PREST: Moths, smoke . . . frogs? Are we getting hit with a new twist on the 10 plagues?

At this point, I’m starting to get a little worried about frogs, boils, and the health of my first-born son.

Because it seems pretty obvious what is going on right now in this part of the world. The sun has vanished behind a veil of smoke, we’re being swarmed by insects, and we’ve spent months being stalked by an insidious, killer disease. We’re getting the plagues, aren’t we? The LORD, in the biblical sense, is grumpy.

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What more proof do we need? Here’s a little refresher, for those of you not familiar with the jerky LORD of the Old Testament. As the story goes in the Book of Exodus, the LORD wanted to get his chosen people out of Egypt where they were enslaved. And so the LORD asked 80-year-old Moses and his 83-year-old brother Aaron to go to Pharaoh and negotiate their freedom, knowing that nobody makes stronger, more coherent arguments than 80-year-old men.

To earn this freedom the LORD told Moses and Aaron to threaten Pharaoh, telling him that a bunch of terrible things would happen to Egypt and the Egyptians if their people were not set free. But the LORD also told Moses and Aaron that Pharaoh would not listen to them because “I will harden his heart.”

So just to sum up: the LORD makes it clear right at the very start of this story that the LORD was going to do terrible things to Pharaoh, but the LORD was also going to take over Pharaoh’s body – “harden his heart,” like the LORD of cholesterol! – to ensure that Pharaoh would not give in, allowing the LORD to do even more terrible things to Pharaoh. I mean, what good is being all-powerful if you can’t use those powers to screw with people’s heads? I do hope, at the end of it all, that the LORD also offered to pay for Pharaoh’s therapist.

And so the plagues began. There were 10 in all, and the first one involved the LORD turning a wooden staff into a snake. We haven’t had anything quite like that around here, but there was a python that mysteriously went missing not once but twice in the last few months on Vancouver Island. Curious coincidence, isn’t it? That can’t be a good omen, in These Troubled Times.

Three other plagues in Exodus involved insect invasions, including great swarms of annoying flies and gnats, as well as plant-devouring locusts. While we haven’t had those exact attacks this year, we were on the lookout for murder hornets not so long ago, and in the last few weeks looper moths have first laid waste to huge swaths of our beautiful North Shore trees in caterpillar form before hatching in disgusting numbers to cover the land with their discomfiting fluttering. 

The moths are a nuisance, but of course we’ve endured worse this year. Much worse. We’ve been hit by a plague, literally, which has infected thousands of people and killed hundreds right here in British Columbia.

Life around the world has changed in unimaginable ways as people have grappled with the COVID-19 virus. This seems like a combination of the LORD’s plagues, as in Exodus the Egyptians got hit by a disease that killed off animals as well as an outbreak of “festering boils” that hit the humans. Doesn’t COVID-19 seem like it could be a new twist on old Exodus dreamed up by a menacing modern LORD?

Smoke from wildfires burning in the U.S. fills the air as the Grouse Mountain tram transports people down the mountain, in North Vancouver, B.C,, on Saturday, September 12, 2020.  photo THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

So we’ve got the insects and plagues, and now comes the fire and darkness. As I write this, smoke from wildfires is covering vast expanses of the West Coast, from California up into British Columbia, and is also spreading east across the continent. One of the plagues in Exodus was a hail storm to which that rascally LORD also included “fire mingled with the hail.” Creative!

Another Exodus plague was darkness, and though we haven’t been plunged into pitch-black nothingness, the veil of smoke has dimmed things considerably, blocking out the sun or reducing it to an creepy orange blob. I mean, c’mon – we’ve already got our hands full with a different creepy orange blob!

By my count we’ve at least dabbled in eight of the 10 plagues. So what’s left? Plague No. 2 was frogs.

“The Nile will swarm with frogs, and they will come up and go into your house, in your bedroom, and on your bed,” the LORD warned. Frogs ... on my bed!? Good lord that’s a bad LORD.

And famously, devastatingly, plague No. 10 saw the LORD swooping to Earth at midnight and killing all the first-born sons of Egypt, from Pharaoh’s own child right down to “the firstborn son of the slave girl who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle.”

Wow, let’s pump the brakes here, LORD. Whatever we humans did to get you back on the plague path, we’re sorry, and we’re going to need you to not kill our children. Let’s just stop this reign of terror, OK? In fact, you can start with some actual rain to put out those fires. And then a vaccine would be nice, and don’t you dare put any festering boils into the vaccine mix! We have enough trouble with anti-vaxxers already (speaking of plagues on humanity).

Let’s call a truce, LORD. I’ll send my best 80-year-old man over to you to hammer out the details.

Don’t freak out though – he’ll be wearing a mask.

Andy Prest is sports editor for the North Shore News. His humour/lifestyle column runs biweekly.

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