Bible's 'Plague of Frogs' May Have Been Just One Giant Frog

It's not like it'd be the weirdest thing in there.
Bible's 'Plague of Frogs' May Have Been Just One Giant Frog

Plagues of frogs show up everywhere from Paul Thomas Anderson movies ...

... to real life when the weather is bullshit, always bringing with it a sense of foreboding, since it was just one way God punished the Pharaoh who refused to end Jewish slavery in Egypt (and it's just generally not cool when things that aren't water come out of the sky). It might not have looked the way we think it did, though. It's usually depicted as a storm of frogs that seemingly come from nowhere to move into your bed, kitchen appliances, and dishes, but according to one translation, it was actually just one frog that "arose and covered the land of Egypt."

That left Jewish scholars with a dilemma: How does a singular frog cover the land of Egypt? Have you seen Egypt? That's a lot of land and one huge frog. They could have just left it at that, but a group of medieval rabbis went a step further and wrote a midrash (rather uncharitably defined by the Atlantic as "essentially biblical fan fiction") proposing that the frog just kinda sat there, but the people of Egypt weren't having it and started attacking the frog, which is honestly a completely rational response to the sudden appearance of a mammoth amphibian.

If they were hoping to subdue it or drive it away, however, they were sorely mistaken. Every time the frog was hit, it spewed out a belch-load of normal-size frogs, and it was these li'l homies who terrorized the country. You'd think that would compel the Egyptians to reevaluate their strategy at some point before they were actually up to their ears in frogs, but it just pissed them off, so they kept attacking the frog, who kept horking up additional frogs. It was a pretty ingenious move on the part of the rabbis: They turned what had been a fairly straightforward (and inconveniently slimy) warning about defying God into an allegory about the danger of letting anger cloud your judgment. After all, if there's anything the Jewish people had to historically excel at, it's making the best of a bad situation (or translation, as the case may be).

Top image: Jack Hamilton/Unsplash


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