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Why Did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart? – OpEd

Why Did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart? – OpEd

Departure of the Israelites, (David Roberts, 1829). Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

All humans face various tough tests in their lifetime, as the Qur'an states: "We shall certainly test (all of) you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives, and crops. But [Muhammad], give good news to those who are steadfast, those who say when afflicted with a calamity, 'We belong to God and to Him we shall return.' These will be given blessings and mercy from their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided." (2:155-157);

And everyone wants to be given blessings and mercy from their Lord when they repent of the evil things they have done in their lifetime. Except Pharaoh!;

Why did God harden Pharaoh's heart so that he would have no opportunity to confess his sins, admit his guilt, make public reparations to his victims, and set an example for everyone in Egypt of honest atonement?;

When Prophets Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh again and again, and gave Egypt's Pharaoh an opportunity to let the oppressed Hebrews go; why did he not do it and spare his people and himself decades of plagues, sorrows and deaths.;

As Exodus 3:18 states: "The elders of Israel will listen to what you say, and you must go with them to the king of Egypt and tell him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Now please let us take a three-day [Hajj] journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.";

And again:in Exodus 5:1-4 ";Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, "Thus says the;Lord, the God of Israel, 'Let my people go, that they may hold;a feast for me in the wilderness.';";But Pharaoh said,;"Who is the;Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the;Lord, and moreover,;I will not let Israel go.";Then they said, "The;God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go on a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the;Lord;our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.";;But the king of Egypt said to them, "Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work?"

Pharaoh did not spare his people and himself many years of plagues, sorrows and deaths for the same reasons that Hitler did not surrender or kill himself so others could surrender; when the German Army could not stop or defeat the Normandy invasion. Ego. Power corrupts. Extremist Political and Religious leaders with hardened hearts deserve what they get.;

Yet, nowhere else in any of the books of the Hebrew Bible is it stated that God hardened the heart of a very evil man so he could not repent and escape a just punishment. And Pharaoh was not just an evil man; Pharaoh and the Egyptian people believed that he was a son of God; and so had to be defeated in a way that the Jewish People would remember for thousands of years to come.;

Also according to the Qur'an, when Musa (Moses) was sent by Allah he comes not primarily to warn or rebuke the Children of Israel (his own people) but he is sent "to Pharaoh" ( 20:24, 51:38, 73:15 and 79:17), "to Pharaoh and his chiefs" (al-mala) (7:103, 10:75, 11:97, 23:46, and 43:46) "to Pharaoh and his people" (27:12).;

Musa is sent to Pharaoh to warn him of the destruction that will fall on Egypt if he doesn't stop setting himself up as a God, and doesn't let the Children of Israel go free. Musa comes to rebuke Pharaoh and to rescue the Children of Israel.;

Only when the Jewish People are free from Egyptian bondage will they receive the Torah from God, by the hand of Moses, without any mediation of an angel. "Those who believe (in the Quran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians; any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:62)

The Qur'an relates God's ongoing concern for faithful Jews when Prophet Moses speaks to his people as follows: "O my people! Remember God's favor upon you, for He appointed among you Prophets, and rulers, and He granted to you favors such as He had not granted to anyone else in the worlds" (5:20).

The principle that God can make a covenant with a whole people, and not just with those who are faithful believers, also helps me understand a powerful verse where the Qur'an narrates that at Sinai, before Allah gives the Torah to the Children of Israel, He makes a covenant with them.;

Allah raises the mountain above the whole people saying, "Hold firmly to what We have given you (the Torah) and remember what is in it" (2:63). The whole nation's fate stands under the shadow of mount Sinai, and this explains the miracle of all Israel agreeing to the covenant.;

This may be the reason why Musa is the only prophet whose book comes not from an angel but directly from Allah. Individuals who hear a prophet may choose to believe or disbelieve, but in this case God Almighty makes "an offer that you can't refuse," so, as far as Judaism is concerned, everyone of the Children of Israel has to struggle for all generations to come, with living up to the covenant their ancestors chose to enter into.;

Again Pharaoh was not just an evil man. Pharaoh and the Egyptian people had to be defeated in a very striking way that the Jewish People would remember for thousands of years to come. And Passover is still the most widely observed Jewish ceremony. "When your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'" Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron." (Exodus 12:26-28)

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