Maimonides posits that a sinner can lose their free choice. This is how he explains the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Sforno takes the opposite view – if Pharaoh’s heart was not hardened, he would have immediately freed the people but he would not have been acting freely. Pharaoh’s servants advise him: “Send off the men, that they may worship the LORD their god. Do you not yet know that Egypt is lost?” There is no regret or recognition of God’s supreme authority, only naked self-interest: Do you not yet know that Egypt is lost? In the face of the plagues, it was only though hardening Pharaoh’s heart that he had the opportunity to truly repent.