A Hardened Heart and the Removal of the Path to Repentance? פרשת וארא, Parashat Va’era, Bits of Torah Truths – Digging Deeper

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To summarize this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Va’era, we read how God spoke to Moshe and commissioned him to go and deliver Israel from bondage. Moshe had his doubts about his own ability to speak, and the Lord brought Aaron to be his spokesman. (Shemot / Exodus 6:2-30). The Lord God then assures Moshe that He will be with him and he is to go before Pharaoh and speak only the words that He commands. (Shemot / Exodus 7:1-7). We read about Moshe’s staff turning into a snake (Shemot / Exodus 7:8-13) and then the water of the Nile was turned into blood (Shemot / Exodus 7:14-25), the plague of frogs was next (Shemot / Exodus 8:1-15), the plague of insects (Shemot / Exodus 8:16-32), Pharaoh and Egyptian livestock die (Shemot / Exodus 9:1-7) the plague of boils (Shemot / Exodus 9:8-17), and the plague of hail (Shemot / Exodus 9:18-35). According to Shemot / Exodus 7:1-3 we read the following, א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה רְאֵה נְתַתִּיךָ אֱלֹהִים לְפַרְעֹה וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ יִהְיֶה נְבִיאֶךָ: ב אַתָּה תְדַבֵּר אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּךָּ וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ יְדַבֵּר אֶל-פַּרְעֹה וְשִׁלַּח אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל מֵאַרְצוֹ: ג וַאֲנִי אַקְשֶׁה אֶת-לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת-אֹתֹתַי וְאֶת-מוֹפְתַי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: 7:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 7:2 ‘You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. 7:3 ‘But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. (NASB) What is interesting is how the Lord tells Moshe saying, וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה רְאֵה נְתַתִּיךָ אֱלֹהִים לְפַרְעֹה “And God said unto Moshe, see I have made you elohim (god) to Pharaoh.” According to Midrash Rabbah Parashat 8 Part 1, the rabbis interpret אֱלֹהִים לְפַרְעֹה to mean “Pharaoh appointed himself as god.” We find this interpretation in the Scriptures when we read how Pharaoh claimed the Nile as his saying he created it. (Ezekiel 29:3 Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself. King. KJV) We note how in Egypt Pharaoh was the supreme commander of the army and navy, he was also chief justice of the royal court and high priest of the Egyptian religion. Pharaoh was considered a god by his people, the reincarnation of the Egyptian god Horus. Pharaoh’s likes and dislikes were sacred rulings, the same as the laws of the Egyptian gods. So Pharaoh had proclaimed himself as a god over the Nile, over the nation, and over the world. The response that God gives to this type of arrogance is the purpose of the Lord God Almighty appointing Moshe as Pharaoh’s god so as to humble him such that He admits that the Lord God of Israel is the only God in heaven and earth. One of the reasons that the Lord God made him to be a god over Pharaoh was so that he would listen to what Moshe said. (Rabbeinu Bahya, Shemot / Exodus 7:1 Part 1) The way we understand this, God gave Moshe a stature that Pharaoh could not ignore, and God appointed Aaron as Moshe’s spokesperson. Note the text states, וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ יִהְיֶה נְבִיאֶךָ “and Aaron your brother will be your prophet.” The Targum Onkelos translates as the following, וַאֲמַר יְיָ לְמשֶׁה חֲזֵי דְמַנִיתָךְ רַב לְפַרְעֹה וְאַהֲרֹן אָחוּךְ יְהִי מְתוּרְגְמָנָךְ saying Aaron will be a מְתוּרְגְמָנָךְ “interpreter.” Rashi’s interpretation is the following:

Rashi on Shemot / Exodus 7:1 Part 2
יהיה נביאך [AARON] SHALL BE THY PROPHET — This must be understood as the Targum takes it: thy interpreter. Similarly, wherever this term of נָבִיא is mentioned it refers to a man who publicly proclaims and utters to the people words of reproof. It is of the same derivation as, (Isaiah 57:19) “utterance (ניב) of the lips”; (Proverbs 10:31) “it utters (ינוב) wisdom”; (I Samuel 10:13) “he made an end of proclaiming (התנבות)”, which is in the book of Samuel. In old French we call him predicar; English preacher.

Note Rashi concludes this word נָבִיא is a reference to one who proclaims reproof, the one who is called Navi (נָבִיא) is commissioned by God. Ibn Ezra notes the reason for God doing these things was to elevate Moshe and Aaron to a higher rank than Pharaoh so that Pharaoh would revere them. In addition to this commissioning, they are to speak only the words God gives them to say.
The Scriptures we are looking at for this week are from Shemot / Exodus 7:1-13.

ספר שמות פרק ז
א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה רְאֵה נְתַתִּיךָ אֱלֹהִים לְפַרְעֹה וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ יִהְיֶה נְבִיאֶךָ: ב אַתָּה תְדַבֵּר אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּךָּ וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ יְדַבֵּר אֶל-פַּרְעֹה וְשִׁלַּח אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל מֵאַרְצוֹ: ג וַאֲנִי אַקְשֶׁה אֶת-לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת-אֹתֹתַי וְאֶת-מוֹפְתַי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: ד וְלֹא-יִשְׁמַע אֲלֵכֶם פַּרְעֹה וְנָתַתִּי אֶת-יָדִי בְּמִצְרָיִם וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶת-צִבְאֹתַי אֶת-עַמִּי בְנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בִּשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים: ה וְיָדְעוּ מִצְרַיִם כִּי-אֲנִי יְהֹוָה בִּנְטֹתִי אֶת-יָדִי עַל-מִצְרָיִם וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל מִתּוֹכָם: ו וַיַּעַשֹ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָֹה אֹתָם כֵּן עָשֹוּ: ז וּמֹשֶׁה בֶּן-שְׁמֹנִים שָׁנָה וְאַהֲרֹן בֶּן-שָׁלשׁ וּשְׁמֹנִים שָׁנָה בְּדַבְּרָם אֶל-פַּרְעֹה: פ [רביעי] ח וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר: ט כִּי יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵכֶם פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר תְּנוּ לָכֶם מוֹפֵת וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל-אַהֲרֹן קַח אֶת-מַטְּךָ וְהַשְׁלֵךְ לִפְנֵי-פַרְעֹה יְהִי לְתַנִּין: י וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן אֶל-פַּרְעֹה וַיַּעֲשֹוּ-כֵן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָֹה וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אַהֲרֹן אֶת-מַטֵּהוּ לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה וְלִפְנֵי עֲבָדָיו וַיְהִי לְתַנִּין: יא וַיִּקְרָא גַּם-פַּרְעֹה לַחֲכָמִים וְלַמְכַשְּׁפִים וַיַּעֲשֹוּ גַם-הֵם חַרְטֻמֵּי מִצְרַיִם בְּלַהֲטֵיהֶם כֵּן: יב וַיַּשְׁלִיכוּ אִישׁ מַטֵּהוּ וַיִּהְיוּ לְתַנִּינִם וַיִּבְלַע מַטֵּה-אַהֲרֹן אֶת-מַטֹּתָם: יג וַיֶּחֱזַק לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְלֹא שָׁמַע אֲלֵהֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָֹה:

Shemot / Exodus 7:1-13
7:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 7:2 ‘You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. 7:3 ‘But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 7:4 ‘When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. 7:5 ‘The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.’ 7:6 So Moses and Aaron did it; as the Lord commanded them, thus they did. 7:7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh. 7:8 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 7:9 ‘When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’‘ 7:10 So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 7:11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. 7:12 For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 7:13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. (NASB)

There are a number of interesting aspects of this text from Shemot / Exodus 7:1-13. One of these interesting things is what we read in Shemot / Exodus 7:3, ג וַאֲנִי אַקְשֶׁה אֶת-לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת-אֹתֹתַי וְאֶת-מוֹפְתַי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: 7:3 ‘But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. (NASB) The Lord tells Moshe that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that Moshe knows what the expected outcome will be when he goes before Pharaoh to command that he let his people go. The point was that those who do not know God wickedly resist the calling of the Lord. Because of these things, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart further such that he could multiply his miracles in the land of Egypt. The outcome that we should be looking for is when hearing the Word of the Lord God in heaven, we should be motivated to pursue a deeper and more obedient relationship with our Father God in heaven. In Pharaoh’s case, this did not happen. Ibn Ezra asks the question “If HaShem hardened his heart, what was his sin?” (Ibn Ezra on Shemot / Exodus 7:3 Part 1) The answer is that the Lord gives wisdom to man and places insight into his heart to be able to do what is right and detract from doing evil. We know what we should be doing, but there are times we go against what we know to be right and sin. Many people question whether the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was just in the sense of “if God was the one doing the hardening, how could God justify bringing the plagues upon him and the Egyptians seeing that these people were acting under duress?” (Rabbeinu Bahya, Shemot 7:3 Part 1-4) The question is how can we reconcile this with the concept of a fair and just God? The Scriptures say וַאֲנִי אַקְשֶׁה אֶת-לֵב פַּרְעֹה “I will harden the heart of Pharaoh” so there is a divine inspired obstinacy and refusal to repent and change his ways. How do we reconcile this with Scripture? The answer is that Pharaoh had already been a confirmed sinner, having committed other sins which lead unto death and the rabbis say this forfeited his right to perform Teshuvah (repentance). Note how the sin of Pharaoh was not simply a refusal to let the people go. His sins included idolatry and his position as Pharaoh elevated him in the position of a god to the people. There is much more in the details than we realize requiring more thought and study on the topic to understand why the Lord God of Israel would harden his heart. Now based upon the text, we are able to see Pharaoh’s original sin, this is found in Shemot / Exodus 1:8-9, ח וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ-חָדָשׁ עַל-מִצְרָיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדַע אֶת-יוֹסֵף: ט וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל-עַמּוֹ הִנֵּה עַם בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל רַב וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ: 1:8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 1:9 He said to his people, ‘Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. (NASB) Now we note what Pharaoh did, he used the increase in births and number of people of the children of Israel as a pretext to justify killing their children. This was done without interference from God and so the time has come to face judgment, and this judgment came in the form of what we read according to Shemot / Exodus 7:3, ג וַאֲנִי אַקְשֶׁה אֶת-לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת-אֹתֹתַי וְאֶת-מוֹפְתַי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: 7:3 ‘But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. (NASB) Because of Pharaoh’s great wickedness, he was not given the choice to repent. The rabbis say the proof of this is found in the Story of Nineveh where the Lord God accepted their repentance and they escaped punishment. A Midrashic approach to this is based on Midrash Rabbah on Shemot / Exodus Parashat 13 Part 3.

Midrash Rabbah on Shemot Parashat 13 Part 3
דָּבָר אַחֵר, כִּי אֲנִי הִכְבַּדְתִּי אֶת לִבּוֹ, אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִכָּאן פִּתְחוֹן פֶּה לַמִּינִין לוֹמַר לֹא הָיְתָה מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: כִּי אֲנִי הִכְבַּדְתִּי אֶת לִבּוֹ. אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן לָקִישׁ יִסָּתֵם פִּיהֶם שֶׁל מִינִים, אֶלָּא (משלי ג, לד): אִם לַלֵּצִים הוּא יָלִיץ, שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַתְרֶה בּוֹ בָּאָדָם פַּעַם רִאשׁוֹנָה שְׁנִיָּה וּשְׁלִישִׁית וְאֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר בּוֹ, וְהוּא נוֹעֵל לִבּוֹ מִן הַתְּשׁוּבָה כְּדֵי לִפְרֹעַ מִמֶּנּוּ מַה שֶּׁחָטָא. אַף כָּךְ פַּרְעֹה הָרָשָׁע, כֵּיוָן שֶׁשִּׁגֵּר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא חָמֵשׁ פְּעָמִים וְלֹא הִשְׁגִּיחַ עַל דְּבָרָיו, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַתָּה הִקְשֵׁיתָ עָרְפְּךָ וְהִכְבַּדְתָּ אֶת לִבְּךָ, הֲרֵינִי מוֹסִיף לְךָ טֻמְאָה עַל טֻמְאָתְךָ, הֱוֵי: כִּי אֲנִי הִכְבַּדְתִּי אֶת לִבּוֹ. מַהוּ הִכְבַּדְתִּי, שֶׁעָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת לִבּוֹ כַּכָּבֵד הַזֶּה שֶׁהִיא מִתְבַּשֶׁלֶת שְׁנִיָּה וְאַרְטָסִיס נִכְנָס בְּתוֹכָהּ, כָּךְ נַעֲשָׂה לִבּוֹ שֶׁל פַּרְעֹה כַּכָּבֵד הַזֶּה וְלֹא הָיָה מְקַבֵּל דְּבָרָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, הֱוֵי: כִּי אֲנִי הִכְבַּדְתִּי אֶת לִבּוֹ וגו’:

Another explanation: For I have hardened his heart – Rabbi Yochanan said: Does this not provide heretics with an opportunity to open their mouths to say that he had no means of repenting, as it say “For I have hardened his heart.” Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said to him: Let the mouths of the heretics be stopped up. Rather, (Mishlei 3:34) If it concerns the scorners, he scorns them. When the Holy One Blessed be He warns a man once, twice, thrice and he doesn’t repent, and G-d will close his heart against repentance so that He should not exact vengeance from him for his sins. So to with the wicked Pharaoh, since Hashem sent five times to him and he took no notice, G-d then said: “You have stiffened your neck and hardened your heart; well, I will add impurity to your impurity.” Hence, “For I have hardened his heart.” What does “I have hardened” imply? That G-d made his heart like a liver (כבד) into which even if boiled a second time no juice enters; so also was the heart of Pharaoh made like a liver, and he did not receive the words of G-d. Hence, “For I have hardened his heart.”

Rabbi Yochanan questions whether this gives heretics opportunity to claim that Pharaoh had no opportunity to repent laying blame on God? Rabbi Shimon son of Lakish replied to the contrary saying that this verse answers the heretics claims as Solomon states according to Mishley / Proverbs 3:34 לד אִם-לַלֵּצִים הוּא יָלִיץ וְלַעֲנָיִים [וְלַעֲנָוִים] יִתֶּן-חֵן: “at the scoffers He scoffs, but to the humble He shows grace.” The Torah reveals to us that the Lord had given Pharaoh three successive warnings but he failed to respond to any of them. Because of this the Lord God closed the door to repentance. As we read on in the Torah, we see it is only after the 5th plague the text states that “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” using the transitive form instead of the intransitive form. (Compare Shemot / Exodus 8:28 to 9:12)

ספר שמות פרק ח
כח וַיַּכְבֵּד פַּרְעֹה אֶת-לִבּוֹ גַּם בַּפַּעַם הַזֹּאת וְלֹא שִׁלַּח אֶת-הָעָם:

ספר שמות פרק ט
יב וַיְחַזֵּק יְהוָֹה אֶת-לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְלֹא שָׁמַע אֲלֵהֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה:

We see that in these two verses, different words are used. Let’s look at how these words are used in the Hebrew Language in order to get a better sense of what the Lord God is doing in Pharaoh.

כָּבַד (v) heb
to be heavy, be weighty, be grievous, be hard, be rich, be honourable, be glorious, be burdensome, be honoured
(Qal)
to be heavy
to be heavy, be insensible, be dull
to be honoured
(Niphal)
to be made heavy, be honoured, enjoy honour, be made abundant
to get oneself glory or honour, gain glory
(Piel)
to make heavy, make dull, make insensible
to make honourable, honour, glorify
(Pual)
to be made honourable, be honoured
(Hiphil)
to make heavy
to make heavy, make dull, make unresponsive
to cause to be honoured
(Hithpael)
to make oneself heavy, make oneself dense, make oneself numerous
to honour oneself

חָזַק (v) heb
to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore
(Qal)
to be strong, grow strong
to prevail, prevail upon
to be firm, be caught fast, be secure
to press, be urgent
to grow stout, grow rigid, grow hard (bad sense)
to be severe, be grievous
to strengthen
(Piel)
to make strong
to restore to strength, give strength
to strengthen, sustain, encourage
to make strong, make bold, encourage
to make firm
to make rigid, make hard
(Hiphil)
to make strong, strengthen
to make firm
to display strength
to make severe
to support
to repair
to prevail, prevail upon
to have or take or keep hold of, retain, hold up, sustain, support
to hold, contain
(Hithpael)
to strengthen oneself
to put forth strength, use one’s strength
to withstand
to hold strongly with

We note how in Shemot / Exodus 8:28, Pharaoh is essentially glorifying his own heart in pride. In Shemot / Exodus 9:12, The Lord God is strengthening his heart in order to continue so that God can show his power to deliver Israel. Note the significance of Shemot / Exodus 9:16, טז וְאוּלָם בַּעֲבוּר זֹאת הֶעֱמַדְתִּיךָ בַּעֲבוּר הַרְאֹתְךָ אֶת-כֹּחִי וּלְמַעַן סַפֵּר שְׁמִי בְּכָל-הָאָרֶץ: “Nevertheless I have spared you for this purpose: in order to show you My power, and in order that My fame may resound throughout the world.” This is synonymous to what we read according to Ezekiel 38:23 וְהִתְגַּדִּלְתִּי וְהִתְקַדִּשְׁתִּי וְנוֹדַעְתִּי לְעֵינֵי גּוֹיִם רַבִּים, “Thus will I be exalted and sanctified and become known in the eyes of many nations, etc.” A few things we learn from this week’s Torah portion the rabbis summarize quite well in their commentaries, Tur HaAroch and Rabbeinu Bahya on these verses, in answer to the question about God hardening the heart of Pharaoh:

  1. Pharaoh, in his wickedness, had unjustifiably treated the Jews terribly, so he was punished with the withdrawal of the path of repentance, and there are many verses regarding this in the Torah and the Writings, and he was punished for his original deeds.
  2. Only the second half of the ten plagues were brought upon Egypt due to Pharaoh’s transgressions, as the Torah states, And Pharaoh’s heart was strengthened, (Shemot / Exodus 7:13, 7:26, 8:15), and Pharaoh hardened his heart (Shemot / Exodus 8:28, 9:7). He did not want to send the Jews out of Egypt for the glory of God; rather, when the plagues increased and he was becoming too worn out to withstand them, his heart softened and he decided to send them out because of the severity of the plagues themselves, but not in order to do the will of The Creator.
  3. God strengthened his spirit and gave courage to his heart so that His Name would be declared “throughout the world,” as we read: Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself, and I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am Adonai. (Ezekiel 38:23).
  4. Pharaoh was punished for the excess cruelty he displayed. This was not due to God’s interfering with his free will, but to a flaw in his character as a human being. People who display this degree of inhumanity of man to man, are denied the opportunity to return to G’d in penitence. This is described in Ethics of our fathers as שֶׁמִּצְוָה גּוֹרֶרֶת מִצְוָה (mitzvah goreret mitzvah) וַעֲבֵרָה גּוֹרֶרֶת עֲבֵרָה (averah goreret averah) meaning “one good deed will bring another good deed, one transgression will bring another transgression.” The commission of deliberate sins brings in its wake the commission of more sins and yet more sins. There are numerous verses in Scripture confirming this principle.
  5. If you will examine the text of the ten plagues you will observe that God did not interfere with Pharaoh’s decision making brain or heart until after the fifth plague. The wording of the first five plagues describes that Pharaoh’s obstinacy in resisting God and Moses up until then was entirely spontaneous, not reinforced by any attempt of God to coerce his behavior. During the last five plagues, when Pharaoh had initially indicated a preparedness to comply with God’s request and to let the people go, at least for a vacation of a religious nature, he reneged on his promises as soon as the plague had been called off by Moses. Some commentators simply see in the words ואני אקשה את לבו, not an interference with Pharaoh’s free will, but a device that enabled him to endure the plagues without collapsing. This, as a corollary, made him feel that he was strong enough to withstand anything God would try and do to him.

In this week’s Torah portion, there are many things that have a lot of application for us today. We note Pharaoh’s inhumanity towards Israel. Consider what is going on today in government, the corruption along with the domestic terror groups Antifa and Black Lives Matters, the rioting, beating, killing, and burning of personal and public property, etc. This is a form of inhumanity that we see taking place today! We see how Pharaoh had the path to repentance withdrawn from him due to his sin. To what extent do we have to sin to have this same thing happen to us? Is it possible to have this to occur to us if we say we believe in Yeshua the Messiah? Following in the ways of the world and loving it may lead to not having the option to repent and turn from the wicked ways. We note how there is both a blessing and a curse in the last chapter of the book of revelation! We read the following according to Revelation 22:11 ‘Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.’ (NASB) Note how this follows through with the concept of שֶׁמִּצְוָה גּוֹרֶרֶת מִצְוָה, וַעֲבֵרָה גּוֹרֶרֶת עֲבֵרָה (“one good deed will bring another good deed, one transgression will bring another transgression.”) This is a blessing and a curse in the sense as the one who walks in God’s ways and seeks the Lord God in heaven and His Messiah Yeshua may he continue to do so, and for the wicked, their sins will require of them more and more sins. This illustrates to what extent we should strive to not sin! Based upon my observation of the world, I would go even as far as to say that there are many Christians in name only where liberal ideologies cause them to agree with what is going on in this world and the current state of corruption in government and domestic terror groups! This week’s study is a reminder to us in this present age to draw near to the Lord in His Word, and in His Messiah Yeshua!

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Dr. Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!