During the Exodus, God turned Egypt into one big haunted house.
And terrified his enemies.
I try to read one chapter of the Bible each day, in the morning. Recently, as I was reading Deuteronomy 4, this verse jumped out at me:
…did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? ~ Deuteronomy 4:34
Obviously, this verse speaks of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, and the “great terrors” are the ten plagues with which God struck Egypt. The ninth plague was darkness, and is recorded in the Book of Exodus.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt — darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. ~ Exodus 10:21-23
Deuteronomy mentions “great terrors.” But I dare say there isn’t much “terrifying” about this record of the darkness. Okay, three days of darkness would be a huge inconvenience, and very weird. But heck, people in Alaska put up with months of darkness at a time. The prospect of three days of darkness simply is not that terrifying. But part of the story is missing from Protestant Bibles, and it’s the part of the story that is terrifying.
Deuteronomy 4:34 jumped out at me because of something I remember reading in the Book of Wisdom many months ago. The Book of Wisdom is one of seven books no longer in the Protestant Bible, but remaining in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles. You see, the Book of Wisdom tells us that God not only brought darkness upon Egypt, but he turned Egypt into a terrifying haunted house in that darkness.
2 For when the lawless [Egypt] thought to enslave the holy nation [Israel], they themselves lay shackled with darkness [this darkness was the 9th plague described in Exodus 10:21-23 above], fettered by the long night, confined beneath their own roofs as exiles from the eternal providence.
3 For they, who supposed their secret sins were hid under the dark veil of oblivion, were scattered in fearful trembling, terrified by apparitions.
4 For not even their inner chambers kept them unafraid, for crashing sounds on all sides terrified them, and mute phantoms with somber looks appeared.
5 No fire had force enough to give light, nor did the flaming brilliance of the stars succeed in lighting up that gloomy night [utter darkness, darkness so profound that when God pronounced this plague, he said it would be darkness that can actually be felt.].
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt — darkness that can be felt.” [this darkness was the ninth plague] ~ Exodus 10:21
6 But only intermittent, fearful fires flashed through upon them; And in their terror they thought holding these was worse than the times when that sight was no longer to be seen. [When light flashed they wanted darkness, and when it was dark they wanted night. This is the same terror God warned Israel with if they did not follow his laws.
In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!” — because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. ~ Deuteronmy 28:67
7 And mockeries of their magic art failed, and there was a humiliating refutation of their vaunted shrewdness. [The demonic magic of the Egyptians was powerless to stop this haunted house from God.]
8 For they who undertook to banish fears and terrors from the sick soul themselves sickened with ridiculous fear. [Egypt’s demonic magicians were terrified.]
9 For even though no monstrous thing frightened them, they shook at the passing of insects and the hissing of reptiles, [Physical creatures did not threaten the Egyptians, only apparitions, visual appearances. But God’s haunted house worked so well that paranoia had overtaken the Egyptians, and they could no longer think rationally. They were scared of everything now.]
10 And perished trembling [“perished trembling” sounds like they were literally scared to death], reluctant to face even the air that they could nowhere escape.
11 For wickedness, of its nature cowardly, testifies in its own condemnation, and because of a distressed conscience, always magnifies misfortunes. [There is a fascinating gem of wisdom in this verse. That is, that wickedness is cowardly by nature. This is why the time-tested principle of standing up to bullies works so well. Bullies don’t want a fight, they want a knockout. When they see that the knockout will come at a price, they often retreat in cowardice. “Resist the devil and he will flee.” ~ James 4:7. And look at those last few words, “always magnifies misfortune.” Have you ever noticed that people who go around bullying what they want from other people constantly complain about how bad they have it? In reality, they don’t have it that bad. They just magnify their misfortunes.]
12 For fear is nought but the surrender of the helps that come from reason [This is an interesting line considering that Isaiah 1:18 tells us “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD,” and so much of the rest of the Bible tells us not to fear anything but God. So, Wisdom 17:12 tells us that “fear is nought but the surrender of the helps that come from reason,” and the rest of the Bible supports the idea that the God of Israel is a God of reason who commands us not to fear things like apparitions. Therefore, I see Wisdom 17:12 as a succinctly stated gem of wisdom encapsulating two Biblical principles. This is yet another example of consistency between the seven books Martin Luther deleted from the Protestant Bible, and the books he did not delete from the Protestant Bible. I had heard for years from Bible teachers (who never offered any evidence, by the way) that these seven books were laced with error. I have found this to be nonsense.]; and the more one’s expectation is of itself uncertain, the more one makes of not knowing the cause that brings on torment.
14 So they, during that night, powerless though it was, since it had come upon them from the recesses of a powerless Hades [power rests on God’s side, not Satan’s side], while all sleeping the same sleep,
15 Were partly smitten by fearsome apparitions and partly stricken by their souls’ surrender; for fear overwhelmed them, sudden and unexpected.
16 Thus, then, whoever was there fell into that prison without bars and was kept confined.
17 For whether one was a farmer, or a shepherd, or a worker at tasks in the wasteland, Taken unawares, each served out the inescapable sentence;
18 for all were bound by the one bond of darkness. And were it only the whistling wind, or the melodious song of birds in the spreading branches, Or the steady sound of rushing water,
19 or the rude crash of overthrown rocks, Or the unseen gallop of bounding animals, or the roaring cry of the fiercest beasts, Or an echo resounding from the hollow of the hills— these sounds, inspiring terror, paralyzed them.
20 For the whole world shone with brilliant light and continued its works without interruption [Not only was Egypt the only nation affected by this darkness, but we see in Exodus 10:21-22 that even within Egypt, the darkness was directed only against the Egyptians, not the Israelites. “So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.” ~ Exodus 10:21-23]…
There you have it. Without the Book of Wisdom’s elaboration, the Book of Exodus’ darkness seems less than terrifying. If such rich detail on such a well-known plague is missing, then how much more precious detail is missing from the Protestant consciousness because these seven books have been unjustifiably removed from the Protestant Bible.
Thank you for reading.
My other articles on the seven books deleted from the Protestant Bible:
Categories: Deuterocanonical ("Apocryphal") Books