The nine plagues of Egypt
READER'S VIEWS (The Freeman) - March 6, 2020 - 12:00am

Complete controversy reigns among scientists about the plagues and the ensuing exodus. Some of them negate the historicity of the Israelites leaving Egypt. Many say that the tenth plague was added later during the Babylonian captivity. That makes my task easier for I could not explain the plague upon the first-born by the volcanic eruption of Santorini volcano.

Santorini is a Greek island 100 km north of Crete. It exploded in 1613 B.C. in a VEI 6 to 7 eruption. The Volcanic Eruptibility Index classifies volcanic events from 0 to 8. VEI 7 means at least 100 cubic kilometers of lava, ash, and lapilli were thrown out of the crater. The ash clouds circled the earth 10 to 12 times. Nine-meter high waves smashed into the Island of Crete and destroyed the Minoan Civilization. The tsunami found its way to the 750 km faraway Nile Delta causing the snails fleeing inland, washing all the frogs out of the rice fields and leaping into the settlements.

Also easy to explain is the plague upon the river Nile.

All the water turned to blood. And the fish in the river died, and the river smelled foul…

In the Philippines we had that plague several times in the hot summers of last decade. Red tide is caused by algae of the family of Dinoflagellates. Bloom of the toxic algae occurs according to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources due to warmer as usual sea water. In Egypt hot lava caused the warming.

And fire ran upon the ground. Fire mixed with hail. The hail struck everything in the fields, man, beast and plant, and broke down every tree in the fields.

Many Filipinos have witnessed such a scenario, newly at Taal Volcano and in 1991 and around Mt. Pinatubo. But hail – hard balls or pellets of ice in a volcano’s hot ejection? Heavy rain is usual when dust forms the kernels of raindrops as in cloud seeding.

And there was a thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days.

Darkness is a usual phenomenon after volcanic eruptions. A layer of aerosols high in the atmosphere reflects the sunlight back into space. In comparison to the worldwide 20 years darkness after the Toba VEI 8 eruption 75,000 years ago the Egyptians were lucky with only three days of darkness.

The plague of sores can mean two things: Sulfur dioxide is spewed in every volcanic eruption in big quantities. When it mixes with water as with sweat or saliva it combines to sulfuric acid H2SO4 that causes skin and lung disease. When mixed with rain the acid may poison drinking water for animals and man.

More likely is that an outbreak of the bubonic pest occurred as an indirect consequence of the eruption. A long darkness checks plants from growing, nothing can be harvested. Famine which reduces resistance to the disease, results in the spread of the plague. People whose only concern is to find something to eat neglect hygiene. In the Middle Ages Europe fatal epidemic diseases broke out after mega volcano eruptions in India, China, caused by the bacillus Pasteurella pestis. Plague is characterized by the appearance of buboes, enlarged and inflamed lymph nodes in the groin and armpit. It is transmitted by the bite of numerous insects the most important of which is the rat flea.

Could also locusts, lice and flies or fleas have been the carriers of fatal diseases for cattle and man in Pharaoh Ahmose’s Egypt in the midst of the second millennium B.C.?

Erich Wannemacher

Lapu-Lapu City

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