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Did God force Pharaoh to do evil by hardening his heart?

Exod. 1:8-14 “{Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; "come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land." Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage-- in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor."

Israel had spent a peaceful time in the land of Egypt until a new Pharaoh arose and was threatened by their numbers.

V.15-16 “Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, "When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live."

He began his assault by killing the firstborn sons. Clearly the Devil was active in Egypt when Israel was under this new Pharaoh's jurisdiction, as He was behind the Pharaoh’s abusiveness toward the Jews.

We first see the Lord tell Moses what he is going to do and what is to transpire in the near future.

Exod. 4:21-23: “And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD: "Israel is My son, My firstborn. "So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn."'"

There were to be ten wonders in all, each time a sign was given judgment would be delivered for the purpose of freeing Israel. These become more severe as the months go by (approximately 6 months). God tells Moses exactly how it is going to go down.

Exod. 7:3-5 “And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them."

As Moses goes to Pharaoh to confront him, it begins to unravel as God said beforehand.

Exod. 8:15: “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.”

The Egyptian magicians continued to imitate the signs performed by Moses and Aaron (beginning at the first sign the staffs of the magicians, turned into serpents and were swallowed by Aaron's rod, 7:12-13). Now the magicians acknowledged, "This is the finger of God" (8:19). They understood the difference between their powers and what was of God.

Exod. 8:31-9:1: “And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.”

The first few times Pharaoh is allowed to act according to his own inclination and he hardens his own heart, refusing to repent.

The Lord the hardens his heart, after Pharaoh has hardened his heart to the point of no repenting. His sentence is secure by his own will. Where it said that Pharaoh hardened his heart it now states The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh. The hardening of Pharaoh is attributed to God, in Exod. 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:8.

Exod. 9:11-12: “And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians. But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.”

Exod. 9:34-35 “And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses.

We can see that God was working with Pharaoh’s own human volition. But Egypt’s king is becoming incensed to the word of God brought by Moses, and unaffected by the miracles that are judgments over him and his kingdom.

Exod.od.10:1-2 “Now the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son's son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD."

The Lord was behind Pharaoh who would not submit to God’s request through Moses.

Exod. 10:19-20: “There remained not one locust in all the territory of Egypt. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go. “

Exod. 10:27-29: “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, "Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!" And Moses said, "You have spoken well. I will never see your face again."

Each time Pharaohs heart is hardened he is becomes more bitter and loses his humanity. The next time you see my face you will die is another threat. He is fed up with this battle of gods, and is trying to intimidate Moses to submit to him rather than God.

Exod. 11:9-10: “But the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh will not heed you, so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt." So 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.”

Finally in the last plague of the firstborn being slain was to bring Pharaoh back to the beginning when the law

Exod. 14:5-8: “Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, "Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness.”

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and we are also told that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (4 times). Both statements are true and do not contradict each other. There was no hope of convincing or converting Pharaoh, so his heart would be hardened by God (6 times; 10 times in all). God did not allow him to change his mind and Pharaoh was given no room to do anything else but what his own sinful heart dictated.

The LORD hardening Pharaoh’s heart was in reference to the bricks that were hardened by the hot sun in which the Israelites worked as they were mistreated as slaves. Each time a sign was given through Moses, it judged the Egyptians gods. They sequentially became more severe until God paid him back for what he had done to Israel killing their firstborn sons (Exod.1:15-16 if it is a son, then you shall kill him)

The word hardened consists of three different Hebrew words used to describe Pharaoh’s condition of the heart, The first is the verb kabed which has the idea of ‘to be heavy, insensible, or dull,’ it is used in 7:14; 8:15,32; and 9:7,34. The New Testament word used is qasah which conveys the sense of ‘being hard, severe, or fierce.’ it has the sense of ‘making difficult.’ There are two occurrences of this term, one in 7:3 and the other in 13:15. The final term used for hardening is hazaq, which is one of the strongest terms employed, meaning ‘to be or grow firm, strong.’ It describes ‘growing stout, to be inflexible, or hard.’ Pharaoh hardened his own heart more and more each time he resisted the demands of God. This is clearly indicated in a number of the passages (7:13, 14, 22; 8:15,19, 32; 9:7, 34-35; 13:15). It is clearly stated that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (7:3; 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8,17).

The fact of God hardening Pharaohs heart in the end did not override his own choice, he continually refused mercy from God and chose to do evil to the people God wanted to set free.

Rom 9:17-18 “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.”

This act of God is a judicial one and sovereignly brings about the final outcome for God’s glory. God is perfectly just in his judgments.

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