Zipporah

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Zipporah (Arabic: صفورة, Hebrew: צִפוֹרָה) was the wife of the prophet Moses and the mother of Gershom and Eliezer. Surah 28 of the Qur'an and the Book of Exodus recount her story.

Biography[edit]

Prelude[edit]

Moses witnessed an Egyptian beating up a Hebrew, one of Moses' folk. The Hebrew called for his kinsman to aid him, and Moses answered the call. Moses struck the Egyptian, unintentionally killing him.

On the next day, Moses saw a fight between two Hebrews and tried to break it up, but one of them protested and let slip that he knew that Moses killed a man the previous day. Moses realized that the incident was not a secret.

Eventually, the Pharaoh learned of the incident and sought to have Moses executed. Moses learned of the Pharaoh's intentions and fled to Midian, where he stopped by a well in order to rest.

Meeting Moses and marriage[edit]

Zipporah was a daughter of Reuel, or Jethro. Jethro was a priest living in Midian. In the Qur'an, Zipporah is one of two daughters sired by Jethro, and in the Book of Exodus, she is one of seven daughters sired by Jethro. One of the daughter's duties was to provide water for their father's flocks. They sought to provide water to their flock at a well, but the other shepherds forced them away in order to have the water first.

Moses saw this and helped the daughters obtain water for their flocks. The daughters told Jethro about what happened, and Jethro had his daughters invite Moses into their house.

According to the Qur'an, one of Jethro's two daughters suggested that Jethro should hire Moses.

Said one of the two women, Father, hire him; surely the best man thou canst hire is the one strong and trusty.

— Surah 28:26 (Arberry)

Jethro and Moses then arranged a marriage between Zipporah and Moses. According to the Qur'an, Moses agreed to work for Jethro for eight or ten years as a part of this arrangement. Moses married Zipporah, and they conceived a son. Moses named the son Gershom ("stranger") due to them being in a foreign land. They conceived another son, and Moses named this son Eliezer ("my God is help").

Eventually, the Pharaoh died, and a new one took his place. The Israelites continued to suffer and prayed to God for deliverance. God sought this time to fulfill his promises and return the Israelites to the lands He promised to them.

One day, while traveling with his family and flocks near Mount Horeb (Sinai), Moses noticed a burning bush and went alone to investigate. There, Moses received his calling from God. Moses was to return to Egypt, inform the Israelites that God has heard their suffering and will led them to a Land of Milk and Honey, confront the Pharaoh, led the Israelites out of Egypt, and return to Mount Horeb. God would be with Moses during this mission.

Circumcising her son[edit]

Moses returned to Jethro, who permitted Moses to leave. Moses then traveled to Egypt with his family.

While resting, however, God sought to kill Moses for not circumcising one of his sons. Zipporah took action. She took a flint knife, circumcised her son with it, threw the foreskin at Moses' feet, and proclaimed Moses to be a "husband of blood" to her. God then spared Moses.

Reunion[edit]

At some point, Moses sent Zipporah and her children to Jethro, possibly for safety.

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt with God's help. During the journey to Sinai, God provided the Israelites with miracles, including the parting of the Red Sea, manna, water, and the defeat of the Amalekites who were attacking them. Jethro learned of these miracles and reunited Zipporah and her children with Moses.

See also[edit]