Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: May 29, 2016


This week, Vicki Stewart from Auburn, Alabama, USA asks:

Can you explain the verses from Exodus 4:24 – 25 where it seems that the Lord was going to kill Moses over the circumcision or lack of it for the children and why Zipporah did the circumcision and said what she did to Moses?

Also, what exactly happened to Zipporah after this?

Our teacher Rivkah Adler answers:


Gidon Ariel asked me to address your question about the events in Exodus 4:24-25. Indeed, these are very deep verses. Here’s an explanation I hope will be helpful.

As Moses was about to leave for Egypt according to the command of God, he was unsure what to do about circumcising his newborn son. He didn’t know whether to delay the trip in order to give the baby a chance to heal after a circumcision or leave right away. He left right away, thus postponing the circumcision. God’s anger at Moses was not because he postponed the circumcision to travel to Egypt, but because he postponed it further by seeing out lodging instead of circumcising his son at the first possible opportunity.

Tzipora saw with Divine Inspiration what needed to be done. She took the initiative and saved her husband from God’s anger by circumcising her son with a sharp stone.

The Jewish tradition is that, after this happened, Tzipora was turned away by Moses’ brother Aharon as they approached Egypt. Aharon told Moses to send her and the children back to Midian where it was safer for her. As a result, she was not present for the Exodus.

I hope that helps,
Rivkah Adler

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