The 10 Plagues Explained with Science (Sort Of)

First, the background: the bible explains that the 10 plagues were targeted to an Egyptian pharaoh in order to prove the power of the enslaved Israelis' one God. After each plague the pharaoh refused free the Israelis, which spurred the next plague until the very last and most extreme --- the death of every Egyptian's first born child.

Archeologists and climatologists believe that these events took place during the reign of Pharaoh Remeses II. The timing of this era is important, because it links back to a period when the climate changed abruptly — from very precipitous to very dry. This specific and significant shift could provide a scientific explanation for the acts of God.  

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Water to Blood

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The climate change may have caused a huge increase in algae (specifically Oscillatoria rubescens) in The Nile River, Egypt’s main resource. 

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Swarms of Frogs, Gnats, and Flies

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The algae in the river could have sped up the transformation of all the tadpoles into frogs. Because that river water was toxic, the frogs needed to leave the water quickly.

A large amount of dying frogs would mean there are less predators to eat pests, which led to a new large population of gnats and flies.

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Drying Livestock and Boil Outbreak

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A lot of bugs could have created epidemics for both animals and humans. An outbreak of malaria carried by insects could explain the dying livestock and boil outbreak. 

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Hail, Locusts, and Darkness

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The timing of these plagues may also line up with one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history. The eruption occurred in the Mediterranean Islands and released enormous amounts of ash into the atmosphere.

If that volcanic ash mixed with thunderstorm system around Egypt, hail would have occurred. That means the climate went from wet, to very dry, to suddenly wet again, which is exactly what would trigger the presence of locusts. 

The darkness that set upon Egypt may have been the volcanic ash settling within the air. The same results occurred hundred of years later after the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815.

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Death of the First Born Child

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Now for the big one. God warned the Israelis to paint lamb’s blood on their doors that would signal God’s wrath to pass over their house and spare the first born (this is how Passover was named). Because the Egyptians did not paint their doors with lamb’s blood, every first born child died in the middle of the night. 

The very loose scientific explanation for this one could have been connected to the traditional perks of being the first born. Between the ash, the locusts, and the bugs, it’s possible that the food supply became toxic. Since first born sons got the biggest share at dinner, they ate the most toxins. 


These are theories, not proof. Enjoy the holidays and honor the traditions.