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The Image Of Moses & His Contribution To The Development Of Israel

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A heroes journey essay

A hero can be categorized in different ways according to different people however there is a specific mould that a hero fits into and a particular cycle that they go through in order to become the hero of any story. A hero is considered to withhold certain traits such as someone who gives hope and inspires others along with putting others needs before their own. A hero is also reviewed as extraordinary as they may possess abilities or characteristics that are unique to them or are thought of as out of the norm.

Moses has personality traits of a hero, as he is humble in the fact that he doesn’t consider himself as particularly special or the type of person that could be a hero showing that Moses’ downfall will not be arrogance. Furthermore, Moses inspires others by killing an Egyptian which inspires the captive Israelites and gives them hope that they may be saved and that the Egyptian’s are not untouchable. However, murder is not a typical trait shown by the supposed hero of a story or situation demonstrating how sometimes a hero does not always stick to the stereotypical archetype.

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Through Moses’ crime he managed to inspire and create hope for the Israelites and their children for one day something better then their current situation and from that point Moses became a figure to look up to and follow even if he didn’t consider himself in that way. Moses’ actions provided the Israelites with someone to put their faith in and aspire to be which shows how sometimes what is originally considered not a heroic act can become inspiration and can start off a movement towards change therefore the Israelites being let out of captivity. Furthermore, Moses had to inflict pain and suffering onto that Egyptian for the greater good even if in the moment he murdered the Egyptian out of rage. The ordinary world is where any heroes journey begins; it is the heroes home environment and where they fell most comfortable. For Moses this is not exactly the safest of environments as he understands that he is a Jew who are currently enslaved by the Egyptians.

The ordinary world of Moses is disrupted by his call to adventure by the herald (in this case God) as God speaks to him via a burning bush giving Moses orders to go to the Pharaoh to ask him to release the Israelites from captivity therefore rescuing them. God becomes to supernatural element of the heroes journey as it is out of the ordinary. God exposes Moses to something that is much greater then his ordinary world, the world that Moses lives in and Moses’ perception of reality. God did this by making Moses “cast it on the ground, and it was turned into a serpent; and Moses fled from it” (Exodus 4). Moses has clearly been specifically chosen by God to carry out this task showing the God evidently believes that Moses has the traits and capability to release the people of Israel from enslavement. This is Moses’ call to adventure as the herald is taking Moses out of his ordinary world and wants him to leave the life that he is living in order to come to the aid of others (in this case the Israelites). The herald takes the hero into an extraordinary world, transitioning from the ordinary world to one in which they can not predict or anticipate, which means that Moses has to demonstrate more heroic traits of being selfless and having the willpower to undergo harsh circumstances that he is not familiar with in order to save the Israelites.

The next step of the heroes cycle is the refusal to call, which is where the hero is scared or afraid to take on the challenge, or call to adventure that is put in front of them by the herald. For Moses he was scared of God when God was presented as a burning bush of fire as he cowered from it and tried to initially hide showing Moses’ weakness of not being able to face up to the challenge placed before him. Moses reveals his humble side/trait, during his refusal to call period, as he questions why God has assigned him the task of freeing the Israelites by going to confront the Pharaoh as he believes that he does not have the ability or is not worthy of carrying out such a mission as Moses questions God by asking “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh” (Exodus 3). Moses’ humble trait fits into the hero archetype further signifying Moses’ heroic traits. This could also be seen as Moses trying to take the easy way out and shying away from the call to adventure, which is not a trait that heroes are meant to possess as a typical hero is thought to be, brave and fearless. This evidently shows how not all heroes are the valiant and courageous people, at least not at first sight, and they have doubts about their own abilities as well as the ordinary person. Moses exhibits his ordinary self/side when he refuses the call to adventure due to being afraid however Moses separates himself as the hero due to him getting over the fear and accepting the call to adventure but this is only when his brother Aaron joins Moses.

Moses’ refusal to call of the herald (God) may also be down to Moses murdering an Egyptian causing him to commit arguably the worst sin in the sight of God meaning that he may feel embarrassed and guilty for committing this crime against God that Moses no longer feels worthy of God’s acceptance or faith in him. This once again shows an almost selfish side to Moses as he is considering his own feelings above those of the Israelites suffering in captivity however Moses’ thought process changes when he accepts the call to adventure and goes to speak to the Pharaoh. Moses in therefore exhibiting his ability to put others needs and feelings in front of his own which shows that he is a hero.

Works cited:

  1. Moses, The book of Exodus, Chapter 1-5 Joseph Campbel, A Heroes Journey, pages 49-77


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