#49 Women of God: Zipporah
Moses had fled Egypt when he killed an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew slave. He met Zipporah and her 6 sisters when he defended them from being bullied at a well while fetching water for their sheep. Moses subsequently married Zipporah and they had a son, Gershom. Some time later God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush and told him to return to Egypt to release the Israelites from slavery.
On the way there God told Moses that because Pharaoh would refuse to let Israel go free He would kill Pharaoh’s first born son. Moses realised that he had not yet circumcised his own firstborn son to identify him with God’s covenant people of Israel (Gen. 17:14). Since God has warned him that judgment was coming on all the firstborn uncircumcised sons of the Egyptians, Moses hurriedly held the older Gershom down and got Zipporah to circumcise him—an act she found particularly repugnant yet she was obedient to the God of Israel (Ex.4:21-26 KJV).
Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth, a reluctant leader (Num. 12:3). He didn’t want to confront Pharaoh and God had to repeatedly reassure him that He would empower him for the task. God gave him miraculous signs to demonstrate that God was with him and gave him his brother, Aaron, to speak for him because Moses claimed he stuttered and stammered. Importantly, God gave him, Zipporah, a strong woman who would rise up to lead his household.
With the task of confronting the then world’s most powerful ruler, Moses would have had to have been frequently away from home risking threats from the afflicted Hebrews and the Egyptian overlords. After that he led a stubborn and rebellious people 40 years through an unforgiving wilderness. Life must have been very tough for Zipporah but she stood by him.
We never hear a word of complaint from Zipporah about the difficulties of her being away from her home and culture or the deprivations of raising their 2 sons in the wilderness. In fact, the only words of complaint are from Aaron and Miriam who objected to Moses’ leadership because he had a foreign wife (Num. 12:1-15 cp Hab. 3:7 where Cush is equated with Midian). (Things actually didn’t go very well for Aaron and Miriam because of this behaviour towards Moses and Zipporah.)
Zipporah proved to be the example of a faithful wife that supported her husband, through thick and thin, in his demanding role as the leader of the Israelites – an example recorded for us to reflect upon.