(Ex. 7:14) Why weren’t these 10 plagues recorded by the Egyptians?

CLAIM: None of these plagues exist in extra-biblical history. If supernatural events like this occurred on such a massive level, wouldn’t we have record of these events somewhere else outside of the Bible? This is an argument from silence. However, critics argue that this is a conspicuous silence.

RESPONSE: If anyone was to record these supernatural events, it would either be the Egyptians or the Hebrews. Of course, the Hebrews recorded these events in the Bible. But, why didn’t the Egyptians record this anywhere?

It is actually possible that there is a record of the tenth plague: the killing of the firstborn. Kaiser writes,

A possible historical reminiscence of this event has been uncovered by Mordechai Gilula (“The Smiting of the Firstborn: An Egyptian Myth?” Tel Aviv 4 [1977]: 94–95). In the Pre-Mosaic Pyramid Texts (par. 339 a–b), there is a reference to “that day of slaying the firstborn” spelled smsw in Egyptian. Likewise, the Pre-Mosaic Coffin Texts (VI:178) refer to “that night of slaying the firstborn,” while another coffin text has both “that night … that day of slaying the firstborn” (II:163 b–c). In the Coffin Texts the Egyptian word for “firstborn” is wr or wrw meaning “great” or “eldest.” Interestingly the firstborn in the Coffin Texts are gods, while the Pyramid Texts do not say.[1]

However, other scholars note that the plagues were most likely not recorded by the Egyptians, because they were so embarrassing to the authority of the Egyptian Pharaoh. Hoffmeier writes, “The biblical plagues are not documented in Egyptian texts, which is not unexpected since royal inscriptions typically did not record disasters and setbacks experienced by Egypt or its royalty.”[2] Since these plagues were horrific embarrassments for Egypt, no Pharaoh would have recorded them for the annals of history. It would be similar to a person writing their autobiography. They usually slant the story, leaving out embarrassing details.



[1] Gaebelein, Frank E. (General Editor), and Walter Kaiser. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New International Version of the Holy Bible. Vol. Two “Exodus.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1984. 369-370.

[2] Hoffmeier, James Karl. The Archaeology of the Bible. Oxford: Lion, 2008. 54.