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The Torah brings very descriptive lineage of the Good guys (us) and the Bad guys (Eusov's Alufim, Amolek from Eisov etc) but reciting the Haggadah I was stumbled by the fact that Pharaoh's wickedness comes out of nowhere.

While the Meforshim compare the Egyptian Exile to Kutzo Shel Yod (of the Holy Name as one letter per one Exile) it is still unclear where does the wickedness come from.

So what evil does Pharaoh descend from? Was he a "super villain" like Lavan or just a regular idolater? What was his lineage and why the Torah does not mention it, unlike Haman, for example?

For those who interpret the Torah (ויקם מלך חדש) as נתחדשו גזרותיו - where do we see that a regular guy can one day turn into such a super evil-doer?


This question asks only about his spiritual heritage, another question deals with his genealogy.

  • Exodus 1:7-10 seems quite explicit about Pharaoh's strategic reason, which appears to be a rather cool-headed and emotionally detached political decision. If the command to dispose of newborns might strike you as odd, please keep in mind that the ancient Spartans and Romans did quite similar things. – Lucian Apr 22 at 0:58
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    Why do you assume that people can only be wicked if their parents are, or vice versa? Can’t you ask the same question about Esav, whose parents and twin were all righteous, or the opposite question about Rivkah, whose father and brother were wicked? – DonielF Apr 22 at 1:34
  • Please recall that the position of "Pharoh of Egypt" in the ancient world was synonomous with being the most powerful person on Earth, and there was no constitution to restrain a Pharoh's powers. The text, as @Lucian points out, seems to suggest that he followed his own line of reasoning into evil. As the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Josh K Apr 22 at 6:23
  • @DonielF Because that's what Judaism teaches us - just as the good has its root, the evil must have its roots, just as Moses can't suddenly come from say Canaan, Pharaoh can't pop from nothing. But you're right, there is an option of what you said, but then he wouldn't be so intrinsically bad as pictured in our sources. So let's decide. – Al Berko Apr 22 at 8:21
  • @JoshK I know that my way of thinking is not the mainstream of this site. But it is a legit way in Judaism (mostly Ariz"l and his followers) seeking the true roots and reasons for what is happening. Evil has to have roots, otherwise, it's just wrongdoing, same as we rely on our forefathers in "roots of our souls". There's a serious mess going on here with Pharaoh popping out of nowhere and becoming our greatest enemy. – Al Berko Apr 22 at 8:25

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