Exodus 4:24-26

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JesusIsLord

Puritan Board Freshman
I am reading through Exodus for my daily reading and I have been so confused by this small passage. I have been in exodus for a few months now and every time I reread the section, it makes less and less sense.

The section comes right after Moses is commissioned to go tell Isreal that Yahweh is going to free them to worship Him. The section reads:

and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”

24At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’c feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.

Any help would be great!
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Apparently, Moses had neglected to circumcise his son as he was obliged to, so that the uncircumcised be not regarded as a covenant breaker, Gen.17:14.

In terms of "how big a deal is it, really?," a good parallel might be the situation with Ananias and Saphira; i.e. an early moment in a major era of divine redemptive activity, when attention to detail is extra-significant. Moses was about to take the position of the Lord's prophet to both Israel and Pharaoh.

The Lord is the covenant-keeping God: that's why Pharaoh must let the people go. So how serious is he, really, if Moses as exemplar can be held to a much lower standard? No, but he must be obedient in the little things first, then have great responsibility. An uncircumcised son would have been a blatant scandal.

Who does the Lord threaten? Is it Gershom, or Moses? Whose life is on the line? I take the position that the one in danger is Moses; his son is a covenant-breaker, because his father has behaved faithlessly, treacherously to the covenant.

It takes a bold, decisive move by Zipporah, in an action taken in haste upon the son (who is probably old enough to be in great fear and confusion), to put the situation to rights and preserve Moses. She touched her husband with blood of his son, which would have been on his own flesh, if he had done his duty himself.

As to the precise meaning of her comment, it probably indicates something of her terror and fear. Maybe I can paraphrase it: "Man, I truly had no idea what bloody horrors were coming along into my life, when I said 'I DO.' I understand this was avoidable? So help me, don't ever put me in that kind of position again."

Hopefully, this explanations serves to remove some of the mystery in the passage. Some mystery probably should remain, just to keep us all a little off balance when it comes to human interaction with the divine majesty.
 

JesusIsLord

Puritan Board Freshman
Apparently, Moses had neglected to circumcise his son as he was obliged to, so that the uncircumcised be not regarded as a covenant breaker, Gen.17:14.

In terms of "how big a deal is it, really?," a good parallel might be the situation with Ananias and Saphira; i.e. an early moment in a major era of divine redemptive activity, when attention to detail is extra-significant. Moses was about to take the position of the Lord's prophet to both Israel and Pharaoh.

The Lord is the covenant-keeping God: that's why Pharaoh must let the people go. So how serious is he, really, if Moses as exemplar can be held to a much lower standard? No, but he must be obedient in the little things first, then have great responsibility. An uncircumcised son would have been a blatant scandal.

Who does the Lord threaten? Is it Gershom, or Moses? Whose life is on the line? I take the position that the one in danger is Moses; his son is a covenant-breaker, because his father has behaved faithlessly, treacherously to the covenant.

It takes a bold, decisive move by Zipporah, in an action taken in haste upon the son (who is probably old enough to be in great fear and confusion), to put the situation to rights and preserve Moses. She touched her husband with blood of his son, which would have been on his own flesh, if he had done his duty himself.

As to the precise meaning of her comment, it probably indicates something of her terror and fear. Maybe I can paraphrase it: "Man, I truly had no idea what bloody horrors were coming along into my life, when I said 'I DO.' I understand this was avoidable? So help me, don't ever put me in that kind of position again."

Hopefully, this explanations serves to remove some of the mystery in the passage. Some mystery probably should remain, just to keep us all a little off balance when it comes to human interaction with the divine majesty.

Brother, thank you for your help. This was very helpful



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Adam Olive

Puritan Board Freshman
God is angry with Moses because he has not circumcised his son. By failing to do so Moses is repudiating the covenant God made with Abraham, the penalty of which is to be 'cut off' i.e. death.

Zipporah's circumcising her son and then touching Moses' person with the bloody foreskin applies the action to Moses and thus appeases God's wrath.

In 4:21-23, the LORD had announced that if Egypt did not obey the LORD then he would kill Egypt's firstborn sons.

In 4:24-26 we learn the consequences on Israel and their firstborn sons (illustrated by Moses) if they do not obey the command to circumcise and apply the blood of the Passover lamb – death.

There is a foreshadowing of the Passover rite.
  • Both accounts relate to a firstborn son.
  • The verb ‘touched’ is the same used for the verb describing how the blood is placed on the doorposts at Passover.
  • By placing the blood on ‘his feet’, Zipporah is making a sign of protection comparable to the blood sign on the doorposts at Passover.
  • Zipporah's displaying the blood of her son's circumcision by touching Moses' feet with the foreskin causes God's wrath to be averted. ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you’ (Ex. 12:13, 23)
  • The plural ‘bloods’ (damim in Hebrew) is used to connect the blood of circumcision to the blood of the lamb.
  • c.f. 12:48 where the celebration of Passover and circumcision are tied together
The account of Moses in the wilderness almost being 'cut off' for covenant disobedience functions to warn Israel in the wilderness that they must keep the covenant obligations e.g. circumcision (as must Moses the covenant mediator) and obediently utilize the God-given means of appeasement for sin.
 
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