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Ask Fr. Francis: How should I comprehend the story of Pharaoh's hardened heart?

The following is an excerpt from Fr. Francis Ching, CC answers tough questions about the Catholic faith.

Fr. Francis Ching PortraitQuestion: 

In Old Testament, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart again and again (Ex 10:20,27 and 11:10) even after Pharaoh had confessed (Ex 10:16-17). How should I comprehend?

Fr. Francis' answer:

“As I mentioned elsewhere, the Old Testament cannot be understood fully without the revelation of the New Testament, and so sometimes the wording in the Old Testament, in order to emphasize the spiritual meaning behind, the literal meaning was extended in a direction that might seem contrary to God’s nature.”

For example, while in Genesis Esau and Jacob became victims of their own mistakes, in Malachi it was said that God hated Esau. Or in the conversations between Moses and God, God appeared to be angry with his own people at times, and disowning them by saying to Moses “your people”; but when He shows compassion, He would say “my people”. These are literary devices in which the human author uses his own emotions to teach us the deeper meaning about God.

In the episode with Pharaoh that you mentioned, God of course, as revealed by Jesus, does not make us stubborn...

Read the full answer here!

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