Exodus 10:1:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them

Verse 7:

Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?”

Why did they tell Pharaoh to let them go, even after their hearts had been hardened?

  • Maybe these were some whose hearts were not hardened.
    – Michael16
    Jul 24, 2021 at 6:03

3 Answers 3


See Exodus 9:12, How is it accepted that the LORD hardens the heart of Pharaoh, then Punishes him for that?

Look at how their hearts were hardened. While they were under the plagues, Pharaoh and his officials were willing to let the children of Israel go to get out from under the plague. But, each time except the last, God released them from the plague before they let them go. Thus, God allowed them to change their minds and harden their hearts.

The plagues were insulting to the major Egyptian gods. They showed the God of Israel, their slaves, was superior to the highest Egyptian gods. Thus, it put Egypt in ruin.

  • So they were doing the same thing that Pharoah was - going along with the requests just long enough to get rid of the plagues and then changing their minds? Jul 24, 2021 at 14:46
  • @EJoshuaS yes. That's it.
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 24, 2021 at 15:06

There are important details that need to be gotten right, otherwise the negotiations between Pharoah and Moses wont make sense.

Moses asked Pharoah to allow the people to go into the desert to worship. When Pharoah said no, a plague would come, then Pharoah and his advisors would panic and would agree to let them go if only Moses ended the plague. Then Moses would remove the plague at which point Pharoah's heart was hardened and he attached some conditions so that not everyone could go. Then the next plague hit. So the hardening of the heart happened after the plague was lifted, and the advisors telling Pharoah to agree was when the plague was going on.

Ex 8.15:

But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

Note that Moses was asking for less than what God ultimately wanted and God hardened Pharoah's heart so that he would not be willing to grant Moses' insufficient request, and in this way, God achieved what was really wanted (complete freedom from slavery) even though Moses only ever asked for permission to go into the desert and worship.

It was not a binary situation where Moses always asked "let us go" and Pharoah always said "no, you can't go." - regardless of how pop culture portrays the Exodus. Thus Moses could have asked for something completely irrelevant -- a new change of clothes and a free cat -- the point was to get Pharoah to say "no" so that the situation would escalate and the plagues would keep coming until Pharoah became desperate to get the Israelites out of his country.

Thus the purpose of Moses was to be an irritant to Pharoah -- what he actually asked for was irrelevant, the only thing that mattered was that Pharoah would resist and so bring on a new plague.

Note that if God hadn't hardened Pharoah's heart, then Pharoah would have granted Moses' request and let everyone go to worship as Moses asked, but they would have been obligated to return otherwise they would have been lawbreakers. Moses never asked for permanent freedom, he only asked to be allowed to worship in the desert.

It was only after the death of the firstborn that the situation had gotten so out of hand that Pharoah saw Israel as a liability and expelled Israel from Egypt -- that was the ultimate end goal of the various negotiations with Moses and the hardening of the heart.


To harden one's heart means to strengthen that person's resolve so that they are strong enough to do what their heart truly desires to do, when they would otherwise give up under the intense pressure:

  • With Pharaoh's heart hardened/strengthened (whether by God or himself), he is made strong enough to continue to stand up to God according to Pharaoh's own will when a weaker will would have given in as the plagues intensified.

  • With his official's hearts hardened/strengthened, they are strong enough to act according to their own will and give Pharaoh a piece of their mind when previously they wouldn't have dared.

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