Finding Ourselves In The Bible
“For I have hardened his (Pharaoh’s) heart and the hearts of his servants … “ (Exodus 10:1)
On my list of most frequently asked questions is: Why does God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Why did God not simply “soften” Pharaoh’s heart, show him the error of his ways, and bring about the emancipation of the Hebrews in a peaceful and loving way?
Without question, Pharaoh’s arteriosclerosis is a complex subject. Traditional Jewish commentators point out that early in the encounters between Moses and Pharaoh, the text states: “Pharaoh’s heart stiffened,” (Exodus 7:22; 8:15) or “Pharaoh became stubborn” (Exodus 8:10; 8:28). Later, (beginning with Exodus 9:12) the text begins to say, “The Eternal One stiffened Pharaoh’s heart.”
This shift, according to the commentators, reflects the view that inertia—the unchecked hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (his stubbornness)—took the matter out of Pharaoh’s hands, and evil took on a life of its own.
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Published by slfuchs
Loving husband, father, grandfather and rabbi. Author of, "What's in It for Me? Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives,” "ToraHighlights,” “Why the Kof?,” “Why Triple Chai?,” "Who Created God?," and "...And Often the First Jew."
On October 17, 2017, Rabbi Fuchs was selected as the recipient of the Vanderbilt Divinity School's Distinguished Alumnus Award. To be considered for this award, one must demonstrate excellence and distinction in justice-making through their efforts in congregational ministry, religious institutions, non-denominational/all-inclusive organizations, community–based organizations, government, or other social institutions.
Spent last four falls serving in Milan, Italy, (2013) and Germany (2014-2016). Otherwise, he enjoy writing and speaking after serving three congregations and as President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
He is currently serving as Rabbi of Bat Yam Temple of the Islands, Sanibel, Florida.
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