Were the Ten Plagues Natural Occurrences or Miracles?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Many scholars have noted that many, if not all, of the ten plagues in Exodus 7-12 can be explained by natural causes.

According to Robert Bergen in the Apologetics Study Bible,

Some have suggested that bacteria turned the waters red, and the poisoned waters killed the fish and forced the frogs to seek cool, moist places away from the Nile. When the frogs died their corpses were a breeding ground for two types of small insects. These, in turn, spread communicable diseases among both animals and humans, resulting in death to the livestock and boils upon the people. A well-timed locust plague followed by a spring hailstorm devastated Egypt’s crops. Shortly thereafter a desert sandstorm or dust cloud darkened most of Egypt. Finally a devastating plague, perhaps one caused by the insects, killed both humans and beasts among the non-Israelites.

If some or all of the plagues can be explained by natural causes, does it follow that these were not miracles? No. God may use natural or supernatural causes to perform a miracle. In cases where God uses natural causes, the timing, intensity, and redemptive purpose behind these events are indicative of God’s intervention.

The greatest skeptic in Egypt, Pharaoh, eventually became convinced that God was behind the plagues, and that they were not just natural occurrences. The people of Egypt came to the same conclusion.

Why? Moses and Aaron, prophets of God, were predicting the plagues in advance (timing) and describing their intensity and reach. They were also explaining that the plagues were meant to force Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, and this is exactly what happened. There was simply no doubt that the ten plagues were directed by God.