Pharaoh was the king of Egypt. He had a hard heart. Pharaoh’s determination to maintain power caused him to discount the obvious hand of God. Although the Bible doesn’t record the name of this Pharaoh (many scholars think it may have been Menephtah, son of Ramses II), it does tell of his ill-fated resolve.
As king of Egypt, Pharaoh struggled to maintain the power and order of the land. The vast Hebrew population provided a significant labor source and played an important role in Egypt’s economy. As slaves, they helped build the infrastructure of the land—creating construction supplies and buildings (Exodus 5). If Pharaoh had yielded to Moses’ demands, it would have dealt a blow to the kingdom, the economy, and his personal prestige.
Through Moses and Aaron, God inflicted Egypt with ten plagues designed to induce Pharaoh to release the Hebrew people and send them on their way to the Promised Land (Exodus 7–12). While many of the plagues initially motivated Pharaoh to release God’s people, he changed his mind and held on to the people 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 Pharaoh’s life and succession plan. Seeing his own dead son finally persuaded the king to release the people.
Pharaoh’s stubbornness is no different than that of many in the world today. When they read of supernatural events in the Bible or hear of answered prayer, they explain away God’s hand and continue to ignore the reality of God. Be careful that you don’t dismiss your own blessings as good fortune or the mere fruits of your own hard work. Thank God for the times He answers your prayers.