“Come to Pharaoh! For I have made his heart and the heart of his servants heavy-with-stubbornness, in order that I may put these my signs among them…” [Exodus 10:1]
God intervened in the hearts of Pharaoh and his court, hardening them, or more literally making them heavy-with-stubbornness, as Everett Fox translated above.
In Jewish tradition we offer forgiveness to Pharaoh being used in this way. We tell a midrash, an interpretative story, that gave him the chance to make amends by saying that Pharaoh got reincarnated as the King of Nineveh who then improved and repented in the Book of Jonah.
Today we know that hearts get heavy with stubbornness and hardened without any divine intervention. We need to work to lighten the “I have already made up my mind” sense that weighs down our hearts. We need to exercise our better selves to soften the hard shells that prevent us from acting with compassion and kindness to everyone.
Wishing all of us a week of growing compassion and kindness,