Reading Time: 3 minutes By Joreth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Reading Time: 3 minutes

As you will know, I have been running a series debunking the Exodus account and, in fact, this has now become a huge book project, co-authored with archaeologist Rebecca Bradley and with the foreword to be written by Assyriologist Dr Joshua Bowen.

I am presently writing a chapter on the morality and theology of the plagues. And I am realising, more than ever before, how morally abhorrent the whole story is.

In looking into how people justify the plagues and God hardening hearts, I have seen an array of different theologies and excuses theodicies. Some are just big words thrown together to sound impressive.

Here is an excerpt from a thesis paper from someone from Liberty University. This, for me, completely fulfils the criteria for “word salad”.

Nevertheless, God’s offer of exemption from the seventh plague does not, by itself, negate or excuse his responsibility for the fact that because of that plague, and Faust of the tenth plague yet to come, people die. Remembering that benevolence does not exclude confrontational justice and judgment, the task of asserting God’s benevolence even in deadly plagues must center upon the necessity of such severe intervention in order for God’s primary revelational purpose in the plagues to be accomplished. Such necessity can be asserted on the basis of two considerations: God’s concern for truth and the responsibility inherent in his chosen incarnational methodology, and his consistency in holding himself to his own given moral requirements. As he reveals his own benevolence to the other characters in the plagues narrative, God simultaneously reveals certain facts about the nature of existence and about a proper perspective of morality. This multi-level revelation is incarnational in that its principles are taught by presence and experience rather than by exposition. Because of his established incarnational methodology, God’s responsibility extends beyond telling the truth about himself to telling the truth about the world and the actions of human beings as well, and though an exact estimation of the destructive metaphysical power of sin would certainly be impossible, God’s forceful movement against sin implicitly and incarnationally reveals his vehemence toward it. In light of the plagues’ purpose to remove the Hebrews from slavery, God’s forcefulness contains within it revelation of the heinousness of human slavery itself. Accordingly, the absence of violent force in the plagues would amount to an absence of animosity toward slavery in the character of God.

He then continues by throwing the innocent children to the dogs:

Further, were God to shield innocents from the consequences of the decisions of those in power over them (in this case Pharaoh), he would misrepresent the unavoidable, complex power relationships inherent in human society. The actions of human beings, especially leaders, cannot be isolated from their impact on others within their spheres of influence, and for God to exempt this one situation from such a universal principle by assuring that the consequences of Pharaoh’s political and religious decisions remained completely isolated from the lives of the people under his leadership would be both inconsistent and deceitful. That human death was in fact the only means that did finally prove effective in freeing the Hebrews from Pharaoh’s clutches, and that even after that death took place and Pharaoh let the Hebrews go, he changed his mind and pursued them to the Red Sea, suggests that such violent force was, in fact, necessary in order to accomplish the purpose of freeing the Hebrews from slavery. And when God exempts Pharaoh, who was presumably a firstborn, from the final plague, he singles Pharaoh out as the primary object of the messages of the plagues and gives him yet another chance to reconcile himself to the revelation he has been given.

God’s commitment to truth is further expressed by the earthly finality of death as confirmation of the distinction between redemption and revocation. Actions produce consequences that cannot be undone, and the simultaneous revelation of redemption and irreversibility in the Passover presents atonement as distinct from consequences in a way wholly consistent with the human experience of reality. Forgiveness redeems, but does not rewind, and murder, rape, or slander cannot be undone simply because they have been atoned for. For God to present this complex interrelationship other than as he does would misrepresent both himself and the world he created, thereby producing in those who would receive such revelation an expectation of exemption from consequences that will not and should not be fulfilled.

Jesus wept.

I could go on. I am genuinely amazed at the lengths people go to excuse the inexcusable, contriving complex defences to obfuscate the obvious.

If you have to go to these sorts of lengths to properly explain such massive and explicit divine intervention in human lives as the Exodus plagues, then you have a really very poor revelation. A murky and morally dubious revelation.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...