Hidden until Found: A New Narratological Motif in the Book of Exodus

Numerous scholars have researched the anonymity of certain characters in the Bible. However, rarely has the study about an event or a character’s name which is initially hidden but later revealed in the narrative. In this article, I will focus on a novel narratological motif called HUF (hidden until found) in the biblical narratives, especially in the book of Exodus. I will present two HUF related episodes in Exodus 2 and three hidden characters in names (Moses’ parents and sister, and his second son) in the narratives of Exodus. The episodes commonly indicate Moses’ socio-political and ethnic identity change from Hebrew to Egyptian and then to Midian. Providing the time gap between the first act (of hiding or of being hidden) and the second act (of being found) may be a rhetorical device to provide readers a sort of confusion that Moses may experience due to the multiple changes of his identity in crisis. I argue that this HUF motif is the Exodus editor’s intentional rhetorical devices for the purpose of 1) indicating Moses’ socio-political and ethnic identity changes, 2) raising tension of the narrative to express Pharaoh’s oppression, and 3) reflecting Moses’ internal struggle with God.

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