It says in Exodus that God hardened Pharoah's heart etc. How can one explain this and does it contradict Judaism's belief/teaching that men/women are given free will by God?

You ask an interesting question, one that our ancient sages asked as well. Beginning with Exodus 4:21, the Torah tells us ten times that God intends to harden or stiffen Pharaoh's heart, which is to say, to make his intellect resistant to change. Rabbinic commentators have said that Pharaoh had already sinned severely--by killing the infacts--and therefore deserved his punishment and that when a person continues to act wickedly he will reach a point of no return. This is the way that God has arranged man's moral structure, and in that sense God may be said to stiffen the human heart. Moral depravity may become irreversible, and that was the way it was with Pharaoh. God merely informs Moses of what God knows is bound to happen.

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