4:21 The Lord said63 to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt,64 see that you65 do before Pharaoh all the wonders I have put under your control.66 But I will harden67 his heart68 and69 he will not let the people go.
tn Heb “And Yahweh said.”
tn The construction may involve a verbal hendiadys using the two infinitive forms: “when you go to return” (בְּלֶכְתְּךָ לָשׁוּב, bélekhtékha lashuv). The clause is temporal, subordinated to the instruction to do the signs. Therefore, its focus cannot be on going to return, i.e., preparing or beginning to return.
tn The two verb forms in this section are the imperative (רְאֵה, ré’eh) followed by the perfect with the vav (וַעֲשִׂיתָם, va’asitam). The second could be coordinated and function as a second command: “see … and [then] do”; or it could be subordinated logically: “see … so that you do.” Some commentators who take the first option suggest that Moses was supposed to contemplate these wonders before doing them before Pharaoh. That does not seem as likely as the second interpretation reflected in the translation.
tn Or “in your power”; Heb “in your hand.”
sn Here is the first mention of the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh. God first tells Moses he must do the miracles, but he also announces that he will harden Pharaoh’s heart, as if working against Moses. It will help Moses to know that God is bringing about the resistance in order to bring a greater victory with greater glory. There is a great deal of literature on this, but see among the resources F. W. Danker, “Hardness of Heart: A Study in Biblical Thematic,” CTM 44 (1973): 89–100; R. R. Wilson, “The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart,” CBQ 41 (1979): 18–36; and R. B. Chisholm Jr., “Divine Hardening in the Old Testament,” BSac 153 (1996): 410–34.
tn Or “so that.”