Fifth plague – Death of livestock
behold, the hand of the LORD will fall with a very severe plague upon your livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks.
The Apis bull was an important sacred animal to the ancient Egyptians. As with the other sacred beasts Apis’ importance increased over the centuries.
Auguste Mariette’s excavation of the Serapeum of Saqqara revealed the tombs of more than sixty animals, ranging from the time of Amenhotep III to the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Originally, each animal was buried in a separate tomb with a chapel built above it.
Mnevis (Ancient Greek: Μνέυις, Coptic: ⲉⲙⲛⲉⲩⲓ) is the Hellenized name of an ancient Egyptian bull god which had its centre of worship at Heliopolis, and was known to the ancient Egyptians as Mer-wer or Nem-wer.
four different bull cults dedicated to Montu were known in earlier times in Upper Egypt, and it seems that the Buchis was the result of their syncretism.
The popular goddess Hathor was often depicted as a cow.
Hathor (Ancient Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr, lit. ’House of Horus’, Ancient Greek: Ἁθώρ Hathōr, Coptic: ϩⲁⲑⲱⲣ) was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion who played a wide variety of roles. As a sky deity, she was the mother or consort of the sky god Horus and the sun god Ra, both of whom were connected with kingship, and thus she was the symbolic mother of their earthly representatives, the pharaohs. She was one of several goddesses who acted as the Eye of Ra, Ra’s feminine counterpart, and in this form she had a vengeful aspect that protected him from his enemies. Her beneficent side represented music, dance, joy, love, sexuality, and maternal care, and she acted as the consort of several male deities and the mother of their sons. These two aspects of the goddess exemplified the Egyptian conception of femininity. Hathor crossed boundaries between worlds, helping deceased souls in the transition to the afterlife.
Hathor was often depicted as a cow, symbolizing her maternal and celestial aspect, although her most common form was a woman wearing a headdress of cow horns and a sun disk. She could also be represented as a lioness, cobra, or sycamore tree.
Hathor was one of the forty-two state gods and goddesses of Egypt, and one of the most popular and powerful.
Hathor also played a role in the afterlife.
Given her ubiquity in classical sources, it is not surprising that Hathor also played an important role in the extensive Egyptian myths surrounding the afterlife. Specifically, she was thought to provide hope, sustenance and succor to the souls of the dead:
During the plague, only Egyptian livestock was affected. Pharaoh continued to make his heart heavy.
Exod 9:6-7 (KJV)
6 And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.
7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
Sixth plague – boils
It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.”
Egypt was the first civilization to have developed medicine. With this plague that affected them physically, they were not able to rely on their medicine to heal them.
In this burgeoning civilisation, a role for doctors emerged and the Egyptians were the first people to develop a medical profession. The first of these physicians was Imhotep, a man who would go on to become a God.
Sir William Osler described Imhotep as ‘the first figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity’. His medical practices deviated from the use of magic and prayer that other Egyptian healers used and were remarkably advanced for the time.
Traditions from long after Imhotep’s death treated him as a great author of wisdom texts and especially as a physician. No text from his lifetime mentions these capacities and no text mentions his name in the first 1,200 years following his death.
Imhotep’s best known writings were medical text. As a physician, Imhotep is believed to have been the author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus in which more than 90 anatomical terms and 48 injuries are described. He may have also founded a school of medicine in Memphis, a part of his cult center possibly known as “Asklepion, which remained famous for two thousand years. All of this occurred some 2,200 years before the Western Father of Medicine Hippocrates was born.
Boils was probably also a swipe at Isis, one of the most popular goddesses.
Isis is an ancient Egyptian goddess who became the most popular and enduring of all the Egyptian deities. Her name comes from the Egyptian Eset, (“the seat”) which referred to her stability and also the throne of Egypt as she was considered the mother of every pharaoh through the king’s association with Horus, Isis’ son.
She was associated with healing.
“she was a principal deity in rites connected with the dead; as magical healer, she cured the sick and brought the deceased to life; and as mother, she was a role model for all women.”
“Isis was the supreme sorceress and healer of the Egyptian pantheon, a devoted wife and mother.”
“An Egyptian Goddess of magic, fertility, and healing, Isis was as one of the most powerful deities in all of ancient Egypt.”
Exod 9:11-12 (KJV)
11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.
12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.