Odysseus of the Odyssey and Moses of Exodus

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Odysseus of the Odyssey and Moses of Exodus

The Book of Exodus is considered to be an epic poem as by

definition. An epic poem as defined by Funk and Wagnalls is a poem

celebrating in stately, formal verse the achievements of heroes, gods, and

demigods (426). The Book of Exodus as well as the entire Bible was written

in the form of an epic poem. Major characteristics of epic poems are that

there is always a heroic figure. Moses is indeed comparable to Odysseus,

the heroic figure in the Odyssey. Although both men had different purposes

they are still considered comparable according to the definition of an epic.

Like Odysseus, Moses was at one with the gods. In Moses' case it was only

one almighty god. Moses had a special covenant with God. It was as if

Moses was Gods' body on earth. Moses spoke Gods' words and acted upon his

request. Moses possessed many characteristics that made him a great man.

In the Exodus there were many examples where Moses showed his great wisdom.

He also possessed somewhat magical power given to him by God. He also had

a divine purpose in life. Moses was on a "mission from god" so to speak to

deliver his people from bondage. His mission was similar to those of other

typical epics. It was of course a very dangerous and exhausting journey

that lasted a very long time. There were many obstacles to overcome as

well as internal affairs among the Hebrews.

Moses was born a Hebrew but was raised as the prince of Egypt.

Just like Odysseus, Moses was a man of nobility. Moses did not know he was

a Hebrew until he was a much older man. He was living a lie without even

realizing it.

"And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he

went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an

Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren (Exodus 2. 11).

It was then that Moses realized who he was, but he was still

unaware of his destiny to lead his people out of bondage. When Moses

realized who he was he fled to the land of Midian. It was there that he

discovered his divine purpose. It was there where he spoke words to God. "

God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses.

And he said here I am" (Exodus 3. 4). God had chosen Moses to deliver the

children of Israel out of Egypt. "I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou

may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt" (Exodus 3.

10). It was now clear to Moses that he must lead the Hebrews out of Egypt

and onto their own land. Just like Odysseus, Moses was about to start a

very difficult journey. Moses would have to lead his people across the

desert, over mountains, and though the sea. This is a very difficult task

for any man. But as the hero of an epic poem Moses is no ordinary man.

All heroes of epic poems are labeled with some sort of specific

characteristics. Moses is no exception to this trend. He is portrayed as

being a very wise individual guided by the all-knowing God. The Lord

guides him in his speeches and thoughts so that he can be an eloquent

spokesman. God said to Moses, "And thou shalt speak unto him, and put

words in his mouth: and I will be thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will

teach you what ye shall do" (Exodus 4. 15). Moses was very insecure about

facing the Pharaoh of Egypt. He thought that no one would believe him that

he was on a mission from God. The Lord took that into consideration and

granted him some magical powers.

"And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he

said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the

ground and it became a serpent: and Moses fled from before it" (Exodus 4.


The powers that God bestowed upon Moses were very convincing and

struck fear and belief in the Egyptians. Moses very quickly became a man

to respect, fear, and praise as a demigod. He was respected greatly and

praised by his followers. They listened to his every word as if he were

God himself. "And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will

hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die" (Exodus 20. 19).

Odysseus of the Odyssey and Moses have many traits in common. The

relationship that they have with the supreme "God" is very special. It is

unlike any other man. Odysseus was the most loved mortal among the gods of

his time. Moses was the only man that spoke words with God at his time. "

And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of

Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven" (Exodus 20.

22). Both men had a special covenant with their respective Lord. Moses

was like the pupil and messenger of God; first he would learn and then he

would spread the word among his people. It was Moses who told the Hebrews

of the "Ten Commandments" and their sacred covenant with God. God in

essence turned Moses into a well-respected and praised man among his people.

He used Moses to get his divine message across to the children of Israel.

As seen in this paper the Book of Exodus is indeed and epic poem.

By definition it possesses all the necessary criteria. It is definitely a

very long and narrative poem and it definitely has a heroic character.

Moses' journey in Exodus is very comparable to Odysseus' journey in the

Odyssey. In both epic poems the heroes were portrayed with some kinds of

godly or supernatural characteristics. And in both epic poems the heroes

had a sacred bond with God. There is a definite trend that goes on in the

writing of epics. It is as if there are very specific guidelines that go

along with writing an epic that makes them all seem very similar. Similar

in a sense of format style, not necessarily plot or theme. All in all the

Book of Exodus was by definition an epic poem. It was definitely a poem

celebrating in stately, formal verse the achievements of heroes, gods, and