When Pharaoh says: וַיִּשְׁלַח פַּרְעֹה וַיִּקְרָא לְמֹשֶׁה וּלְאַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם חָטָאתִי הַפָּעַם יְהוָה הַצַּדִּיק וַאֲנִי וְעַמִּי הָרְשָׁעִים׃ (Pharaoh sent, and called for Moshe and Aharon, and he said to them, “This time I have sinned. Adonoy is the righteous One and I and my people are the sinners.)

Is there a possibility that he was genuine in his statement and that he did have feelings of teshuvah? Can it be suggested that Pharaoh was kept alive during the ten plagues because he expressed teshuvah?

Even in our own lives, we might repent for a sin and the next day we will scumumb and do it again.

Looking for information regarding his teshuvah, what it means, what type of teshuvah it was, how it was possible for someone like Pharaoh to do teshuva?

Any assistance on this is appreciated.

Are there any mefarshim that talk about this? Or maybe you have something of your own, a unique perspective to share on this topic.


1 Answer 1


Yes. Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer 43:

ר' נחוניא בן הקנה אומר, תדע לך כח התשובה בא וראה מפרעה מלך מצרים שמרד בצור עליון

Rabbi Nehunia ben HaKana says: Know the power of teshuva! Come and see it from Pharaoh, King of Egypt, who rebelled greatly against the Rock Most High

How did his teshuva look? Like the continuation:

מי ה' אשר אשמע בקולו ובלשון שחטא בו בלשון עשה תשובה שנ' מי כמוך באלים ה' מי כמוך נאדר בקדש והצילו הב"ה בין המתים מניין שלא מת שנ' כי עתה שלחתי את ידי ואך אותך ואולם בעבור זאת העמדתיך וכו'

"Who is the Lord, that I should hearken unto his voice?" (Ex. 5:2). In the same terms of speech in which he sinned, he repented, as it is said "Who is like thee, O Lord, among the mighty?" (ibid. 15. 11). The Holy One, blessed be He, delivered him from amongst the dead. Whence (do we know) that he died? Because it is said, "For now I had put forth my hand, and smitten thee" (ibid. 9. 15).

Interestingly, it continues:

והלך ומלך בננוה והיו אנשי נינוה כותבים מכתבי עמל וגוזלים איש את ריעהו ובאים איש על רעהו במשכב זכור ובא אצלו מעשיהם הרעים וכששלח הב"ה ליונה להנבא עליה להחריבה שמע פרעה ועמד מכסאו וקרע בגדיו ולבש שק ואפר והכריז בכל עמו שיצומו כל העם שני ימים וכל מי שיעשה את הדברים הללו ישרף באש

[Pharaoh] went and ruled in Nineveh. And the people of Nineveh were writing works of profanity, stealing from one another, engaging in all kinds of perversity, and other such wicked things. And when the Holy One sent Jonah to deliver a prophecy to Nineveh about its destruction, Pharaoh heard and stood up from his throne and tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth and ashes, and announced to all his people that they should fast for three days - and that anyone who did not do it, would be burned in fire.

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