Exodus 4:21
Parallel Verses
New International Version
The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.

King James Bible
And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

Darby Bible Translation
And Jehovah said to Moses, When thou goest to return to Egypt, see that thou do all the wonders before Pharaoh that I have put in thy hand. And I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

World English Bible
Yahweh said to Moses, "When you go back into Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your hand, but I will harden his heart and he will not let the people go.

Young's Literal Translation
And Jehovah saith unto Moses, 'In thy going to turn back to Egypt, see -- all the wonders which I have put in thy hand -- that thou hast done them before Pharaoh, and I -- I strengthen his heart, and he doth not send the people away;

Exodus 4:21 Parallel
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

But I will harden his heart - The case of Pharaoh has given rise to many fierce controversies, and to several strange and conflicting opinions. Would men but look at the whole account without the medium of their respective creeds, they would find little difficulty to apprehend the truth. If we take up the subject in a theological point of view, all sober Christians will allow the truth of this proposition of St. Augustine, when the subject in question is a person who has hardened his own heart by frequently resisting the grace and spirit of God: Non obdurate Deus impertiendo malitiam, sed non impertiendo misericordiam; Epist. 194, ad Sixtum, "God does not harden men by infusing malice into them, but by not imparting mercy to them." And this other will be as readily credited: Non operatur Deus in homine ipsam duritiam cordis; sed indurare eum dicitur quem mollire noluerit, sic etiam excaecare quem illuminare noluerit, et repellere eum quem noluerit vocare. "God does not work this hardness of heart in man; but he may be said to harden him whom he refuses to soften, to blind him whom he refuses to enlighten, and to repel him whom he refuses to call." It is but just and right that he should withhold those graces which he had repeatedly offered, and which the sinner had despised and rejected. Thus much for the general principle. The verb חזק chazak, which we translate harden, literally signifies to strengthen, confirm, make bold or courageous; and is often used in the sacred writings to excite to duty, perseverance, etc., and is placed by the Jews at the end of most books in the Bible as an exhortation to the reader to take courage, and proceed with his reading and with the obedience it requires. It constitutes an essential part of the exhortation of God to Joshua, Joshua 1:7 : Only be thou Strong, רק חזק rak chazak. And of Joshua's dying exhortation to the people, Joshua 23:6 : Be ye therefore Very Courageous, וחזקתם vachazaktem, to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law. Now it would he very strange in these places to translate the word harden: Only be thou hard, Be ye therefore very hard; and yet if we use the word hardy, it would suit the sense and context perfectly well: Only be thou Hardy; Be ye therefore very Hardy. Now suppose we apply the word in this way to Pharaoh, the sense would be good, and the justice of God equally conspicuous. I will make his heart hardy, bold, daring, presumptuous; for the same principle acting against God's order is presumption, which when acting according to it is undaunted courage. It is true that the verb קשה kashah is used, Exodus 7:3, which signifies to render stiff, tough, or stubborn, but it amounts to nearly the same meaning with the above.

All those who have read the Scriptures with care and attention, know well that God is frequently represented in them as doing what he only permits to be done. So because a man has grieved his Spirit and resisted his grace he withdraws that Spirit and grace from him, and thus he becomes bold and presumptuous in sin. Pharaoh made his own heart stubborn against God, Exodus 9:34; and God gave him up to judicial blindness, so that he rushed on stubbornly to his own destruction. From the whole of Pharaoh's conduct we learn that he was bold, haughty, and cruel; and God chose to permit these dispositions to have their full sway in his heart without check or restraint from Divine influence: the consequence was what God intended, he did not immediately comply with the requisition to let the people go; and this was done that God might have the fuller opportunity of manifesting his power by multiplying signs and miracles, and thus impress the hearts both of the Egyptians and Israelites with a due sense of his omnipotence and justice. The whole procedure was graciously calculated to do endless good to both nations. The Israelites must be satisfied that they had the true God for their protector; and thus their faith was strengthened. The Egyptians must see that their gods could do nothing against the God of Israel; and thus their dependence on them was necessarily shaken. These great ends could not have been answered had Pharaoh at once consented to let the people go. This consideration alone unravels the mystery, and explains everything. Let it be observed that there is nothing spoken here of the eternal state of the Egyptian king; nor does anything in the whole of the subsequent account authorize us to believe that God hardened his heart against the influences of his own grace, that he might occasion him so to sin that his justice might consign him to hell. This would be such an act of flagrant injustice as we could scarcely attribute to the worst of men. He who leads another into an offense that he may have a fairer pretense to punish him for it, or brings him into such circumstances that he cannot avoid committing a capital crime, and then hangs him for it, is surely the most execrable of mortals. What then should we make of the God of justice and mercy should we attribute to him a decree, the date of which is lost in eternity, by which he has determined to cut off from the possibility of salvation millions of millions of unborn souls, and leave them under a necessity of sinning, by actually hardening their hearts against the influences of his own grace and Spirit, that he may, on the pretext of justice, consign them to endless perdition? Whatever may be pretended in behalf of such unqualified opinions, it must be evident to all who are not deeply prejudiced, that neither the justice nor the sovereignty of God can be magnified by them. See Clarke farther on Exodus 9:16 (note).

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Exodus 3:20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the middle thereof...

I will harden.

Exodus 7:3,13 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt...

Exodus 9:12,35 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he listened not to them; as the LORD had spoken to Moses...

Exodus 10:1,20 And the LORD said to Moses, Go in to Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants...

Exodus 14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel...

Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh...

Deuteronomy 2:30-33,36 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD your God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate...

Joshua 11:20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly...

1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said to him, With which? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets...

Psalm 105:25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtly with his servants.

Isaiah 6:10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes...

Isaiah 63:17 O LORD, why have you made us to err from your ways, and hardened our heart from your fear? Return for your servants' sake...

John 12:40 He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart...

Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind...

Romans 9:18 Therefore has he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens.

Romans 11:8-10 (According as it is written, God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see...

2 Corinthians 2:16 To the one we are the smell of death to death; and to the other the smell of life to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 And with all delusion of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth...

1 Peter 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient...

January 13. "Thou Shalt be to Him Instead of God" (Ex. Iv. 16).
"Thou shalt be to him instead of God" (Ex. iv. 16). Such was God's promise to Moses, and such the high character that Moses was to assume toward Aaron, his brother. May it not suggest a high and glorious place that each of us may occupy toward all whom we meet, instead of God? What a dignity and glory it would give our lives, could we uniformly realize this high calling! How it would lead us to act toward our fellow-men! God can always be depended upon. God is without variableness or shadow of turning.
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

A Bundle of Myrrh is My Well-Beloved unto Me; He Shall Abide Between My Breasts.
When the Bride, or rather the lover (for she is not yet a bride), has found her Bridegroom, she is so transported with joy, that she is eager to be instantly united to Him. But the union of perpetual enjoyment is not yet arrived. He is mine, she says, I cannot doubt that He gives Himself to me this moment, since I feel it, but He is to me, as it were, a bundle of myrrh. He is not yet a Bridegroom whom I may embrace in the nuptial bed, but a bundle of crosses, pains and mortifications; a bloody husband
Madame Guyon—Song of Songs of Solomon

Appendix xii. The Baptism of Proselytes
ONLY those who have made study of it can have any idea how large, and sometimes bewildering, is the literature on the subject of Jewish Proselytes and their Baptism. Our present remarks will be confined to the Baptism of Proselytes. 1. Generally, as regards proselytes (Gerim) we have to distinguish between the Ger ha-Shaar (proselyte of the gate) and Ger Toshabh (sojourner,' settled among Israel), and again the Ger hatstsedeq (proselyte of righteousness) and Ger habberith (proselyte of the covenant).
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

A Canticle of Love
It is not only when He is about to send me some trial that Our Lord gives me warning and awakens my desire for it. For years I had cherished a longing which seemed impossible of realisation--to have a brother a Priest. I often used to think that if my little brothers had not gone to Heaven, I should have had the happiness of seeing them at the Altar. I greatly regretted being deprived of this joy. Yet God went beyond my dream; I only asked for one brother who would remember me each day at the Holy
Therese Martin (of Lisieux)—The Story of a Soul

Cross References
John 12:40
"He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them."

Romans 9:18
Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Exodus 3:20
So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

Exodus 7:3
But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt,

Exodus 7:13
Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.

Exodus 8:32
But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.

Exodus 9:12
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses.

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