But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses. Ex. 9:12
God twice predicts he will harden Pharaoh's heart. These two prophetic notices were given to Moses before the whole contest began (Ex 4:21; 7:3). However, if these two occurrences appear to cast the die against Pharaoh, it must be remembered that all God's prophecies to his prophets have a suppressed "unless you repent" attached to them. Few prophecies are unconditional. …
In Pharaoh's case, Pharaoh initiated the whole process by hardening his own heart ten times during the first five plagues…. It was always and only Pharaoh who hardened his heart during these plagues! Rather than letting the work of God soften his heart during these plagues and concluding that Yahweh is the only true God, Pharaoh made this evidence the basis for hardening his heart. …
It appears that Pharaoh reached the limits of his circumscribed freedom during the fifth plague, for after that time, during the last five plagues, God consistently initiated the hardening instead of Pharaoh.
God is not the author of evil. There is no suggestion that he violated the freedom of Pharaoh's will or that God manipulated Pharaoh in order to heap further vengeance on the Egyptian people…. Pharaoh could have cooperated with God….
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), pp. 66-68
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