1. Halifax, NS
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    06 Dec '05 19:14
    On THE WORD OF GOD thread, there has been a lot of discussion concerning an omniscient God, free will, determinism, etc. I wanted to start a new thread because that one's getting pretty large.

    Let me ask a related question. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and God was preparing for their exodus, he sent 10 plagues on the Egyptians before Pharaoh would let the people go. In each of the 10 plagues, after (usually) an initial softening in which Pharaoh would say the people could leave, Pharaoh's heart would become hardened and he would go back on his word, saying they must say.

    It is interesting to note that in the accounts in Scripture, the notion that Pharaoh hardend his own heart and the God hardened Pharaoh's heart are used interchangably. Consider:

    Ex. 7:13 (Aaron's Staff Becomes a Snake): "Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would no listen to them, just as the LORD had said."

    Ex. 7:22 (Plague of Blood): "Pharaoh's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said."

    Ex. 8:15 (Plague of Frogs): "But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said."

    Ex. 8:19 (Plague of Gnats): "But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said."

    Ex. 8:32 (Plague of Flies): "But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go."

    Ex. 9:7 (Plague on Livestock): "Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go."

    Ex. 9:12 (Plague of Boils): "But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses."

    Ex. 9:34-35 (Plague of Hail): "When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. So Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses."

    Ex. 10:20 (Plague of Locusts): "But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go."

    Ex. 10:27 (Plague of Darkness): "But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he was not willing to let them go."

    Ex. 11:9 (Plague on the Firstborn): "But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country."


    So who hardened Pharaoh's heart? Pharaoh or God? (Don't give the answer that they both just mean pharaoh hardened his heart, and God knew about it, because that's not what it says -- it says Pharaoh hardened Pharaoh's heart, and it also says God hardened Pharaoh's heart.)
  2. Standard memberKnightWulfe
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    06 Dec '05 19:18
    Honestly - it is another of the contradictions in the Bible.

    All in all, it is a good story and even history book (with the typical victor's view of things) but I can see it as nothing more.
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    06 Dec '05 20:104 edits
    Originally posted by joelek
    On THE WORD OF GOD thread, there has been a lot of discussion concerning an omniscient God, free will, determinism, etc. I wanted to start a new thread because that one's getting pretty large.

    Let me ask a related question. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and God was preparing for their exodus, he sent 10 plagues on the Egyptians before Pharaoh ...[text shortened]... s -- it says Pharaoh hardened Pharaoh's heart, and it also says God hardened Pharaoh's heart.)
    Excellent example! There is also this verse, which sets it up a bit:

    Exodus 4:21 And YHVH said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt (Hebrew: mitzraim), see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.”

    Now, I read this story pretty much allegorically/midrashically (although there is probably some history behind it). Mitzraim in Hebrew literally means narrow or confined spaces. Have you ever found your life in mitzraim? Pharaoh may be whatever ruling passions or entrapping thoughts that hold you in confinement.

    We are often afraid to confront or to let go of those very fears or beliefs that keep us confined. We may not like our confinement (if we recognize it), but it is familiar, seemingly secure.. Freedom can be frightening. Recall how the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai kept wanting to return to mitzraim. So too, sometimes, with us. (Think of an alcoholic who, after years of brave sobriety, falls back into the mitzraim of drink when confronted with some calamity, for example.)

    Liberation from our “narrow places” requires struggle: we push forward, we fall back. Our Pharaoh clings tightly to his rule—his heart is hardened against our attempts to be free. Sometimes—and this goes directly to the question of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart—to escape too soon can lead to its own disasters (psychological and emotional, as well as physical or social), especially if we have been deeply "embedded" in mitzraim for a long time. Suddenly stepping from mitzraim into open space can be dizzying, terrifying, fragmenting. So God—or our deepest self or the ground of our being, if you want to do it nontheistically—temporarily reinforces the ruling passion, until the time is right (ripe?).

    And who is Moshe? Moshe may be our “inner rabbi,” so to speak (Moshe rabbeinu: “Moses our rabbi” ), the sometimes hesitant voice who whispers to us of freedom. The one who speaks for YHVH, who encourages us even when Pharaoh’s heart is once again hardened—even when it seems that God (or we ourselves) have once again blocked the way out by strengthening our ruling passion just when it seemed to be flagging. A friend or counselor can also take on the voice of this Moshe sometimes.

    So, in personal terms: What is the nature of your mitzraim? Who is your Pharaoh? How do you hear the voice of Moshe? When do you find yourself succumbing to Pharaoh, so that perhaps your own thinking gets in the way of liberation? Have you ever resisted, saying to yourself, “The time is not right” (your own ego hardening Pharaoh’s heart)? Have you ever despaired because you thought you would step into freedom, but circumstances seemed to undermine your efforts at the last moment? Have you ever escaped from one mitzraim, wandered free for awhile, then found yourself “enslaved” in another Egypt? [All of these are general “yous,” not aimed at anyone in particular.]

    This, of course, is only one way to read the story (and really just a scratching of the surface). There are others…
  4. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    06 Dec '05 21:01
    Originally posted by joelek
    On THE WORD OF GOD thread, there has been a lot of discussion concerning an omniscient God, free will, determinism, etc. I wanted to start a new thread because that one's getting pretty large.

    Let me ask a related question. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and God was preparing for their exodus, he sent 10 plagues on the Egyptians before Pharaoh ...[text shortened]... s -- it says Pharaoh hardened Pharaoh's heart, and it also says God hardened Pharaoh's heart.)
    Clearly, it depends on which plague has just occurred. Sometimes Pharoah would harden his own heart, but on those occasions in which he did not, God stepped in and did it for him.
  5. Subscriberno1marauder
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    06 Dec '05 21:04
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    Clearly, it depends on which plague has just occurred. Sometimes Pharoah would harden his own heart, but on those occasions in which he did not, God stepped in and did it for him.
    Wouldn't that be interfering with Pharoah's free will?
  6. Standard memberHalitose
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    06 Dec '05 21:15
    Originally posted by joelek
    On THE WORD OF GOD thread, there has been a lot of discussion concerning an omniscient God, free will, determinism, etc. I wanted to start a new thread because that one's getting pretty large.

    Let me ask a related question. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and God was preparing for their exodus, he sent 10 plagues on the Egyptians before Pharaoh ...[text shortened]... s -- it says Pharaoh hardened Pharaoh's heart, and it also says God hardened Pharaoh's heart.)
    Something happened to me this evening which poses a similar question:

    I was driving home on the freeway when a friend called me on my mobile. As I slowed the car to take the call, directly in front of me, a vehicle literally flew over the embankment from the on-coming side. It seemed like a Hollywood special-effect, complete with fiery sparks, vehicles careening out of control and time slowing to crawl. Slamming brakes, I managed to avoid any harm - I even have a chuckle when I remember the wide-eyed, post-very-scary-roller-coaster type expressions of the passengers as it came to a halt not far from me.

    Had my friend not decided to call me at that moment, and had I not slowed down, that flying coffin would have broadsided me - the result of which I would rather not dwell on.

    Here is the question: Was this mere coincidence that somebody decided to phone me in the dead of night for a very trivial reason, or does God really intervene in the ways of mankind?
  7. Standard memberKnightWulfe
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    06 Dec '05 21:26
    Originally posted by Halitose
    Something happened to me this evening which poses a similar question:

    I was driving home on the freeway when a friend called me on my mobile. As I slowed the car to take the call, directly in front of me, a vehicle literally flew over the embankment from the on-coming side. It seemed like a Hollywood special-effect, complete with fiery sparks, vehicles c ...[text shortened]... he dead of night for a very trivial reason, or does God really intervene in the ways of mankind?
    That is an interesting questions. Christians would likely attribute that to Divine intervention. Eastern religions would attribute it to good karma (seems their karma did not ram into your karma!! 🙂 )
    The non-religious would call it a coincidence.

    It is really a matter of your point of view.
  8. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    06 Dec '05 21:28
    Originally posted by Halitose
    Something happened to me this evening which poses a similar question:

    I was driving home on the freeway when a friend called me on my mobile. As I slowed the car to take the call, directly in front of me, a vehicle literally flew over the embankment from the on-coming side. It seemed like a Hollywood special-effect, complete with fiery sparks, vehicles c ...[text shortened]... he dead of night for a very trivial reason, or does God really intervene in the ways of mankind?
    If your friend had not called you, and you had been killed would you be here to write this? No. Of couse not.

    There is a similar argument (called the anthropic argument), typically used by creationists that were the universe set up in even a slightly different way life could not exist. This is true. But what they don't realise that it is precisely because it IS this way that they actually exist to make their arguments. If it were any other way they wouldn't exist! To make it clearer, the state of the universe allowed human evolution, but this only proves that the universe is organised in such a way as to allow the evolution of humans, not that it was created or designed. Circular argument, see?
    In another million universes, di-protons are proudly proclaiming that the universe was set up for them.
  9. Standard memberColetti
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    06 Dec '05 21:28
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    Clearly, it depends on which plague has just occurred. Sometimes Pharoah would harden his own heart, but on those occasions in which he did not, God stepped in and did it for him.
    Seems so obvious, doesn't it? I agree - sometimes Pharoah, sometimes God.
  10. Halifax, NS
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    06 Dec '05 21:29
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    Clearly, it depends on which plague has just occurred. Sometimes Pharoah would harden his own heart, but on those occasions in which he did not, God stepped in and did it for him.
    Hmmm, I don't think so. I think it's two ways of saying essentially the same thing. That is, to the author (ultimately, God) there is no conflict here. Both are true at the same time.
  11. Standard memberColetti
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    06 Dec '05 21:33
    Originally posted by joelek
    Hmmm, I don't think so. I think it's two ways of saying essentially the same thing. That is, to the author (ultimately, God) there is no conflict here. Both are true at the same time.
    Give an example where the text is talking about the same incident of hardening Pharaoh's heart. They (the statements) may be both true, but not at the same time and same way and same sense. But give it a shot.
  12. Standard memberKnightWulfe
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    06 Dec '05 21:33
    Originally posted by Coletti
    Seems so obvious, doesn't it? I agree - sometimes Pharoah, sometimes God.
    So if God did it, then God was the cause of action against his own people simply to cause suffering to his "enemy." If he was truly benevolent, then would he not have allowed the Pharoah to NOT harden his heart and allow the people to leave?

    Why harden the Pharoah's heart Himself, since all that would do would bring on another plague? Seems that, in the cases where God hardened the Pharoah's heart, God WANTED to inflict the plagues upon the people of Eqypt. How benevolent is that?
  13. Standard memberHalitose
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    06 Dec '05 21:33
    Originally posted by KnightWulfe
    That is an interesting questions. Christians would likely attribute that to Divine intervention. Eastern religions would attribute it to good karma (seems their karma did not ram into your karma!! 🙂 )
    The non-religious would call it a coincidence.

    It is really a matter of your point of view.
    It is really a matter of your point of view.

    I can go with that. 😉
  14. Gangster Land
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    06 Dec '05 21:34
    Originally posted by Halitose
    Something happened to me this evening which poses a similar question:

    I was driving home on the freeway when a friend called me on my mobile. As I slowed the car to take the call, directly in front of me, a vehicle literally flew over the embankment from the on-coming side. It seemed like a Hollywood special-effect, complete with fiery sparks, vehicles c ...[text shortened]... he dead of night for a very trivial reason, or does God really intervene in the ways of mankind?
    I think it was just poor driving. Honestly people, don't slow down to answer your cell phone!! If you cannot drive normally with a phone up to your ear then don't use the phone in the car.

    If I had been the driver behind you I would have angrily passed you as you slowed down and been killed by the flying vehicle...I would have died while flipping you the bird, what a way to go. 😉

    TheSkipper
  15. Standard memberHalitose
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    06 Dec '05 21:39
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    If your friend had not called you, and you had been killed would you be here to write this? No. Of couse not.

    There is a similar argument (called the anthropic argument), typically used by creationists that were the universe set up in even a slightly different way life could not exist. This is true. But what they don't realise that it is precise ...[text shortened]... her million universes, di-protons are proudly proclaiming that the universe was set up for them.
    I think I missed your point. How does my surviving something prove that it wasn't God? I cannot conclusively prove that it was, yes, but it certainly doesn't infer the absence of God's intervention.

    Ditto to the anthropic argument rebuttal.
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