I’m almost positive I’ve linked it before.
I’m going to do it again, because in the middle of a lovely movie review, EegahInc said this:
Not that there were slowly contracting frog masks in the Bible, mind you. The aforementioned murders may have taken their inspiration from the plague of toads, plague of hailstones, and plague of locusts respectively, but did so very loosely. In fact, up until the final plague, most of the curses visited upon Egypt resulted in inconvenience and/or terror rather than the loss of human life. It makes you wonder why God bothered to send so many plagues rather than just skip ahead until the end to achieve what he wanted. Sure, there was the whole hardening of Pharaoh’s heart thing (which, as we discussed previously, was done entirely with Pharaoh’s consent), but the final plague upon the first born of Egypt put an end to that quite readily. So, why not just go straight there instead of wasting time with frogs and flies and such?
Well, there’s a theory about that (of course). Because the ancient Egyptians believed that all natural phenomena, as well as any number of abstract concepts, were actually sentient divine forces, they had a rather sizable pantheon of gods, over 2,000 by some accounts. But if you just wanted to stick to the biggies, you could knock it down to a handful or two. So the idea is that each of the plagues corresponds to one of these major Egyptian deities and their complete inability to stand up to the power of the God of the Israelites. You could easily make a few substitutions here and there, but a basic list goes something like this:
- Hapi, god of the Nile, couldn’t stop his river from turning to blood.
- Heqet, frog-goddess of fertility, couldn’t control her hopping kin.
- Geb, god of the earth, couldn’t prevent gnats from rising out of the dirt.
- Khepri, god of insects, couldn’t call off all of the biting flies.
- Hathor, bovine-goddess of motherhood, couldn’t save a single cow.
- Thoth, god of medicine, couldn’t cure a single boil.
- Nut, goddess of the sky, couldn’t put an end to the pummeling hail storms.
- Isis, goddess of nature, couldn’t save a single crop from the locusts.
- Ra, god of the sun, couldn’t banish the darkness.
- Osiris, god of the afterlife and resurrection, couldn’t prevent a single death.
If you think that sounds like the kind of theory that would be right up my alley, you’re right– but I never even though about it; it’s like the Egyptians of the Bible and the Egyptians of the history books were in two different boxes in my mind.
…Kind of like most folks are with scifi and theology. 😀
His summary of what small-g gods are is a good ‘in’ on figuring out how they related to them, too. (Probably better than my ‘eternal junior high, and you’re the new kid who is also a runt’ version.)