Welcome to the next chapter of Badger’s Bible Project, covering the Plagues in Exodus (and for more great analyzation of this story, check here)!
Here begins one of the most evil series of acts by God thus far in the Bible. I understand he does a lot more evil things as the book goes on, but for now, this is king. Far worse, even, than the Flood, because this is pure, targeted evil that makes those involved think they might have hope, but in the end shows they don’t. Even worse, it’s all done to further God’s arrogance.
The Plagues really start in Exodus 7:21 when God turns the Nile water into blood, thus killing everything therein. Somehow the people of the area don’t wind up having a mass die-off from a lack of water.
But we begin the story proper with God gloating about what he plans to do.
You'll have his staff when you pry it from his cold, dead, hands!
And the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord; let my people go, that they may serve me.’” – Exodus 8:1
Right off the bat we see that God doesn’t want freedom for his people; he just wants them to be his slaves, and not anyone else’s. Believe it or not, his behavior goes downhill from here.
“But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs.
“So the river shall bring forth abundantly, which shall go up and come into the your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls.
“And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people and on all your servants.”‘” – Exodus 8:2 – 8:4
“Presumably this is where the Egyptians ended up with their great fondness for grenouille,” he typed in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.
You know what this, and all other God’s introductions to the Plagues remind me of? A Bond villian describing his entire plan to Bond before trying to kill him.
Interestingly we next see that God apparently has a touch of the Vegas showman in him.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’” – Exodus 8:5
Clearly since God is, apparently, omnipotent, there’s no reason Aaron needs to do this other than for effect. It’s actually a decent touch to the narrative.
Well, Plague happens, and after it, there’s another nice touch as the Egyptians round up all the dead frogs, and there’s another decent touch to the story as a bit of reality intrudes on this horrible bit of fiction.
They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. – Exodus 8:14
So clearly when writing this, someone realized, “Oh, yeah, a shitload of dead frogs will probably start to rot and smell like… well, a shitload of dead, rotting frogs.” It’s a minor bit of attention to detaill, but a nice one.
I also can’t help but remember a book by Terry Pratchett called Pyramids, wherein Djellybebi, a kingdom, not unlike Egypt, has a Plague, but they’re a very small kingdom and even their plagues are so half-hearted the best they can manage is the Plague of Frog. *
Next we find out what God has in mind next. Lice!
… For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the Earth, and it became lice on man and beast. Al the dust of the land became lice throughout the land of Egypt. – Exodus 8:17
You know, I could empathize with the nastiness of this. When I was a boy back around 1986, our family went on a big family reunion at Yellowstone during which myself, my sister, two of my cousins and a couple hangers-on wound up getting lice all at the same time. Yeah, that was fun to deal with.
Apparently Pharaoh doesn’t like the lice too much, either, cause he decides to let the Hebrews leave. Little does he know that Captain Evil isn’t going to allow that. At least not until he’s killed a lot of people.
… But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had said. – Exodus 8:19
Well, yes, the Lord had said that was going to happen, and lo!, it did, and what a great sign and portent that is. Of course it happened because God made it happen, just as he said he would! There’s no reason for this other than God wanting to show off, and he does this at the end of every single Plague.
Next up we see God sending massive numbers of flies to pester the Egyptians, who were probably saying to themselves, “I really wish God would allow Pharaoh to let his people go so we, the innocents of this land, wouldn’t have to suffer.”
After the flies comes the next in the lists of God’s crimes as he offs all the livestock the Egyptians own.
So the Lord did this thing [killed the Egyptian's livestock] on the nexxt day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died.
Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go. – Exodus 9:6 – 7
Yeah, not too much to say to that aside from, “Barbeque!”
God moves onto a weird one next, giving boils to everyone in Egypt. They end up being so severe that in a mildly amusing image, the magicians of Pharaoh can’t go and do their job, cause the boils are so annoying. A fairly harmless Plague, really, but still unpleasant.
Anyhow, let’s stop a moment and take stock. At this point the Egyptians have no water (the Nile having turned to blood), bad lice, flies everywhere, stinking, rotting heaps of dead frogs, all their livestock are dead and on top of all that, boils. Man, all they’d really need to have happen next is for all their crops to be destroyed and, as a nation, they’d doubtless cease to exist.
… And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt.
So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy there was non like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.
And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. – Exodus 9:23 – 25
Ah… well… crap.
Of course there’s no way this was really affecting Pharaoh. Sure, by now the people are battered, thirsty and starving (a great formula for a revoltion that would’ve deposed the Pharaoh), but since he lives in a palace with servants and plenty of food, it doubtless didn’t effect him very much. So really God is spending his time here punishing the innocent while ignoring the guilty (who he is forcing to be guilty by “hardening Pharaoh’s heart” at every turn). How is this anything other than God being an evil prick? I really would like to know if any apologists out there have any explanation for his behavior being good and moral here.
Now we find even more evidence of God being a jerk by rubbing it in when it comes to Pharaoh.
So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.” – Exodus 10:3
Now this is just cruel, given that Pharaoh had been willing to see the light a couple times before God put the scales back up over his eyes again.
Continuing to be an utter prick, God now sends locusts to Egypt.
And the locusts went up over the all the land of Egypt and rested on all the territory of Egypt. They were very severe; previously there had been no such locusts as they, nor shall there be such after them.
For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every herb of the land and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left. So there remained nothing green on the trees or on the plants of the field throughout all the land of Egypt. – Exodus 10:14 – 15
Ok, seriously. How are the Egyptian people surviving at this point? All the livestock, crops and water have been destroyed by God. Yes, they probably had a large amount of beer set aside (beer best described as “Chunky Beer, the beer you can eat with a fork!”), but still. For those who don’t know what locusts do, take a look at this picture of my grandfather, circa 1934.
He’d planted the corn himself as part of a 4-H project, and it had been doing well, until the day the locusts came to town. That is the sort of thing the Egyptians would’ve been left with. I’m sorry, but if all their crops were in that shape, the entire country would’ve died off and been conquered by their enemies. That this didn’t happen speaks of the fictional nature of this story.
Moving along we find God plunging Egypt into three days of darkness. Anoying to be sure, but again fairly mild, especially to the last great big evil God is planning.
Then Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: about midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt;
and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmil, and all the firstborn of the animals. – Exodus 11:4 – 5
First, “about midnight”? Right.
Second, this is appalling. How can anyone worship a being who would even allow this, much less go out and actually do it himself? This is incredibly evil, cruel, immoral and wrong. Naturally one would assume Pharaoh would, at this point, back down. You’d think that, and possibly let it happen, unless you’re an evil god like this one.
So Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go out of his land. – Exodus 11:10
God spends the next few verses warming up and telling the Hebrews, in great (annoying), detail all about what they should do in preperation of this great event (planning a party, it seems. God is the BC version of Martha Stewart, and if you’re expecting a joke along the lines of, “Only less evil”, don’t hold your breath). Then God, doubtlessly drooling over the chance to murder innocent people, goes out on the town.
And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.
So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. – Exodus 12:29 – 30
Words alone cannot convey my disgust at this behavior. Not just the firstborn of Pharaoh, which would make at least some sense, but even the firstborn of the poor slobs in the dungeon who had, presumably, done something to piss off Pharaoh. Then the animals, too.
A quick side note about this: surely there would’ve been at least some places where there was not one dead. If you had a second son married to a second daughter, both their parents and older siblings were already dead and they had no children of their own, they wouldn’t have anyone dead in their house. Just a thought to keep me from focusing on the mind-boggling evil on display here.
You know, every once in a while you’ll hear some smarmy theist wondering why atheists are angry at God. Well, first off, we aren’t. I can’t be angry at that which doesn’t exist. My question back at them is, given that you think he does exist, why aren’t you angry at him for this crap?
At this point Pharaoh has had enough and God finally allows him to release his people from bondage. What a guy. The Hebrews, who had spent time borrowing stuff from their Egyptian neighbors in preperation for this day (and that’s pretty sinister, really), up and leave town in rather large numbers.
Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children.
A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds – a great deal of livestock. – Exodus 12:37 – 38
Ok, so 600,000 men. If even half of them have a wife, mother or aunt tailing along, that’s about 300,000 women. If each family has even two children, that’s 1.2 million children running around. This is about 2.1 million people, at a conservative estimate.
HOW IN THE FUCK CAN THAT MANY PEOPLE WANDER THE DESERT FOR 40 YEARS WITHOUT LEAVING ANY TRACES?!
Simple answer? They can’t. That’s how you know this is fiction.
Next we find out the Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years (Exodus 12:40), and then onto a little bit about Passover.
And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat it.” – Exodus 12:43
So to all my Jewish friends out there, don’t invite this goy to your Passover feast! You’ll only piss off the Great Beard in the Sky, and as we’ve seen so far, this is not a fellow with a sense of humor.
Thus ends this section of my project and I gotta say, “Man, what an evil fuck!” How can anyone find this being worth of their adoration? We see here that not only does he inflict horrible plagues on perfectly innocent people, he also makes Pharaoh incapable of doing what he’s told, and then punishes him for not doing what he’s told! Words fail me, they really do.
Next up: we’re off on the road to Judea!
* It was a very large frog, however, and got into the air ducts, keeping everyone awake for weeks.