The Midrash in Shemot Rabbah 13:3 asks: Why did Hashem harden Pharaoh’s heart in the first place? Since Hashem hardened Pharaoh’s heart, heretics could argue that Pharaoh had no way of truly repenting as Pharaoh was a puppet of Hashem. The Midrash explains that Hashem tried to reach Pharaoh several times through the first five plagues but that Pharaoh took no notice. Therefore, Hashem resorted to hardening his heart. According to Rashi, Hashem intentionally hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that there would be more plagues brought to the land of Egypt. Seeing more plagues would allow Bnai Yisrael to experience more of Hashem’s signs and wonders.
- Why do you think Hashem hardened Pharaoh’s heart?
- Does Rashi’s suggestion serve as a sufficient justification for Hashem to have brought about more hardships to the Egyptian people? Why or why not?