In the Bible we find passages such as:

Exodus 7:3-4

3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you.

Exodus 11:9-10

9 The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

Romans 9:16-18

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Joshua 11:20

20 For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

I have two questions:

  1. When God hardens someone's heart, does this override the individual's free will, rendering the individual for all practical purposes a puppet subject to God's manipulation?
  2. Assuming that the answer to 1) is yes: If someone operates in a "heart hardened by God" state, and in that state the individual sins, given that the individual was being manipulated by God, does that free the individual from moral responsibility and make God the direct responsible of the sin (i.e. a sinner)?

1 Answer 1


'I will harden' indicates that God's presence (the very presence of he who is I AM) causes a hardening of the wicked heart.

'I (being present) will (cause to) harden the heart of Pharoah.'

That the heart of the wicked hardens in the presence of I AM ( that is to say when Moses is present and God is with Moses) is entirely due to them.

It is their own culpability.

I think the burden of 'proof' or the necessity of 'evidence' is upon those who assert that God, who alone is righteous, is 'responsible' for sin.

If this be regarded as a merely philosophical question then it would be off-topic on this site.

  • Any scriptural evidence to support the claims made in this answer? Sep 23, 2020 at 7:26
  • 1
    I have made no claims. I have merely 'unpacked' (as linguists would say) the text that you, yourself, quoted. The answer to your own question is in your own question.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 23, 2020 at 7:28
  • The text clearly posits God as the cause of the hardening, no the individuals themselves. The claim that the individuals are hardening themselves is not supported by the text. Sep 23, 2020 at 7:31
  • 1
    I disagree with your linguistic analysis. They are not 'hardening themselves'. The presence of He who alone is righteous, is causing their unrighteous heart to harden the more.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 23, 2020 at 7:31
  • 2
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator The condemnation is that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). Those who are willfully rejecting God are seldom softened as God draws near. Fall on us!, the wicked cry out to the mountains. Speak to God for us!, the Israelites entreated Moses. God's near presence (as in through Moses to Pharaoh) necessitates a reaction from sinful man and the reaction is most often a clenching of sin's fist. God is not obligated to show mercy to any sinner...it is pure grace that He does. Sep 23, 2020 at 12:37

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