Exodus 10:1:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בֹּ֖א אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה כִּֽי־אֲנִ֞י הִכְבַּ֤דְתִּי אֶת־לִבּוֹ֙ וְאֶת־לֵ֣ב עֲבָדָ֔יו לְמַ֗עַן שִׁתִ֛י אֹתֹתַ֥י אֵ֖לֶּה בְּקִרְבּֽוֹ׃

And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these My signs in their midsts."

There are a few things puzzling in the opening verse of parshat Bo. First, the discussion in this verse and the next few, when G-d is talking, he doesn't relay to Moses what he should say to Pharaoh. With all the other plagues that Moses appeared to Pharaoh, G-d usually says, "Tell Pharaoh 'Let my people go and serve me.' Additionally, he tells Mosses to relay a warning about the next plague.

Here, there is neither. What's even stranger is that the phrasing seems to make "Because I have hardened Pharaoh's heart" as the reason to go to Pharaoh. That doesn't seem to be a reason to go. As a matter of fact, it seems to be a reason not to go. If Moses already knows that Pharaoh won't listen to anything he tells him, why should he go at all? Shouldn't the reason be more like, "Because I want him to release my people"?

1 Answer 1


The Malbim explains that Moses is wondering how could it be that Pharaoh, who was afraid before, suddenly strengthens his own heart right after the hail-and-fire plague that ended the last parsha.

So G-d tells Moses "Come to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart" and that he did so for two reasons:

  1. "in order that I may place these signs of Mine in his midst" (for their side).

  2. "and in order that you tell into the ears of your son and your son's son..." (for our side).

So according to the Malbim, the "Come to Pharaoh" part is simply the obvious instruction of "we're going to do this again", while the reason "for I have hardened his heart" explains to Moses how come Pharaoh is still this way, especially after it seemed that he was changing his mind.

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