God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part XII (Zipporah, Wife of Moses)

Seek to become more like brave Zipporah in her wholehearted service to the Lord!

First, we overview Moses’ life from one of the original seven deacons in the Jerusalem Church, Steven. (Acts 6:1-7)

At that time Moses was born, and he was beautiful to God. For three months he was brought up in his father’s house, and when he had been abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds. But when he was about forty years old, it entered his mind to visit his fellow countrymen the Israelites. When he saw one of them being hurt unfairly, Moses came to his defense and avenged the person who was mistreated by striking down the Egyptian. He thought his own people would understand that God was delivering them through him, but they did not understand.The next day Moses saw two men fighting, and tried to make peace between them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why are you hurting one another?’ But the man who was unfairly hurting his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us? You don’t want to kill me the way you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’When the man said this, Moses fled and became a foreigner in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. (Acts 7:20–29)

Moses, a Hebrew of the Tribe of Levi, was raised from the age of three months old by a Gentile mother. Below are more details about Moses from the Old Covenant to supplement Stephen’s speech:

In those days, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and observed their hard labor, and he saw an Egyptian man attacking a Hebrew man, one of his own people. He looked this way and that and saw that no one was there, and then he attacked the Egyptian and concealed the body in the sand. When he went out the next day, there were two Hebrew men fighting. So he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why are you attacking your fellow Hebrew?” The man replied, “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Are you planning to kill me like you killed that Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Surely what I did has become known.” When Pharaoh heard about this event, he sought to kill Moses. So Moses fled from Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he settled by a certain well. (Exodus 2:11–15)

After killing an Egyptian in cold blood, Moses ran from Pharoah in fear of his life to the land of Midian.

Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and began to draw water and fill the troughs in order to water their father’s flock. When some shepherds came and drove them away, Moses came up and defended them and then watered their flock. So when they came home to their father Reuel, he asked, “Why have you come home so early today?” They said, “An Egyptian man rescued us from the shepherds, and he actually drew water for us and watered the flock!” He said to his daughters, “So where is he? Why in the world did you leave the man? Call him, so that he may eat a meal with us.” Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. When she bore a son, Moses named him Gershom, for he said, “I have become a resident foreigner in a foreign land.” (Exodus 2:16–22)

We learn from this passage that a Midian Priest called Jethro (Exodus 3:1) (aka, Hobab (Judges 4:11), Son of Reuel (Numbers 10:29)) gives his shepherd daughter Zipporah, a Gentile (2), to Moses for a wife as gratitude for rescuing his seven shepherd daughters from other shepherds. Moses and Zipporah have two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. Next, we return to Deacon Stephen for more of Moses, Zipporah, and Gershom’s story.

“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the desert of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and when he approached to investigate, there came the voice of the Lord, ‘I am the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look more closely. But the Lord said to him,‘Take the sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have certainly seen the suffering of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Now come, I will send you to Egypt.’This same Moses they had rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge?’ God sent as both ruler and deliverer through the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and miraculous signs in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. (Acts 7:30–36)

Again, returning to the Old Covenant for increased detail:

The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the wonders I have put under your control. But I will harden his heart and he will not let the people go. You must say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is my son, my firstborn,and I said to you, ‘Let my son go that he may serve me,’ but since you have refused to let him go, I will surely kill your son, your firstborn! (Exodus 4:21–23)

Next, we find some scripture verses that have been interpreted in various ways.

”Now on the way, at a place where they stopped for the night, the Lord met Moses and sought to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off the foreskin of her son and touched it to Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” referring to the circumcision.) (Exodus 4:24–26)

Was God attempting to kill Moses, the one He sent to deliver Israel from Egypt? Was it because He was not circumcised, or his oldest or younger son was not circumcised? Why was God attempting to kill any of them? That is the right question!

Recall, God sent Moses to perform wonders and miraculous signs culminating in the death of the firstborn male of man and beast. (Exodus 11:4,5) Only the firstborn males would be spared if they remained in a house with lambs blood on the doorposts. (Hebrews 11:28)
They will take some of the blood and put it on the two side posts and top of the doorframe of the houses where they will eat it... I will pass through the land of Egypt in the same night, and I will attack all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of humans and of animals, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, so that when I see the blood I will pass over you, and this plague will not fall on you to destroy you when I attack the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:7,12,13 NET)

However, there was an additional requirement for firstborn human males to be “passed over,” which was they had to be circumcised.

“When a foreigner lives with you and wants to observe the Passover to the Lord, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may approach and observe it, and he will be like one who is born in the land—but no uncircumcised person may eat of it. The same law will apply to the person who is native-born and to the foreigner who lives among you.” (Exodus 12:48–49 NET)

Realize, God’s judgment first begins with His people before the world is judged. Consequently, God came to pass judgment on the firstborn males in Moses’ family!

For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners? (1 Peter 4:17–18) 

I believe Moses was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Covenant of Circumcision given to Abraham (Genesis 17:11-14. Acts 7:8). I believe this took place during the three months he lived with his parents before being placed in the river for the daughter of Pharoah to discover.

By faith, when Moses was born, his parents hid him for three months, because they saw the child was beautiful and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. (Hebrews 11:23)

Besides, Moses was not the firstborn male of Amram; his father, Aaron, was the firstborn. (Exodus 6:20) Consequently, the only firstborn male in the traveling party is Gershom, and he was not circumcised! Why not? That is a great question that the Bible is silent about!

Jethro, the priest of Midian and Zipporah’s father, was not monotheistic but rather had many gods, meaning he did not recognize Yahweh’s sovereignty. He changed his mind to acknowledge Yahweh as the greatest God after Moses related the events of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 18:5-12). While Jethro was a son of Abraham and Keturah, I do not believe his tribe practiced Hebrew circumcision. Egypt practiced a partial circumcision, and the Midianites may have as well.

Partial obedience is not obedience at all!

Consequently, I believe that it was a disagreement between Moses and Zipporah over “mutilating” their sons’ genitals through Hebrew circumcision, with Zipporah prevailing. What mother would want her sons to be subject to ridicule for not looking the same as the other boys of her family. However, what father would not want his sons to resemble his anatomy? Nevertheless, I do not find blameworthiness with her but rather with Moses. Him for not explaining the covenant blessings and curses effectively, including life and death, connected with this seemingly unnecessary practice.

Marriage is a team sport and when one team member fails they both fail.

Listed below are a few similar examples of marriage team failures in the Bible where the wife was in error; however, the husband was ineffective as a leader to prevent a team failure:

  • Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:16,17;3:1-7)
  • Lot and his wife (Genesis 19:24-26. Luke 17:29-32)
  • Soloman and his many wives and concubines (Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Proverbs 31:2,3. 1 Kings 11:1-13. 2 Kings 23:13. Nehemiah 13:26)
  • Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 21:25. 1 Kings 16:30-33. 1 Kings 21:1-29.)
  • Kings of Judah and their wives (Jeremiah 44:9,10)
  • Kingdom of Judah husbands and their wives (Jeremiah 44:15-30)
A Happy Wife does NOT result in a Happy Life if disobedience to God is involved.
A noble wife is the crown of her husband, but the wife who acts shamefully is like rottenness in his bones. (Proverbs 12:4 NET)

Why is circumcision so important in the Old Covenant? So glad you asked! “God calls Moses to be the one through whom He will deliver, consecrate and enter into a new covenant with His people, and Moses has not consecrated his own two sons to the Lord of the Covenant! But the God of Abraham takes the promises and commands of the Abrahamic Covenant and the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant far more seriously than Moses does! God knows and wants us to know that the Gospel and the covenant and the signs of the covenant are a two-edged sword, and that covenant privilege results in both grace and obligation! And notice what the Lord of the Abrahamic and soon-to-be Lord of the Sinai Covenant does. Since Moses has not cut off his son’s foreskin, God now seeks to cut off Gershom from the covenant people, just as He instructed father Abraham in Genesis 17:9-14. God is doing nothing here that is inconsistent with His grace, His promises, or His commands.” (3) 

”Now on the way, at a place where they stopped for the night, the Lord met Moses and sought to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off the foreskin of her son and touched it to Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” referring to the circumcision.) (Exodus 4:24–26)

I believe Zippora now realizes the mistake of not following her husband’s leadership in having their children circumcised into the Abrahamic Covenant. The maternal drive to protect her child triumphs over the fallen nature within her flesh to “control her husband” (1) (11) (Genesis 3:16 NET).

In the Bible, as in life, it is the women that consistently and fiercely protect the children.

Consequently, I believe, at this point, the Marriage Team of Moses and Zipporah work together to quickly rectify the situation that is threatening their firstborn son’s life. I believe that since Moses is the physically stronger of the two (recall the well incident), he is seated with Gersham in his lap to restrain him during this painful process (Genesis 34:24,25). Zipporah takes the flint knife because, as a priest’s daughter, she knew that to be the prescribed instrument (Joshua 5:2). I believe she strongly desired to demonstrate her repentance through her actions and to save her firstborn son! Zipporah makes a quick work of it and then flings the prepuce to the area of Moses’ genitals, indicating the son was covered by the same blood that was shed in the father’s circumcision and hence within the same Abrahamic Covenant. (4)(8) Zipporah then declares that her firstborn son has entered the same blood covenant with Yahweh that Moses entered when circumcised as a baby. (6) The Lord then withdraws from Gershom.

By faith [Moses] he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the one who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. (Hebrews 11:28 NET)

Also, Moses now understands the seriousness of performing the act of circumcision, which further prepares him for the future Passover (1) ceremony.

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah after he had sent her back, and her two sons, one of whom was named Gershom (for Moses had said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land”), and the other Eliezer (for Moses had said, “The God of my father has been my help and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). (Exodus 18:2–4 NET)

I believe Zipporah now realizes that Moses does not need to be distracted by her needs and those of their children while on a mission to deliver the nation of Israel from the nation of Egypt (1 Corinthians 7:32,33). Also, Gershom will be in pain for several days. Consequently, I believe they agree she is to return home to the care of her father, taking Gershom and Eliezer (7) until such a time that Moses returns from Egypt. (10)

Furthermore, I believe Zipporah now realizes that her life would involve a ministry of support from the shadows for her husband, who would be in the limelight to lead the nation of Israel to their God-promised land. I believe she embraced this ministry. A recent example of this type of relationship was found in the late Billy and Ruth Graham. The acceptance of this type of role reflects highly upon the humility and selflessness of Zipporah.

Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah after he had sent her back, and her two sons, one of whom was named Gershom (for Moses had said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land”), and the other Eliezer (for Moses had said, “The God of my father has been my help and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and his wife, came to Moses in the desert where he was camping by the mountain of God. He said to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, along with your wife and her two sons with her.” (Exodus 18:1–6)

“Brothers and sisters, please listen to my words, for this story articulates the heart of the Gospel itself! God does not will the death of Isaac, or Gershom, or Moses because He has willed the death of His one and only Son, Whom He loves, to save us from our sins. He wills the death of His, not just firstborn Son, but His only Son Whom He loves, Who will die on the cross in John’s Gospel at the very time that the priests and Levites are sacrificing the Sinai Covenant lambs to fulfill Passover law. He wills the death of the only fully faithful Israelite and human being who had ever lived! He wills the death of the only fully faithful Mediator of the New Covenant who, like Moses, offers His innocent life as Mediator for a guilty people, and, this time, God says YES, rather than no! Yes, the New Covenant (even Greater than Moses) Mediator dies instead of Isaac, instead of Gershom, instead of Moses. Because of God’s great love for His people in the Gospel, Christ dies for the guilty, He dies for Isaac and for Abraham, for Gershom and for Moses, for Zipporah, and for each of us if we have entered into Jesus’ Kingdom. Have you entered into this Kingdom, or if you have not, will you enter this Kingdom of Light and Life and Peace today? Embrace this Gospel freely offered to you [(1)], free because it has been paid by Jesus and opened up to you by Jesus! (1) If you are in His Kingdom, then seek to become more like brave Zipporah in her wholehearted service to the faithful God and Lord!” (3)

Scriptures concerning circumcision in the New Covenant:

Was anyone called after he had been circumcised? He should not try to undo his circumcision. Was anyone called who is uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts. (1 Corinthians 7:18–19 NET)
In him you also were circumcised—not, however, with a circumcision performed by human hands, but by the removal of the fleshly body, that is, through the circumcision done by Christ. Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11–12 NET)

Our ways are not God’s ways… (Isaiah 55:8,9) but they will be…  (1 John 3:2. 1 Corinthians 13:12. Revelation 22:4).

God’s Thoughts and Ways Series:

(Security, Wholeness, Success)

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)

(1) Select the link to open another article with additional information in a new tab.

(2) “Moses married a non-Israelite woman named Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, a Midian priest (Exod. 2:16–21). She lived near the mountain where the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses. Zipporah… [became] a convert to Israel’s faith, for she personally circumcised Moses’ son in obedience to the covenant (Exod. 4:24–26). Significantly, God allowed his prophet Moses to marry… [a Midianite woman who was also an Ethiopian (Exodus 2:16; Numbers 12:1)]*. “There is no indication in the Scriptures that this was displeasing to God. The acceptability of his wives is emphasized by the special relationship that Moses had with God. He saw God “face to face” (a sign of God’s favor) only after being married to Zipporah. Moses was also Israel’s first national leader and was called by God to deliver the Torah’s command concerning intermarriage. This command did not preclude intermarriage with all non-Jews, as traditional Judaism teaches, but only with the seven nations of Canaan. It was acceptable for Moses (or any other Jew) to marry a non-Israelite as long as the prospective spouse was not from a Canaanite nation and was willing to embrace the God of Israel and the people of Israel as their own. 

A reasonable case can be made that God wanted Moses to intermarry. It was bashert (Yiddish for “predestined”). Exodus 2:11–21 emphasizes the guiding hand of God in leading Moses to Zipporah, who was chosen for Moses from among Jethro’s seven daughters (cf. the guiding hand of God in leading Moses down the Nile to his surrogate Gentile mother, Pharaoh’s daughter, in Exod. 2:1–10). Significantly, Zipporah lived next to Horeb, the mountain of God, where Moses encountered the Lord in the burning bush (Exod. 3:1–6). 

Why did God want Moses, in particular, to intermarry? One explanation is that God wanted to ensure that Israel would be forever accepting of Zipporah-like converts from among the nations. In this regard, it is ironic that traditional rabbis (who discourage intermarriage) still conclude their wedding ceremonies with the words, “In accordance with the Law of Moses and of Israel, I pronounce you man and wife.” The individual whose name is spoken to declare the marriage legal was… an intermarried Jew!

[Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married (for he had married an Ethiopian woman). They said, “Has the Lord only spoken through Moses? Has he not also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth.) (Numbers 12:1–3)]

However, divine approval of conversionary marriage did not necessarily translate into an absence of anti-Gentile prejudice in the Israelite community. The Scriptures record that Moses was criticized by his brother, Aaron, and his sister, Miryam, “on account of the Ethiopian woman he had married, for he had in fact married an Ethiopian woman” (Num. 12:1). The Lord responded immediately to their criticism by striking Miryam with leprosy (Num. 12:4–15). Perhaps this is a lesson for God’s people to not be too hasty in speaking against intermarriage, for sometimes intermarriages are made in heaven.”

Rudolph, D. J. (2003). Growing your olive tree marriage : a guide for couples from two traditions (pp. 15–16). Baltimore, MD: Messianic Jewish Publishers.

* The author of this book believes that Moses had two wives, whereas the author of this article believes there was only one mentioned twice in the Bible (Exodus 2:16; Numbers 12:1). (9)

(3) Seminary, E. T. (2018). Celebration: 180th anniversary book of sermons, erskine theological seminary, rejoicing in 180 years of god’s grace. Greenville, SC: Ambassador International. (Sermon: “Thank God for Faithful Christian Women Who Serve a Faithful God!”)

(4) The reference here is to the circumcision of the son of Moses when his wife Zipporah threw the prepuce into his lap (AV, RSV, “feet”; NEB “touched him”).  Harrison, R. K. (1979–1988). Bloody. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 1, p. 527). Wm. B. Eerdmans.

(5) Baffes, M. S. (2016). Bridegroom of Blood. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

(6) “The phrase “bridegroom of blood” (חֲתַן דָּמִים, chathan damim), addressed to the son, is more accurately translated as “a relative by means of blood.” Through the blood of circumcision, the son now has kinship with Yahweh and with the people of Israel.”

Howell, “Firstborn Son,” 69–73; Kosmala, “Bloody Husband,” 14–16. Baffes, M. S. (2016).

(7) After his return in Exodus 18, there is little mention of Eliezer. Yet, 1 Chronicles records that Eliezer had a son, Rehabiah, who then had many sons (1 Chronicles 23:17; 26:25–26). Among figures of note in Eliezer’s lineage is Shelomoth, who, during the reigns of both Saul and David (1 Chronicles 26:28), was the steward of the things dedicated to God at that time. It is unknown whether Eliezer was one of the Israelites who fell in the wilderness or if he was among those who were allowed into the promised land.

 III, K. E. H. (2016). Eliezer, Son of Moses. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

(8) “Feet” (rĕgālı̂m) is one of several Hebrew euphemisms for “genitals” (cf. Isa 6:2; 7:20; Ezek 16:25; Deut 28:57; others include “hand,” “knee,” “stones”

[Again, if this circumcision occurred as the author of this blog article suggests, then Moses is seated with the boy seated in his lap. Moses has his garments pulled up to reduce the probability of them being blood-stained, and underwear has not been invented by God yet (1), thus exposing his genitals.]

 Stuart, D. K. (2006). Exodus (Vol. 2, pp. 154–155). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

(9) CUSHITE, kushʹīt (ETHIOPIAN) WOMAN: In Nu 12:1 Moses is condemned by his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron “because of the Cushite woman [הָאִשָּׁה הַכֻּשִׁית, hā-’ishshāh ha-kushīth] whom he had married”; and the narrator immediately adds by way of needed explanation, “for he had married a Cushite woman” (אִשָּׁה כֻשִׁית, ’ishshāh khushīth). Views regarding this person have been of two general classes: (a) She is to be identified with Zipporah (Ex 2:21 and elsewhere), Moses’ Midianitish wife, who is here called “the Cushite,” either in scorn of her dark complexion (cf Jer 13:23) and foreign origin (so most older exegetes) or as a consequence of an erroneous notion of the late age when this apocryphal addition, “because of the Cushite,” etc., was inserted in the narrative (so Wellhausen). (b) She is a woman whom Moses took to wife after the death of Zipporah, really a Cushite (Ethiopian) by race, whether the princess of Meroë of whom Jos (Ant, II, x, 2) romances (so Targum of Jonathan), or one of the “mixed multitude” (Ex 12:38; cf Nu 11:4) that accompanied the Hebrews on their wanderings (so Ewald and most). Dillmann suggests a compromise between the two classes of views, viz. that this woman is a mere “variation in the saga” from the wife elsewhere represented as Midianitish, yet because of this variation, she was understood by the author as distinct from Zipporah. The implication of the passage, in any case, is clear that this connection of Moses tended to injure his prestige in the eyes of race-proud Hebrews, and, equally, that in the author’s opinion, such a view of the matter was obnoxious to God.

 Boyd, J. O. (1915). Cushite, (Ethiopian) Woman. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 769). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

ETHIOPIAN WOMAN. Married by Moses, whom Aaron and Miriam then criticized (Nu. 12:1). As the last mention of Zipporah was just after the defeat of Amalek (Ex. 17) when Jethro returned her to Moses (Ex. 18), it is possible that she subsequently died, Moses then taking this ‘Cushite woman’ as his second wife, unless Moses then had two wives. ‘Cushite’ is usually taken as ‘Ethiopian’ (cf. *Cush, *Ethiopia); if so, she probably left Egypt among the Israelites and their sympathizers. It is also, perhaps, possible to derive ‘Cushite’ from Kushu and Heb. Cushan, associated with Midian (Hab. 3:7); if so, this woman might be of allied stock to Jethro and Zipporah.

 Kitchen, K. A. (1996). Ethiopian Woman. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 346). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

(10) “Exodus 18:2,3 says literally, “Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, took back Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after her being sent away, along with her two sons.” The word used in Exod 18:2 for “sending away” is a noun form, šillûḥ, which functions essentially as a gerund as used in the verse, a kind of verbal noun built from the piel verb stem. In medieval Hebrew it came to mean “divorce,” so a number of rabbinical commentators, and a few moderns ones as well, concluded that Moses was divorced from Zipporah at least until this point in his life, if not permanently. For each of the reasons in favor of the conclusion that Moses and Zipporah had divorced, counter-arguments exist. First, the other two uses of šillûḥ in the OT are both in neutral/positive contexts (1 Kgs 9:16; Mic 1:14), suggesting no overtone of divorce, marital separation, or even marital friction. Second, the standard Hebrew word for divorce is not šillûḥ (which cannot be proved to mean “divorce” at all) but kĕrı̂tut… Indeed, it can be argued that Jethro was actually using the presence of Zipporah and the boys to ensure his own acceptance by Moses, whom he now encountered not as an escaped Egyptian alone but as the leader of a great nation of people that had just distinguished itself by beating the Amalekites in war, something Jethro and his Midianites could not expect to do.

 Stuart, D. K. (2006). Exodus (Vol. 2, p. 407). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home. 

One Comment

  • sonshine

    Interesting to say the least. I thought God was using this to show that He is the Father of both Jew and Gentile.
    This has always been a story that needs clarification. Thanks for this.

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