One of the most enigmatic Torah events (that, frankly, runs contrary to our modern logic) is found in Exodus 4:24-26. There, after commissioning Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, God came to kill him (Ex.4:24-26).  What follows is the NASB translation along with several of my own modifications as supported by the Hebrew text. I am indebted to Michael Heiser for the core idea discussed in this article.

It happened on the way to the lodging place that the LORD met him [Moses] and sought his death (וַיְבַקֵּשׁ הֲמִיתוֹ). Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched his feet (וַתַּגַּע לְרַגְלָיו), and she said, “This is because you are a bridegroom of blood to me” (כִּי חֲתַן-דָּמִים אַתָּה לִי). So He let him alone. At that time, she said, “You – a bridegroom of blood” – because of the circumcision.

The key to this passage lies in realizing that Moses was not properly circumcised. Growing up in the Egypt, Moses and the rest of Israelites did not fully remove the male’s foreskin (growing up in the Egyptian Royal home, it could not have been otherwise). In the time of Joshua, Israelites went through a second, proper circumcision, where foreskin was fully removed (Josh. 5:2-3). All of this sounds trivial, gross, and strange to the ears of modern Christian believers, but clearly it was not how YHWH saw this situation. In other words, Israelites could be delivered while still being uncircumcised, but the leader of the Exodus would be held to a higher standard.

Moses was about to embark on “Operation Exodus” without the sign of the Abrahamic covenant on him or his son Gershom. When God came to seek his life, Moses’ Medianite wife Zipporah intervened to save him. God’s wrath was turned away by the blood of the son and decisive redemptive action of a Midianite woman. 

This explains God’s seemingly strange behavior. But how can we understand the words of Zipporah (“You are bridegroom of blood to me”)?

Circumcision was not only a sign to the man of his entrance into the Abrahamic covenant.  It also served as a sign to his bride that the man she was marrying was, in fact, a worshiper of the Most High God.  A man who was properly circumcised was a “bridegroom of blood” to her.

But why did Zipporah touch the foreskin of Gershom to the “feet” of Moses? The most likely scenario is that the “feet” of Moses refers to Moses’ procreative organ (a common euphemism in the Hebrew Bible).

At the time, Moses’ procreative organ was not properly marked with the sign of Abrahamic covenant. After (properly) circumcising Gershom, Zipporah touched Moses’ procreative organ as if he was already properly circumcised. When this great woman of faith did that, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob spared the life of Moses, making him ready to deliver God’s Ancient people. We invite you to delay no longer and commit to discovering the original meaning of the Hebrew Bible. Register below and begin your journey of discovery.

The Bible is full of passages like this – passages that leave many people confused and perplexed. The key to understanding these “confusing” passages is to gain a better understanding of the Bible’s Jewish context.

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332 COMMENTS

  1. you my friend miss the whole point of this. May the Spirit of Holy open your eyes to the cost Elohim was to bring upon the people of Israel through the Redeemer that was to come and did and is to come again soon.....His is coming for His Bride.....

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    • The reason why God almost killed Moses is because he was circumcised as an Egyptian after he was born but not as Hebrew yet. It is the reason why Zipporah had to circumcise him again. The Israelites were also circumcised again before entering the Promised Land (see Josh 5:2-9)

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    • He is coming gurrented , the question which calender one is following ., remember the three sides to the truth....I give you a hint definitely not victoria calendar. Bless up praise be to our father s abraham and Noah PBUTHEM
    • I did get the point ....if born a Hebrew and chosen by God to lead the exodus out of Egyptian slavery , it’s was time to follow the abrahamic covenant which as a Hebrew was part of the Hebraic laws ... back then and still today .
  2. Since Moses was three months old when he was put in the basket, would he not have already been circumcised at eight days old? Or do you think that because his parentsvwere trying to hide him they wouldn't have done anything to make him cry? Also, Pharoah's daughter immediately knew Moses was Hebrew, could it be that it was because he was circumcised?
  3. What Joshua did in 5 v 2-3 was because none of those who crossed the Jordan had been circumcised. There were very few Israelites who crossed the Jordan who had been born in Egypt; every man who left Egypt who was 20 years old at the time of the Exodus died in the wilderness.
  4. Wonderful insight again Dr. Eli, on a section that truly is "One of the most enigmatic Torah events" for so many of us. Thank you. Even the term, "Bridegroom of blood to me" has been a puzzle to me. (the Blood Covenant- I suppose there is a whole lesson of the relationship between husband and wife also?) Thank you as always. Reminds me again that I will enroll in your courses- if I can figure out which offer to choose...? Will do 1 last inquiry to your assistant.... see you in class....!
    • The life is in the blood, from the beginning when ELOHIM covered Adam and Eve with the the fresh hide of an animal, shed blood, Yeshua Hamishiagh was born through Blood, and shed His Blood. When man and woman unite for the first time blood shed, a covenant of marriage.
  5. It still doesn't explain why he gave him the job when he knew he wasn't circumcised properly in the first place. I guess since God operates out of the time continuum, he knew his wife would make the blood sacrifice, is that right?
    • " For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. " Isaiah 55:8
      Most of what God does, it seems, is not reasonable to Man.
    • Yes, Mr. Stewart. I'm not sure we can have it both ways -- i.e., a God who knowingly picked an improperly circumcised Moses on the one hand, and also a God decidng to kill Moses on the other hand. What kind of God is that? Invoking an incomprehensible time scale doesn't work for me. This should not have been Zipporah's problem.
  6. Do you believe that God actually considered killing Moses, or do you think that that is what the people who wrote about it thought?
  7. The Samaritan version says "And it came about at the inn on the way that Shehmaa met him and sought to stun him. And Seebbooraa took a flint and she circumcised her blocked heart, and she brought herself to his feet." There is no problem of god wanting to kill Moses and of him not being circumcised.
  8. Jos_5:5  Although everyone who had left Egypt had been circumcised, nevertheless all the people born during the journey after their departure from Egypt had not been circumcised. This seems to include Moses. Gershom however was in Midian and was not circumcised. This meant that Gershom was in violation of Abraham's third covenant with God which had a penalty of being cut off from Israel, since Moses had not ensured this was done, he would hardly be seen as an example of following God's commands. Thoughts?
    • They were circumcised but most-likely (certainly in the case of MOSES, remember he was accepted into Egyptian Royal home and grew up there!) according Egyptian circumcision custom that split, but did not fully remove the foreskin. So while is not bullet proof case I still stick to my guns here that it was not GERSHOM, but Moses that was the issue. Your interpretation is ok, but the reading I propose actually explains why Zipporah uses the kind of terminology she does (you are now the bridegroom of blood to ME).

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  9. Shalom Dr Eli Lizorkin. Your messages are uplifting. they are a blessing, may the Lord continue to bless you. But in this passage Zipporah the wife of Moses circumcised his son, I believe that Moses was circumcised, but he had not circumcised his son; therefore the Lord wanted to kill the son of Moses, as I interpret, it is probable that the wife of Moses did not agree with the circumcision and as Moses lived in his lands he did not want to displease with his wife, who called him a bloodthirsty husband because of the circumcision.
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