A recent wave of four Biblical plagues has many wondering if the remaining six are about to strike since, according to Jewish tradition, all of the plagues that struck Egypt will reappear before the final redemption.
First Plague: Water to Blood
Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. (Exodus 7:20)
More than any of the plagues that followed, the sight of crimson water has become deeply embedded in the collective unconscious and is readily associated with the Exodus. Although Pharoah’s necromancers were able to duplicate Aaron’s feat, the sight of the Nile-God turning to blood gave the Egyptians a taste of things to come.
Earlier this month, several cases of rivers turning blood-red were reported in different spots around the world, kicking off the New Year with Exodus aspirations.
Seventh Plague: Hail
Hashem said to Moshe, “Hold out your arm toward the sky that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, upon man and beast and all the grasses of the field in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 9:22
Last year ended with hail showing up in unexpected locations. Saudi Arabia was hit by baseball-sized ice balls, covering the sandy deserts. A short but intense hailstorm is Swaziland, South Africa killed a herd of cows. But even more shocking was the Biblical mixture of fire and ice that struck in Australia as ice storms were accompanied by lightning that set of bush fires.
Eighth Plague: Locusts
They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:15)
Just last week Saudi Arabia suffered a massive infestation of bugs, most notably locusts. In a case of divine irony, the bugs arrived in time for the weekly Torah reading that described their role in the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Though many natural causes were blamed for the insects’ appearance, images of the floor of the Great Mosque in Mecca covered in dead locusts evoked Biblical connotations.
Ninth Plague: Darkness
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt. (Exodus 10:21)
The total solar eclipse that transversed the continental U.S. in August 2017 ushered in one of the most catastrophic hurricane seasons in the nation’s history. The country will not see another total solar eclipse until April 2024 but on January 21, a lunar eclipse with grave spiritual significance will pass over the country.
Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn
At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. (Exodus 12:29)
It may be that the most dreaded Tenth Plague is reappearing, or at least one disturbing aspect of it. In a recent article concerning the Messianic implications of do-it-yourself DNA testing, it was revealed that 20-30 percent of paternity tests reveal that the man doing the test is not the father of the child they are testing.
Rabbi Berger saw this an aspect of the redemption that was witnessed in the Exodus from Egypt. He noted that this technology-aided revelation of widespread infidelity closely resembles what was seen in Egypt just prior to the Exodus of the Hebrews. He noted that according to Jewish tradition, all of the plagues of Egypt would be revisited before the Messiah.
“During the Plague of the Death of the Firstborn, there were households with one father and one mother in which several, or all of the children would die,” Rabbi Berger explained. “That was because they were all firstborn…to different fathers.”