a viable option.

8 5 th Plague: Pestilence (Death of Livestock) Killed a range of different animals but no humans mentioned. Rules out bacterial infections like Anthrax. Plague was specific to certain animals only. Only hoofed mammals died: horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats. Science knows of two viruses that only kill these animals mentioned. They are spread by the same insect and can be spread at the same time. African horse sickness Culicoides biting midge Blue Tongue (cattle, sheep, goats, camels.) Each is spread by the Culicoides midge/gnat which is the 3 rd plague.

9 6 th Plague: The Boils Afflicts both animals AND humans. Common bacterium throughout Africa and the Middle East: Pseudomonas mallei Commonly known as "Glanders." Produces festering boils in both animals and humans. Used as a biological weapon in WWI. Highly contagious infection, spreads in the air, by direct contact and by fly bites. Biblical description is insufficient to identify the cause of the boils for sure. Hebrew word for boils is used to describe a variety of skin sores. Deut 28:27, 35: boils affect knees, legs and soles of the feet. Stable fly (4 th plague) usually bites the lower part of the body.

10 7 th Plague: The Hail The worst hail storm in Egyptian history Violent hail storm recorded in Oct in Israel and Jordan Sixty people injured, cars and buildings damaged; layer of hail 3 feet thick. Hailstones can exceed 5 inches in diameter and can kill both animals and humans as well as destroy crops. Biblical account says the flax and barley were destroyed.

11 Biblical account of the hail reveals it must have occurred in Feb./March because both barley and flax ripen and bloom in February and March. Barley and flax ripen and bloom at the same time during the year. Wheat and spelt (grass related to wheat) were not destroyed; they ripen later.

12 8 th Plague: The Locusts The Hail has left the ground very, very wet. Locusts travel with the wind: "East wind blew across the land all day and night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts." Locusts seek damp, sandy soil to lay their eggs. The desert locust: Schistocerca gregaria, is part of a large group of insects commonly called grasshoppers. Plagues of locusts occur only when weather conditions are favorable. There must be wet soil which attracts millions of locusts to settle and lay their eggs. Eggs are deposited about 4 inches below the surface of the ground and the earth must be damp to this level.

13 Modern reference: Desert Locust Information Service of the United Nations reported that in there was a "regional upsurge of locusts that affected countries along the Red Sea. It developed as a result of a cyclone in June 1996 and heavy rains in November. Life cycle of the desert locust: EggsHoppersImmature adultsMature adults The hopper stage: Do not fly Travel by marching Hoppers turn to pink immature adults with wings that can fly long distances with the wind and feed voraciously when they land. Eat roughly their own weight in food every day 1 ton of locusts (small part of an average swarm) eats the same amount of food in one day as: 10 elephants25 camels2,500 people Devoured what little food the Egyptians had left after the hail.

14 9 th Plague: The Darkness Sandstorms/dust storms common in Egypt in the spring, called Khamsins, can last up to 3 days. The first dust storm of the year normally produces a very dense and dark dust cloud. Due to the red earth deposited in Egypt by the Nile River. Nile dries out and the sand is whipped up into the air. Sandstorm in Cairo Biblical account suggests the plague of darkness occurred in March, after the plague of locusts shortly before the Passover. The plague suggests an intense dust storm resulting from the large quantities of red earth deposited after the Nile flooded six months earlier. Biblical account describes a "darkness that can be felt." Ex 10:21, indicating the darkness brought about by a dust storm.

15 10 th Plague: Death of the Firstborn The hail of the 7 th plague would have left whatever of the harvest was left very wet. The 8 th plague of locusts would have eaten most of what was left of the crops. Locusts' feces all over the ground, contaminating the rest of the harvest. In this crisis, the Egyptians may have stored what grain was left while it was wet and contaminated by insect feces. Most of it was destroyed by the hail and left wet from the melting hail. Grain will get moldy when stored wet; dangerous mold grows under these conditions.

16 Locust feces will make this condition even worse. Even under the best conditions of air circulation, wet grain will get moldy. The dust storm of the 9 th plague would have prevented air circulation within the grain storage rooms for three days. Toxic spores and organisms from the locust feces would have bred and multiplied in the damp, dark conditions. Mycotoxins are poisons caused by fungus growing on organic substances like crops. Macrocyclic tricothecenes, causes massive internal bleeding and rapid, sudden death. Why did the firstborn males of humans and animals die? Theory: Firstborn males were privileged and were fed first and given more. They would have been fed first from the contaminated grain.

17 Firstborn animals would have been used for sacrifices. They would have had to be fed so that they could be healthy when sacrificed by the Egyptian priests. To appease their gods and to ward off any more plagues.


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