This is the second week of Biblical Women’s History, where I will be featuring women from the Bible that may not be well known, or highlighted often, to see how they made an eternal impact in the Kingdom.
What happens when a woman steps in? Throughout scripture, we see several women who influenced the lives of men—leaders God had chosen and put in place to lead and protect families, groups, and nations—both negatively and positively. While some turned these men’s hearts away from God and away from His instructions (Eve, Delilah, and Sarah to name a few), there were others who helped these leaders to uphold God’s commands, as well as restore their relationship with God. One such woman is who we are talking about today.
The first time we learn about Zipporah is in Exodus 2:21. However, let’s backtrack a bit to see how she was amongst one of 5 women who were instrumental in literally saving Moses’ life. Moses had a hit out on his life even before he entered the world, as he was born in a time and place when infanticide was the law. In previous posts on Biblical women’s history, I shared how Shiphrah and Puah, Hebrew midwives, and Jochebed, the mother of Moses were women who were used by God to be instrumental in the perseveration of his life in fulfilling his purpose of rescuing the children of Israel out of Egypt. At the beginning of Moses’ story, we also see that his sister Miriam, as well as Pharoah’s daughter, played a part in helping to keep him alive. He eventually made it to his adult years, and then one decision, which almost cost him his life again, led him to flee into the land of Midian.
Enter Zipporah. It was Moses who was instrumental in saving the life of this young daughter of Reul, along with her other 6 sisters. Reul, whose name means “friend of God”, was grateful that this “Egyptian man” (who was really a Hebrew), had rescued his daughters. He insisted they invite Moses back to the house to eat with them. He eventually gives his daughter, whose name means “bird” to Moses as his wife. In these next few verses, we see Zipporah transition from daughter to wife to mother of Gershom, and eventually Eliezer.
We don’t hear about Zipporah again until after Moses has now had an encounter with the Lord and is given a huge assignment (his purpose)–to be the one to lead God’s people out of Egypt. After he shares this news with his father-in-law (also known as Jethro and Hobab), who gives Moses his blessing, Moses takes his wife and sons back to Egypt. On the journey there, it is God, not another person or the law, that confronts Moses and is about to take Moses’ life…that is until Zipporah steps in.
Zipporah, a Midianinte woman, who is from the lineage of Esau because her father was Esau’s son, is well aware of God’s instruction for all Israelites in Genesis 17:9-14 as it relates to circumcision. Moses, as well as all male Israelites had the responsibility to obey the terms of their covenant with God:
Each male among you must be circumcised. You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between Me and you. From generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This applies not only to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased. All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of My everlasting covenant. Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking the covenant.” (Genesis 17:10-14, NLT)
This was a serious matter. The fact that Moses had not upheld the terms of his covenant with God by circumcising his son was a big deal, especially since they were entering hostile territory. He was in danger of being cut off from the covenant family. In essence, Moses had broken his covenant with God because of this failure to complete this command. Yet, it is a woman, a descendant of the Midianites (and thus descendants of Abraham through his wife Keturah-Genesis 25:1), who steps in to intervene on Moses’ and her son’s behalf, even though she is not a part of God’s covenant people. Zipporah understood her assignment and acted quickly to essentially carry out God’s greater purpose through Moses.
It wasn’t just that Zipporah was recorded as being the first woman in the Bible to perform a circumcision, a task usually reserved for the father/male. She stepped in to help with the broken covenant between Moses and the Lord due to Moses’ irresponsibility. She cared about her husband enough to make a quick decision and perform this “surgery” so that the Lord wouldn’t end Moses’ life and thus, raise up another deliverer for His people.
Circumcision would later speak to what Jesus comes to do for each of us by way of the Holy Spirit–to circumcise or cut away at the calluses of our own hearts so that nothing would interfere with our relationship and covenant with the Lord. Paul flipped circumcision on its head when he expressly shares in Romans 2:28-29 that circumcision was no longer about something done outwardly, a physical cutting away of something, or what defined someone as a true Jew. The circumcision that Jesus performs is that of the heart, which is desperately wicked, and the only One who truly knows it is God Himself (Jeremiah 17:9-10). In Christ, circumcision had to do with heart transformation, one that was inwardly right before God, which could only be produced by the Holy Spirit, rather than the keeping of rules and laws. Truly, circumcision is a repentance of the heart and this is what Zipporah stepped in to do for Moses. Could the same be said for us?
Are you a woman who cares enough about others that you would be willing to step in and execute the steps necessary so as not to hinder a person’s relationship with the Lord or keep him or her from fulfilling a greater purpose? Zipporah was that woman and she is an example of how powerful a woman of influence can be in helping to restore broken covenants between the Father and His children.
But before you go…
***Tomorrow is not promised. Today is all we have. If you are reading this and haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as Your Lord and Savior, would you consider doing so right now? Jesus died so He could have a personal relationship with you and so that one day, when you leave this earth, you can spend eternity with Him. You can say a prayer similar to this:
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. You showed Your great love for me, while I was in my sinful state, by sending Jesus Christ to die for me. Today, right now, I declare that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. Please enter into my heart, Lord Jesus, forgive me of all of my sins, and seal me with Your Holy Spirit. I choose this day to live for You, all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you said this prayer (or something similar) and you truly meant it, welcome to the family of God! Angels in heaven are rejoicing with you on the best decision you will ever make in life, and so am I! Please send me an email (email@example.com) or respond to this post so I can celebrate with you!
Scripture references: The Holy Bible (NLT, ESV)
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