Pharaoh’s determination to keep power caused him to ignore the obvious hand of God.
The word “Pharaoh” means ‘great house’. Though the Bible does not record the name of the Pharaoh in question (many scholars think he was Ramses 2, or his son, Menephtah), it does tell us of his poor decisions.
As king of Egypt, the Pharaoh struggled to maintain the power and order of the land. The large Hebrew population provided a significant labor force and played an important role in Egypt’s economy. As slaves, they helped build the infrastructure of the land – creating construction supplies and buildings (Ex. 5). If Pharaoh had yielded to Moses’ demands, it would have dealt a serious blow to the kingdom, the economy, and his personal standing..
Through Moses and Aaron, God inflicted Egypt with 10 plagues designed to induce the Pharaoh to release the Hebrew people and send them on their way to the Promised Land (Ex. 7-12). While many of the plagues initially prompted the Pharaoh to release God’s people, he changed his mind and kept God’s people in chains as soon as God removed the pain of the plague from the land. These plagues included turning the water into blood; infestations of frogs, lice, flies; and the death of cattle. They also included the infliction of boils, hail, locusts, and darkness.
Despite his grasping for power and his efforts to hold his kingdom’s economy together, Pharaoh finally relented when the plagues became personal. The tenth plague (the killing of the firstborn son) directly affected the Pharaoh’s life, family, and succession plan. Seeing his own dead son finally persuaded the Pharaoh to release the people.
Pharaoh’s stubbornness is really no different from the stubbornness we see of many today. When some read of the supernatural, miraculous events in the Bible… or hear of answered prayer today, they explain away God’s hand and continue to ignore the reality of God.
And what about you? Be careful you don’t dismiss your own blessings as “good luck” or the results of your “hard work”.
* Thank God for His work as God!
You can read this Pharaoh’s story in Exodus 5-14.