This week we continue with the Moses drama. He’s heard from God through a burning bush that he needs to return to Egypt (where there are likely plenty of people still mad at him for killing that Egyptian over-seer a few years earlier).
- But God wants Moses in Egypt to free the Israelites … so they can go take back to Canaan … and enter into a big war with the people who have been occupying the land for the last 400 years. For this and other good reasons, Moses wants none of that. But God proves to Moses that this time he’s going to protect everyone (in comparison to the last time when they all got forced into slavery). God shows Moses several miracles, including turning a staff into a snake and water into blood. So there’s that. In theory, it would have been more efficient for God to appear to the Jews and to Pharaoh in a burning bush. But God is outsourcing.
- And then things get weird. A few years (!!?) after the burning bush experience, Moses sets out with his family to return to Egypt. According to Exodus, things got weird one night in the tent when God tries to kill Moses. Zipporah (Moses’ wife and the answer to the question of the week), believes that God is angry that their son isn’t circumcised. So she grabs a flint knife and performs an emergency circumcision on the spot. Then she flings the bloody foreskin at Moses’ feet (we should point out that the term “feet” is likely a euphemism for genitals, which makes this whole story even more disturbing). Then she says: “Surely, a bridegroom of blood thou art to me.”
- Really, she says that. To this day, no one is quite sure what Zipporah meant, but it did the trick (the second part of the answer to the Q of the W). She saved Moses, and he went on to lead the Hebrews out of slavery. However, despite her bravery and quick thinking, Moses doesn’t act particularly grateful. Moses sends her and the children away before the Exodus from Egypt. Later, they reunite, but by that time Moses has taken a second wife, a “Cushite” or Ethiopian woman.
Several mysteries in this tale leave experts baffled. Why did Zipporah, a woman, perform the circumcision? Which son was involved? Was God himself the attacker, or did he send one of his minions? Why did Zipporah and Moses separate?
Acknowledgement to the people over at TheFriendlyAtheist.com for providing help with this week’s observations on the usually-boring story in Exodus.