Thursday, January 27, 2011

Troubled By God Hardening Pharoah's Heart?

God told Moses to tell Pharoah to set his people free.  Moses did what God asked but Pharoah refused.  Then God sent the plagues to try to help Pharoah understand who really was God and therefore to let his people go.  Plague after plague the scripture says that God hardened Pharoah's heart to no avail.  Many folks are troubled that God would harden Pharoah's heart.  Why would a God of love do that?

So what was going on?  We in our day and time can't see beyond the obvious.  What was happening was a competition to demonstrate who really was God.  But even understanding that we are missing a couple of things that people in that day and time would have understood.

The first key is a better translation of the Hebrew word that was originally translated as hardened.  That translation is heavy.  So God made Pharoah's heart heavy.

The second key is an understanding of the Egyptian process of how to get to the afterlife.  (Having lived in Egypt for hundreds of years, the Hebrews knew all the Egyptian customs.)  The Egyptians believed it was a two step process.  The first step was a "justice examination".  The Egyptian god of Justice was symbolized by a feather.  The examination required putting your heart on the justice scale opposite of the feather of justice.  If you had lived a good and just life, your heart would be lighter than a feather and you would go to the next step of getting to the afterlife.

So, God's actions were making Pharoah's heart more and more heavy as he was unjustly holding the Hebrews in Egypt.  And because of that Pharoah was not going to make it to the afterlife.  Therefore, God wins!

So it was not about making Pharoah's heart hard, it was getting heavier.  And all to prove who really was God.  Hopefully that helps!

Have a blessed day!



  1. This is one question that always troubled me. Thank you for the explanation. Now everytime I look at those scales of justice in my office I will be reminded of God's awesome power!

    Grace & Peace,

  2. I think we talked about this topic in Disciple class a few weeks ago. Reading this again made me think of what might be "heavy" on my heart. What might I do to let God lead me where He wants me to go. Instead of me trying to go where I want to. I actually have been pretty good about that. But, I think there are still some work to be done on me!

    I need to lift myself up so that my heart can be more of a "feather."
    Thanks Marty!

  3. Thanks for the explanation. I always wondered about this. I like your comment, Febe. To have a heart like a feather....HOW AWESOME!!!

  4. I think this "Blogging" might catch on at Bethel and we will all benefit from it as we learn how others may or may not feel about things. Thanks Marty for leading us into the tech world so we can grow through it. And thanks for the education of the difference between a hardened and heavier heart. I have to admit, there are times when my heart is heavy, and there are times that it is light as that feather, and floats with joy in it.

  5. Love Febe's post too! When we stand in His light He shows us the way. It brings us to conviction and makes us heavy hearted, as Febe said. He's been doing it from the beginning of time. How much proof do we need that it's Him doing the heavy work. Just stay close to the Master and live like He makes a difference... others will be drawn to what drew us and then trust that God will continue to be God.