An Odd Thing happened on the way to Egypt…
As Moses was on his way to Egypt, he stopped at a resting place for the night. The Lord met him there and tried to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife and circumcised her son. Taking the skin, she touched Moses’ feet with it and said to him, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me.” She said, “You are a bridegroom of blood,” because she had to circumcise her son.
I had never heard of this incident before.
God had sounded so compassionate at the burning bush – but once Moses is on his way from Midian to Egypt, God is out for blood.
The characterisation has taken a turn. It sounds to me as if God is in human form at this point: a man with murderous intent. It reminded me of the bit where Jacob wrestled with God all night and was spared.
Gershom is spared too. It took Moses’ wife, Zipporah, to figure it out. Her son hadn’t been circumcised. She sounds none too pleased with her husband. It is hard to read tone when the meaning is so obscure, but I am reading her as irate?
Moses was a bit of a dodgy character to lead a revolution. Two generations of Pharaohs had wanted him dead. He had committed murder and had managed to escape the slavery his relatives suffered in Egypt.
God had given him this idea of leading the people out of slavery and into the desert to worship God and celebrate as a community of Israelites – but his son had not been drawn into this community through the mark of circumcision.
Moses was not identifying with the community he hoped to influence, so he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.
Obscure and random as this passage is, I think it is a warning against hypocrisy. Sadly it was Gershom that had to endure the knife in order for Moses to make sense to his people.
Zipporah does well though. Identifies the problem, deals with it and rebukes her husband for failing in his responsibilities. Maybe he’d said for years, “Yes, dear, I’ll get around to it….”.
I think she rolled her eyes 🙄 and thought “Men!”