Were The Plagues Of Egypt Exaggerations of Natural Evils or Were They Miraculous Events?

by Dr. M. Lee Miller
The title of this article has produced a provocative debate by many who have wondered about these ten plagues that did occur at one time in the land of Egypt. What was the real cause of these events in the land of Egypt? Were they just natural evil happenings that were greatly exaggerated or were they actually the miraculous hand of Almighty God pouring out judgment upon a evil land? I am thankful for the privilege and opportunity to address this issue of what were these ten plagues that Egypt had experienced.

Let me start off by saying, that the definition of the word plague is the following: “A disastrous evil or affliction; Calamity; A sudden unwelcome outbreak.” Furthermore, the Hebrew words that are used for the name “plagues” is referred to all the “wonders” God did against Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. So it does appear that in the beginning in the event in Exodus puts ahead the wondrous character of these dealings of The Lord with Pharaoh.

Now in the natural phenomena, all of the “wonders” depicted anywhere in the Bible as done by the Lord Himself are intimately connected with a natural phenomena, and is necessarily so. The reason for this is, people have no other way of understanding external happenings than through those senses which only deal with a natural phenomena. Therefore, all such theophanies and miraculous events are embodied in natural happenings. However, in all these natural occurrences, the miraculous working of God was as clearly visible as the natural phenomena. Therefore, it is to be expected that the “wonders”of God in the land of Egypt should also be connected with natural happenings as well as manifested miraculous elements.

The Biblical plagues referred to as the ten wonders rendered upon the land of Egypt are collectively referred to as “judgements”. The Bible is very clear in revealing that these ten plagues are the direct cause or reason of God’s intervention in human affairs or live styles by divine decree. The moral response of the Lord’s justice against the lawless sin of Pharaoh and his court, the just reward for his harden heart against the Lord and the things of the Kingdom of God, were the reason for these plagues.

But, what was the real purpose of these ten plagues in the land of Egypt? The most known of the plagues in the Bible are those connected with the children of Israel’s release from Egypt. Since each of the first nine plagues of the Exodus is a affliction that is known to have happened naturally in the land of Egypt in ancient days, Egypt was primarily the target and the chosen people of God was not included. However, with all the suffering that Pharaoh and Egypt had endured , the people of God were still not given permission to leave. The last and final plague was the final blow needed to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. This tenth plague took the firstborn of every Egyptian household, while not one Israelite suffered this plague.

Scholars mostly agree that the first nine plagues were ordinary, natural events that happened in Egypt. They were remarkable only in their intensity and in the timing of when they occurred. But, we must realize, this does not indicate they were solely natural phenomena. They were miraculous in that God used natural forces to obtain His goal. A sovereign God can use whatever ways He chooses to bring about a miracle. It needs to be understood about the method the Lord may use: The method doesn’t diminish the miraculous nature of the occurrence. Now, the tenth plague, which was the death of the firstborn in Egypt, was no doubt supernatural. There is no known natural phenomena closely related to this highly selective plague.

The question being considered is whether the ten plagues in Egypt were natural or supernatural. Modern distinctions between the natural or the supernatural were never thought of or considered by the Israelites. They knew whatever happened, God did it, because God was in immediate control of everything. For the inspired author, the plagues were nothing more nor less than God’s judgment upon Egypt, and His saving actions for Israel. Most interpreters have said that the plagues represent events of nature that might ordinarily of happened in Egypt. But, the writer of Exodus saw them as the result of a purposive, divine will of God. Before I go any further, I must say, that the plagues were also a direct act of judgment against all of the gods of Egypt.

There is a question being asked, “Did the plagues happen?” Many known scientists and secular thinkers believe the plagues are nothing more but mythical, allegorical, or inspired by different stories of natural disasters. However, there are those who have speculated on the possible “natural” inspirations behind the stories about the plagues of Egypt. Several science authors and even Bible researchers have indicated that the plagues were passed down events of natural disasters, and could not be supernatural miracles. Natural explanations have been given for the cause of most of the phenomena, that occurred in the land of Egypt. As for an example, the very first plague was blood which could have really been the result of hot red ash resulting from a volcanic eruption. Their interpretation of what could of caused the other plagues is not even worth mentioning, because it is as ridiculous as their explanation of the first plague. Yet, the last plague in Egypt, the death of the firstborn, doesn’t have a interpretation stemming from natural causes. However, there was a hypothesis given that this phenomenon could of happened due to some sort of food poisoning.

So, what is my personal opinion about this subject. When it comes to the ten plagues of Egypt, it doesn’t matter if it was a natural or supernatural phenomena, or if it is explainable or unexplainable. The bottom line is, it was still God pouring out His judgment upon the gods of Egypt and Pharaoh. The Bible says in Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” With the earth belonging to the Lord, God can use the elements of this old world to perform His judgments or do whatever He wants or wills.

The Bible gives many examples of natural disasters the Lord used for His way of bringing forth His judgments to mankind, such as for example, earthquakes (Num. 16:29-33; Isaiah 24:18-21), and of course the Flood in Genesis. So, in answer to the question, “Were the plagues of Egypt exaggerations of natural evils or were they miraculous events?”

Since God made Heaven and earth (Psalm 115:15). it means He owns it all, and everything in it. Therefore, the ten plagues, judgments in Egypt, were all miraculous events, by the mighty hand of God!

Hello, my name is Dr. M. Lee Miller. I am married to a beautiful woman named Elizabeth. We have four wonderful children and three fantastic grandchildren. I have a Doctorate in Theology and a Ph.D in Religion. I have been in the ministry for 30 years and a pastor for over nine years. I really enjoy life and the opportunities that I have had in trying to help others during difficult periods in their lives.

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