Saturday, November 19, 2016


Women of Israel's Heroic Age

Zipporah: Wife of Moses; the great Lawgiver.

Key Scripture: Exodus 2:21, 22; 4:24, 25; 18:1-6

Her Name Means: “A little bird,” “A sparrow.”

Her Character: Scripture  leads us to believe she was a women with a violent temper. She appeared to be prejudice and rebellious.

Her Strengths: She circumcised her own son.

Her Sorrow: She never lived in harmony with her husband Moses.

Her Joy: She had two sons with Moses. (Gershom and Eliezer)

Her Story: Zipporah, (dark-skinned Ethiopian) was one of the seven daughters of Jethro. (Priest of Midian.) Moses (at forty years of age) was a fugitive from Egypt, where he had killed a man for abusing a Hebrew slave. He sought refuge with the Midianites, a semi-nomadic people who were descended from Abraham, and settles among the Midianites. He meets the seven daughters of Jethro at a well, Moses rescues them from shepherds who are harassing them. They went and told their father, who offered Moses the hospitality of his home. In time, Moses married Jethro’s daughter Zipporah. There they remained with her family and had two sons. (Gershom and Eliezer.)

It was about this same time God spoke to Moses, appearing to him in the form of a burning bush. God commanded Moses to confront Pharaoh and demand freedom for the Hebrew slaves. "And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive." (Exodus 4:18.) Moses started back to the land of Egypt and Zipporah and her sons went with him. Zipporah, as a woman of Midian, did not share the spiritual values of her notable husband who found himself acting against the sacred tradition of Israel. To keep the peace, Moses compromised with his unbelieving wife and withheld circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant, from Eliezer. 

During this journey something strange happened. Somewhere along the road, they stopped for the night and the Bible says that "God tried to kill Moses." Possibly Moses suffered some sort of illness or seizure. Moses knew he was special to God, but even so he had neglected to circumcise his son. The command to circumcise in (Genesis 17:14) was seriously intended, and now God rose up to enforce this requirement. Both Zipporah and Moses became conscience-stricken over the defilement of God’s covenant, and Zipporah yields. Moses is too prostrate to take a knife and circumcise the child, so his wife severed the boy’s foreskin and, throwing it down before Moses said, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.” (Exodus 4:25) Zipporah took their two sons and returned to her father's home.

When Moses became the mighty leader and law-giver of Israel, there was the episode when Jethro, his father-in-law came out to the wilderness to see Moses and brought with him Zipporah and the two sons. "I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her.” (Exodus 18:5) Moses graciously received them and neither disowned nor ignored his wife and sons.

After this visit, nothing more is said of Zipporah. But could the following Scripture tell us why? “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman." (Numbers 12:1) The blackness of Zipporah’s skin sets her apart and will decide her future: She will be an outsider. Prejudice even in the days of old.

Her Place in God's Divine Plan: Zipporah’s quick thinking and awareness of God’s presence saved the life of Moses. Without her, the Hebrews would never have left Egypt and settled in Canaan.

Her Challenges Along the Way: She did not share the spiritual values of her notable husband. The relation in their home was not congenial. Moses brother Aaron and sister Mariam did not like her.

Lesson We Can Learn from Her Legacy: Those who serve in the background can play a vital part in God’s plan. You may not think your life is making much difference to the world, but small actions can have a great impact on other people and events. Zipporah disappears without comment from the history of the Jewish people in which her husband figured so prominently. “Neither as the wife of her husband nor as the mother of her children did she leave behind her a legacy of spiritual riches.” How different it would have been if only she had fully shared her husband’s unusual meekness and godliness and, like him, left behind footprints in the sands of time!

Spouse: Moses Parents: Jethro (Father) Children: Gershom (Son) · Eliezer (Son) Buried: Tomb of the Matriarchs

After Thoughts: The marriage of Moses is a fascinating one. The way he got his wife, Zipporah, is similar to Isaac getting Rebekah. The difference is that Rebekah drew the water from the well and helped the house of Isaac, but here Moses drew the water and helped the house of Zipporah.

Zipporah is far from being an inspiring character. Looking back over the large number of women whose names are recorded in the Bible, we realize that together they represent all aspects of human nature; good, bad and indifferent.

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