Zipporah – The Godly Woman (III)


Wouldn’t it be nice, if life had no drama, upsets or heartache for couples! But this is not reality, and we must not think that a pain-free family life is the norm. It’s not. The Bible is not about people who lived a care-free life, without adversity. The patriarchs, along with their wives and families, all had a tough life. We are called of God to love and serve Him, in the midst of the awkward and humbling difficulties of marriage that are from time to time, part of life.

Moses had married Zipporah when he fled from Pharoah in Egypt, and settled in Midian (Ex.2:15-22). She had born him 2 sons, Gershom and Eliezer (Ex.4:19-20; 18:1-4), who by now may well have been men in their thirties. Now, God had called Moses to return to Egypt with his family, and lead His people out. But there was a problem. The God who had called him to lead His people out of Egypt, had also commanded that circumcision take place for the sons of Israel, on their eighth day (Gen.17:9-14). Zipporah would have known this, as a descendent of Abraham herself (Gen 25:1-2).

There had to be the covenantal mark on Moses’ son to identify him as one of the Israelites. The land of Egypt was under a curse because of the blood of the drowned male children eighty years earlier. God was about to unleash the angelic avenger of blood against the firstborn of all those dwelling in Egypt. This angelic destroyer was waiting for him when he re-entered Egypt. There had to be a blood covering in Moses’ family. His son had to be circumcised. 1

God has sent him back to Pharoah to be an instrument of judgment against Pharoah and Egypt, and for the deliverance of His people, but Moses God’s servant, had not obeyed God. If the standard-bearer himself, the one chosen by God to teach His law to the people, by his own negligence should misrepresent God, he too will certainly be subject to judgment. The teacher has to begin with himself (James 3:1).

Moses has nearly got his son killed by God, through his negligence (v.24). Zipporah could have lost her eldest son. On his behalf she interposes, and circumcises him herself, saying “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me” (Ex.4:25).2 Modern translations indicate that Zipporah threw the foreskin at Moses’ feet, but Moses is not in the original. In publicly displaying her son’s bloody state, she protects him from the angel of death over her household, exactly as the Israelites were soon to do on the night of the Passover. 3

Zipporah’s actions made up for her husband’s failures as a godly husband and father. The breach of covenant has been restored; now, God lets him live.

Married couples are not independent persons. That was never God’s purpose in marriage. A couple’s fortunes rise and fall with each other. It is in each other’s interests, that husbands and wives are able to “speak the truth in love” (Eph.4:15) to one another, and because of our nature, that won’t always be complementary, and nor should men hope it will be. Zipporah was a good woman helping her husband and family, no doubt hoping to prevent such mistakes in future. Moses was the richer for her.

1 North, G., “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb,” in Jordan, J., “The Reconstruction of the Church,” 1985, p.219.

2 “The Hebrew word for bridegroom means ‘the circumcised.’ ” (Rushdoony, R., “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” 1973, p.344.) Zipporah had not only saved Gershom’s life; she had also prepared him for marriage.

3 James Jordan refers to this incident of the life-saving circumcision of Moses’ son, as the proleptic Passover. (See Jordan, J., “The Law of the Covenant: an Exposition of Exodus 21-23,” 1984, Appendix F.)

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