Exodus 4:21And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.
I think every atheist who has been in the trenches has heard the "free will" argument from theists. God seems uninterested in proving anything himself? Free will! Not a lot of people accepting your claim? Free will! So much trouble and immorality in the world? Free will! Here in Exodus we have an example of God flipping the dove to free will!
This isn't god "removed his grace" or "gave pharaoh over to his own desires" or such flimsy evasions like that. God is actively tampering with the will of a human being here. Sometime in the future I'll share Yahweh's other moments of "what free will?" in other passages and particular aspects of Christianity. (Tower of Babel, King Saul, doctrines holding predestination, "curses" in the Bible, King Ahab, and several other references & superhappyfun religious observances)
|Yahweh- the kind of guy who plays chess against himself (so he can win)|
Now, I'm not gonna discuss free will itself- as that's a massive topic and even hours of forward-moving discourse can lead to semantic snafus. Free will is very interesting to talk about but I don't find it particularly useful.
Again, God monkeying around with Pharaoh (conveniently never actually named in the Bible) isn't the only time Yahweh takes part in such interference. Although the Old Testament repeatedly showcases how God is a total thug, him directly intervening in the mind/actions of someone raises all kinds of theological implications that many theists understandably aren't typically eager to address or confront.
---------------------------------------------To combat some of the scriptural ignorance concerning this occurrence (as some Christians are genuinely taken by surprise by the existence of these passages) here is a conveniently-packaged page from the Skeptic's Annotated Bible:
Exodus 4(v21)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 7(v3)And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
(v13)And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
Exodus 9(v12)And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
Exodus 10(v1)And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him.
(v20)But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
(v27)But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.
Exodus 11(v10)And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
Exodus 14(v4)And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.
(v8)And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel.
(v18)I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour.
---------------------------------------------"Oh," some may say, "there are (Exodus 8:15;32)(Exodus 9:34)(1 Samuel 6:6)passages that say Pharaoh hardened his own heart!"
Congratulations! You've pointed out something called a contradiction. Contrary (heh) to what many pastors preach, the Bible has quite a fair share of them! These verses are often brought up to guide the conversation away from Yahweh behaving immorally, but the best that can be accomplished by doing so is merely add that Pharaoh hardened his own heart at one point or another in addition to God pouring on some heart epoxy.
So do we have God lying about hardening the Pharaoh's heart, the author(s) of Exodus and/or the author of 1 Samuel lying, the Bible lying about what actually took place, a literary error/transgression?
For those of you who may soon rush to look up some material in defense of Yahweh, I'll save you some time and give you several conclusions from around the Internet: "God can do what he wants, even if it appears immoral", "who are you to question god?", "Pharaoh wasn't a good person anyway", "God’s hardening and punishing a person is not unjust; it is actually merciful in comparison to what the person deserves. (Hell)" That last quote was from gotquestions.org and that entire page is loaded with historical and archaeological ignorance, overall disgusting ethical feel/implications... y'know, like a lot of Christian apologetics!
Exodus 4:24-26At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.
Shortly after the burning bush event, God straight-up goes to murder Moses in Exodus 4:24-26 when Moses is on his way to Egypt. Like, in-person (וַיִּפְגְּשֵׁ֣הוּ ,same word used to describe Moses meeting Aaron in verse 27), making his way towards Moses with murderous intent-- and he leaves Moses after Zipporah quickly slices off her son's foreskin and touches Moses' feet with it.
DarkMatter2525 made a fantastic video about these three verses:I'm not cherry-picking a certain version of the Bible here either. Any version of the Bible on your shelf will contain this weird snippet of God failing to kill Moses. If God was upset at something Moses did or didn't do (the Bible never explains verse 24)... he could have just told Moses. The passage doesn't even make it clear that what Zipporah did was what God originally wanted (if so, God's actions make him look like an even bigger psycho) or if she just staved his rage for the moment or if she happened upon (or knew about?) some weird loophole that spared Moses??
(for mobile broswers: http://youtu.be/Vjneut5T88M)
What a few Christian apologists have to say about this passage:
"Zipporah overcomes her maternal feelings of aversion to the painful rite, performs herself, by means of one of the sharp flints with which that part of the desert abounds, an operation which her husband, on whom the duty devolved, was unable to do, and having brought the bloody evidence, exclaimed in the painful excitement of her feelings that from love to him she had risked the life of her child"
"When God discovers to us what is amiss in our lives, we must give all diligence to amend it speedily. This is the voice of every rod; it calls us to return to Him that smites us."
"In summary, God was going to kill Moses because Moses was supposed to teach the Israelites God's Law, yet Moses was not obeying God's Law himself."
Like I wrote earlier, apologist words spoken from ignorance (a lot of speculation from an absence of information) laced with moral icky. Kinda hard to avoid when one is trying to defend an entity like Yahweh.
(^That DarkMatter2525 clip is a snippet from the video "Perfect Double Standard". A highly-recommended watch as it is both hilarious and thought-provoking.)