Exodus 7:3

7:3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and although I will multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt,

Exodus 7:13-14

7:13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.

The First Blow: Water to Blood

7:14 The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hard; he refuses to release the people.

tn The clause begins with the emphatic use of the pronoun and a disjunctive vav (ו) expressing the contrast “But as for me, I will harden.” They will speak, but God will harden.

sn The imperfect tense of the verb קָשָׁה (qasha) is found only here in these “hardening passages.” The verb (here the Hiphil for “I will harden”) summarizes Pharaoh’s resistance to what God would be doing through Moses – he would stubbornly resist and refuse to submit; he would be resolved in his opposition. See R. R. Wilson, “The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart,” CBQ 41 (1979): 18-36.

tn The form beginning the second half of the verse is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive, הִרְבֵּיתִי (hirbeti). It could be translated as a simple future in sequence after the imperfect preceding it, but the logical connection is not obvious. Since it carries the force of an imperfect due to the sequence, it may be subordinated as a temporal clause to the next clause that begins in v. 4. That maintains the flow of the argument.

tn This phrase translates the Hebrew word חָזַק (khazaq); see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 53.

sn For more on this subject, see B. Jacob, Exodus, 241-49. S. R. Driver (Exodus, 53) notes that when this word (חָזַק) is used it indicates a will or attitude that is unyielding and firm, but when כָּבֵד (kaved) is used, it stresses the will as being slow to move, unimpressionable, slow to be affected.

sn With the first plague, or blow on Pharaoh, a new section of the book unfolds. Until now the dominant focus has been on preparing the deliverer for the exodus. From here the account will focus on preparing Pharaoh for it. The theological emphasis for exposition of the entire series of plagues may be: The sovereign Lord is fully able to deliver his people from the oppression of the world so that they may worship and serve him alone. The distinct idea of each plague then will contribute to this main idea. It is clear from the outset that God could have delivered his people simply and suddenly. But he chose to draw out the process with the series of plagues. There appear to be several reasons: First, the plagues are designed to judge Egypt. It is justice for slavery. Second, the plagues are designed to inform Israel and Egypt of the ability of Yahweh. Everyone must know that it is Yahweh doing all these things. The Egyptians must know this before they are destroyed. Third, the plagues are designed to deliver Israel. The first plague is the plague of blood: God has absolute power over the sources of life. Here Yahweh strikes the heart of Egyptian life with death and corruption. The lesson is that God can turn the source of life into the prospect of death. Moreover, the Nile was venerated; so by turning it into death Moses was showing the superiority of Yahweh.

tn Or “unresponsive” (so HALOT 456 s.v. I כָּבֵד).

tn The Piel infinitive construct לְשַׁלַּח (lÿshallakh) serves as the direct object of מֵאֵן (meen), telling what Pharaoh refuses (characteristic perfect) to do. The whole clause is an explanation (like a metonymy of effect) of the first clause that states that Pharaoh’s heart is hard.