(Ex. 7:14) Were the judgments of the 10 plagues arbitrary?

CLAIM: Critics argue that the 10 plagues are mythical, because they seem so arbitrary. Did God have a reason for each of these plagues?

RESPONSE: These plagues were a judgment on the deities of Egypt. God said that he brought judgment “against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments” (Ex. 12:12). The book of Numbers tells us, “The Lord had also executed judgments on their gods” (Num. 33:4). Elsewhere, we read that God redeemed the nation of Israel “from Egypt… and their gods” (2 Sam. 7:23). Let’s look at each plague:

1. Turned Nile into blood (Ex. 7:19)

In Egyptian thought, the Nile River was a god, who was named Hapi. God judged the Nile River, because Pharaoh had used the Nile to drown the Hebrew boys (Ex. 1:22).

2. Frogs (Ex. 8:5)

Heket was the frog god, who was the goddess of fertility. However, she could not control the fertility of these frogs in Egypt.

3. Gnats (Ex. 8:16)

Geb was the god of the Earth. Aaron struck his staff against the Earth, and this was an affront against Geb’s jurisdiction. The Egyptian magicians could not replicate this plague, attributing it to the act of God (Ex. 8:19).

4. Flies (Ex. 8:21)

The Hebrew word for flies (arob) might refer to the scarab-headed god called Khepri, who was a beetle-headed God.

5. Bulls (Ex. 9:4)

This was a judgment against the bull god: Hathor. This was a love goddess with a cow head. Hathor’s name literally meant “house of Horus.”

6. Boils (Ex. 9:9)

The boils were a judgment against Isis –the goddess of healing. The Egyptians would have prayed to Isis to have this plague removed.

7. Hail (Ex. 9:18)

Hail was a judgment upon the sky goddess Nut, who was the mother of Ra –the sun god. She brought in evening and gave birth to morning.

8. Locusts (Ex. 10:1)

This was a judgment on the god Osiris –the god of the underworld. He was given the credit for vegetation and crops. In addition, Senehemm was the locust-headed god.

9. Darkness (Ex. 10:21)

This was a judgment on the most powerful god of all! –the sun-god, Ra. Pharaoh was called the son of Ra. By bringing Egypt under darkness for three days, Yahweh was directly attacking Ra’s power.

10. First Born Son (Ex. 11:1)

This was a judgment of the gods Anubis (the god of the dead) and Osiris (the giver of life).