Zipporah was the daughter of Jethro (or Reuel), “the priest of Midian” (Exodus 3:1; 2:18). She was a “Cushite woman” (Numbers 12:1) or Ethiopian woman. Cush is ancient Ethiopia (Genesis 10:6), which was in classical times called Nubia. Zipporah’s father was actually a Midianite (Ex. 2:16–19; 3:1), and thus a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 25:1).
After Moses slew an Egyptian to protect a Hebrew slave (Exodus 2:12), he fled from Egypt to the land of Midian to avoid prosecution (v. 15). When he got there, he met the priest of Midian who had had seven daughters that attended their father’s flock. When some shepherds tried to drive the women away, Moses defended the woman. So, the daughters told their father Jethro of the stranger that helped them and he in gratitude invited Moses to eat with his family. Later on, Moses married Zipporah one the priest’s daughters (Exodus 2:16–22).
Upon God’s call to go back to Egypt “Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt” (Exodus 4:20). On the way to Egypt, the Lord “sought to kill” (Exodus 4:24) Moses for failing to obey His command to circumcise his son. So Zipporah immediately circumcised their son and saved Moses’ life (Exodus 4:24–26). After the Exodus, Zipporah reunited with Moses in the wilderness (Exodus 18).
Upon rejoining Moses at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 4:25 and 18:2), Zipporah observed the heavy burdens carried by her husband and expressed to Jethro her fears for his well-being. So, Jethro counseled Moses to select others to share the responsibilities of administration with him.
When Moses heeded this counsel without first consulting Miriam and Aaron, they became jealous of him and blamed Zipporah for what they considered Moses’ neglect of them (Numbers 12:1). The fact that Zipporah was a Midianite, though a worshiper of the true God, was used by Miriam and Aaron merely as an excuse for rebelling against the authority of Moses. But Moses did not violate the principle of non-marriage with the heathen when he took her to wife, as they apparently claimed. For Zipporah was a worshiper of God and a daughter of the priest of Median.
In His service,
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