The Grandfather of Gershom
The story of Gershom is recorded in the book of Exodus. The grandfather of Gershom was a Kenite priest of Midian by the name Jethro (Judges 4:11). The priest had seven daughters. One day as these young women came to water their father’s flock, the shepherds drove them away. But Moses who had fled Egypt and came to this area, intervened and helped them to water their flocks. In gratitude, the priest asked Moses to live with him. Later, Moses married Zipporah his wife, the oldest daughter of Jethro. And she gave birth to two sons (Exodus 2:18-22).
Gershom and Eliezer
Gershom was the eldest of the sons of Moses born in Midian. Gershom means “a stranger there” in Hebrew, referring to Moses being a stranger in Median (Exodus 2:22). According to 1 Chronicles 6:16, the eldest son of Levi is sometimes identified as Gershom.
And Gershom’s younger brother was named Eliezer, which means “My father’s God (Elohei Avi) was my helper (Bi’ezeri), rescuing me from Pharaoh’s sword” (Exodus 14:4). This name reveals Moses’ gratefulness for Gods’ protection that he received during his escape from the land of Egypt.
The Lord’s Warning to Moses
When God called Moses to deliver the Israelites from the land of Egypt, he left the desert and traveled to Egypt with his family in obedience to the command of the Lord (Exodus 4:20). Zipporah circumcised her son Gershom, the elder, following the command of the Lord that was first given to Abraham.
The Lord commanded Abraham, “This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised… and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised…And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised…that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant” (Genesis 17:10–14).
Circumcision is here given as an obligation in connection with the covenant. It was to be the sign of the covenant with literal Israel as baptism is for spiritual Israel or the New Testament Church (Genesis 17:11; Colossians 2:11, 12; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21). The one was related to physical birth; the other is related to the spiritual rebirth.
Not believing in the necessity of circumcision, Zipporah neglected to circumcise Eliezer at the right time. On their way to Egypt, God sent the angel of the Lord, Moses was attacked by him, and the couple understood God’s warning. “And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him” (Exodus 4:24). The Lord wanted Moses to circumcise his son before he can claim the promises of he covenant to deliver Israel from the Egyptian bondage.
Some believe that Moses had an experience similar to Jacob’s at Peniel (Genesis 32:24–32). Others believe that, Moses was attacked by a sudden and dangerous illness, which he and Zipporah recognized as a punishment of God for failure to carry out one of His commandments.
When Zipporah saw that her husband’s life was in danger, she didn’t hesitate to shed the blood of her child. And Zipporah took a sharp stone and circumcised her son and said to Moses, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me” (Exodus 4:25). And thus, the husband had won the favor of God.
In His service,
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