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Moses and the Hero's Journey

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Kate Bosh

on 28 September 2012

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Transcript of Moses and the Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey: Moses Call to
Adventure Moses' is first called to adventure when "the Lord appears to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush" (Exodus 3:2). This is Moses' first time he comes into contact with the Lord. God speaks to Moses asking him to free the Israelites from Egyptian control, where they have been forced to live and work, and assist them in their escape journey to Canaan. The Israelites have endured many hardships in Egypt, which has compelled God to ask Moses "come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt" (3:10). God hopes to help free the people of Israel from Pharaoh, and he has chosen Moses to carry out this deed. Previously, Moses had been trying to live an average life as a shepherd. But after this call to adventure, he is forced to reevaluate his purpose in the world and decide whether or not he will attempt the journey. Refusal of
the Call When God requests of Moses to go save the Israelites from Egypt, Moses is initially adamant in his refusal to go. He timidly pleads "who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (3:11). He believes that he is not at all prepared for the task, and that he is not eloquent or persuasive enough to carry it out. He continues to resist God's demands on the terms that he doesn't believe he will be taken seriously, and that the Israelites will not trust him. His insecurity and unwillingness to go is typical of the hero archetype; every hero story consists of the common "refusal of the call." Moses continually tries to convince God that he should not go on the adventure and that he is not prepared. Hoping to persuade him into going, God hands him his staff. God demonstrates the staff's magical qualities when he asks Moses to look at his hand, and he has magically turned it "leprous as snow" (4:6). He further demonstrates the staff's power when he returns it to its normal color. With the power of this staff behind him, Moses decides to grant God's wishes and begin the journey. Like any supernatural aid that the typical hero receives, this magical staff helps him on his journey many times. The most notably example of this is when Moses uses it later to part the Red Sea to help the Israelites escape from Egypt, and later floods the sea to trap all of Pharaoh's army. Without the help of this aid, Moses would not have been able to successfully complete his journey. Supernatural
Aid Crossing the First Threshold After his discussion with God, and finally being convinced to attempt the task that God requested, Moses must begin his journey. He "took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt" (4:20). This is the first moment in which Moses truly embraces the adventure ahead of him. He has not entirely given up his old life, but he as accepted his fate as the savior of the Israelites and has begun to prepare for his journey. With the power of his staff in hand, he ascended to his journey. Belly of The Whale Moses and his companion Aaron arrive in Egypt to enlighten the Israelites of God's plan to free them. The words of Moses inspired the people and they "bowed their heads and worshiped" (4:31). In this moment, Moses has finally left behind his previous life as a shepherd. Though he has been on the journey and traveling away from home for some time, Moses had not yet completely abandoned his old self before this moment. This signifies Moses' final separation from his known world and self as he is now seen by the people as a leader and savior; someone to be respected, worshiped, and looked up to. This moment is also significant because it demonstrates that Moses is willing to accept his role as a savior as well. Since his first call to adventure, he seemed insecure and somewhat timid, but now he has changed and is ready to lead the people he has come to save. Road of Trials Rejuvenated by the support of the people, Moses and Aaron then turn to Pharaoh and plead to him to let the people go in the name of the Lord. Skeptical, Pharaoh responds "I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go" (5:2). In response to Pharaoh's rejection, God angrily releases ten plagues on Egypt. The plagues consist of turning the Nile River into blood, covering the land with frogs, gnats, locusts and swarms of flies, inflicting disease on the livestock, and infecting humans and animals with a repulsive rash. He creates a storm which devastates the land and envelops Egypt with an intense darkness. Meanwhile, God intentionally “hardens” Pharaoh to make it more difficult for Moses to complete his task (4:21). He concludes his raid on Egypt with a plague that kills all the firstborn males. All of these plagues make up Moses' road of trials, because they are intense difficulties that he has to overcome before he can successfully free the Israelites. Meeting with The Goddess Moses is initially fearful of going on the journey, fearful that he is "not eloquent, [but] slow of speech, and of slow tongue" (4:10). However, God shows unconditional love in encouraging him to continue the journey. Although Moses does not literally meet a Goddess whom he becomes enchanted in, he still finds a significant, all powerful love. God shows support by telling Moses "I will be with thy mouth... and will teach you what ye shall do" (4:15). With the support of a powerful love behind him, Moses gains a new found confidence in completing his task. Woman as the Temptress Temptation does not come in the literal form of a woman who coaxes the hero with her feminine allure; instead it looms inside of Moses. He continuously believes that he is not fit for the job, and that all those around him will find him not credible. He believes instead of trusting that he to take the Israelites to Egypt they will say that "[t]he Lord hath not appeared unto thee" (4:1). His fear continually holds him back in the early stages of his journey, and oftentimes makes him want to turn back. It isn't until he finds unconditional love with God that he begins to loose these doubts. With the support and encouragement of the Lord, he prevails and completes his journey. Kate Bosh and Allie Thomas Atonement with the Father Apotheosis God advises Moses to claim that he is the Israelite's Lord and that he will "bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and rid you out of their bondage" (6:6). These people, overwhelmed from the burdens they have faced in Egypt and searching for an answer to their prayers, take the words of Moses to heart and trust him fully as their leader and savior. God later remarks that he has "made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aron thy brother shall be thy prophet" (7:1). With the Israelites faith in Moses as their god, Moses officially leaves himself to live in spirit. The Ultimate Boon Finally after enduring ten brutal plagues, Pharaoh releases the Israelites. Moses' ultimate goal is reached, he says "unto them, Let the Lord be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you" (10:10). It has been a very burdensome and difficult task for Moses, and God has had part of this blame. By hardening the Pharaohs heart God made it harder for Moses to free the Israelites. However, in completing the task Moses proved to God and the Israelites that he could be a strong, dependable leader. Although the Pharaoh letting the Israelites go is only the beginning of a new adventure, it is an epic and triumphant end to an exigent journey. Refusal of Return After being released by the Pharaoh, Moses' and the Israelites begin their decent out of Egypt and into the new land. This long journey through the wilderness begins to tire Moses and his followers, and they worry they will not have the might to continue on. The Israelites begin to ask Moses "hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" (14:11). Moses' in turn begins to doubt himself, and his abilities to fulfill his task and help the Israelites out of Egypt. Although Moses does not refuse to return to his homeland, he does show concern for being able to reach this land and therefore concern for being able to go back to normality. However, he once again finds strength in the Lord and reassures himself and his followers that "the Lord shall fight for [them]" (14:14) and they should "[f]ear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (14:13). Magic Flight Pharaoh foreshadows to the events of the magic flight when releasing the Israelites, warning that "evil is before [them]" (10:10). This is seen in Moses and the Israelites journey to Canaan, where they are constantly halted by Pharaoh and his armies' disturbances. Pharaoh, still bitter over the Israelites departure, constantly chases after Moses and the Israelites. The people must then travel at a fast pace, day and night, so as to avoid Pharaoh, which makes their departure far from satisfactory. They begin to lose faith in Moses and worry that their journey will not end happily. Due to the fear of starvation, and the constant annoyance of Pharaoh close on their tracks, the people begin to forget their faith in God, something which Moses must soon remind them off. Rescue from Without As they cross through the wilderness towards their promise land, the Israelites complain of tiredness, soreness and hunger. Just as they have lost face in Moses, they are faced with the daunting and impossible task of crossing the Red Sea. However; prevailing once again, the Lord sends his assistance by giving Moses the power to part the sea. Moses, using his magical staff, "stretch[es] out thy hand over the sea [so] that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horseman" (14:26). With Gods assistance, and the power of the staff, Moses defeats the Pharaoh and his armies and can continue without harm to the Israelites new home. Crossing the Return Threshold Master of Two Worlds By the end of the story, Moses becomes a link between God and the Israelites, always facilitating communication between them. He conveys to them the 10 Commandments from God, along with other moral rules that God wishes for people to follow. Moses hikes the mountains to speak to God "face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (33:11). As this messenger, Moses has successfully mastered the two words. He transitions back to his normal life as a shepherd and can live with the Israelites as a normal man, but he still communicates with God, and he remains known as the hero that saved the Israelites from oppression by Pharaoh in Egypt. Without Moses' communication with God, the people he saved would have never received the proper moral and religious direction from the 10 Commandments that help them carry out good lives. "The anger of the Lord [is] kindled against Moses" (4:14) when he continues to argue that he does not have enough eloquence or preparation to save the Israelites from the Egyptians. However God encourages him to go forth, stating that he "will be with thy mouth and... will teach you what ye shall do" (4:15). This shows atonement with the father because Moses trusts God to be with him and assist him on his journey. Moses begins to cross the return threshold when he receives the 10 commandments from God at the top of Mount Sinai, and brings them back to the Israelites. In doing so, he is taking what he learned from his journey and experiences with God back to his people and instilling a sense of morality in these people. By doing this, Moses is beginning to end his adventure as a hero a transition into his old life as a shepherd, but also taking the lessons he learned on his path and carrying them with him in his old life. A common theme seen in the hero archetype is that when the hero returns home, he brings back some sort of lesson or important information back to his people; the 10 commandments is Moses' lesson. Departure Initiation Return Citation Exodus. The Holy Bible. Red Letter ed. New: World, 1913. Print.
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