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Answers Weekly

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May 21, 2011

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Q: Were the plagues on Pharaoh because of Abram and Sarai unfair?

A: Abraham was married to his half-sister, Sarai, who, at age sixty-five, was still apparently beautiful. To protect himself, Abraham persuaded Sarah to lie about her marriage to him and pretend to be his sister. Unprotected by her husband, Sarah was whisked off to Pharaoh’s harem. In exchange, Pharaoh showered Abraham with riches. Since Abraham didn’t properly protect Sarah, who was the promised mother of a new nation that would bless the whole world, God had to step in.

God protected Sarah by sending “great plagues” on Pharaoh and his house. The Hebrew words translated as “plagues” can refer to sores or wounds and does not require them to be deadly. Sarah was kept safe and it seems Pharaoh eventually put two and two together and figured out that the timing and scope of this disease was somehow associated with Abraham’s arrival and that Sarah was Abraham’s wife. Pharaoh graciously let Abraham keep all the stuff he had acquired in Egypt and summarily sent him away.

These plagues on Pharaoh and his house were not so much a punishment as a message, but they are definitely an example of the sins of one person causing others to suffer. Our cursed world is full of examples of innocents suffering for the sins of others. Drunk drivers, abusive parents, pregnant women on cocaine, thieves, rapists, and murderers are but a few examples of people who cause the innocent to suffer. At least in this case, the suffering was apparently non-lethal and had a clearly-defined purpose.


Continue reading to learn more about how God used this situation and what we can learn from it.

News to Note Quick Look

Neanderthal neighbors: So, were Neanderthals and “modern humans” neighbors in Russia or not? Read more.


Cone snails go on the offensive: The venom gland in a poisonous mollusk sheds light on the origin of defense/attack structures. Read more.


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