Hearts as Light as Feathers
Throughout the Exodus account, we read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh also hardened his own heart. In western culture, it is easy to miss the eternal implications here.
The ancient Egyptians believed that a ceremony which weighed the heart would grant them a place in the afterlife. During the Weighing of the Heart ceremony, the heart of the deceased was weighed on an enormous set of scales. On one scale were the principles of truth and justice. These were represented by a feather. On the other scale was the heart.
If the heart balanced against the feather, the deceased received back his heart and was welcomed into the afterlife. If the heart was heavy with the weight of his wrongdoings, the balance would sink. If the balance sank, his heart was devoured by a terrifying beast, and the individual with the hardened heart would cease to exist.
In Exodus chapters 6 to 9, we read ten times that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. But, only once do we see the Hebrew word kashah which means hard. In other instances, the word is kabed which means heavy. Pharaoh’s hardened heart was heavy – too heavy for the scales in the Weighing of the Heart ceremony. His hardened heart during the negotiations to free the Israelites was working against him in an eternal sense, and disqualifying him for the afterlife.
The Exodus story may be marked by heaviness and death. But, the Israelites felt light. They had light in their homes, hearts as light as feathers, and the light of divine deliverance. The Messiah Yeshua said, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12:36). If we truly trust Him, our hearts are light.
Published April 18, 2017