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Pharaoh's heart
#1
Why do Exodus 4:21 and Exodus 7: 3 say that G-d hardened Pharaoh's heart?
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#2
Lots of good questions here, wondering how the answers will help you.

So one really should understand the Hebrew it is written in.

Why?

Because your first question pertaining to Exodus 4:21 the Hebrew word used actually means "strengthened" his heart.

So what is the difference?

Well, if you read the story carefully, you'll see that G-d and Moses gave Pharaoh a chance, a chance to listen and let the Israelite's go free.

Pharaoh didn't believe in the G-d of Israel, he did not know who he was. He probably thought he was just another god like one of the Egyptian ones.

Then you'll see Pharaoh say in Exodus 9:27 -

""I have sinned this time. The Lord is the righteous One, and I and my people are the guilty ones."


Here you'll see Pharaoh admitting to sinning and what looks to be an acknowledgement the God of Moses is indeed different than the gods he was used to.

Now that Pharaoh has admitted he knows the God of Moses and then still refuses to listen, God hardens his heart.

His chance is over!

If you want to read an excellent book that goes into this further, I recommend reading Rabbi David Fohrmans book "The Exodus You Almost Passed Over"
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#3
Shabbat Shalom Mauriac, yes, that is something good to contemplate.  Why did G-d harden Pharaoh’s heart.  I think it is fairly easy to answer…G-d was hardening Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let the people go, thereby, allowing G-d to perform many signs and wonders to make His Name great, and get honour.  The Exiles returning from Babylon declared the following concerning G-d:

Neh 9:9-10
 (9) And Thou sawest the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red Sea;  (10) and didst show signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land; for Thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them; and didst get Thee a name, as it is this day.

To be sure, G-d got a NAME (a name of renown) because of the great wonders and signs that He performed upon Pharaoh and Egypt.  Just think about it, Pharaoh’s heart on multiple occasions wanted to let the people go:

(Ex 8:8) Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said: 'Entreat the LORD, that He take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice unto the LORD.'

(Ex 8:28) And Pharaoh said: 'I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your G-d in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away; entreat for me.'

(Ex 10:24) And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said: 'Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed; let your little ones also go with you.'

But G-d would not allow Pharaoh to let them go, by hardening Pharaoh’s heart:

(Ex 4:21) And the LORD said unto Moses: 'When thou goest back into Egypt, see that thou do before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in thy hand; but I will harden his heart, and he will not let the people go.

Ex 7:2-5  (2) Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.  (3) And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.  (4) But Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, and I will lay My hand upon Egypt, and bring forth My hosts, My people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt, by great judgments.  (5) And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth My hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.'

(Ex 9:12) And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.

(Ex 10:20) But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go.

(Ex 10:27) But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.

(Ex 11:10) And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

And the REASON G-d hardened Pharoah’s heart was so that He could perform all the signs and wonders, and then it would be plain to see that HaShem is G-d, and that He would get His Honour upon Pharaoh.

Ex 10:1-2  (1) And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Go in unto Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these My signs in the midst of them;  (2) and that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what I have wrought upon Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them; that ye may know that I am the LORD.'

(Ex 14:4) And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he shall follow after them; and I will get Me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.' And they did so.

So, there is your answer Mauriac, G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that He could specifically bring all of those signs and wonders upon Egypt, so that His Name would be made GREAT, and that everyone would KNOW that He is HaShem.  Blessings in The Name, ImAHebrew.
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#4
Mauriac -

Just so you know, ImAHebrew is not Jewish. He is certainly entitled to his viewpoint, but it should not be taken to necessarily be in agreement with Jewish viewpoints.
בקש שלום ורדפהו
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#5
Imahebrew,

You are certainly entitled to your opinion but you should state it that way, as your view or opinion.

I see you left out the part where God strengthens Pharaohs heart as you incorrectly wrote "harden" for Exodus 4:21

I think one needs to understand why originally G-d strengthened Pharaohs heart and then hardened it.
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#6
(01-03-2021, 12:27 AM)searchinmyroots wrote: Imahebrew,

You are certainly entitled to your opinion but you should state it that way, as your view or opinion.

I see you left out the part where God strengthens Pharaohs heart as you incorrectly wrote "harden" for Exodus 4:21

I think one needs to understand why originally G-d strengthened Pharaohs heart and then hardened it.

Shalom searhinmyroots, thank you for the correction.  Could you answer what your opinion would be concerning the REASON G-d "strengthened" Pharaoh's heart.  Was Pharaoh's heart "strengthened" to do good, or did G-d "strengthen" his heart to do evil?  And is it your opinion that the exact same word used in Exodus 4:21 for "strengthens" (חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq), is it also used in the following verses where it is translated "hardened":

  (Ex 7:13) And he hardened (strengthens-חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq) Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

  (Ex 7:22) And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (strengthened-חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq), neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said.

(Ex 8:19) Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This [is] the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (strengthened-חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq), and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

  (Ex 9:12) And the Lord hardened (strengthened-חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq) the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses.

  (Ex 9:35) And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened (strengthened-חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq), neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses.

  (Ex 10:20) But the Lord hardened (strengthened-חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq) Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.

  (Ex 10:27) But the Lord hardened (strengthened-חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq) Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.

  (Ex 11:10) And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the Lord hardened (strengthened-חָזַק‬ (ḥāzaq) Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

I will try to follow your suggestion in stating my truthful understanding of the Scriptures, that it is only my view or opinion.  Blessings in The Name, ImAHebrew.
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#7
I have more a question surrounding the word for strengthened, חזק in piel form throughout Exodus. The Christian rendition seems to need the term hardened to fit along the theology, but the Stone Edition Tanach translates the word throughout the verses as strengthened.

Isaiah 63 v. 17 uses the Hebrew word תקשיח, the hiphil form, m.s. for the definition of an actual hardening of the heart. "Why Hashem, do you let us stray from your paths, letting our heart become hardened from fearing you?"

Wouldn't the same term be used, הקשיח, for hardened in Exodus if that meaning was intended?

I have the book by Rabbi Fohrman on the Exodus, temporarily misplaced, and would like to see again what he has written about it.

Edit: Adding. I found the book by Rabbi Fohrman. He makes a distinction between the two words for strengthening, chizuk halev, and hardening, kibbud halev, כבד לב throughout the course of the 10 plagues where Pharaoh's heart goes through changes.

I thought a very good example was in Exodus 7:13 where chizuk halev is used to describe Pharaoh's heart as being strong and not heeding, while the very next verse the term, kibbud halev, Pharaoh's heart is described as being stubborn.

Excellent book, one that demonstrates how the Hebrew language varies with subtle differences describing the changes happening to Pharaoh.
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#8
ImaHebrew,

First, you wrote - "I will try to follow your suggestion in stating my truthful understanding of the Scriptures, that it is only my view or opinion."

Don't try, just do it, thank you!

In Rabbi Fohrman's book "The Exodus You Almost Passed Over" he explains that Pharaoh "strengthened and hardened" his own heart for the first 5 plagues.

It was only during the 6th plague where G-d "interfered" and strengthened Pharaohs heart in Exodus 9:12.

You'll notice the first time Pharaoh admits to sinning in Exodus 9:27. And for the first time it mentions that Pharaoh both hardened and strengthened his heart in (9:34-35) in the same verse and "continued to sin".

So now you see Pharaoh understands he has sinned against the G-d that he now seems to understand is all powerful and not like the other Egyptian gods.

Now G-d in turn "hardens" Pharaoh's heart, after the admittance of sin and recognition of G-d.

So your question is whether it was for good or for evil.

The answer seems to be that G-d allowed Pharaoh to have free will up until the point where he admitted his sin and acknowledgement of G-d.

G-d gave him many chances and saw that Pharaoh did not repent so his chances were up so to speak.

That is the beauty of understanding what is written in Hebrew and is missed in translations.
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#9
Dana,

Glad you found the book!

I pulled mine off the shelf as well knowing this subject was written about in detail.

I think many people overlook the "strengthening and hardening" of the heart and its implications.

Thanks for chiming in!
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