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Moses as an Epic Hero
• Royal birth: both mother and father of the tribe of Levi, ties him to
Jacob/Israel because Levi was one of the 12 sons. Also adoption by the
Pharaoh’s daughter ties him to Egyptian royal line.
• Benefits people materially: frees from slavery, leads to the “land of milk and
• Divinely lead: Burning bush, Mt. Sinai, direct conversations with God
• Superhuman powers/strengths: during the plagues he performs great acts,
his staff turns into a snake, changes water to blood, dust to gnats, soot causes
• Extremely handsome/beautiful: does not apply to Moses. His physical traits
are not discussed. The story of Exodus fits the criteria of an epic narrative, so
we’ll make an exception.
Background – The Covenant
• Jacob (name changed to Israel) and his 12 sons were brought to Egypt
and given the land of Goshen. God cared for them and rescued them
from famine in Canaan.
• The Israelites stayed for 400 years, working for the Egyptians and
becoming exploited as slaves. They continued to multiply. The
Pharaoh was threatened by their numbers. He ordered the boy
children be killed. Hard labor was increased.
• Moses was called out of hiding and sent back to Egypt because God
had heard the cries of his people and remembered their covenant.
Moses is sent to Egypt to free the Israelites from bondage and give
them the promised land: Canaan, flowing with milk and honey.
The 10 plagues
Staff turns to snake, Pharaoh’s magicians can emulate this, but Moses’s snake eats their snakes.
Nile turned to blood. Magicians copy. Fish die; river stank
Frogs. Magicians do the same. Frogs die and the earth stank.
Gnats. All the dust rose up and became gnats. Magicians cannot perform.
Flies which stop at the land of Goshen.
Pestilence on the livestock. Only Egyptian animals suffer.
Storm, hail and fire – all flax and barley destroyed. While the Pharaoh would not listen, some
Egyptians took their livestock and slaves in according to the warning.
• Locust – ate the wheat, all grains, everything, nothing green remained.
• Darkness – 3 days of thick darkness. (Sons of Israel had light)
• Passover – Israelite are instructed to paint the door lintel with lambs blood. Those houses which
are marked, the angel of Death will pass over. Those not painted, the first born son will die.
Pharaoh relents
• Pharaoh lets the people go. All the Israelites, men, women and
children, and their live stock. Also take all their goods and gold with
• Pharaoh changes his mind and goes after them. The Israelites are
trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army.
“What? There weren’t enough graves in Egypt, you have to bring us to
the desert to die?”
• Moses parts the Red Sea.
Manna from heaven
• Israelites grumble and want to return to Egypt - mmmm fleshpots.
• God sends manna. As the dew evaporates, a bread like substance is
left behind. Manna is Hebrew word for “What?” So they referred to
the food as ‘whatchamacallit”.
• Strick instructions to take only what they need for the day. IF they
took extra it would instantly rot, burst out in worms and mold. For the
Sabbath they could take twice as much, no more, no less.
• In context of the “stewardship mandate” GEN 1:28 – this is training or
reprogramming to rid them of the Egyptian standards of gluttony. They
cannot enter the land of milk and honey before they are capable of living
without exploiting natural resources.
Ten Commandments
You shall have no other gods before me.
Do not make an idol or graven image.
Do not take the name of Lord in vain.
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Work 6 days and rest on the 7th.
Honor your father and mother.
You shall not murder
You shall not commit adultery
You shall not steal.
You shall not bare false witness.
You shall not covet your neighbors wife.
What does this tell us about the structure of
their society?
• Some of these commandments are common sense. Communities of
liars and murderers cannot flourish. But other laws speak more to
what is important to these people.
• Having no other gods is unique to the Hebrews.
• Honor you father and mother. This goes beyond the common sense of
loving your mama. As a people of covenant, where meeting
responsibilities is met with rewards, the people honor the traditions
of the past so they continue to receive the land and promises.