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Exodus 4:21 reads:

The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. NIV

Are we told in Exodus why God would send Moses to free the Israelites, and yet harden the Pharaoh's heart so he would refuse, just to then unleash his punishment on him and his people?

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    This is really more of a doctrinal question than a textual one. Unless your question is "does the text really say this", it quickly gets into a realm of theology that only a doctrinal framework can reasonably address, and that's generally beyond the scope of this site. On the other hand it would be fair to ask this on Christianity instead, but only with the inclusion of a specific theological tradition which will limit the scope of answers to how that tradition deals with the issue. – Caleb Dec 18 '14 at 20:20
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    This may also be feasible on Judaism.SE if you are looking for that perspective. Before asking elsewhere, please check out these related questions. On Judaism.SE: Did hardening Paro's heart mean he wasn't really responsible?; on BH.SE: Did Pharaoh have free will?; and on C.SE: What does it mean when God hardens a heart?. – Susan Dec 18 '14 at 22:13
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    @JackDouglas How do you read it? Anything that asks "Why would God do do X" (especially the use of "would") suggests to me a doctrinal question that can only be fully addressed by a theological framework rather than one that can be analyzed and answered in the context of the text in question. How is a question about God's possible motivations not going to lead into more theology and speculation than this site wants to be focused on? – Caleb Dec 19 '14 at 7:26
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    @JackDouglas [cont] As I read it the "Why would God ___" part that is the crux of this question would just as easily be attached to any other verse that happened to hit on themes about God's character and his choice of saving a people while rejecting others. I think I could rotate out the verse for a collection of alternates without breaking t he core of the question—which suggests to me it's less textual than it is doctrinal at heart. – Caleb Dec 19 '14 at 7:30
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    @JackDouglas I can see your point. I'm not sure I agree that the balance is in favor of this being textual but don't want to be belligerent about it either. Maybe we can think of a away to fine tune the wording a little bit as a warning to would be digressers that the scope of this site needs to start from and stick to interpreting this text. Also maybe there is some nuance in this verse that could be specifically asked about. I'd revert my close vote pretty quickly if I thought there would be a way to moderate answers that approach this from the "wrong" end of the stick (for this site). – Caleb Dec 19 '14 at 7:36

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