Zipporah and the Circumcision of Gershom and Eliezer


Zipporah became the wife of Moses (Ex. 2:21) after he had fled Egypt, (Ex. 2:15) and met Jethro the priest of Midian; (Ex. 2:16-20).

Moses had been born of the line of Levi, (Ex. 2:1) the priestly line, (Num. 8:5-11), and both parents were of Levi.

Zipporah was a Gentile, and Moses, as is well known, was raised as a Gentile and a Prince in the house of Pharaoh of Egypt, (Ex. 2:7-10).

The King James Authorised Version (AV) account of the Circumcision of Gershom, is somewhat startling on a first read, as it is puzzling as to why Jehovah (God in Covenant Relationship with His people Israel) would threaten His servant Moses in such a way, especially as He had just met Moses at the “Burning Bush”, and had given Orders to Moses regarding his people Israel in Egypt (Ex. 3)?

There are a number of important things to be considered here, in the attempt to better understand these events!

Firstly, dealing with the question of why the Circumcision of Gershom/Eliezer was important at that time.

Circumcision has to be seen and understood in the context of its original inauguration, meaning, and long term effect!

It was inaugurated by Jehovah, God of Israel, to be a sign (and a reminder) to all male members of the children of Israel/Jacob, of the Promises that God had made to them.  Those promises referred to them specifically, as a very numerous Nation, to eventually their land borders as shown in Gen. 15:18, and to “many Nations” deriving from Abraham.

The fact that they would “never cease” to be a Nation, (despite all the efforts of Satan), see: Jer. 31:35-37 & 33:24-26, has great importance, as when it is understood how hard Satan has in the past, tried to eliminate Israel (including the war of 1939 – 44); and how hard he will try in the future; the detail of “Circumcision” and “Ceremonial Correctness”, take on a new urgency of meaning!

The Promises of Jehovah God, have not yet been completed, as the world has yet to experience more events towards those objectives;  See:

The question arises as to why only males of the Jews are Circumcised and not the females also?  It is well known that many religions now perform Circumcision, particularly of their females!  Jehovah God only inaugurated the procedure for the males of the Jews, because the males carry the responsibility for God’s instructions, and not the females; The females are the “help meet” for the male, and also the child bearers and child rearers and teachers, which is such an important God given role.  See: Eve and Adam also: Circumcision;  

The far reaching effects of God’s Covenant with Israel are now getting clearer, as they reach well into the future of the then Israel, and also the present date (13/05/2014).  It is clear that Israel is to be a future “great Nation”, and will have land borders far bigger than at present!

Only less than 100 years ago, this would have seemed impossible, as they were not even the tiny Nation they are now.  For more detail on this see: The Kingdom Age:  also: The Jew, the Gentile, and Christ  

Because there are yet to be many more events in the world relating to Israel and the Gentile Nations, and because Israel must suffer further at the hands of Satan.  The further promise of God that they will never cease to be a people on Earth, has special meaning, and is why it is incorporated in the Promise of God, and signified in Circumcision!

It also has to be seen in the Exodus account that Israel was about to be released from Egypt and to be for the first time a Nation in fact; not just a collection of tribes descended from Jacob!

They had been promised that they would become a “Kingdom of Priests” for God, which is confirmed in many parts of O.T. and N.T., but was first stated in Exodus 19:6; and to begin that process, leading to the events of Revelation, they had to be formed as a Nation and be led to the “Promised Land”.  As these Promises had all been sealed by the Rite of Circumcision; in Moses and his sons, it had to be re-affirmed in a forceful way by Jehovah God, especially in the new leader Moses!  

It is clear that Moses was approached by God at the “burning bush” not Zipporah!  A major disservice that the worldwide “Feminist” movement has done to mankind, is to insist that women are as important, or even more so than men, in the context of the Bible!  This has made understanding the Bible and the mind of the Almighty God harder for some people; men especially who accept that false premise and teaching.  The writers are not “anti-female”, and for more on this subject, see: Eve and Adam

Moses had failed to ensure his sons were Circumcised, a major failure in the Jewish “Rites”, and if omitted deliberately; was tantamount to rebellion against God!  In Moses case; it was a sin of “omission”; and therefore correctable, especially in the light of Moses’s special Commission, about to be enacted; which he would not have been qualified to undertake without his sons being Circumcised!

It is now becoming clearer as to why the Rite of Circumcision was pressed on Moses by God just prior to his great God given role of negotiator for God with Pharaoh!  He himself would have been circumcised on the 8th day after his birth, prior to being found by Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex. 2:2-6), so that was not the reason.  Moses was a Jew, but Zipporah was a Gentile, and their sons were uncircumcised probably because in the society teaching of Zipporah and Jethro, there was no such requirement, as they did not consider themselves of Israel (as they were not)!  She, as a Gentile daughter of Jethro, (the Gentile priest of Midian) was probably unaware of the Jewish Rite of Circumcision, and therefore its crucial meaning to the future of Israel.  For Moses to be suitable for the role that God had given him, he had to be in “Rite” in all the important points that pertained to God’s requirements, as they were/ are constantly being scrutinised by God’s Enemy, Satan, (for detail on this great battle between God and Satan, see the Book of Job).  Also see: Satan's Origins; and Satan's Motivation: 

Satan will declare anything that he can as “invalid”, in the great battle between him and Almighty God, and as the Eden account shows, the major tool/weapon at his disposal, is the “free will” of humans!  The importance of the release of the “children of Israel” from Egypt meant that every detail had to be observed in the “Rules of Engagement”, graciously allowed by God in the titanic struggle between Him and Satan; otherwise Satan had/has the God given right to declare “Contest invalid”!  That “Contest” that Moses was about to undertake, was with Pharaoh as Satan’s representative, and Moses as God’s representative; with the outcome as detailed in Exodus, Chapters 4 to 15!

This particular “Contest”, is only one of many throughout the history of this Creation between God and Satan since Eden, as tabulated in Scripture; and is one of huge importance to the future of the world!

On a personal level, people and Christians are engaged in the same battles day by day, with their free wills the battleground, and their actions the prize!

So what, if any, was Zipporah’s importance in the Rite of Circumcision of her sons?  As surmised above, it was quite likely that she was the reason that the Rite had not been carried out on the 8th day after her sons were born, remembering her status as one of the daughters of Jethro the Gentile Priest, and certainly steeped in the Gentile teachings of the Midians!  Moses, although a Jew, had not been steeped in the need and teaching of the Jews, because he had lived as a Gentile, and a prince, in the house of the then Pharaoh, Ex. 2:10.  He had shown neglect in his lack of knowledge of the importance of Circumcision, especially when he knew of his origins, (Ex. 2:11-15) which he should have conveyed to Zipporah at the birth of his sons!

This then would help to explain the quite shocking language used in the AV version of the Bible, in Ex. 4:24 that “Jehovah met him, and sought to kill him”, because a drastic event was needed to bring home to Moses the importance of the Rite of Circumcision!  It should here be mentioned that the Translation by Victor Alexander of the Ancient “A” document of the PshittA, has V.24 as: “And Moses was on the way to his house, when the Lord accosted him and wished to bring him into the Covenant of Circumcision”, the word “accost" still being quite strong.  See: Ancient Aramaic Manuscripts, Pshitta O and A:

So what of Zipporah’s role in the act?  She also needed to be “right” with God, as the “help meet” for Moses, so as not to have a negative effect on the actions and role of Moses in what he was about to undertake.  His responsibilities were to be very onerous, and his wife needed to be one with him.  Also, she needed to acknowledge the supremacy of the “One True God” in the Circumcision act!  This she did, (Ex. 4:25-26), and in so doing corrected the whole situation, including her own acknowledgement of Jehovah God (followed by her father Jethro the priest of Midian later, Ex. 18:11-12)!

In Zipporah’s act of Circumcision of her son/s, she, her sons, and Moses became Covenant Correct, and removed the possibility that Satan could use the previous condition to resist the release of “the children of Israel” from their captivity in Egypt!  The “Contest” for their release then became a direct show of Power of God, against that of Satan; and is a pre-curser of the final battle between God and Satan as detailed in Revelation!

In the context of the battle between God and Satan; when Jesus was about to be Baptised in water by John the Baptist, John drew back from the event saying he was not worthy.  Jesus replied, “it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness”.  In that statement and action He removed an objection that Satan would have used, and would have declared Jesus Ceremonially incorrect!  As we know; Jesus was immediately attacked in the wilderness, but withstood Satan with ease, using words from Scripture only!  


If you have questions or comments, please click here.

Or go to Chapters 1 to 22  or

Subjectindex  or