The signs and the plagues…Where do I begin in discussing all of this?
Wisemen and sorcerers of old seem to have had some power! When Aaron threw down his staff and it became a serpent, Pharaoh’s wise men were able to do the same. These men certainly rival the likes of Chris Angel or Dalia. But then Aaron’s staff/serpent ate the others. Even the first plague seemed not much of a match for them. God turned the Nile into blood. Some have tried to argue that this was not really blood, but some kind of poisonous algae or mineral. Yet it came across all of the Nile, immediately with no warning. And, it even effected water already drawn from the Nile, collected in pots and cisterns. Not to mention, neither the Egyptians or Hebrews were so naïve that they couldn’t tell the difference between infected water and blood. But how did the magicians replicate this? Perhaps theirs was a deception to make water resemble something like blood, in limited quantity.
I have heard several theories over the years attempting to explain or argue away the plagues. One interesting idea links these events to the eruption of Thera, or another great volcano, and attempts to show how all of these plagues might naturally occur, in this order. It is interesting, and I am no geologist or climatologist, but this is less than convincing for me. Another popular idea purports each plague to challenge a specific Egyptian god. One problem with this lies with plagues three and four, lice/gnats and flies. Although most of the plagues seem to correspond with great Egyptian gods, I can’t seem to find any Egyptian gods particularly associated with either of these. But I do not at all doubt that the plagues were meant to challenge the gods. God used these to reveal himself and his power to Israel and to Egypt. He used these to display his superiority over any gods Egypt worshipped, and Israel may be tempted to carry with them when they left. And as he moves onto plague four, he even more greatly displays his sovereignty over all things by confining the plagues to Egypt alone, and not afflicting Goshen or the Israelite people.