Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Zipporah - Married to Moses

It wasn't so long ago that Moses appeared in Midian. With a daring flourish, he rescued my sisters and me from some cruel shepherds and won his way into my father's favor. He made his way into my heart as well, and the next thing I knew, Papa had given me to him in marriage.

I try to be a good wife to my husband. He works so hard, herding sheep and providing for our family. However, his thoughts are in another place. I can see it in the way he scans the horizon at sunset; the far-off look in his eyes; the wandering of his mind to far away places. Even the name of our son Goshen tells how he feels like an alien in a foreign land. He's thinking of Egypt and the people he's left behind...

As the saying goes, "behind each great man is a great woman." The prophet and leader Moses was definitely one of the greatest men in the Bible, so what was his wife like? In what ways did she influence her husband?

To investigate Zipporah, we must go back to Exodus 2. Moses had grown up as a prince in Pharaoh's palace and had evidently learned of his Hebrew origins. One day when watching the slaves work, he saw a foreman beating one of the laborers. With the passion to characterize his life, he rushed out, glancing to make sure he could see no one, and killed the foreman. His impetuousness got him into trouble when word got out what he'd done, so he fled his position and place of prestige for the dusty land of Midian. Soon after his arrival, he met his future wife, Zipporah, and her sisters when they went to water her father's flock. Zipporah had six sisters (you've got to wonder what kind of sibling she was in turn!), and she evidently helped care for her father's sheep. When shepherds tried to drive them from the well, Moses came to their rescue and watered their flocks.

When Reuel, the girls' father, heard what had happened, he sent for Moses, fed him, and invited him to stay around. The girls may have prepared something especially enticing for this weary traveler, as he agreed to stay. Reuel gave Zipporah to Moses as his wife and they had two sons.

Life went on pretty uneventfully for quite a while. Moses lived the life of a shepherd and Zipporah that of a nomad's wife. Her days were probably full of the domestic pursuits common to those living in tents.

"During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God." ~ Exodus 2:23

Hearing their cry and concerned for them, God remembered Moses. The special survivor as a baby, he had now grown into an older man of eighty - and now God was ready to use him.

I wonder what Zipporah thought when Moses returned from his encounter with God, saying that he had been chosen to set God's people free. She may have looked at her aging husband and wondered if he'd suffered sunstroke! Or perhaps she could see how Moses had been prepared for this time by his years of testing in the desert. In any event, when Moses asked leave of her father, she went with him, leaving behind her clan and riding with her sons off into the unknown.

On the way, a rather tumultuous event took place. It would seem as though Moses hadn't circumcised his son, which was offensive to God. Because of the disobedience before Him, God 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" ~ Exodus 4:25

Zipporah's quick thinking and obedience to do what God required saved the life of her husband and allowed him to go on to do what God had called him to do.

Moses then met Aaron, and the two traveled to speak to Pharaoh and go through the long ordeal of plagues and demands of freedom. We don't know what Zipporah did during that time - she either went with her husband or returned to her father's camp, shaken by the event that had taken place.

After God's people had gained their freedom and Moses had them them of Egypt and through the Red Sea, Exodus 18 tells us that Moses had sent away his wife and two sons (who knows when this had happened) and his father-in-law received them. After God's working on behalf of His people, Zipporah's father took her and her sons to him in the desert. That's pretty much the last thing we hear of Zipporah. How long she lived and traveled with her husband we don't know; her specific influences on him remain a mystery. However, one thing is sure: she remained a faithful wife to Moses in the midst of hardship.

Today, no one knows much about Zipporah. Many probably haven't even heard her name. Though she's unnoticed, her husband's legacy lives on through the ages. She didn't get great acclaim. She had to live with Moses' time consumed by the burden of the Israelites and the public eye upon them. Yet, through it all she must have persevered, quietly supporting her husband.

Do you feel unnoticed, taken for granted, and as though you won't have much effect on those around you? Keep persevering! God will remember your work and use it for good (Hebrews 6:10). We can't see the big picture, but God knows what's in store. Your work may be noticed and acclaimed; or, someone else may get the praise as you diligently work close by. Whatever happens, like Zipporah remain faithful where God as placed you, and wait for what He will do.

Read all about Zipporah is Exodus 2:11-4:26; 18:1-27

Would you like to read about other women of the Bible? Read about the Godly women before Zipporah here. My prayer is to grow to be like them, as this beautiful post prays.


eliasboudinotismyfriend said...

Just what I needed today! :) Thank you for pointing out the character of this often-overlooked woman of faith. It reminds me of a quote I heard the other day: 'Perservere: even the snails reached the ark!'

Perservero! :)

Anna S said...

Anna, what a wonderful post! I must say I have wondered several times what it would be like, to be married to one of those great leaders, like Abraham or Moses... not easy, I'd say! But the rewards are beyond measure!

Ella said...

Great to have one of these again. You know, Zipporah is mentioned further on...Miriam did't care for her, and thus, she was stricken with leprosy.

I appreciate your final part. I can feel unimportant sometimes. Perhaps we will never know the difference we have made until we reach Heaven!

Anna Naomi said...

Miriam, Great quote! =)

Anna S, it definitely wouldn't be easy! Wherever God places us, I just pray that we may persevere.

Ella, that's true (great for noticing that!) although people differ from whether they think the "Cushite wife" refers to Zipporah or not. She could have been someone Moses married later. I went into that story in my post on Miriam:

Ella said...

YOu know, Anna, I never thought of that, Perhaps it was a different wife.... I apologzie for sounding like a complete know-it-all!!

Miriam Rebekah said...

This was great, Anna! Her perserverance was amazing!

Anna Naomi said...

Ella, no it was good that you pointed it out! I've read different things that have the Cushite wife as Zipporah and some that don't... people just seem to differ in what they think.

Rebekah S. said...

That's my prayer as well, Anna! Thank you so much for this beautiful and thought-provoking post! She truly was a wonderful helpmeet to her husband.

Anonymous said...

25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

26 So He let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

This does not sound like she was in complete agreement, but she did it anyway. If Moses thought circumcision was something that needed to be done, why didn't he do it? After all, it was his agreement with God, not hers.

In any case, she rejoined Moses later, so they must have worked it out.