The Deities of the 10 Plagues

John Martin's painting of the plague of hail and fire (1823).

Over the last year I have been looking for and researching the ancient gods of Egypt in an effort to identifying which deity was defeated by YHWH in each of the 10 Plagues of the Exodus.

Most commentaries on the book of Exodus will reference the fact that the 10 Plagues were a power struggle between the gods of Egypt and the God of Israel – however, none of them (at least, the ones that I could find) ever list out each of the gods. Instead they simply make the statement and move on – maybe, if you are lucky, mentioning one or two of the gods.

However I am happy to report that after a year of digging, I have finally located a book that references the gods defeated by the plagues!

The book that did this is Bill Jackson’s “NothinsGonnaStopIt! The Storyline of the Bible” seminar (it is a DVD series with a workbook).  What is even cooler is that this DVD/workbook was given to me by a friend (thanks B.L.!!) at the recent Vineyard National Conference after he heard that I was starting a sermon series on the metanarrative of the Bible.  God really knows how to take care of His kids!!! 😀

But enough of the back story, here is the paragraph in question:

“When seen in the light of spiritual warfare, the plague of blood was a rebuke of the Egyptian god Ha’pi. The plague of the frogs was a victory over Heqt, the goddess of fertility. Instead of granting normal birth cycles to the Egyptian people, the frog goddess began to give birth to other frogs that multiplied out of control. Kheper, in the form of a beetle (possibly the bases for the “swarms of flies”) symbolizes the daily cycle of the sun across the sky. The plague against the livestock showed the futility of the bull-gods Apis and Mnevis, the cow-god Hathor, and the ram-god Khnum. With the hail, the “heavens” (the home of Nut, the god of the sky) were out of control. The god Serapia was rendered powerless for it was thought to be the god who protected from locusts. With the hail, the “heavens” (the home of the gods) went out of control. And when the sun was blotted out, the power of the sun god Ra was rendered null and void (the great luminaries were again seen as just lights, not powers).

“In the tenth and final plague, YHWH prepared to defeat the last of the Egyptian gods and demonstrate that he was not only the Creator but the King. Since Egyptian Pharaohs considered themselves divine, the angle of the Lord was going to “pass over” the land of Egypt and “strike down” the firstborn sons of all the families in the land, along with the firstborn of their herds for extra measure. “

Speaking about the Exodus in general, I love the quote by Bill Jackson:

“It is important to note that the exodus was not about God vs. Egypt, but God vs. unbelieving whomever, Jew or Egyptian. It is important to note that some of the Egyptians also went up out of Egypt with the Israelite. The purpose of the plagues, therefore, was not only to demonstrate the Kingship of YHWH but to put out an invitation for all those trusting in the gods of Egypt to come to their senses and follow the God of Israel. The plagues, then, were ultimately evangelistic. The Lord said that he was doing these things, “…so that you (Egypt) might know that I am the Lord in the midst of all the earth” (Ex 8:22). Those Egyptians who “feared the word of YHWY” (Ex 9:20) fled Egypt with the Israelite, thus being (to use Paul’s New Testament term; Rom 11:17) “grafted” into the covenant people of God. In so doing they were prefiguring the Gentile ingathering of the book of Acts in the New Testament.”

Powerful message! And one that fits within the overall focus on the Bible, which I’m quickly beginning to summary as Leviticus 26:11-12:

“I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”

This 3-fold message came be found in twenty places throughout the Old Testament and can be found being fulfilled in the New Testament with the final fulfillment forseen by John the Revelator:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.'”  -Rev 21:3

2 thoughts on “The Deities of the 10 Plagues”

  1. The day just keeps getting better and better! I emailed Bill Jackson this morning thanking him for listing out the Egyptian gods and asking him for his source documents. He replied pointing me to John J. Davis’ book “Moses and the Gods of Egypt: Studies in Exodus.”

    John Davis is an archaeologist and theology professor at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana – oh, and he helped translate the NIV Bible. His book (according to the reviews) brings out the religious and political customs of ancient Egypt.

    I think I’m going to order it today! 😛

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