Exodus 11 – Did God actually harden Pharaoh’s heart?


So the question came up in a bible study my sister was doing on Exodus 11, did God actually harden Pharaoh’s heart and then turn around and punish him with plagues for that same hardened heart?

Such an interesting question because the text really makes God look like a “bad guy” if that is in fact what happened.

God may not have specifically hardened his heart but rather God “allowed” it to happen.  My sister passed on this website to help understand this question.
In other places in the Bible there are many references to God “allowing” bad things to happen (see Job for instance).  All God has to do is sit back for a few minutes and left to ourselves, bad things are sure to happen!   God knows the hearts of man.  He isn’t “guessing” at what will happen or where our “free will” will lead us.  Just like He wasn’t guessing or messing with Pharaoh’s free will.  God already knew where his heart was at.
Maybe with Pharaoh too, the fact that God exists, contributed to Pharaoh’s own difficulty in submission.  After all, Pharaoh was set up as a “God” himself, here on earth and yet he was unable to “compete” with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph.  So I’m sure that would be humiliating and such, which just fuels the stubborn, prideful, ego driven streak within Pharaoh.
It makes sense.
God knows this, God knows men, God knows what is in each one of our hearts.
One of the radio Pastors I listen too made a comment a long time ago about how God can do anything.  And if there is a way to grant free will to people and yet also determine before the creation of the world, who would be saved and who wouldn’t, well…God is able.
That is something we can’t personally fathom but then again, we aren’t God either!
So many ways to approach this topic but I think I like the “God allowed it to happened” the best because it is supported so many other places in the Bible.
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