Etikettarkiv | pharao

Abraham did not necessarily SIN by claiming his wife Sarah was his sister

Abraham 2Sarah – Abraham’s niece, sister and wife

The Hebrew word translated ”sister” in for instance Gen. 12:13 is ‘achowth (Strong’s 269), which based on Blue Letter Bible could mean sister (same parents), half-sister (same father), relative (of Israel’s and Judah’s relationship), beloved (bride), of intimate connection or another. It could mean sister either literally or figuratively.

According to Gen. 20:12 Abraham claims that Sarah is the daughter of his father (who is Terah) but not of his mother, which would mean that Sarah was Abraham’s half sister. Yet, in Gen. 11:31 Sarah is also called Terah’s daughter-in-law. This does not have to be a contradiction. The information that Abraham’s mother is not the mother of Sarah is clear from the Bible, but is Terah Sarah’s father or is it is oldest brother Haran as The book of Jasher suggests?

Terah could of course have had Sarah through another wife (even the wife of his son Haran), but if the aim is to be consistent with both Gen. 20:12 and Gen. 11:31, as well as the information in Jasher, then perhaps the simplest solution is that Sarah was the grand-daughter of Terah, i.e. the daughter of Haran, and this has been maintained by for instance Josephus. Sarah could then have been adopted into Terah’s household after the tragic death by fire of her father Haran (see The book of Jasher). As the daughter of Haran, Sarah would be Abraham’s niece. If she was also adopted by Terah, then Sarah would also be Abraham’s sister. When Sarah later married Abraham, she became his wife.

abraham 2

According to The book of Jasher Abraham was 10 years old when Sarah was born and it is quite possible that they at some point in time shared the same household and grew up as brother and sister. Terah and his sons Haran, Nahor and Abraham could have lived close together and we can for instance read in Jasher 12:16 that Terah, out of fear for king Nimrod, blamed his son Haran for being responsible for a certain cover up that angered the king who had wanted Abraham to be killed at birth. In the same way as Sarah could be called Abraham’s sister, also Lot could be called Abraham’s brother despite being Abraham’s nephew. Sarah and Lot were siblings.

Note also that this occurred many years before the Law of Moses was established, where it was prohibited to marry a sibling. Adam and Eve did not have any genetic defects to pass on to their children (which means they could marry each other and have children with no risks involved) but later on in time, through genetic bottle necks like the Ark and the Exodus, genetic defects had accumulated.

Deception?

It is possible to not volunteering with information in order to perhaps gain possessions or wrongful advantages that a person did not previously have. In that case not volunteering with information would be a sin even though no lies were uttered. Abraham did nothing of the sort. He did not withhold information in order to gain something that he did not already have, but he wanted to continue keeping what he already had – a family member. On top of this he offered to PART with ALL of his possessions if he could only keep this family member!

Abraham was actually afraid that the Egyptians would take Sarah away, because he had heard of their evil behavior in advance. Pharaoh is of course an Egyptian, but he would not be the one standing at the city gate to control the goods and the people entering the city. The only way for him to get the news about Sarah would be if someone thought it would be worth while telling him, and the Egyptian guards who were placed to check on the arriving travelers knew they would be getting rewards if they would bring Pharaoh something they knew he would appreciate. Perhaps the Egyptian guards reasoned in this way: 1) If Abraham would only be a brother (or a father) of Sarah, then he would not be an obstacle at all and would not need to be killed, 2) Pharaoh could be presented Sarah who would be a free woman, 3) the Egyptian guards would get great rewards for their discovery, and 4) Abraham would likely be treated really well and receive possessions from Pharaoh in order to smoothly ”buy” Sarah over and take her as a wife. However, Abraham did no travel to Egypt to acquire more possessions (apart from food) and he was willing to part with ALL that he had if the Egyptian workers would only forget about Sarah (Jasher 15:11-12). The question that later arose ”Why did you say she was your sister?”, could be answered with ”Because she is my sister. And who gave you the right to take her due to us being siblings when I urged you not to?”.

A man should be innocent until proven guilty, and if someone wants to charge Abraham of lying, that person has the burden of proof. It is of course an option that Abraham sinned by not trusting God to sort out this problem, but 1) we are not always supposed to sit back and do nothing while God sorts things out, and 2) Abraham presented Sarah as his sister twice in similar occasions – which might suggest that he felt free to repeat his actions due to his realization that he spoke nothing but the truth with no evil intentions in his heart.

Even if we would view Abraham and Sarah’s deed as a sin, it would still not turn Abraham into the monster as some liberal scholars describe him to be. Even king David, a man of God’s own heart, sinned by murder and adultery and did not repent until Nathan made him realize his severe sin. Righteous people can also choose to sin and if they do, the same requirement applies to them – repentance and turning away from sin. Evangelical christians do not believe that a sinful person is a role model, but Abraham was far from being a sinful man. He proved to be an extremely righteous man throughout his entire life. Also a righteous person can choose to sin once and get his spiritual life back by repenting.

Let us check the two stories where Abraham thought it would be best to present Sarah as his ”sister” in order to save his life as well as the quality of life for Sarah. He seems to have made just the right choice based on the outcome!

Abraham 1The case with Pharaoh and Sarah

Gen. 11:29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

If Abraham would present his beautiful wife Sarah as his wife instead of his sister, then there might be a risk that Pharaoh would kill Abraham in order to get hold of Sarah and make her his wife. As a brother Abraham would not pose the same threat. If a brother and a sister would be travelling together, the brother is the one responsible for his sister’s protection. If she does not belong to her Father’s household, then she belongs to her brother’s household and he is the one to negotiate with if someone wants to marry his sister. This would be understood also by Pharaoh even if it was a risk that his way of negotiating might be very harsh. Abraham of course had no intention to present his wife as a sister and try to marry her off, but it is possible that Abraham tried to estimate what kind of behavior he could expect from Pharaoh and decided to go for the safest bet. The problem was Sarah’s extraordinary beauty, so presenting himself as a husband might be the worse option with the greatest risks involved. Maybe Pharaoh would use his power and simply eliminate him entirely to make Sarah available and dependent on another household – like Pharaoh’s household. The best option would be if Pharaoh would not be interested in Sarah at all, but then it was imperative to avoid causing any reports about her beauty. To be on the safer side Abraham even put Sarah in a chest during a critical situation (The book of Jasher), but to no avail since she was discovered and the news about her beauty reached Pharaoh.

It certainly looks like Abraham’s reasoned rather wisely in a delicate situation. The alternative to not travel to Egypt at all would risk their lives through starving, so a travel to Egypt still seemed like a good option despite the risks.

Gen. 12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.17 And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Here is the same story according to The book of Jasher:

Jasher 9:1 And Haran, the son of Terah, Abram’s oldest brother, took a wife in those days.2 Haran was thirty-nine years old when he took her; and the wife of Haran conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Lot.3 And she conceived again and bare a daughter, and she called her name Milca; and she again conceived and bare a daughter, and she called her name Sarai.4 Haran was forty-two years old when he begat Sarai, which was in the tenth year of the life of Abram; and in those days Abram and his mother and nurse went out from the cave, as the king and his subjects had forgotten the affair of Abram.

Jasher 12:37 And Haran was eighty-two years old when he died in the fire of Casdim. And the king, princes, and inhabitants of the land, seeing that Abram was delivered from the fire, they came and bowed down to Abram.—44 And at that time Nahor and Abram took unto themselves wives, the daughters of their brother Haran; the wife of Nahor was Milca and the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai. And Sarai, wife of Abram, was barren; she had no offspring in those days.

Jasher 15:1 And in that year there was a heavy famine throughout the land of Canaan, and the inhabitants of the land could not remain on account of the famine for it was very grievous.2 And Abram and all belonging to him rose and went down to Egypt on account of the famine, and when they were at the brook Mitzraim they remained there some time to rest from the fatigue of the road.3 And Abram and Sarai were walking at the border of the brook Mitzraim, and Abram beheld his wife Sarai that she was very beautiful.4 And Abram said to his wife Sarai, Since God has created thee with such a beautiful countenance, I am afraid of the Egyptians lest they should slay me and take thee away, for the fear of God is not in these places.5 Surely then thou shalt do this, Say thou art my sister to all that may ask thee, in order that it may be well with me, and that WE may live and not be put to death.6 And Abram commanded the same to all those that came with him to Egypt on account of the famine; also his nephew Lot he commanded, saying, If the Egyptians ask thee concerning Sarai say she is the sister of Abram.7 And yet with all these orders Abram did not put confidence in them, but he took Sarai and placed her in a chest and concealed it amongst their vessels, for Abram was greatly concerned about Sarai on account of the wickedness of the Egyptians.8 And Abram and all belonging to him rose up from the brook Mitzraim and came to Egypt; and they had scarcely entered the gates of the city when the guards stood up to them saying, Give tithe to the king from what you have, and then you may come into the town; and Abram and those that were with him did so.—11 And Abram said, This chest I will not open, but all you demand upon it I will give. And Pharaoh’s officers answered Abram, saying, It is a chest of precious stones, give us the tenth thereof.12 Abram said, All that you desire I will give, but you must not open the chest.13 And the king’s officers pressed Abram, and they reached the chest and opened it with force, and they saw, and behold a beautiful woman was in the chest.14 And when the officers of the king beheld Sarai they were struck with admiration at her beauty, and all the princes and servants of Pharaoh assembled to see Sarai, for she was very beautiful. And the king’s officers ran and told Pharaoh all that they had seen, and they praised Sarai to the king; and Pharaoh ordered her to be brought, and the woman came before the king.15 And Pharaoh beheld Sarai and she pleased him exceedingly, and he was struck with her beauty, and the king rejoiced greatly on her account, and made presents to those who brought him the tidings concerning her.16 And the woman was then brought to Pharaoh’s house, and Abram grieved on account of his wife, and he prayed to the Lord to deliver her from the hands of Pharaoh.17 And Sarai also prayed at that time and said, O Lord God thou didst tell my Lord Abram to go from his land and from his father’s house to the land of Canaan, and thou didst promise to do well with him if he would perform thy commands; now behold we have done that which thou didst command us, and we left our land and our families, and we went to a strange land and to a people whom we have not known before.18 And we came to this land to avoid the famine, and this evil accident has befallen me; now therefore, O Lord God, deliver us and save us from the hand of this oppressor, and do well with me for the sake of thy mercy.19 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Sarai, and the Lord sent an angel to deliver Sarai from the power of Pharaoh.20 And the king came and sat before Sarai and behold an angel of the Lord was standing over them, and he appeared to Sarai and said to her, Do not fear, for the Lord has heard thy prayer.21 And the king approached Sarai and said to her, What is that man to thee who brought thee hither? and she said, He is my brother.22 And the king said, It is incumbent upon us to make him great, to elevate him and to do unto him all the good which thou shalt command us; and at that time the king sent to Abram silver and gold and precious stones in abundance, together with cattle, men servants and maid servants; and the king ordered Abram to be brought, and he sat in the court of the king’s house, and the king greatly exalted Abram on that night.23 And the king approached to speak to Sarai, and he reached out his hand to touch her, when the angel smote him heavily, and he was terrified and he refrained from reaching to her.24 And when the king came near to Sarai, the angel smote him to the ground, and acted thus to him the whole night, and the king was terrified.25 And the angel on that night smote heavily all the servants of the king, and his whole household, on account of Sarai, and there was a great lamentation that night amongst the people of Pharaoh’s house.26 And Pharaoh, seeing the evil that befell him, said, Surely on account of this woman has this thing happened to me, and he removed himself at some distance from her and spoke pleasing words to her.27 And the king said to Sarai, Tell me I pray thee concerning the man with whom thou camest here; and Sarai said, This man is my husband, and I said to thee that he was my brother for I was afraid, lest thou shouldst put him to death through wickedness.28 And the king kept away from Sarai, and the plagues of the angel of the Lord ceased from him and his household; and Pharaoh knew that he was smitten on account of Sarai, and the king was greatly astonished at this.29 And in the morning the king called for Abram and said to him, What is this thou hast done to me? Why didst thou say, She is my sister, owing to which I took her unto me for a wife, and this heavy plague has therefore come upon me and my household.30 Now therefore here is thy wife, take her and go from our land lest we all die on her account. And Pharaoh took more cattle, men servants and maid servants, and silver and gold, to give to Abram, and he returned unto him Sarai his wife.31 And the king took a maiden whom he begat by his concubines, and he gave her to Sarai for a handmaid.32 And the king said to his daughter, It is better for thee my daughter to be a handmaid in this man’s house than to be mistress in my house, after we have beheld the evil that befell us on account of this woman.33 And Abram arose, and he and all belonging to him went away from Egypt; and Pharaoh ordered some of his men to accompany him and all that went with him.34 And Abram returned to the land of Canaan, to the place where he had made the altar, where he at first had pitched his tent.

If you react on the information that innocent people seemed to have died due to the curse that surrounded Sarah, the truth is that we are all going to die one day. Based on the Bible and The book of Jasher, the people close to Pharaoh and Abimelech were considered evil but even if they were righteous physical death still awaits every single one of us. It is eternal spiritual death which would be a disaster, but it seems like what had befallen Pharaoh and his household could almost be seen as a wake up call for them. It is hard to know if this disaster caused some of them to repent, but the story eventually ends with Pharaoh letting Abraham and Sarah go – with many new valuable possessions. However, Abraham and Sarah did not travel to Egypt to get possessions but rather to acquire food. They were likely given much food along with their many gifts – and even a handmaid (Hagar) for Sarah.

Considering the circumstances, the story ended rather well but Abraham and Sarah influenced the outcome by praying to their Lord who heard them. Naturally also Pharaoh and his people had the chance to do the same, and to live righteous lives just like Abraham and Sarah. Maybe we would react in a similar way? If I were a Swedish Jew in nazi Germany I would not volunteer with the information that I was a Jew but rather present myself as a Swede. If on the other hand a nazi officer would ask me directly if I was a Jew, believed in God, etc, then it would certainly be a lie to deny it. The same would apply if Abraham or Sarah would deny the truth.

The case with king Abimelech and Sarahabimelech

A similar story occurred in relation to Abimelech. Also this story ended well ”Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee”.

Gen. 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.18 For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.

The same story according to Jasher.:

Jasher 20 1 And at that time Abraham journeyed from the plain of Mamre, and he went to the land of the Philistines, and he dwelt in Gerar; it was in the twenty-fifth year of Abraham’s being in the land of Canaan, and the hundredth year of the life of Abraham, that he came to Gerar in the land of the Philistines.2 And when they entered the land he said to Sarah his wife, Say thou art my sister, to any one that shall ask thee, in order that we may escape the evil of the inhabitants of the land.3 And as Abraham was dwelling in the land of the Philistines, the servants of Abimelech, king of the Philistines, saw that Sarah was exceedingly beautiful, and they asked Abraham concerning her, and he said, She is my sister.4 And the servants of Abimelech went to Abimelech, saying, A man from the land of Canaan is come to dwell in the land, and he has a sister that is exceeding fair.5 And Abimelech heard the words of his servants who praised Sarah to him, and Abimelech sent his officers, and they brought Sarah to the king.6 And Sarah came to the house of Abimelech, and the king saw that Sarah was beautiful, and she pleased him exceedingly.7 And he approached her and said to her, What is that man to thee with whom thou didst come to our land? and Sarah answered and said He is my brother, and we came from the land of Canaan to dwell wherever we could find a place.8 And Abimelech said to Sarah, Behold my land is before thee, place thy brother in any part of this land that pleases thee, and it will be our duty to exalt and elevate him above all the people of the land since he is thy brother.9 And Abimelech sent for Abraham, and Abraham came to Abimelech.10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, Behold I have given orders that thou shalt be honored as thou desirest on account of thy sister Sarah.11 And Abraham went forth from the king, and the king’s present followed him.12 As at evening time, before men lie down to rest, the king was sitting upon his throne, and a deep sleep fell upon him, and he lay upon the throne and slept till morning.13 And he dreamed that an angel of the Lord came to him with a drawn sword in his hand, and the angel stood over Abimelech, and wished to slay him with the sword, and the king was terrified in his dream, and said to the angel, In what have I sinned against thee that thou comest to slay me with thy sword?14 And the angel answered and said to Abimelech, Behold thou diest on account of the woman which thou didst yesternight bring to thy house, for she is a married woman, the wife of Abraham who came to thy house; now therefore return that man his wife, for she is his wife; and shouldst thou not return her, know that thou wilt surely die, thou and all belonging to thee.15 And on that night there was a great outcry in the land of the Philistines, and the inhabitants of the land saw the figure of a man standing with a drawn sword in his hand, and he smote the inhabitants of the land with the sword, yea he continued to smite them.16 And the angel of the Lord smote the whole land of the Philistines on that night, and there was a great confusion on that night and on the following morning.17 And every womb was closed, and all their issues, and the hand of the Lord was upon them on account of Sarah, wife of Abraham, whom Abimelech had taken.18 And in the morning Abimelech rose with terror and confusion and with a great dread, and he sent and had his servants called in, and he related his dream to them, and the people were greatly afraid.19 And one man standing amongst the servants of the king answered the king, saying, O sovereign king, restore this woman to her husband, for he is her husband, for the like happened to the king of Egypt when this man came to Egypt.20 And he said concerning his wife, She is my sister, for such is his manner of doing when he cometh to dwell in the land in which he is a stranger.21 And Pharaoh sent and took this woman for a wife and the Lord brought upon him grievous plagues until he returned the woman to her husband.22 Now therefore, O sovereign king, know what happened yesternight to the whole land, for there was a very great consternation and great pain and lamentation, and we know that it was on account of the woman which thou didst take.23 Now, therefore, restore this woman to her husband, lest it should befall us as it did to Pharaoh king of Egypt and his subjects, and that we may not die; and Abimelech hastened and called and had Sarah called for, and she came before him, and he had Abraham called for, and he came before him.24 And Abimelech said to them, What is this work you have been doing in saying you are brother and sister, and I took this woman for a wife?25 And Abraham said, Because I thought I should suffer death on account of my wife; and Abimelech took flocks and herds, and men servants and maid servants, and a thousand pieces of silver, and he gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah to him.26 And Abimelech said to Abraham, Behold the whole land is before thee, dwell in it wherever thou shalt choose.27 And Abraham and Sarah, his wife, went forth from the king’s presence with honor and respect, and they dwelt in the land, even in Gerar.28 And all the inhabitants of the land of the Philistines and the king’s servants were still in pain, through the plague which the angel had inflicted upon them the whole night on account of Sarah.29 And Abimelech sent for Abraham, saying, Pray now for thy servants to the Lord thy God, that he may put away this mortality from amongst us.30 And Abraham prayed on account of Abimelech and his subjects, and the Lord heard the prayer of Abraham, and he healed Abimelech and all his subjects.

Annonser

Also Romans 9 shows man’s free will

Romans 9 – the calvinists´favorite

Let’s go through the whole chapter.

1I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;  5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. 

Paul apparently doesn’t believe that God has predestined some for heaven and some for hell, because he says he wish he were accursed for the sake of his kinsmen (the jews) even though not all of them have faith in Jesus as the Messiah. If God the Father didn’t intend for Jesus to die for ALL people but only SOME (the lucky elect) then why would Paul desire to die for people who are not christians? It wouldn’t make sense for Paul to be willing to die for people who Jesus would not be willing to die for. Paul also seems  to be unaware of that (if he were a calvinist) that things turn out exactly as God has planned from before the creation of the world, so to have ”heaviness” and ”continual sorrow” would be puzzling emotions. Why feeling sorry for people who will end up (heaven or hell) exactly where God wants them to end up? Paul has no business feeling sorry for people who God doesn’t feel sorry for.  Then again, limited atonement is not Biblical!

 6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed 9For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

Not all jews are the children of Abraham even though they are related to him through his blood. Only those who are of the ”promise” are counted for the seed, and they are of FAITH. Abraham himself showed his faith through his deeds, and he was considered righteous for this reason. The promised Messiah came through his bloodline and through Sarah who was the free woman (and not through Hagar who was a servant and not free).

Gal. 3:7 Know ye therefore thatthey which are of FAITH, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.So then they which be of FAITH are blessed with faithful Abraham.

10And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

The fact that children who are still in the womb have not done any good or evil, implies that the sinful nature is not true since babies are viewed as neutral. We can read about ”election” here, but note that it’s not about electing individuals TO BELIEVE. The children in question are Jacob and Esau and they are not only individuals but also NATIONS and PEOPLE. God chose the seed of Jacob to bring forth the Messiah. Esau rejected his birthright (which is usually given to the first born) but still expected to maintain it when it was time to get the blessing from his Father, whereas Jacob took actions to lay hold of the birthright. A parallel can be made with the jews who expected to inherit the Kingdom just because they were born as jews and ”God’s chosen people”. Paul tells them that salvation doesn’t work that way, but that we are rather saved by FAITH (proven by deeds) and this promise is also for the gentiles.

12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Did the person Esau ever serve the younger person Jacob? No, not at any point in his life did he serve him. However, the PEOPLE who came forth from Esau did serve the people who came forth from Jacob. God had good reasons to hate Esau, both as an individual and as a people. Read more about Jacob and Esau here.

14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

The point here is that it’s God’s prerogative to arrange his salvation plan in any way he wants, and he certainly doesn’t need to ask man for permission to do it. The jews might feel that they should have an advantage since they are the chosen ones who the Law was given to and since they are of the seed of Abraham and Jacob, but Paul explains that this is not so. The salvation offer is also given to the gentiles, and we are not saved by being born a jew or by obeying the jewish ceremonial Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ who died for the world. Notice also that it doesn’t say that God doesn’t want to show mercy on all. What it does say is that GOD decides on whom he will show mercy. Does God have the right to show mercy based on CONDITIONS? Yes absolutely,  and the text doesn’t say that he provides mercy on individuals UNCONDITIONALLY. We know from elsewhere in Romans and in the rest of the Bible that we are saved upon conditions, and those conditions are faith and repentance. If God wants to show mercy and compassion on those who have repentant hearts –  and not on those with unrepentant hearts – then he may do so, and he would not be unrighteous for doing so. We can read that God uttered those words (about mercy) to Moses, and we know that God had conditions on the Israelites and chose to not show mercy on those who rebelled against him.

17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Pharao hardened his heart several times before God did. God has the right to harden hearts that are unwilling to conform to him (harden even more). See my blog post about Pharao here.

19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

”Who are thou that repliest against God?” we are asked. This means we should NOT reply against God and argue with him, right? Has it ever happened in history that people still HAVE replied against him? YES! There are numerous examples of this in the Bible, and not only that – but there are angels and human beings who have even REBELLED against him! Does God want people to rebel against him? Of course not! Each time people reply against God and rebel against him it’s AGAINST his will. We are being disobedient to God by rebelling against him. So this text is not what people cannot do, but what they SHOULD NOT do. And let’s not forget that the context is still that GOD alone has the right to bring about his salvation plan in any way he wants. The text doesn’t say that God always directs our steps and forces us (predestines us) to walk his way.

Isa 45:9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Yes, woe unto him because he acts against the will of God by striving with his maker which he is not supposed to do.

21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

The context is still that the salvation offer is also given to the gentiles. We can read that God could have chosen to ”endure with much longsuffering” the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Why would we read terms such as ”endure” and ”longsuffering” as though the vessels had a will of their own and put up a resistance against God? If God predestines all things that come to pass, then surely he is able to bring them to pass without struggle, and with no need to ”endure” with ”much longsuffering”? We can also read below that we are expected to purge ourselves, and if we choose to do so then we will be a vessel unto HONOR! If we struggle against God and make it hard for him to conform us to what he wants, then we are fitted for destruction (we have fitted ourselves for destruction) and our right place is on the scrap heap, BUT for our sake he might choose to endure with much long-suffering. Which vessels are the ones made unto honor? Could it be those who have repentant hearts and who are willing to conform? Which  vessels are the ones unto dishonor? Could it be those with rebellious hearts and who are unwilling to conform? The vessels who choose to conform are the same as the vessels of mercy, and they are the ones which are prepared beforehand to enter the Kingdom of God. Now, it’s up to us to purge ourselves so that we can become vessels of mercy, and the wonderful promises will then apply to us.

2 Tim 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore PURGES HIMSELF from these, he shall be a vessel unto HONOUR,sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work

Jer 18:3Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4And the vessel that he made of clay WAS MARRED in the hand of the potter: so he made it again ANOTHER VESSEL, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

Read my blog post about the potter and the clay here.

25As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. 27Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. 29And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. 30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Here we can see the crux of the problem spelled out. The stumblingstone which the jews stumbled upon and which can separate them from God is JESUS CHRIST. The jews were at risk to miss God’s salvation plan by continuing to reject the Messiah and that’s what Paul is so grieved about.  The condition for salvation is faith in Jesus and that might very well, to the jews’ surprise, exclude the jews and include the gentiles. The Jews assumed they were God’s chosen people and that salvation was limited to them. Above we can see that faith must precede in salvation and it’s the condition for salvation.  The Jews, who were God’s elect,  sought to reach salvation through keeping the law rather than by faith.  Nothing is said here about God’s choice in salvation but ONLY about ”men” having faith – NOT God giving faith to individuals. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Jew or Gentile, because God has sovereignly chosen to save all those who trust in Jesus for salvation.  

Romans 10:12-13 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  

Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.

Origen: “Therefore has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens.” And certain of those who hold different opinions misuse these passages, themselves also almost destroying free-will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation, and others saved which it is impossible can be lost”

PHARAOH is told to have hardened his own heart – Bible verses

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth (Rom 9:17) 

God’s had not YET destroyed Pharaoh in order to further demonstrate His power. God spared Pharaoh for a while, instead of destroying Egypt more quickly. Rom. 9:17-18 is a reference to this verse:

Exodus:9:15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.17AS YET EXALTEST THOU THYSELF AGAINST MY PEOPLE; THAT THOU WILT NOT LET THEM GO? (KJV)

Notice in this reference, that Pharaoh is suggested to have exalted himself against God’s people by refusing to let his people go. This was an idea coming from Pharaoh himself and not from God. Another translation is:

Exodus 9:15-16 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up [or have spared you, NIV mg.] for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.  

The word hardened consists of three different Hebrew words used to describe Pharaoh’s heart condition. Kabed which has the idea of to be heavy, insensible, or dull, qasah which conveys the sense of being hard, severe, or fierce, hazaq, meaning to be or grow firm, strong. The plagues are called ”judgments” (7.4), because God judged Egypt in its treatment of Israel. We can read in the Bible that people ”perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess 2:10) and that would have been an option also for Pharaoh. Instead he ended up much like the rebellious people spoken about in Romans 1, who God gave up to a depraved mind because of their wickedness.

There were to be ten wonders in all, each time a sign judgment would be delivered for the purpose of freeing Israel. These become more severe as the months go by (approximately 6 months). The magicians finally acknowledged; ”This is the finger of God” (8:19) so the judgements were apparently effective. Pharaoh admitted this off and on through the ordeal (9.27; 10.17), the officials did likewise (9.20; 10.17), the Israelites (14.31) and many Egyptians (12.38) went with the Israelites (and were saved during the Passover judgment/plague–12.48-49), and the Philistines in Canaan honored Israel’s God and knew all about Pharaoh’s folly (I Sam 4.8; 6.5-6).

Pharaoh hardened his own heart numerous times before God did. If Pharaoh started out to harden his heart first (even though the Bible says the opposite) wouldn’t this mean that Pharaoh’s heart was NOT hard/hardened BEFORE this occurred? This is usually not what reformed believers believe could be the case with ”non-elect”, but rather that wicked people have hardened hearts all the time. When is a person’s heart in risk to be hardened?

Hebr. 3:7 Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness

This means that it’s our responsibility to not harden our hearts, and we can see that we get hardened hearts when hearing the voice of God and refusing to hearken to him. This could explain why we can read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart at the same time as we read that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Before the first contact with Moses and his God, Pharaoh’s heart was not hard/hardened because he had never faced any options about adhering to God’s requests or not. (I’m not saying Pharaoh was necessarily ”saved” during that time, because he could still have lived in sin and against his own conscience.) Some might experience hardening of their own hearts and lives if they know that God is calling them to come to him – maybe through another person who evangelizes for them – but due to fear, peer pressure, or similar, they decide to reject the calling even though they believe it’s divine. They have then hardened their hearts, or we could say it’s the evangelist who hardened their hearts since he is the one who ”caused” the hardening to happen by evangelizing to them. Had he not done so, they would remain in their ignorance. So both alternatives are valid depending on how we look at it. The same evangelist might approach the same people yet again, and once again ”harden” them when he reminds them of that God wants them to repent for their sins and accept him as their Savior. If they once again reject the calling, they have once again hardened their hearts (or the evangelist did). I believe street preachers constantly ”harden people’s hearts” when they preach to them about repentance and that God is calling them to come to him to get life. Even though some of them realize that they do live in sin and really should turn their lives around, they still choose to reject the offer.

Pharaoh is said to have hardened his heart in the below verses

Ex 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

Ex 8:32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

Ex 9:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. (Here we can read that Pharao SINNED by hardening his heart, so if we want to believe God is the one hardening it, then GOD is the one who forced Pharao to sin.)

1 Sam 6:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? (Here the pagan kings understood the root cause of Pharaoh’s problem was HIS OWN hardening.)

Verses in Exodus with no source of agent mentioned

7:13 ”Pharaoh’s heart was hard (and the heart of Pharaoh is strong, and he hath not hearkened unto them, as Jehovah hath spoken” / Young’s Literal)
7:14 ”Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding
7:22 ”Pharaoh’s heart was hard
8:19 ”Pharaoh’s heart was hard”
9:7 ”Pharaoh’s heart was unyielding”
9:35 ”Pharaoh’s heart was hard”

God is said to have done the hardening in the below verses in Exodus:

4:21 ”I will harden his heart” (future – a prophesy)
7:3 ”I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (future – prophesy)
9:12 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
10:1 ”I have hardened his heart”
10:20 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
10:27 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
11:10 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
14:4 ”I will harden Pharaoh’s heart”
14:8 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
14:17 ”I will harden the Egyptians’ hearts”  

This means, that the first mention of someone hardening Pharaoh’s heart is in Ex. 8:15, where Pharaoh is said to have done it. Not that it matters, considering what I’ve written above. This is what might have happened to Pharaoh:

Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:—28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND, to do those things which are not convenient;—31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Examples of hardening of a heart

2 Chron 36:11 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.

Ps 95:7For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

Pro 28:13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.14 Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

Pro_21:29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way. 

Isaiah 63: 17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.18 The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. (Notice that one could be aware of this condition and ask God to change it. Pharaoh could have done the same thing.)

Dan 5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: 19And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him (Note the means of self-hardening was pride. In this case, God punished the ruler with deposition rather than additional and prolonging hardening)

Deut 15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.

Deut. 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. 17For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward

Jer. 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

Deut 30:1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. 6And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Notice that God will circumcise their hearts AFTER they return to Him which is a condition.)

Ps 119: 17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. 18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (Notice that the writer can see well enough to know he needs ‘more visibility)

1 King. 8:58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:60That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day. (Notice that one can ask God to turn our hearts)

2 Chron. 12:14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.

1 Chron. 29:18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee: 19 And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision. (Notice that these things can be prayed for)

Mark 9:23Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (This person expressed faith and asked to be given more faith. We know when we need ”unhardening” or renewal)