“And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him” (Exodus 4:24).
Moses had been raised in Egypt but after killing an Egyptians taskmaster he fled for his life and spent the next 40 years in the land of Median as a shepherd. There he learned to reconnect with the Creator of all.
After God spoke to him from the burning bush, calling him to be deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Moses returned to Egypt with his two sons (Ex. 4:20). Evidently Gershom, the elder, had been circumcised in accordance with God’s instructions to Abraham (Gen. 17:10–14). In the case of Eliezer, the younger son, this rite had been neglected.
Zipporah did not believe in the necessity of circumcision and she resisted her husband’s intention to circumcise Eliezer at the appointed time. The appearance of the angel made it clear that her opposition did not excuse Moses from administering the rite. Now that her husband’s life was in danger she made sure to carry out the service of circumcision herself.
Moses had neglected to obey God’s instructions regarding circumcision –a sign given to Abraham as a way to show loyalty and allegiance to the God of Israel. Moses was not living the truth of His God. He was to be God’s man in Egypt but he had not been God’s man in his own household. Therefore, the angel of judgment along the road stopped him to destroy him.
Some have thought that Moses had an experience similar to Jacob’s at Peniel (Gen. 32:24–32). Others have suggested that a sudden, severe illness befell him, which he and Zipporah recognized as a punishment of God for failure to carry out one of His commandments. But the scripture indicates that the Lord appeared to Moses in a threatening manner, as if he intended to kill him.
The mark of circumcision was not just a physical sign to the Hebrews but a spiritual sign of accepting a covenant made with the Lord. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb smeared on the doorposts marked the culmination of the Exodus, so this blood of the circumcision of Moses’ son marked his loyalty to God.
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