Michael J. Sandel, "Covenant and Consent," The Jewish Political Tradition vol. 1
However implausible this metaphysical claim may be, it nicely illustrates the paradox of consent theory by offering a limiting case. If no less than the survival of the cosmos is at stake in Israel's acceptance of the Torah, then two consequences follow for the covenant. One is that the people have the most weighty reason imaginable to give their consent. The other is that given the stakes, their consent is more or less beside the point. The moral importance of free choice pales in the face of the considerations that point to a particular choice. [...] Far from undermining the moral force of the Torah, this act of coercion expressed God's view that the acceptance of the Torah was necessary, not contingent on a voluntary act. (emphasis added)
From “What is Smart Is Not Always What is Right—Tevet 5778” by Dena Weiss, available at https://www.hadar.org/torah-resource/what-smart-not-always-what-right#source-6337
The claim that God is being unjust in manipulating Pharaoh and subjecting him and his people to the plagues on illegitimate grounds, makes two unnecessary, and possibly incorrect, assumptions. First, it assumes that the plagues are coming to Pharaoh and his people on account of Pharaoh’s refusal to let God’s people go at the time that Moshe asks. However, it is equally, if not more, reasonable, to assume that the plagues are coming because Pharaoh had enslaved God’s people in the first place and caused them to suffer for the decades prior. Pharaoh is not being indicted on this momentary refusal to emancipate his slaves, but rather on his history of abuse. . .
The second assumption in the critique of God’s having hardened Pharaoh’s heart is that this hardening has the effect of making Pharaoh behave in a way that he was not before and would not be otherwise. It asserts that if God had left Pharaoh’s heart alone, then Pharaoh would be free to do—and therefore would do—the right thing. This understanding relies on a definition of the heart as the seat of the will—a hard heart makes you obstinate and unwilling to do what is right and a soft heart makes you yielding, impressionable, good.
However, when the Torah describes the Jewish people as obstinate and sinful, it refers to them not as stiff in their hearts, but rather, as stiff in their necks, .קְשֵׁה עֹרֶף Biblical literature often treats the heart as the location of the intellect. As Nahum M. Sarna writes in his book on Sefer Shemot, Exploring Exodus , “Man’s thoughts, his intellectual activity, the cognitive, conative, and affective aspects of his personality, are all regarded as issuing from the heart.” We see the heart as knowing and wise throughout the Torah, and perhaps most beautifully when God describes the skill and wisdom involved in the crafting of the mishkan and its furnishings, where He refers to the artisans as חֲכַם לֵב , wise-hearted.
Consequently, when God (or Pharaoh) hardens or reinforces Pharaoh’s heart, what is being strengthened is Pharaoh’s ability to reason. God is primarily influencing his intelligence. He makes Pharaoh strong of mind and encourages him to think that he is being clever and that he is being strategic, which masks that he is in fact merely being cruel. God doesn’t make Pharaoh tough, so much as He makes him sharp. Pharaoh’s cruelty and propensity to sin is not what God is manipulating; God is strengthening Pharaoh’s ability to rationalize this behavior. Rationalizing a behavior doesn’t necessarily determine whether or not the action will take place, but rather how it should be evaluated, how one thinks about what has been done.
Rabbi Toba Spitzer, "The Blessing of Uncertainty: Kaplan, God and Process"
What I have learned from my reading of process theology is that accepting the reality of human freedom does not mean that we need to think of God as somehow powerless or irrelevant in the realm of human action. Rather, religious thinkers have made the mistake of attributing to God only one kind of power - coercive power, which is complete power over someone or something. God had all the power, and nothing and no one else, in either the natural or human realms, can exert meaningful power, because an omnipotent God can nullify any human action.
In the terminology of process theology, God's power is indeed ultimate, but it is primarily persuasive, not coercive. [...] Every created being has an aim or ideal towards which it tends, seeking its own ultimate fulfillment. God is the Creative Power that establishes this aim, and then sustains and urges beings towards that fulfillment. But God does not control the particulars of the process, and in the unfolding of creation there is room for chance and for choice - and for the attendant risk and suffering that they may bring.