Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, MA

First Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Second Advisor

Paul Z. Gregor



How can the LORD ascribe sin to humans if He Himself hardens their hearts in order to resist His will? This investigation was directed to find a tentative answer to the paradoxical story of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Various approaches to this phenomenon of hardening were explored. Among these views the most common are: (1) the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, (2) Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and (3) the LORD and Pharaoh played a part in the process of the hardening. None of these approaches were found to be fully satisfactory, and no scholarly consensus has emerged in dealing with the problem.


This investigation focused on an exegetical analysis of the meaning of the verbs חזק, קשה, and כבד in the context of the Exodus narrative.


The result of this investigation was the revelation of an “Intensity Structure” of the story of Pharaoh’s heart hardening.


This revelation of an “Intensity Structure” tentatively offers a new approach to the understanding of the story of Pharaoh’s heart hardening. This intensity structure suggests that the LORD never hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but rather He acted severely against Pharaoh’s heart in a gradual manner. The LORD started with a pacific message for Pharaoh, but Pharaoh refused to hear the LORD’s command. Then the LORD increased His power and became severe against Pharaoh, but Pharaoh became more obstinate, and the LORD had to act in an overwhelming manner with Pharaoh. After the heavy/overwhelming treatment of the LORD against Pharaoh, he let the people go out of Egypt.

Subject Area

Bible. Exodus--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Pharaohs

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.