The LORD God said he would harden Pharaoh’s heart. What does this mean?
It is easy to take that statement at face value. However, taking it at face value brings up some troubling concerns:
CONCERN 1. Did the LORD God force Pharaoh to do evil? It doesn’t seem consistent with the character of God that he force someone to do evil.
CONCERN 2. Did the LORD God take away Pharaoh’s free will? The LORD God gave us humans free will. We are free to to anything we want, including sin.
CONCERN 3. There is no indication that Pharaoh consented to this hardening of his heart. Did the LORD God do this to a human without their consent?
CONCERN 4. It makes the LORD God the architect of a great evil.
CONCERN 5. If the LORD God had not forced Pharaoh to do evil, would Pharaoh have been morally acceptable otherwise?
CONCERN 6. In the realm of eternity, will Pharaoh be culpable for this great moral evil he was forced to commit?
CONCERN 7. Or does it means that Pharaoh simply had a narcissistic personality? Many people in leadership positions exhibit narcissistic personalities, some more than others.
CONCERN 8. This hardness of heart caused immense suffering and devastated Egypt. And yet it was the LORD God who caused the hardness of heart.
Exodus 7:3. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 7:13. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he didn’t listen to them, as the LORD had spoken.
Exodus 7:22. The magicians of Egypt did the same thing with their enchantments. So Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he didn’t listen to them, as the LORD had spoken.
Exodus 8:15. But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and didn’t listen to them, as the LORD had spoken.
Exodus 8:19. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is God’s finger;” but Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he didn’t listen to them, as the LORD had spoken.
Exodus 8:32. Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he didn’t let the people go.
Exodus 9:7. Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the livestock of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he didn’t let the people go.
Exodus 9:12. The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he didn’t listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.
Exodus 9:34. When Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders had ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants.
Exodus 9:35. The heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he didn’t let the children of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.
Exodus 10:1. The LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these my signs among them;
Exodus 10:20. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he didn’t let the children of Israel go.
Exodus 10:27. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he wouldn’t let them go.
Exodus 11:10. Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he didn’t let the children of Israel go out of his land.
Exodus 12:32. Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also!”
Exodus 14:4. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will follow after them; and I will get honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” They did so.
Exodus 14:5. The king of Egypt was told that the people had fled; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”
Exodus 14:8. The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; for the children of Israel went out with a high hand.
Exodus 14:17. Behold, I myself will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will go in after them. I will get myself honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies, over his chariots, and over his horsemen.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.