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Featured The Ten Plagues of Egypt- allegorical or historical?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by adrian009, Mar 28, 2020.

?
  1. Allegorical

    5 vote(s)
    11.6%
  2. Historical

    13 vote(s)
    30.2%
  3. Partly historical

    6 vote(s)
    14.0%
  4. We can’t possibly know for certain

    4 vote(s)
    9.3%
  5. This poll doesn’t reflect my thinking

    15 vote(s)
    34.9%
  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Excuse my perverse sense of humour but with the coronavirus on the forefront of our minds, I thought a debate about the ten plagues of Egypt might provide a welcome distraction for some of us more scripturally orientated members. I’ve been thinking about plagues after a family member asked me if the coronavirus could be considered a plague. I explained that it couldn’t and the term isn’t used in medicine these days except when discussing the history of medicine long before the advent of the science of microbiology.

    It had me thinking about the ten plagues of Egypt. Most of us are familiar with the story but for those who aren’t it forms part of the story of the book of Exodus when Ten disasters are inflicted on Egypt by Yahweh the God of Israel, in order to force the Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to depart from slavery; they serve as "signs and marvels" given by God to answer Pharaoh's taunt that he does not know Yahweh: "The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD."

    The last plague is perhaps the most evocative. In Exodus 11:4-6 it is written;

    This is what the LORD says: "About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again."

    Before His final plague, God commands Moses to tell the Israelites to mark a lamb’s blood above their doors in order that Yahweh will pass over them (i.e., that they will not be touched by the death of the firstborn). Pharaoh distraught at the carnage orders the Israelites to leave, taking whatever they want.

    Adapted from
    Plagues of Egypt - Wikipedia

    So were the ten plagues of Egypt allegorical or historical? What proofs if any can you use to support your position?
     
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  2. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    I voted this poll doesn’t reflect my thinking - the plagues were myth.
     
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  3. wizanda

    wizanda One Accepts All Religious Texts
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    The idea you're not aware the Great Tribulation, and thus these plagues happen because of people's choice to ignore prophecy globally is shocking.

    In the Quran 43:5-8 it explains the chapter is about people being ungodly, and not heeding the warnings of the prophets.

    It warns in Quran 43:46-56 that Moses coming against Pharaoh was rejected, and thus they were flooded as a Future warning to mankind.

    In Quran 43:57-59 is the First coming of Yeshua, who was rejected by his people as a Messiah, being the son of Mary.

    In Quran 43:60-77 the Messiah returns before Judgement Day with clear signs, to fix the Issues people differ over in the religious texts; yet is ignored online, and thus the things prophesied still happen.

    Thus what happened with Moses can't be proven, yet we have many religious concepts about it as allegory: that mankind ignores the warnings, and then Judgement comes regardless if they think it is all a joke, what God tells the prophets in advanced as warning.

    In my opinion. :innocent:
     
  4. Good-Ole-Rebel

    Good-Ole-Rebel Well-Known Member

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    As a Bible believing Christian I believe the account of the plagues is historical, and that the exodus recorded in the book of (Exodus) is historical, literal, and true.

    As to comparison with Corona virus, there was with the plagues in Egypt a miraculous element involved. God raised up Moses and led him to speak to Pharaoh and directed the timing and ceasing of the plagues. There was a direct purpose involved, as you say, the liberation of Israel.

    The proof I present is the testimony of the Bible.

    Good-Ole-Rebel
     
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  5. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    That’s a reasonable answer. What are your thoughts about the origins of those myths?
     
  6. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I agree there is no proof about the historicity of the ten plagues. Certainly a central theme of the Hebrew Scriptures is the relationship of the Israelites with Yahweh and the consequences of either turning towards or away from Yahweh, so in that sense the ten plagues could be an allegorical story that develops this theme. Speculation about the implications of the story for modern times is another topic that I don’t wish to explore in this thread.
     
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  7. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Thank you. You would be one of a significant minority of Christians who believe the Bible is literal and historical. I would align myself with the Christians who see the Bible as the inspired Word of God, but have no need to take every story as historical and literal though agree that many of the stories are just that.

    So if the proof of the Bible is its own testimony, where does it claim to be literally and historically true as you believe?
     
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  8. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    I don’t know the origins of the myths, having said that, I don’t need to as there is evidence that Israel was primarily of Caananite origin and no evidence of a large scale exodus from Egypt

    You might find the Wikipedia article of some interest as it appears well referenced.

    The Exodus - Wikipedia
     
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  9. Wandering Monk

    Wandering Monk Well-Known Member

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  10. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    My vote? It's cultural, neither historical nor allegorical.
     
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  11. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Let me again recommend Friedman's The Exodus.

    I recall being in a class conducted by an outstanding rabbi. The question of the Exodus arose somehow - strange, because it was a class on the Book of Ruth - and someone dismissively referred to the Exodus as myth. The rabbi smiled and, writing on the blackboard, said: "No, not 'myth' but 'Myth'." That and the discussion which followed were memorable.

    From my perspective (and trust me, it's an informed one) the challenge of Torah is that it is a tapestry of Myth, religion, politics, law, and folk history. What it is not is a simple fabrication.

    Was Israel primarily "of Canaanite origin?" Yes, but that does not mean the Israelite ethnogenesis was primarily the result of Canaanite influence.

    Was there a "large scale exodus from Egypt?" There is no evidence of one, but there is evidence of the incursion of significant influence coming up from the south and southeast. (See, for example, Pre-Exilic Israel, The Hebrew Bible, and Archaeology; Integrating Text and Artifact by Anthony J. Frendo and Israel's Ethnogenesis; Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance by Avraham Faust.)

    Finally, were the ten plagues historical or allegorical? In my opinion, no, although there may be components of each hosted by the Myth.

    BTW, did I mention Friedman's The Exodus? :D
     
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  12. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    IMHO:
    Were the ten plagues of Egypt Historic?
    I think the plagues of Egypt might have happened, why not? Hygene was not as good then, as it is now in USA,Holland or many other countries. And even now we have corona all over, so why not then? In my view it's historic. Just common sense.

    The other point, is it God doing this?
    a) In my view, Love is "God" . So, it's not Love doing this
    b) In my view it's very simple. In India they have the ancient wisdom "Dharma protects those that protect Dharma". So when humans, or even countries misbehave and act against Dharma, then Dharma will not protect them. Earth is also an organism, and way mightier than we humans. Be assured, that Earth will take care of these humans messing with Earth. Just a few natural disasters and humanity will be put in place. Just 1 corona outbreak, and humanity might be on it's knees. Good incentive to change our abuse towards Nature. Humanity acts as 1 big fool, thinking it's normal to exploit the Earth, without thinking about the consequences.
     
  13. MNoBody

    MNoBody Well-Known Member

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    probably not historical at all...there has been several very excellent research's into that topic
    Moses was likely not an actual personage
    which is why they said all this has been bound up in a mystery, since so many things have been concealed, and the deliberate destruction of alexandria did nothing to help clear up these discrepancies and apparent frauds
     
  14. GoodbyeDave

    GoodbyeDave Well-Known Member

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    I voted "allegorical" although the correct term would be "mythical". The whole story of the captivity and exodus is untraceable not only in Egyptian records but also in the archeology of the region, so it's not history. A myth is a story told to make a point — like the parables told by Jesus. Two historical facts — the Egyptian rule over Canaan in the Bronze Age and the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt, provided the basic framework, but the point of the story is to define the Israelites as a people and to define their relationship with their tribal god, Yahweh.

    Personally, I find this, like many OT myths, deeply disturbing. We are told that Yahweh "hardened the pharaoh's heart" — so, if he could do that, why didn't he do the opposite and encourage the pharaoh to let them go? Because he wanted to demonstrate his power by sending plagues. As a myth, this may only tell us what the israelites believed about their god, rather than the truth, but if it's inaccurate, why didn't he correct them? It's like Job, where Yahweh tortures a man to win a bet. Either this is a very unpleasant god, or one so weak that he can't correct misconceptions about himself.
     
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  15. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Probably allegorical, imo, although it's virtually impossible to know if that's what the author(s) intended.

    As far as being real history, it's way too illogical and immoral for me to accept. For just one example, why would God supposedly "harden Pharaoh's heart", thus leading to the death of so many people including children? Basically, would create "genocide", and I simply cannot accept the idea that a "loving God" would do that.

    Thus, imo, I lean in the direction of the belief that "God was on our side" being reflected. However, there are a great many teaching opportunities to be found in the full narrative that do make sense to me at least.
     
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  16. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    All this Bible stuff does make sense, from Hindu POV.
    They believe "only God exists. And to avoid confusion, in Hinduism there is only 1 God; having many names, John, metis, stvdv, but in essence 1
    (all are children of this 1 God; called Conscience by Advaitists or Brahman or That...)".

    So, in a way we are all God (like in christianity ... all are my children).
    So, when a human hardens his own heart, then the phrase "God hardened Pharaoh's heart" is not that weird.

    Such a phrase would be similar to when stvdv would say:
    "stvdv (or God) softened his heart when seeing all the nice people around him"
    When I was younger, I was sometimes speaking using "stvdv" instead of "I"

    It is all a matter of perspective IMO. And in those days they maybe had more poetry, to make it easier to remember
    So, for me all these things make perfectly sense, using my Hindu way of thinking.
     
  17. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Well said, and I tend to agree.

    Many theologians tend to feel that much of what's in the Bible was carried and passed on orally before being submitted to writing, plus there seems to be some "poetic license" involved at times, which should be understandable since objective history was not the likely main motivation for these writings to begin with.
     
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  18. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    True, and good point to remember. We all know this child game "whispering to the one next to you, something in his/her ear" and final result changed.
    But still, if we believe we are "children of God", then that should not be a real problem, as somewhere deep inside us, we might know it all (already)

    Good point too. And as "God" is beyond words ("God" being described as omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent),
    maybe poetry is not such a bad way to go, after all. First time this crossed my mind.
     
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  19. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    I've always viewed the allegory card as weak attempt to recover a validity that was, in my opinion, never lost.

    There is every reason to believe that the Exodus began as oral tradition and, as such, experienced generations of "refinement" before taking its present form. Bothe concatenation and embellishment are common in such a process as is a fare amount of questionable abductive aetiology. There is simply no reason to assume intended allegory other than to allow one to feel better about the source.
     
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  20. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    In this case I'm inclined to agree with you, but I am far less sure of that when it comes to the creation and flood narratives, which I tend to lean were probably written as allegory to counter the Babylonian creation and flood narratives that had an earlier writing than Genesis, were much more widespread through the region, and were polytheistic.
     
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