The Three Plagues Down Under

So far we’ve had fire, flood and now pestilence in Australia. What will be next?

“Summer arrives, and the ancient forests that ring Sydney burn, and, above the steady rain of falling cinders, the sun is hidden behind [angry grey] clouds.” Extract from ‘Autumns of Change’ by Liam Pieper, SMH 1/3/2020.

Summer in Sydney 2019-20. Photo courtesy Sydney Morning Herald, 1/3/2020

Since late Spring 2019 the tragic loss of human and animal life, and the destruction of our forests, has plunged many Australians into the darkness of irrecoverable losses. A spoilt day on the beach is one thing; but compare it with the mass destruction of homes, crops, and livestock. In some hard-hit areas our precious native fauna are threatened with extinction. Imagine if there were no more koala bears or kangaroos, our national emblems?

Is this some sort of divine retribution for our sins, as described in the ancient text of the Haggadah? Far-fetched indeed, but as the season of Passover approaches, we are reminded of the story of the ten plagues, wrought on the Ancient Egyptians as punishment for the enslavement of the Israelites.

Page from the illuminated Darmstadt Haggadah, Germany, c. 1420.

The Haggadah (an ancient text telling the story of the exodus, which is read every Passover) explores the meaning of those verses, and embellishes the story. This telling describes the slavery of the Jewish people and their miraculous salvation by God. This culminates in an enumeration of the Ten Plagues

The Ten Plagues

  1. Blood
  2. Frogs
  3. Lice
  4. Flies
  5. Pestilence
  6. Boils
  7. Hail
  8. Locusts
  9. Darkness
  10. Killing of the firstborn

We haven’t had frogs yet (although there’s been an invasion of the poisonous cane toads on the east coast of Australia), but there are plenty of lice and flies, even more so after the floods and fires of this terrible summer. Hail in ancient times was believed to consist of fire and ice i.e frozen rain; thus we down under have had both fierce conflagrations and teeming rains with a vengeance. Darkness came with the fires, turning day into night, obscuring the sun which sometimes revealed itself as an angry red globe sending rays of blistering heat onto our earth below.

The plagues of pestilence and killing of the first born are being delivered to us right now, not only in Australia but across the planet, in the form of the corona virus Covid19. We here are at the beginning of a desperate campaign to halt the spread of this deadly virus. But many people, like the infidels of Moses’ time, do not heed the experts’ warnings, continuing to congregate, even denying that this is a serious disease for which there is as yet no cure.

Are we humans being punished, like the Egyptians were, for our ignorance, selfishness and greed?





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