The Plagues And The Exodus -- By: David Livingston

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 04:1 (Winter 1991)
Article: The Plagues And The Exodus
Author: David Livingston


The Plagues And The Exodus

David Livingston

Bronze figure of a bull wearing a sun disk and a cobra (uraeus) on his head. His cult center was in Memphis.

The Exodus: Did it really happen? There is little, if any, archaeological evidence for it. Therefore, many non-evangelical scholars do not believe it occurred. Even if the Egyptians did obliterate evidence of the cataclysms, surely, these scholars say, we should find some evidence.

The best approach is to wait and see. An argument from silence will be destroyed with the first trace of evidence. And then there might be evidence when one looks for it at the proper time in history. If the Exodus occurred 150 years earlier than most scholars think it did (at the Biblical date of ca 1440 BC), there may be evidence for it not recognized as such. (See the Summer 1989 issue of Archaeology and Biblical Research for the article on the true pharaoh of the Exodus by Joseph Lomusio. He presents evidence for the Exodus at the Biblical date.)

Various Interpretations Of The Plagues

In the June 1990 issue of Bible Review is an article by Ziony Zevit on “Three Ways to Look at the Ten Plagues.” Unfortunately, his conclusion undermines all that goes before and is typical of modern scholarship. He says,”… a historical kernel [but little more, Ed.] must underlie the Egyptian plague traditions preserved in the Bible…. The plague traditions, which were maintained orally by the Israelites until some

time after the establishment of the monarchy, continued to be reworked in the land of Israel” (p. 42). Obvious in these statements is his position that the narratives of the plagues and the Exodus were not written by Moses, but were handed down for hundreds of years by word of mouth, and finally written down (with all their errors and accretions) by scribes during the late monarchy — many hundreds of years after Moses. In his opinion, they could not possibly be authentic history.

In spite of his attitude to the stories, the article has some valuable information as he analyzes possible meanings for the plagues. His own approach (the third way to look at the plagues) is that they parallel the stories of the creation of the world. This may be the least valuable point he makes, however, since he puts no credence in the creation account either. It may be interesting to note, in passing, that the Egyptian gods Ptah and Khnum were believed by the Egyptians to be the creators of all things.

Before going into Zevit’s other two points, another interpretation of the plagues is that of Jame...

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