The Instigator
janetsanders733
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
raymaster
Pro (for)
Losing
5 Points

Did God Hardened Pharoah's Heart Arbitrarly?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
janetsanders733
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/9/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,096 times Debate No: 41966
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (4)

 

janetsanders733

Con

I will be arguing that God did not arbirtrarly harden pharoah's heart. Pro will be arguing that he did. I would also like to thank Pro for accepting this debate.

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Opening Arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals/Conclusion
raymaster

Pro

Since Round 1 is for acceptance, I will just begin by thanking pro for opening up a debate on this topic. I look forward to Round 2.
Debate Round No. 1
janetsanders733

Con

Before I answer this question, I would like to clarify the events that happened before the Exodus as to show why it happened in the first place.

There were at least 2 un-named Pharaoh’s at the time of the Exodus account. The first one ruled right around the time Moses was born. The second Pharaoh(most likely the son of the first) ruled at the time Moses was an young man or young adult.

[1] [2]What made the Pharaoh(s) of Egypt so evil?
1. They brutally oppressed, and enslaved the Hebrews for 400 years because they were Hebrews(Racial Slavery).
2. Ordered the killing of every male Hebrew in order to keep the 1.5 million Hebrews from taking over Egypt’s Army. "When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live."(Exodus 1:16)
3. The people of Egypt agreed and condoned this kind of behavior, so they were just as guilty as Pharaoh was.

So, with mass murder, racial slavery, and the condoning of all these acts, my opponent can’t say that “Pharaoh” was innocent due to what he and his people condoned.

[1][2][3]Who hardened their heart first: God or Pharaoh?:

According to the text, before the first few plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart against letting the Israelites go.

“Pharaoh's heart became hard” (Exodus 7:13, 22; 8:19). “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:15). “But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:32).

As a result of Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart even further, allowing for the last few plagues (Exodus 9:12; 10:20, 27).

Pharaoh and Egypt had brought these judgments on themselves with 400 years of slavery and mass murder. Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and Pharaoh and Egypt had horribly sinned against God, it would have been just if God had completely annihilated Egypt.

Therefore, God’s hardening Pharaoh’s heart was not unjust, and His bringing additional plagues against Egypt were not unjust. The plagues, as terrible as they were, actually demonstrate God’s mercy in not completely destroying Egypt, which would have been a perfectly just penalty.

First Conclusion:

So as we can see, Pharaoh could have spared Egypt of all the plagues if he had not hardened his own heart. God was giving Pharaoh increasingly severe warnings of the judgment that was to come. Pharaoh chose to bring judgment on himself and on his nation by hardening his own heart against God’s commands.

Thus making God’s command not arbitrary, but making God just.

Sources:

[1] http://www.gotquestions.org...

[2] The Old Testament, Exodus, and New Testament Romans.

[3] www.biblia.com

raymaster

Pro

I accept that Pharaoh was not innocent and that the Israelites were subject to slavery, murder, and racism for hundreds of years. I also accept that Pharaoh hardened his heart before God hardened it. But is this sufficient to prove that God was not acting arbitrarily when he hardened Pharaoh's heart? I will present three reasons why it is not.

Contention 1: No good reason is given for God's action.

Con has spent a lot of space trying to explain what reasons God may have had for hardening Pharaoh's heart, and why these reasons were just. However, If we want to know why God hardened Pharaoh's heart, the first thing we should consider is whether any reasons are given in the text. "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" (Exodus 4:21). According to this passage, God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he would NOT let the Israelites go. This does not make sense since God had stated his goal was to set the Israelites free from the Egyptians (Exodus 3:7-8) It could be argued that God's action only delayed the Israelites' freedom, but why would God prolong the suffering of the Israelites, considering in particular the fact that Pharaoh had actually increased the difficulty of their labor? (Exodus 5:6-19) A possible answer is given in Exodus 7:3: "And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt." First, it should be pointed out that we may only have conjunction here; it is not clear that the second clause is meant to be an explanation for the first. Yet, even if one takes this verse as an explanation, two problems still remain. First, the prolongation of the Israelites' exit from Egypt results in prolonged suffering for the Israelites as well as death for innocent Egyptian individuals (Exodus 11:5). I will explain the second problem under my second contention.

Contention 2: Hardening Pharaoh's heart may have been superfluous.

Con has repeatedly emphasized that Pharaoh had hardened his heart several times before God hardened his heart, yet this only leads me to ask why God bothered since Pharaoh was already doing a fine job of hardening his heart on his own. There are two possibilities here: either Pharaoh would have softened his heart if God hadn't stepped in and hardened it (which would mean that God was guilty of prolonging suffering), or Pharaoh's heart would have remained hard in any case and God's action was superfluous. Either way, God's action seems arbitrary.

Contention 3: Why didn't God soften Pharaoh's heart?

If God had the power to harden Pharaoh's heart, he presumably also had the power to soften it as well. This would seem to have been a more just choice as it would have ended the Israelites' suffering more expediently. Also, as I mentioned before (per Exodus 11:5), there were many Egyptian who were not guilty of any crimes and were nevertheless annihilated by the final plague.

Conclusion:
There was no good reason for God to harden Pharaoh's heart. It was unnecessary at best, and cruel to the Israelites at worst. To prove that this action was not arbitrary, Pro needs to show that it served some just purpose in a useful way. So far, it only seems the God's actions prolonged his goal of bringing the Israelites out of slavery.
Debate Round No. 2
janetsanders733

Con


I accept that Pharaoh was not innocent and that the Israelites were subject to slavery, murder, and racism for hundreds of years. I also accept that Pharaoh hardened his heart before God hardened it. But is this sufficient to prove that God was not acting arbitrarily when he hardened Pharaoh's heart? I will present three reasons why it is not.



Well if Pro accepts, that Pharaoh was not innocent, and that Pharaoh was evil. And, if Pro accepts that Pharaoh hardened his heart first, then Pro must accept that God had every right to go in and re-affirm the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart since Pharaoh was receiving his punishment.



However, I must shoulder the Burden of Proof as to why Pharaoh would not have let the people go on God’s terms, if God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart.


I will explain below on Con’s 2nd Contention.



Contention 1: No good reason is given for God's action.



Con has spent a lot of space trying to explain what reasons God may have had for hardening Pharaoh's heart, and why these reasons were just. However, If we want to know why God hardened Pharaoh's heart, the first thing we should consider is whether any reasons are given in the text. "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" (Exodus 4:21). According to this passage, God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he would NOT let the Israelites go. This does not make sense since God had stated his goal was to set the Israelites free from the Egyptians (Exodus 3:7-8) It could be argued that God's action only delayed the Israelites' freedom, but why would God prolong the suffering of the Israelites, considering in particular the fact that Pharaoh had actually increased the difficulty of their labor? (Exodus 5:6-19) A possible answer is given in Exodus 7:3: "And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt." First, it should be pointed out that we may only have conjunction here; it is not clear that the second clause is meant to be an explanation for the first. Yet, even if one takes this verse as an explanation, two problems still remain. First, the prolongation of the Israelites' exit from Egypt results in prolonged suffering for the Israelites as well as death for innocent Egyptian individuals (Exodus 11:5). I will explain the second problem under my second contention.


Pro, I think has created a dilemma that I can answer. God is all-knowing, and can predict the future, and he was just simply telling Moses in Exodus 7 of what would happen. Then we finally see it happen in Exodus 8-11.


So, all we see is God revealing to Moses what’s going to happen because God is all-knowing and knows the beginning from the end.


Contention 2: Hardening Pharaoh's heart may have been superfluous.



Con has repeatedly emphasized that Pharaoh had hardened his heart several times before God hardened his heart, yet this only leads me to ask why God bothered since Pharaoh was already doing a fine job of hardening his heart on his own. There are two possibilities here: either Pharaoh would have softened his heart if God hadn't stepped in and hardened it (which would mean that God was guilty of prolonging suffering), or Pharaoh's heart would have remained hard in any case and God's action was superfluous. Either way, God's action seems arbitrary.


How does Pro know that? How does he know that Pharaoh would have softened his heart, if God had not hardened it more?


In fact I would beg to differ. The scriptures beg to differ with Pro’s argument.


Right before the 10 plagues happened, God had told Moses to take Aaron and ask Pharaoh in Exodus 5 to let his people go. Exodus 5:1


“After this, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, 'This is what Yahweh, God of Israel says, "Let my people go, so that they can hold a feast in my honor in the desert."'



Then in Exodus 5:2 We see Pharaoh is being adamant, and he hardens his heart and decides to not let Israel Go.


'Who is Yahweh,' Pharaoh replied, 'for me to obey what he says? I know nothing of Yahweh and will not let Israel go.'





Then In Exodus 8, During the Second Plague, God had poured out Frogs on Pharaoh and the Egyptians. If you take Exodus 8 into context, going into Exodus 8:8, talks about how Pharaoh had made a deal with Moses and Aaron for Yahweh to take away the frogs in exchange for letting the Israelites go.


“Pharaoh then summoned Moses and Aaron and said, 'Entreat Yahweh to take the frogs away from me and my subjects, and I promise to let the people go and sacrifice to Yahweh.” Exodus 8:8


So Moses and Aaron pray to Yahweh to take the frogs away from Pharaoh and his people. God decides to take the frogs away in Exodus 8, verses 13-15.


But, if you keep on reading further into Exodus 8, up to verse 15, it says that Pharaoh had become obstinate and hardened his heart, thus breaking the promise to let the people of Israel go.


Exodus 8:15


“But once Pharaoh saw that there had been a respite, he became obstinate and, as Yahweh had foretold, refused to listen to them.”



So what you see is Pharaoh lying to Moses, in exchange for Yahweh to take away the frogs. And, Pharaoh constantly hardens his heart. This would refute Pro’s argument because he thinks that Pharaoh would have let the Israelites go, if God had not been involved. And it also refutes Pro’s other argument that God’s action was superfluous.



Even if Pharaoh did let the Israelites go, he would have let them go on his own behalf to make himself look good. However, he did not at all care about the Israelites, that is why he hardened his heart.


God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in the sense that God provided the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to be forced to make a decision. God sent Moses to place His demands before Pharaoh. Moses merely announced God’s instructions. God even accompanied His Word with miracles—to confirm the divine origin of the message (cf. Mark 16:20). Pharaoh made up his own mind to resist God’s demands. Of his own accord, he stubbornly refused to comply. Of course, God provided the occasion for Pharaoh to demonstrate his unyielding attitude. If God had not sent Moses, Pharaoh would not have been faced with the dilemma of whether to release the Israelites. So God was certainly the instigator and initiator. But He was not the author of Pharaoh’s defiance.[1]



Contention 3: Why didn't God soften Pharaoh's heart?



If God had the power to harden Pharaoh's heart, he presumably also had the power to soften it as well. This would seem to have been a more just choice as it would have ended the Israelites' suffering more expediently. Also, as I mentioned before (per Exodus 11:5), there were many Egyptian who were not guilty of any crimes and were nevertheless annihilated by the final plague.



No it wouldn’t as I explained above in my final answer. All Egyptians were guilty, whether civilian or if they were part of Pharaoh’s army. Someone who witnesses a crime, and purposefully does nothing about it, is just as guilty as the person committing it. The fact is the Egyptian civilians had no problem with what Pharaoh did to the Hebrews, and as I said before they condoned it.



So, they are just as guilty as Pharaoh and his men, and deserved God’s punishment.



Conclusion:


God acted justly in hardening Pharaoh’s heart because Pharaoh hardened his own heart first. Pharaoh had the option to let the people go or suffer the consequences of his actions. Unfortunately because Pharaoh had hardened his own heart, he was under God’s judgment and the he and his people suffered their just punishment that they deserved.



I would like to thank Con for having this debate with me, and please vote fairly.



Sources:


[1] https://www.apologeticspress.org...


[2] The Old Testament, Exodus 5-11.


raymaster

Pro

I am almost out of time, so I will just make a brief statement.

There are two possibilities here. Since God was omniscient, he knew the future of Pharaoh's heart. Either God knew that PHaraoh was going to to soften his heart and thus prolonged pain and suffering, or God knew that Pharaoh's heart was going to remain hard, and God's action was superfluous. Either way, it seems entirely arbitrary.

Thanks to con for a good debate.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by janetsanders733 3 years ago
janetsanders733
@raymaster, no problem I understand you had finals as I did to, so I kind of lost track of my debates as well.
Posted by raymaster 3 years ago
raymaster
Thank you OtakuJordan and philochristos for your interesting comments. I am myself a Christian, but this issue, among others, has both intrigued and bothered me for some time. This has been helpful for me to try to look at the issue from multiple angles.

I want to apologize to janetsanders733 for posting such a short response in round 3. I've been busy preparing for finals and lost track of the time I had left to post.
Posted by OtakuJordan 3 years ago
OtakuJordan
My beliefs are that God hardened Pharoah's heart to:
1. Punish him by turning him over to his sin
2. Be able to demonstrate his glory
Posted by janetsanders733 3 years ago
janetsanders733
@Philochristos Thank you for the feedback!
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
Well, I guess that's about all I have to say. I'm mostly just expressing my own opinion. The issues I raised were not brought up in the debate, so I don't base my vote on that. Based on what actually happened in the debate, I can't really decide who won, so I'm going to tie them. So, why vote if I'm not awarding points to anybody? Because I feel like it, and I wanted to let you know that I read the debate and thought about your arguments. It's always nice to get a little feedback. I hate to put a lot of time and effort into a debate and then have nobody vote on it or offer feedback.
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
Of course that raises the question of why God would not want Pharaoh to let the Israelites go right away. Well, the Bible isn't silent about that, either. God was demonstrating his glory and making his name known by the dramatic display of his wrath on Egypt and his freeing the Hebrews. Paul, for example, says, "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.' So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires" (Romans 9:17-18).

to be continued...
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
This one is hard to judge just based on the arguments presented. Con seems to think God hardening Pharoah's heart was not arbitrary because he and the Egyptian people deserved it. But Pro thinks it was arbitrary because it caused unnecessary suffering for the Hebrews and seemed to delay God's plan to free them. I think it would've helped if they had defined "arbitrary." I take "arbitrary" to mean "without any reason." The Bible gives us a reason for why God hardened Pharoah's heart--so that he would not let Israel go. Pro may not think that's a good reason, but it IS a reason, and that means it wasn't arbitrary. Of course that raises the question of why God would not want Pharaoh to let the Israelites go right away. Well, the Bible isn't silent about that, either. God was demonstrating his glory and making his name known by the dramatic display of his wrath on Egypt and his freeing the Hebrews. Paul, for example, says, "This one is hard to judge just based on the arguments presented. Con seems to think God hardening Pharoah's heart was not arbitrary because he and the Egyptian people deserved it. But Pro thinks it was arbitrary because it caused unnecessary suffering for the Hebrews and seemed to delay God's plan to free them. I think it would've helped if they had defined "arbitrary." I take "arbitrary" to mean "without any reason." The Bible gives us a reason for why God hardened Pharoah's heart--so that he would not let Israel go. Pro may not think that's a good reason, but it IS a reason, and that means it wasn't arbitrary. To be continued...
Posted by janetsanders733 3 years ago
janetsanders733
That's okay lol. Don't worry about it.
Posted by raymaster 3 years ago
raymaster
And I wrote Pro instead of Con at the end of my argument. #needsleep lol
Posted by janetsanders733 3 years ago
janetsanders733
Yes.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by WilliamofOckham 3 years ago
WilliamofOckham
janetsanders733raymasterTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: While pro made a good case in pointing out that an omniscient God should not need to harden the heart of someone whose heart was already hardened, the resolution concerned whether God did it arbitrarily, and con made enough of an argument to show that God did not do so - because he wanted to get the Israelites out of Egypt. That may not be the most acceptable reason, but it's still a reason, and pro never addressed that.
Vote Placed by solo 3 years ago
solo
janetsanders733raymasterTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's conduct was better, as I did not like Con's clarification that could have been included in Round One as a given. Point for Pro. Closing argument also goes to Pro for using common sense and logic while embracing God's omniscience. Point to Pro. They tied on the other criteria.
Vote Placed by OtakuJordan 3 years ago
OtakuJordan
janetsanders733raymasterTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's final speech was entirely insufficient. Props to him for posting something short rather than forfeiting, though. A good debate on both sides. Con loses S&G for having multiple typos in his resolution.
Vote Placed by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
janetsanders733raymasterTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.