Moses and Zipporah

(Exodus 4:18-25)

I’m sure everyone knows a little bit about the story of Moses. He was the guy who faced off with Pharaoh, set Israel free from Egyptian slavery, led them through the Red Sea that was parted, and then on to a 40 year journey to the promised land. There are many interesting highlights to this story and it would take weeks to cover it in detail. Ultimately though, Moses ended up as a great man, one of the greatest in history. But on the way to that greatness he made a few mistakes. Big ones; really big ones. With God’s grace however, he succeeded.

The Back Story

An interesting story that few people know is that Moses was married, and had two sons. He met his wife while he was in exile after killing an Egyptian. While he was traveling, he met some ladies that were tending their sheep, and trying to get them some water at the local well. At the same time, there were some other shepherds with a flock and with the opinion that they should go first. They wouldn’t let the ladies water their flock - in fact they ran the ladies off. Moses came up about this time, saw what was happening and came to their rescue by running the other shepherds off. Then he helped the ladies water their sheep and get them on their way.

One of the ladies (there were seven sisters) named Zipporah invited Moses to come stay with them at their fathers home. Their father was a local Priest named Jethro, the “Priest of Midian”. Moses accepted the invitation, and stayed there as a kind-of long time guest. As time went by, a relationship developed between Moses and Zipporah, and they finally were married. They gave birth to a son named Gershom, and then another named Eliezer.

After a while, God gave Moses the instructions about traveling to Egypt and what to do when he got there. At first, he tried to get out of it by saying he was the wrong man for the job, but God convinced him otherwise.

"I'm Going To Kill You"

Finally, Moses and his family set out on their trip. While stopped at an Inn, He (God) met Moses and Zipporah and said that he was going to kill Moses. The biblical account of the dialog is pretty brief, but it’s not hard to imagine. “You’re gonna kill me? Why? What did I do?” No direct answer was recorded about that, but Zipporah knew. In the very next verse it says she used a flint knife and cut off her son’s foreskin, and turned to Moses “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me”. Then she threw the foreskin at his feet.
Afterwords, God was satisfied with the results, and let them alone to finish their trip.


She Knew

The obvious question that comes to mind is “how did Zipporah know about circumcision”? Probably because she was the daughter of a priest. She must have known it all along, and it probably wasn’t the first time she mentioned it to him. I think she was waiting patiently as a good wife, hoping that Moses would do the right thing. But when God showed up and threatened to kill Moses for this error, she knew right away what had to be done, and she did it - to save her husband’s life, and follow what she knew to be God’s desire.
As a side note, I can’t help but wonder if she had ever done a circumcision before. And how old was the boy?…and with a flint knife even. OUCH!

Failed Leadership

It’s interesting that God was calling Moses to confront Pharaoh, get him to release the Jews, and then lead the entire nation of Israel out of Egypt. Clearly, this is a major task, and you would think that God knew he was up to it. Yet on the way there, his wife had to step in and point out his failure as a family leader. She knew about the rite of circumcision, what it represented, and how important it was.

What Do We Learn? Sometimes, It's Mrs. Fix-it

What do we learn from this short, and somewhat obscure time of Moses’ life? I think the real lesson in this incident is that even though the husband is told to be the leader of the family, there may be times when he fails, and the wife has to jump in and take over. Especially when it’s in direct accordance with God’s word, and when God is there face to face, saying it plainly.

Ziporah did what was necessary, She didn’t take a victory lap, gossip about her husband (that we know of) or any of the other hero behaviors. Shortly after the event, Moses sent Zipporah and his two sons back to live with her father, and we never hear from her again. I’m pretty sure Moses knew it wouldn’t be good in the whole Pharaoh/Exodus thing.

In my opinion, Zipporah was a strong, modest wife that loved her husband, but wasn’t blind to his faults. She did what was required, and then disappeared into history. Well done, Zippy!