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The Biblical connection with the volcanic eruption of Santorini: The Exodus section of the Old Testament is a much-revered text and is held in very high esteem not only by Christians but also by Islam and Judaism. There is a contradiction in the way people have interpreted the Exodus. Some regard it as legends and myths while others regard it as the word of God. Exodus reveals the story of the birth and life of Moses who was a diehard Hebrew credited with the emancipation of the Jews from the clutches of Egyptian slavery.
The Exodus depicts the great escape of the Jews from Egypt. Moses ultimately divided the Red Sea and permitted the Jews to traverse to Sinai while the Egyptians were drowned in the surging waves. In recent times the Exodus has been in great demand in the scientific community and has been studied extensively. They are of the opinion that the storyline in Exodus is primarily based on seismic movements.
Geologists are of the opinion that the eruption of the Santorini volcano is the basis of the twelve plagues depicted in the Exodus. Post-eruption, a vast neighbourhood might have endured sufferings and tribulations like deluge, drought and firestorm etc. Not even cities located on higher platforms could escape the wrath of the devastating earthquakes. Molten magma ash in all likelihood would have completely blackened the atmosphere.
Scientists believe that most of the twelve plagues occurred as a consequence of volcanic activity. The mention of darkness in the Bible may be without doubt ascribed to the molten ash and pumice on the surface. Even the stormy winds were blowing to the southeasterly direction where Egypt was located.
Furthermore, according to renowned archaeologist Charles Pellegrino, high-velocity dust storms were supposed to have rained down in Egypt from the dust clouds, thereby turning days into nights. The Exodus story also mentions about the plague and devastating fire upon Egypt. Charles Pellegrino compares the Santorini eruptions with that of Mount St. Hellen in Oregon as a burning example of what the Santorini eruption might have been like.
The plagues occurred due to the volcanic eruption and attracted hordes of locusts and there was evidence of erratic animal activity due largely to the alteration of air pressure and weather conditions. After the complete devastation of Egypt, the Jews were able to get away in spite of the Pharaoh’s soldiers in hot pursuit. In the Exodus, there is a quotation which goes like this: By day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light (Exodus 13:21). This state of biblical affairs can easily be related to volcanic eruption.
Significantly, the awesome Plinian column created by the Santorini eruption might have afforded cloud cover by day and would have become visible like fire in the night. One must also take into consideration the division of the Red Sea which might have drawn waters thereby shaping the caldera.
Moses too would have crossed over thereby making things that much more difficult for Pharaoh's soldiers. Biblical stories can be interpreted in many different ways like legends and myths. The Exodus dates back to 1447 BC, but this is by no means exact due to the fact that it is an anthology of stories. Historians have no clue to the Pharaoh who ruled during the era of Moses which in itself is regarded as the most authentic timing of the story.