The Plagues
by Bobby Bruno

When Moses finally stopped arguing with God about his being the one God wanted to go to Pharaoh, he went with his brother Aaron to meet with this great ruler who had enslaved the entire Hebrew nation. God had warned Moses that He was going to harden Pharaoh's already stubborn heart, making sure that Pharaoh would not release the slaves until God had shown him just who this God was who demanded that His people be let go. At each visit by Moses and Aaron into Pharaoh's throne room God hardened Pharaoh's heart more and more so that He could show Pharaoh His might and power over life, death, nature, and hard hearts. Even though God knew that Pharaoh would refuse to let His people go, He kept giving Pharaoh one chance after another to set them free of his own will. It was not that God hardened a heart that was soft towards Him; it was that God only hardened further what was a heart already hard as stone.

There are three words that Moses used to describe the details of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. These three words are: Kabed to be heavy: as falling on deaf ears that are closed tight to what is being said; Hazaq to be strong, hard: hardheaded and stiff; and Qasa to be hard, difficult, severe: will not change their mind no matter how they are persuaded to. Moses chose these three ways of describing Pharaoh's heart at each plague because, as Pharaoh's anger grew against Moses and his God, he hardened his heart tighter and tighter, refusing to bow down to Moses or his God. In verse 4:21, Moses used the Hebrew word (hazaq) to show that God hardened Pharaoh's heart to make him obstinate and hardheaded to anything Moses related from God. In verse 8:32, Moses used the word (kabed) to show that Pharaoh himself hardened his own heart, refusing to really hear anything Moses said by closing off his ears and letting the words fall away unheard and understood. In verse 14:4, Moses used the word (qasa) to show that God hardened Pharaoh's heart and made it stubborn; Pharaoh would simply not heed the words and commands of Moses and nothing else said could sway Pharaoh to change his mind.

The usages of these three words tell us that Pharaoh was not about to give in to a god he had never seen and a man (Moses) who betrayed his own people (the Egyptians) and the brother (Pharaoh) he once knew and enjoyed life with as youths.. Moses betrayal of the people who raised him, nurtured him and taught him made Pharaoh deaf to Moses words and stubborn to Moses demands. In the end, it was God Himself who proved Himself to Pharaoh. It was God Himself who helped to harden Pharaoh's heart so that He could show His might and power to a man who considered himself the most powerful man on the earth. And it was God Himself who showed Pharaoh just who held the power over of creation and the power over life and death. In the end, Pharaoh's own hard heart caused more pain and suffering for himself and his people than it had for the Israelites he thought he controlled and owned. God will break all hard hearts in His time. Pharaoh found that out the "hard" way.


Hamilton, V. (1982, 2005). Handbook of the Pentateuch, second edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love.  He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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