When Pharaoh refuses to release God’s people from slavery, most English translations say that “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen” to Moses’ demand for freedom (Exod 9:12). The Hebrew for “hardened” here is חזק (hazaq) and “heart” is לב (lev). When we read that the Lord “hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” we think of God forcing Pharaoh to act a certain way; it sounds like Pharaoh would let the Israelites go, but God stops him by overriding his autonomy.

However, rather than “harden,” hazaq literally means to “strengthen,” and along with “heart,” lev can also mean “desire” or “will.” Thus, an equally valid translation is that “the Lord strengthened Pharaoh’s will.” Do you see the difference here? For God to strengthen Pharaoh’s will does not mean that God forced him to do something against his will, but just the opposite: it was already Pharaoh’s will to keep the Israelites enslaved, so God strengthened the pharaonic will that was already there.

If you’ll forgive a somewhat crude analogy, there’s a well-known story of parents catching their teenager smoking. Instead of taking the cigarettes away, the parents say, “So you want to smoke cigarettes, do you? Well now we’re going to make you go through the entire pack!” The parental logic here is that the teenager would get so sick that he or she would never want another cigarette again!

While I do not recommend this method for parenting teenagers… it works as an analogy because this is essentially what God (the parent) does to Pharaoh (the teen): God says, “So you refuse to let my people go? Ok, then I’m going to reinforce your stubborn will and watch you go through an entire pack of plagues”! The Lord doesn’t take away Pharaoh’s free will when he refuses to let the people go; rather, God reinforces or strengthens that will.

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119 COMMENTS

  1. This is an important distinction! Thank you for this insight! HaShem did not work outside of the confines of human free will but within its confines to bring about His perfect plan and purpose.

    • This absolutely amazing!!! Thank you Dr Eli. This has been a point of discussion among the bretheren, but none could reveal what your are writing here, and it MAKES ABSOLTELY SENSE!!!

        • This is mere nonsense and juggling for many scientific reasons: -The civilization of the Nile Valley had never known any public office/position/post (king, minister, etc.) whose name or title is “Pharaoh”. -Israeli archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Ze’ev Hertzog (and I myself after them) proved that the Jews had never lived in Egypt and did not “emigrate” or “stray” in Sinai. -The present Egypt had never had this name in history (particularly in the Iron and Bronze ages). The name “מצרים” mentioned in the Torah is derived from the name of the Yemeni city (מצר) = (pronounced in Arabic as: Misr),

          • You and friends are not the first ones to deny biblical accounts. When you and I long gone, these stories will still be around.

          • The word pharaoh ultimately derives from the Egyptian compound pr ꜥꜣ, /ˌpaɾuwˈʕaʀ/ “great house,” written with the two biliteral hieroglyphs pr “house” and ꜥꜣ “column”, here meaning “great” or “high”. It was used only in larger phrases such as smr pr-ꜥꜣ “Courtier of the High House”, with specific reference to the buildings of the court or palace. From the Twelfth Dynasty onward, the word appears in a wish formula “Great House, May it Live, Prosper, and be in Health”, but again only with reference to the royal palace and not the person. During the reign of Thutmose III (c. 1479–1425

          • Sir. Your not being honest. Either you were not there in any archaeological capacity or you were and your falsely reporting what has been found there in an effort to support your own interests. Dont pollute the public discourse with nonsense.

    • The attempt to alter the mean of the text by the use of strengthen does not accomplish its intended purpose. Interestingly, even Jewish versions use stiffen or harden. In every case, God actively “firms” the heart of Pharaoh, causing him to refuse to let God’s people go (Exo 4:21; Rom 9:17-18).

      • The Hebrew text is not “altered” with the English translation of “strengthen.” I’m not sure what your reference to “Jewish versions” gets you… are they more authoritative than other versions? Your final point does not hold, since there are times when Pharaoh hardens (or strengthens) his own heart (e.g., Exod 8:15).

        • How does this significant transliteration shape up against the evidence discovered by Mariette ca.1851 in the contemporary (19-20Th. Dynasty) Serepaeum at Saqqara..?

        • Pharaoh hardened his own heart against letting Gods people go. Determined, Pharaoh belligerently established his intent. God knows the hearts of all obviously, so as I see this in the simplest terms, God said, if that’s the way you want it, it’s now impossible for you to change your mind.

      • God graciously gave him strength of heart which he abused and misused by turning it in a froward way against the Word of the LORD. Through the Psalmist we have the exact promise from the LORD. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen (חֲזַק) thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Psalm 27:14) Pharaoh would later be inexcusable since he was given the strength and stoutness to concede to the LORD’s edict.

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    • Thanks for this theological exegesis and interpretation. God gave Pharaoh a strong freewill to do good, but he wrongly used it for his personal ego and exhibition of power instead of God’s intention for the gift, this is applicable to all human-beings.

  2. I read this story this morning and asked the Lord for a better translation if there was one, and look!!! There it is! God is surely using you in many ways, Dr.Eli. Thank you. Do you think it was a contest of wills with “I am Who I am” and pharao? Pharao thought he was the stronger one, especially as his magicians could copy the first plagues. No, I may have pressed the link twice, but I certainly didn’t say this earlier.

  3. So, honest question, during the time the parents “make” the teen smoke the whole pack does he have the freedom to stop smoking?

  4. Why, do you suppose, most English translations have it as “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” instead of “strengthened Pharaoh’s will”? As Deborah pointed out, this is an important distinction and at least to me, comports more closely with how God normally works through people.

  5. I have purchased a couple of nooks on learning more about Hebrew translation. Book good book good people but over my head, just could not grasp! How are these courses different?

  6. Pharoah’s heart was obviously hardened toward the Israelites from the beginning. These plagues only made him despise them more. The same thing will occur to hard-hearted people during the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

  7. Very POOR Analogy! “Well now we’re going to make you go through the entire pack!” The parents are making the child… ‘MAKING’ the child. The child is in No position of authority and really doesn’t have much of a choice other than to agree or refuse and be in further trouble. Flawed logic on the part of the parents. What happens if the child enjoys smoking? Are you saying GOD was ‘MAKING’ pharaoh’s heart hard? Don’t think so! Pharaoh’s heart was Insensitive, Calloused, Rigid and Inflexible and HaShem, Fortified, Intensified and Reinforced the Pharaoh’s rebellious heart!

    • At 15, my dad caught me smoking. After supper he made me sit down at the kitchen table with him and he put 3 packs of cigarettes on the table. He opened one and and that was the beginning of me smoking one right after another, inhaling, as I smoked. I wasn’t leisurely smoking, I was literally
      Suck, inhale, blow. Before THAT cigarette was done he had another lit and thus it went on til I threw-up on myself. I enjoyed smoking UNTIL this incident.

    • Pharoah’s heart was already unyielding by his nature. His intent towards the children was evil from the beginning and if the Lord sees your intentions He hardens your heart and your resolve so that you carry out your intentions to the fullest without hindrance.

  8. I always thought, that what Moses SAID the Lord said, hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but that was my own take on it.

  9. … or could it be a little more like: Every time Moses came into pharoah’s presence, pharaoh was so antagonistic that he broiled with hostility. It was perhaps a little like the impact Jesus had on demons. When he came near they cried out. It must have been difficult for a man who claimed to be a god to be thwarted by Moses who represented such a challenge to his authority. His mere presence would have made him angry … hard-hearted.

  10. This explanation gives me a new insight to understand that particular verse..For years I’ve been thinking this verse. I thought God must not have been partaking in Pharaoh’s situation. God is love and full of mercy. It was Pharaoh’s will alone to enslave Israelites. Praise God..Shalom

  11. Excellent study! Unfortunately when we don’t want to let go of something…that something becomes stronger…until it (in some cases) gets us in a heap of trouble or it destroys us. I heard when I was younger, that if you want something, just let it go…if it was meant to be yours, it will come back to you. In my life time, I have experienced both sides. A person’s will is powerful however, it is more powerful when it becomes clay in God’s Hands! His Will be done, not mine.

  12. Your interpretations of the Hebrew words are correct. But I think you may need to look at this a bit more broadly, as well as Scripturally. “Will” would make perfect, and clearer, sense when seen in the light of “free will,” which is what God endowed us with from the beginning. God is a respecter of our free will, as it was His gift, to begin with. By strengthening Pharaoh’s will, or free will, he is giving Pharaoh pure freedom to claim responsibility for his own actions. Correct, nothing is forced on Pharaoh; he is purely his own free agent.

    • Michael, Thanks for your explanation; for putting into words the better explanation of the verse. God respects the free will gift He gave to us. I like that. In His great love, Buford.

  13. This distinction seems to echo the passage in Romans 1 where Paul explains that a consequence of sinful man’s refusal to acknowledge God’s authority is the complete freedom to exercise their sinful will and experience the full measure of God’s judgment. Is this a comparable scenario?

  14. “the Lord strengthened Pharaoh’s will” sounds similar to what Paul says in Romans 7:19 “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” I have never made the connection before because I have always seen “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart. Perhaps this idea of a strengthened will also explains why the Samaritans would have understood that “Salvation is from the tribe of Judah” (John 4:22, Rev 5:2). I will have to think on this a while.

    • There seems to be more to it than strengthened Pharaoh’s will. Why can’t Pharaoh “listen” to Moses and why is Moses the one who must pray to God rather than Pharaoh. This is also similar to Paul’s teaching “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

      • Thanks for your points, Kat. Pharaoh, of course, “hears” Moses’ warnings, but he doesn’t act on the information because God has “strengthened his will” to not act. Moses is the one who prays to God because he is God’s representative, whereas Pharaoh is the earthly representative of the Egyptian sun god Ra.

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      • That’s an amazing point. God strengthens us according to the choices we make. He doesn’t go against our will. I hadn’t related it to how God strengthens our heart when we are walking in the Spirit.

  15. I’ve alway looked at this issue from this perspective, correct me if I’m off base. God does not change, or manipulate. The issues is the heart of the Pharaoh. Just as the sun melts wax, It hardens clay. Not unlike those clay bricks Israel was making.

    • Thanks for your comment, Vance. Yes, I think there’s something to this distinction, but remember that God actually does “strengthen” Pharaoh’s will (i.e., make it less amenable to positive change).

      • But does God strengthen Pharaoh’s will (heart) by having Moses confronting him (Pharaoh)? A very prideful man a leader of a great kingdom (country, empire etc.) when confronted by Moses (who is this dude to tell me). Certainly from a human nature his will would be reinforced (strengthen), way to much pride to listen.

        • The issue of Pharaoh’s pride is certainly at play, Jerry. He asks Moses, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go?” (Exod 5:2). He has his own gods and doesn’t take the God of Israel seriously, which reflects his pride.

  16. Thus, an equally valid translation is that “the Lord strengthened Pharaoh’s will.” I do not question the validity of this re-phrasing at all. And I know that God doesnot circumvent our wills, and that He cannot go against his own laws he has set in place, but.. what legal grounds does God have to influence a man’s heart for evil and not good. **For those of you who read this comment, please do not react to this statement as if it were an accusation. There is a court room of heaven. I m asking in that context

    • God knows everything about us He knows when one is beyond saving through ones own choice .God wishes abundant life for us but we keep refusing Him.until we reach a point of no return. Eternal life is promised to believers& obeyers ñonly.

  17. Hebrew clarifies a lot of questions i had when reading the scriptures. I am so thankful and will continue to learn.

  18. Hi Debra, I believe God was acting on the true nature of Pharoah’s heart, what was really hidden inside. Just like people who act kindly externally they have a wicked heart internally and lock it shut except where God has the ability to see through to the deepest parts and judge accordingly. Mark 7:23 may help clarify this teaching.

  19. How does this interpretation play out with Paul’s statement to the Romans in chapter 9? “…17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden. 19One of you will say to me, “Then why does God still find fault? For who can resist His will?”…” (σκληρύνει)

    • Really good question, Jeff. Paul quotes from Exodus 9:16 in Romans 9:17. The very next verse in Exodus (which Paul knows but doesn’t cite) has God telling Pharaoh that despite being raised up for this purpose, “You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go” (Exod 9:17). Thus, Paul’s source text (Exodus 9) explicates that God hardens (or strengthens) Pharaoh, *and* that Pharaoh exalts himself (i.e., strengthens his own will). Paul knows that Pharaoh exercises his own free will according to Exodus, but the point he is trying to make in Romans 9 does not depend on this nuance, so he doesn’t go into it.

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  20. How I regret that an exegesis of this very interesting text is made, and it is overlooked that many English translations omit the divine name (Jehovah) that appears in the Hebrew text and is replaced by Lord (Lord)! I think that is a real attack against the Author of the Hebrew Scriptures. Please, restore your name and do not get carried away by that non-divine tradition of substituting the name of the Divine and the Eternal, for the prophets of God of antiquity never did, not even Moses when he spoke with Pharaoh.

    • Javier, “Jehovah” is not the divine name; it’s is a mistranslation inherited from German translators. No one knows the exact ancient pronunciation of the divine name. The Jewish tradition of substituting God’s personal name for another name (i.e., Lord) is (at least) a 2,000 year old practice, and is operative in the New Testament use of Kyrios (Lord). Matthew’s Gospel circumvents God’s personal name with “Kingdom of Heaven,” rather than “Kingdom of [divine name],” and Jesus cautions against taking oaths that would have included the divine name (Matt 5:34-35).

      • I guess all those videos by scholars from a Jewish background that explain after exhaustive research that the most accurate rendering of the divine name is Yehovah
        must be wrong. Of course, we know that Jesus is also not the real name, but most have no problem with this.

  21. There’s some real straw grasping here. I’ve often wondered if Jonah could be convinced that Yahweh didn’t override his “free will”.

  22. Be Strong Be Strong and be Strengthened. A supplication we say when we have a loss of a loved one. The Strength th continue with life is a gift.

  23. What I mean by “grasping at straws” is that Christians need to take God at His word and stop floundering around with human logic attempting to not “faith” drown in the depths of what we’ll never be able to understand about Him, as He made clear to Job when he couldn’t figure Him out regarding his sad state, and made the fact even plainer in Isaiah. Whether “hardened” or “strengthened” Yahweh interefered with Pharoah’s free will. If Jonah had free will then why didn’t Yahweh honor it, let him go, and chose someone else who would have gone willingly?. Also

    • God chose Jonah because Jonah was a reluctant prophet with anti-Gentile sentiments (Jonah 4:1-3) who needed to learn that God cares for everyone (even Israel’s enemies). God intervenes in order to teach Jonah a lesson, just like God intervenes to teach Pharaoh a lesson, but “intervening” is not the same thing as obviating free will. I can have an intervention for a friend with a drug problem, but no amount of intervention can override my friend’s free will and force him/her into rehab. Similarly, God doesn’t *force* Jonah; rather, Jonah goes to Nineveh on his own free will after God’s intervention.

  24. Right, God chose Jonah, and Jonah’s free will said “run”! You don’t call the storm, and 3 days in a whale belly “force”? … Also in this vein, why did Yahweh blind all Israel to Jesus except for the elect Jews to see Him? Paul said Yahweh interferes in the lives of men to the point of making some vessels of His mercy (saved) and wrath (Hell bound)… Where is free will in “predestination”, which is why many preachers avoid these passages.

    • We can’t conclude that God “forced” Jonah to go to Nineveh, because Jonah goes on his own (3:3). Jonah’s initial obstinance upsets God so God sends a storm, which may constitute intimidation but doesn’t amount to compulsion. Jonah’s time in the fish (not whale) isn’t a punishment to change his mind — it’s God’s way of protecting Jonah from the stormy sea. Your question re Romans 9 is too big to answer here, but Paul’s discussion of “vessels” comes from Jeremiah 18-19. If you read these chapters, you’ll see that they never claim that God “predestines” people (in fact, they say the opposite), so we needn’t read predestination into Paul either.

      • Great comment another way to look at predestination, is God is outside of time, and therefore knows the outcome. Hence if God does not force his will for change, one could say they were predestined. A Stretch maybe, but none the less accurate. The question if God allows someone to be born knowing full well what is going to happen, can be call that predestination in a broad from? Certainly another way to argue the point.

        • Thanks for your questions and comments, Jerry. In order to ascertain whether or not God knows “full well what is going to happen,” or that God is “outside of time,” we would need to look at the biblical text and see if it corroborates these assumptions.

  25. I love, serve, and worship YHWH via Yeshua, in the power of Holy Spirit, in spite of there being much about Him and the intricacies of His oft times perplexing plan that I don’t understand, because for whatever His reasoning (I believe) He predestined me, from before the setting of the foundation of the world to salvation in Messiah. So with that I’m content to let YHWH be raw YHWH, without trying to explain away what doesn’t seem fair, or make sense to my human logic, about Him and His dealings with us … Shalom!

    • Thanks, Rahman. I think “predestination” is a valid topic of discussion. While I don’t see it in Romans 9, it seems to be operative elsewhere (e.g., Eph 1:4-5).

      • With regard to the predestination discussion :>), we need to ask, “What is it we were predestined to or for?” In Eph 1, we (believers in Jesus) are predestined to adoption. It does not say we are predestined for salvation. So those who believe are the ones who, having been placed in Him by the Holy Spirit, are predestined for adoption. Rather than thinking that God chooses individuals for salvation, God predetermined that all those who hear the Gospel and believe are placed in Christ and adopted as adult children. An alternate view to what is mostly taught it seems.

        • This is an important distinction with which I agree, Rex. Thank you very much for your judicious comment.

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  26. Thank you, that is in agreement with the teaching that Rabbi David Foreman gives in his book, “The Exodus You Almost Passed Over”. Excellent book by the way.

  27. So what I’ve heard before: that the verse reads that the Lord allowed Pharoh’s heart to be hardened is incorrect? In other words, the Lord didn’t harden his heart but allowed for Pharoh himself to harden his own heart.

    • Marge, it’s both: sometimes the Lord hardens Pharaoh’s heart (i.e., strengthens his will; e.g., Exod 9:12), and sometimes Pharaoh hardens his own heart (e.g., 8:15, 32). Also, sometimes the text is passive, saying that “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened” (e.g., 7:13-14), and so we don’t know who the “hardener” (or strengthener) was in these cases; it could be Pharaoh or the Lord.

  28. Definitely an intriguing possible interpretation! It’s important to note, however, that three different words are used in this narrative. First, as you pointed out ויחזק vay-chazak ‘and he [God] strengthened’ (Exod. 9:12). But also, ואני אקשה va-ani akshe ‘and I [God] will harden’ (Exod. 7:3), and הכבדתי hikhbadeti ‘I [God] made heavy.’ How would you reconcile the use of words that more clearly mean ‘harden’ or ‘make heavy’ with your interpretation? [As side point, equally interesting question why most translations translate/interpret all 3 as “harden.”]

    • Well noted, Yonatan: there are indeed multiple terms that Exodus uses to describe Pharaoh’s heart. Since אַקְשֶׁה is in the hiphil form at 7:3, I think that it’s best to translate the term “to make stubborn” or “obstinate,” which works equally well as “strengthen” (hazaq) if we’re talking about Pharaoh’s “will” being made more “difficult to work with.” The other term, “kaved” (to make heavy) also works, albeit on a more metaphorical level, to express Pharaoh’s increasingly stubborn will. It’s very interesting that English translations use “harden” for each of these varied terms.

  29. If the LORD strengthened Pharaoh’s will in the state that it was in, doesn’t that amount to exactly what everyone presumes because that’s precisely what it appears to be – that He was hardening his heart of wickedness to remain as it was?

  30. Surely Pharaoh did not have free will on this matter. The plagues which were to follow, culminating in the Passover were an essential part of God’s plan for the salvation of the world. We cannot doubt or question God on this matter.

  31. THE SCRIPTURES translation by the Institute for Scripture Research, Exodus 9:12 says: ” But YHVH strengthened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as YHVH had said to Mosheh.” So God strengthened his heart/will and still he would not listen to them We know he had free will so God let him have it his way. My Mother sometimes let me have it my way if I would not listen to her and I learned that I should listen. Shalom

  32. Very good analogy. This actually is very comparable to the behavior of Yul Brenner playing Pharaoh in the movie The Ten Commandments. No matter what plague was sent to Egypt, Pharaoh just grew in his convictions that the plagues would finally cease and having the Israelites finally return to business as usual.

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  33. This is very interesting to learn. Thank you Dr. Schaser. The way I look at this is like what God did to Elijah when Jezebel cast a spell on him. His mind was completely lost. This is how Pharaoh was when the death of his son came from the last plagues. It make his heart strength but his mind weaken! In other words, God harden the heart and make his mind weaker as if is going to break in pieces with a lost!

    • Thanks, Timothy. Your intuition is correct, because in ancient Israelite thought the “heart” actually means the “mind” (we like to make a distinction between these two, but the biblical writers didn’t do so). The word for “heart” in Hebrew is lev, which along with meaning “heart” also means one’s “will” or “desire” or what one sets her or his “mind” to do. Glad you enjoyed the article.

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      • This gives me another question. I wonder why, in Psalm 16:7, the Hebrew word for kidney(kilyah) is translated variously as “heart” or “mind”. Then,in verse 9, leb is translated “heart” as you would expect. The psalm speaks of receiving counsel in the night. I really love the thought that God can counsel me in the night! Anyways, though, I am wondering what the significance of the kilyah word choice is. Is it considered the same idea as lev in Hebrew thought?
        My own feeling is that since one may lose control of ones kidneys when afraid, perhaps this is a reference to God calming our fears. What are your thoughts on the meaning of this choice?

        • Thanks for your comments and questions, Lois. Yes, the “kidneys” were, like the “heart,” linked with thought and internal rationale in ancient thought (this goes for Israel and neighboring cultures). It would be nice if English translations were consistent, but sometimes the actual words take a backseat to ease of reading for modern audiences.

  34. Thanks for this very interesting discussion. It certainly helped me to a far better understanding of the greatest gift of a free will.

  35. Discussing “free will”, “predestination” and God’s sovereignty gets complicated quickly. Who draws the line between “influencing” someone’s will vs “violating” their “free will”? How free was Paul’s will as he hit the ground on the road to Damascus? There is also variability in how long people are able to maintain a will to do something that seems beyond their power to accomplish. Dr. Stephen Jones did a good article on this subject, and some of the things it is related to, on his daily weblog titled “Our concept of God determines our actions”.

  36. I love your readings ! They are enlightening teachings.
    Next year I want to sign up for your courses and learn more.

    Thank you so much.

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  37. Could this teaching be understood in the way Paul taught that we can be given over to a reprobate mind? If a person insists on having their own way isn’t it still their free will to choose against the Lord as in Romans 1:28? “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over…” Also, concerning our free will – isn’t there a distinction between having free will but we do not get to choose the consequences of those choices?

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  38. “While I do not recommend this method for parenting teenagers…”

    I actually do recommend this method for training of whoever needs training, at whatever age the training is necessary.

    God did it with the quail, too, remember?

    I suppose you could also argue that the disobedience-punishment-contrition-salvation cycle we see in Judges was a similar interaction.

    When our children were young teens and objected to us parenting them vs letting them decide and resolve everything for themselves, we just stepped out of the picture for a while. Then our daughter came to us to say “This not-parenting thing doesn’t work!”

  39. I’ve always wondered it Pharoah’s heart was hardened by God in the same way the clay is hardened by the sun and butter is melted by the sun. That God didn’t put a whammy on Pharoah, but Pharoah’s heart was already in such a condition that in the presence of God, Pharoah’s heart naturally got harder—like clay in the presence of the sun.

  40. As one said ‘the only mention of freewill is freewill offerings’. Romans 9:15-17 15 For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion [Ex 33:19]. 16 So then it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

  41. So YHWH or YHVH no one knows exactly how the divine name is called now? Whichever, Yeshua taught us that He is a lover and a disciplinarian but long suffering.Thus the illustration with cigarettes to me is perfect.Now, “strengthens his will” or” hardens his heart” is because a King’s heart is in the hands of God. God imparts freewill so we can represent Him fully on earth and not to do as pleased, else why punishment. You are bought with a price.

  42. I am absolutely amazed. Why do people want to change what the Bible says? If the hebrew means “strengthen” then God strengthened Pharoah’s will against the Lord’s command. The Lord did it. People are professing Christians but will not let God be God. He “does all things according to his will” Paul says in Eph 1. Pharoah hardened his heart because God in his wonderful wisdom and according to His eternal plan wanted it that way. There’s no talk of “forcing”. God does not force but sovereignly inclines the will of men exactly as they want it.

    • I love this, some of these comments is actualy scary, why does somebody enroll and also deny Israel in Egypt, and Keith you do have a strong point, that I agree to. Dr I also beleive GOD does not force, but explain Paul in Acts.

  43. I believe that “free will” is more God’s “tool”, than it is about our “right to choose. With free will, God can lead us even when we aren’t aware, or even desire to be led. Through a system of “pains” and “pleasures”, avoiding pain, and seeking pleasure!

  44. Thanks a lot for the clarity. You have answered a question I have always had in my entire Christian life. God bless you

  45. A point that gas not been discussed is HOW God hardened his heart. God confronts the claim if divinity. Confrontation provokes a response that is determined by the will and nature of the person confronted. We experience this with people: when confronted with facts some change, some become enraged.

  46. Hi Dr. I have commented under Keith’s comment, that is maybe why you did not see it. Please explain then what happened with Paul then on his way to Damascus. Wasnt that sort of forced. If he did not obey he would probaly not received his eyesight back?

    • Hi, Pepler. Saul wasn’t in a position to obey before his sight was restored. Ananias laid his hands on Saul (Acts 9:17) and then Saul regained his sight; after Saul regained his sight, then he could obey what Jesus had in store for him as an apostle.

  47. This is an absurd manipulation of scripture. Whether you want to say “Hardened his heart” or “strengthened his will” – the result is the same. God wanted pharaoh to stubbornly resist so he could display His power by slaughtering all the first born.

    • Hey Gary, Don’t believe its manipulation but a very important theological question. Arminianism compared to Calvinism. Did God actively make Pharaohs choice for him, (Calvinism) or did God only strengthen Pharaohs choice within him to accomplish God’s purpose.

  48. You also make an analogy about parenting that you admit is an inappropriate method, but, duplicitously claim is a perfectly reasonable justification for God’s efforts to show off, culminating with the wholesale murder of babies.

  49. God simply did not stop Satan from taking a hold over Pharaoh’s heart!! Therefore giving Satan free reign. The provision, the remnant, deliverance & Messiah plan came from the Exodus

    God is a macro God! Hadn’t He sent the plagues. The world would have been in Satan’s hands today. Hallelujah

  50. My question was either deleted or misplaced as I can’t find it. So I’ll try again. Is this thought connected to Romans 1, where God gave over people to a debased mind and sinful behavior? thanks

    • Thanks for your question, Danny. In Romans 1, Paul is not referring to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, in particular, but rather to earlier narratives in Genesis. Rom 1:26 refers to Genesis 6:1-4 and Rom 1:27 refers to Genesis 19:4-5. Then, Romans 1:28-32 is a general extrapolation of Gentile vices based on the prior narrative templates in Genesis.

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