A couple days ago Denny Burk published an interesting essay entitled Test Case for Libertarian Free Will. It is a reflection on YHWH’s commission to Moses (Exod 3:18-19). Burk points out YHWH’s two predictions:
(1) The Israelites will choose to follow Moses. [and] (2) Pharoah will choose to reject Moses’ directives.
With these two predictions Burk discusses the issue of “free will.” He invites readers to think about the following quesitons: “Were the Israelites and Pharoah free to choose other than what they did?”
I’d like to answer the questions from the teaching of the Wisdom of Ben Sira (Sirach). Richard J. Clifford denotes that one of the main teachings of Sirach is “divine sovereignty and human freedom [my emphasis].” It emphasizes an “obligation to reassert human freedom and responsibility” (Clifford, 130):
Do not say, ‘It was the Lord’s doing that I fell away’; . . . ‘It was he who led me astray’ (15:11-12); ‘Do not say, I am hidden from the Lord, and who from on high has me in mind?’ (16:17).
Ben Sira’s emphasis on human freedom is based on the nature of human beings (15:15) and the character of God (15:11-20). So my answer to Burk’s quesions is simply “yes.” Both the Israelites and Pharoah were free to choose what they would have chosen.
Clifford, Richard J. The Wisdom Literature. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998.
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