The hero’s journey, or the Monomyth, is a primary component of stories in historical myths. According to Joseph Campbell, the expedition entails a hero venturing on an exploration, emerging victorious in a defining confrontation, and coming back to his home reshaped or transformed (Ross, 2019). Ross (2019) states that an analysis of folklores and myths of different universal cultures often reveals a similarity in their storylines, which Campbell refers to as Monomyths. This paper discusses Moses’ Biblical journey in relation to Campbell’s characteristics of a hero.
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The suffering of the Israelites prompted God to look for Moses to rescue them from the bondage. The book of Exodus narrates how they were enslaved in Egypt under the cruel rule of Pharaoh and yearned for freedom (Langer, 2018). Due to the numerous problems faced by the captives, God decided to choose Moses as their savior (Langer, 2018). The first step in Moses’ journey to Egypt was when he encountered a burning bush. According to Ross (2019), this stage in Campbell’s Monomyths is referred to as the call to adventure. Here, a hero’s comfort in the ordinary world is disrupted when a challenge or quest is presented before them. Therefore, a vocation can take different forms, such as a person’s dying words, an announcement, or any physical sign.
Moses had his summon when he was shepherding in the desert. In Exodus, chapter three, God approached him and caught his attention through a mysterious burning shrub (Langer, 2018). The voice came from the bush, yet it was not burning, which mesmerized Moses. He heard his name called and responded by affirming his availability. God formerly introduced himself and his intentions to save the Israelites from Pharaoh’s bondage. Moses was then mandated with the mission of rescuing the captives. Therefore, a call represents a hero’s ordinary world, which is out of balance and establishes a concrete relationship between the hero and the caller, in this case, God.
The second step in Moses’s summoning was the refusal to embark on the journey. According to Campbell, due to fears and insecurities that emerge from a vocation to adventure, a hero may be prompted to abandon it (Ross, 2019). At this stage, they are not prepared to make sacrifices, thus, preferring the safety and comfort in the Ordinary World. Moses refused the appeal even when he knew how powerful God was. He believed he did not have what it takes to accomplish such a momentous task (Langer, 2018). He, therefore, tells God about his weaknesses, specifically when it comes to his speech. Refusal is essential in a protagonist’s journey as it projects the threats entailed and probabilities of failure (Ross, 2019). In the end, the hero is usually inspired to participate in the mission.
The last stage in Moses’ journey is meeting the mentor. Ross (2019) states that a protagonist usually finds a person who inspires confidence, trains, advice, and sometimes equips them with supernatural abilities. Moses is gifted with extraordinary powers by God, which enabled him to perform miracles, such as changing his walking stick into a snake and the River Nile to blood (Langer, 2018). Despite having all the capabilities, he still refuses until God finally decides to provide him with another confidant called Aron, who happens to be his brother, to complement him in terms of speech. Therefore, guides are essential in a hero’s journey as they know the specific requirements to succeed in a particular undertaking.
In conclusion, Campbell’s Monomyths theory is essential in linking myths from different cultures through standard characteristics of a hero’s journey. Looking at Moses’s story, it is evident that for one to be a hero, they must receive a call that can be accepted immediately or reluctantly. In addition to that, a protagonist can also reject until the caller proves that the journey is worth it. It may then prompt the person to be assigned to the mission to request or be provided with extraordinary powers to aid their journey.
Langer, R. (2018). Book Review: Moses: A human life. By Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Theological Studies, 79(2), 428−430. Web.
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Ross, S. L. (2019). The integration of transformation: Extending Campbell’s Monomyth. Heroism Science, 4(2), 7. Web.