Day: September 29, 2014

Not Even God Could Kill Moses

Everyone wanted to kill Moses. 

In Exodus 1-2 Pharaoh tried multiple times. He told the midwives to kill all Hebrew baby boys, and when that didn’t work he told his people to throw the Hebrew boys in the Nile. When Moses grew up, he killed an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating up a Hebrew slave, and when Pharaoh found out, he wanted to kill Moses yet again.

baby Moses stained glassEach time Moses was protected by a woman. The midwives lied to Pharaoh to protect the baby Hebrew boys. Jochebed and Miriam, Moses’ mother and sister, protected him after “throwing” him into the Nile in a basket, literally an “ark” (teva- just like Noah (Gen. 6:14), and my sandals). Pharaoh’s daughter rescued baby Moses in his ark. The daughters of Jethro welcomed Moses who was fleeing Pharaoh into their home (after some encouragement by their father).

Every time Pharaoh tried to kill Moses, he was rescued by women.

Finally, God tried to kill him. 

At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision (Exodus 4:24-26). 

Old Testament scholar, David Penchansky comments on this story, “Biblical scholars love this passage because it is totally incomprehensible” (from What Rough Beast? Images of God in the Hebrew Bible, 1999: 67).

We talked about this story in class recently and brainstormed a list of questions.

Why did God want to kill Moses?
How did Zipporah (Moses’ wife) know God was going to kill him?
How did Zipporah know God wanted to kill Moses because their son wasn’t circumcised?
Why does Zipporah call Moses a bridegroom of blood?
Why was God unable to succeed in his quest of slaughter?  He tried, but couldn’t? 

I’m not sure what was going on with the “Bridegroom of Blood” story, but it does continue a pattern of incidents in Exodus where Moses’ life is in danger.

But he keeps being protected by women.

The midwives.
Jochebed.
Miriam.
Pharaoh’s daughter.
Jethro’s daughters.
Zipporah.

I’m not sure how hard he was trying, but this time not even God could kill him. Although, God does eventually succeed, preventing Moses from entering the Promised Land for striking, not speaking to, the water-rock (Num. 20:12; Deut. 34:5).

Thank God for women who deliver and protect men. 

How do you understand the “totally incomprehensible” bridegroom of blood story?