Zipporah

Zipporah, wife of Moses

The Bible introduces us to the life of Moses, the well-known author of the Pentateuch, which is the first 5 books of the Old Testament. Mainly in the book of Exodus, we learn about Zipporah, the wife of Moses. After he had fled Egypt, Moses found himself in the land of Midian, where he met Zipporah. Read on to learn about what the Holy Scriptures tell us about the wife of Moses and in particular, her act of bravery that saved her husband’s life.

Who is Zipporah in the Bible?

Daughter of Jethro

Zipporah was one of the seven daughters of Jethro, priest of Midian at the time. One day, when she went to the well with her sisters, they met Moses, who aided them and helped them to water their flock.

Wife of Moses

The Bible tells us that when Moses arrived at the home of the priest of Midian, the latter gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage (Exodus 2:21). Zipporah is known as the only wife of Moses, however in the book of Numbers, we find a passage that says: “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.” (Numbers 12:1). Since her name is not mentioned, no detail indicates whether this woman is Moses’ second wife or whether she is Zipporah.

Sons of Zipporah

“Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom (immigrant to this place), saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.” (Exodus 2:22) Zipporah and Moses also had a second son, whom they named Eliezer. “... and the other was named Eliezer (My God is my savior), for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.” (Exodus 18:4)

Account of Zipporah’s Act of Bravery

Bible Passage

“At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said, “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)” (Exodus 4:24-26)

Commentary in the Neuchâtel Annotated Bible - 1899

According to this commentary, God wanted to kill Moses because he had not respected the terms of the Covenant, which imposed circumcision on any male aged 8 days. So Zipporah took action by circumcising their son Gershom. This shows the importance of this law at the time and how God was unbending on the rules of the Covenant concluded with Abraham. The phrase “bridegroom of blood” was widespread and served to stigmatize circumcision by thereby saying that for a woman to marry an Israelite man meant having to shed his son’s blood during circumcision.