This is the third plague. Pharaoh was testing Moses on two grounds:
1. Whether what Moses uttered was replicable by his magicians?
2. Was Moses merely taking advantage of the knowledge Moses had about the times of certain events which were to take place, and passed it on as an act which would happen only when it was being WILLED by Moses?
The first two plagues were ordered to be replicated by the Pharaoh’s magicians and they replicated it. The effect was that they further aggravated the misery – just to show the Pharaoh that what Moses did, has nothing to do with the Divine, but possible ‘at will’ by human magicians.
The third plague is the infestation of lice, as in the previous two, the Pharaoh orders his magicians to replicate the infestation, but they couldn’t.
Pharaoh, has doubts, maybe Moses is more skilled in the enchantments of the Chaldeans and magicians, so why concede? After all it could be display of superior skill, which though is not obedient to the Will of the Pharaoh, yet is merely a skill, which could be honed through practice and knowledge. So why attribute the infestation of lice to the Divine?
But with every plague, the Pharaoh was forgetting that his people were suffering more! He didn’t mind it, the Ruler has to rule out that the plague was not a gimmick of a clever charlatan using the name of his God!
Every time Pharaoh reaches the boiling point because of the plague, he calls for Moses and obtains Relief. After every Relief, the Pharaoh’s heart hardens.
What is that HARDENING OF THE HEART?
To come to a reasoned conclusion that the difficult situation was not a target aimed at oneself but a random unpleasant event which happened and one was unfortunately caught therein – is the primary thought of all hardening!
Christians, including me are not alien to such reasoning, in our own little spheres the impact may not be national, as in the case of the Pharaoh, but to believe that the Pharaoh was wicked and that we are better human beings, is a fallacy we weave unto ourselves and stay smug.
We do not believe that we were the target of the plague, based on a faulty logic that since my neighbour and whole lot of others have also been subjected to the same plight. We believe that we were merely caught up with the rest and the event had to happen anyway! This is how we succumb through reasoning leading to the HARDENING of OUR HEARTS.
One of the biggest reasons for HARDENING OUR HEARTS is to look if others are also inflicted with as much misery as we are? And if we find that others are also entangled in the same misery, we harden our hearts and like the Pharaoh invite upon ourselves a worse plague than the previous one!
Let us have the humility to discern and concede, where we enjoy the fruits of free labour and efforts of other human beings without adequately compensating them for their efforts. Most importantly, let not RELIEF take us back to our fallible reasoning.