Bo: Tough Times for Pharaoh

The Midrash in Shemot Rabbah 13:3 asks: Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart in the first place?  Since God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, heretics could argue that Pharaoh had no way of truly repenting as Pharaoh was a puppet of God. The Midrash explains that God tried to reach Pharaoh several times through the first five plagues but that Pharaoh took no notice. Therefore, God resorted to hardening his heart. According to Rashi, God 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 God’s signs and wonders.

  • Why do you think God hardened Pharaoh’s heart?
  • Does Rashi’s suggestion serve as a sufficient justification for God to have brought about more hardships to the Egyptian people? Why or why not?
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