Zipporah or Tzipora is mentioned in the Book of Exodus as the wife of Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, and the daughter of Reuel/Jethro, the priest or prince of Midian
Midian , Madyan , or Madiam is a geographical place and a people mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur'an. It is believed to be in northwest Saudi Arabia on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba and the northern Red Sea...

. In the Book of Chronicles, two of her grandsons are mentioned: Shebuel
Shebuel was the son of Gershom, and a grandson of Moses and Zipporah. He along with his cousin, Rehabiah, were included in the Tribe of Levi. In 1 Chronicles 23:16, Shebuel is described as a chief. His name means captive of God or returned of God....

, son of Gershom
According to the Bible, Gershom was the firstborn son of Moses and Zipporah. The name appears to mean a sojourner there , which the text argues was a reference to Moses' flight from Egypt; biblical scholars regard the name as being essentially the same as Gershon, and it is Gershom rather than...

, and Rehabiah, son of Eliezer
For the mathematician and Tamil activist see C.J. Eliezer; for the AI researcher and writer on rationality see Eliezer Yudkowsky; for the Levite priest of the Hebrew Bible, see Eleazar...


Biblical references

Zipporah was one of the seven daughters of Reuel, the Midianite priest or prince, who is also called Jethro (Exodus 3:1, 4:18, 18:1-2 ff.) and Hobab (Judges 4:11). While the Israelites/Hebrews
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

 were captives in Egypt, Moses killed an Egyptian who was striking a Hebrew, for which offense Pharaoh sought to kill Moses. Moses therefore fled from Egypt and arrived in Midian. One day while he sat by a well, Reuel's daughters came to water their father's flocks. Other shep­herds arrived and drove the girls away so they could water their own flocks first. Moses helped the girls and watered their flock.

Upon their return home their father asked them, "How is it that you have come back so soon today?" The girls answered, "An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock." "Where is he then?" Reuel asked them. "Why did you leave the man? Ask him in to break bread." (Exodus 2:18–20)

Moses stayed and lived with the Midianite and his family. Reuel gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage and, in due time, she gave birth to Gershom and then to Eliezer.

After all the men in Egypt who had sought his death had died, God commanded Moses to return to Egypt. Moses took his wife and sons and started his journey back to Egypt. On the road, they stayed in an inn, where a mysterious and much-debated incident
Zipporah at the inn
Zipporah at the inn is the name given to an episode alluded to in three verses of Exodus. It is one of the more unusual, curious, and much-debated passages of the Pentateuch....

 that features Zipporah took place. The Bible tells us that God came to kill Moses (Exodus 4:24-27). The passage contains four of the most difficult sentences in Biblical text. Zipporah quickly circumcised Gershom with a sharp stone and touched Moses' feet with it, saying "A bridegroom of blood because of the circumcision." (Exodus 4:26.) One possible interpretation is that something (perhaps God, perhaps an agent of God) tries to kill Moses, until Zipporah carries out a circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

 on their son. Other interpretations suggest that it is their son, Gershom, who is attacked, and yet another is that Moses tries to kill his own son and only after Zipporah cuts the child's foreskin, drawing blood and pain, does his anger subside.

After Moses succeeded in taking the Israelites out of Egypt, and won a battle against Amalek, Reuel came to the Hebrew camp in the wil­derness of Sinai, bringing with him Zipporah, Gershom, and Eliezer. Bible does not say when Zipporah and her sons rejoined Reuel/Jethro, only that after he heard of what God did for the Israelites, he brought Moses' family to him. The most common translation is that Moses sent her away, but another grammatically permissible translation is that she sent things or persons, perhaps the announcement of the victory over Amalek. The word that makes this difficult is shelucheiha, the sendings [away] of her.

Another reference ("the Cushite reference") to a wife of Moses occurs at Numbers 12, in the story of Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

's and Miriam's harsh criticism of Moses' marriage to a Cushite or Kushite woman, probably of ancestry from Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

, aka Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

, in northeast Africa. The book of Genesis identifies the nations of Africa as descendants of Ham son of Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

. The Midianites themselves were a dark-skinned people often called Kushim, the Hebrew word used to describe dark skinned Africans. Traditional Jewish sources debated throughout Mishnaic and Medieval times whether Zipporah was the Cushite woman. Flavius Josephus refers to the Cushite as a wife that Moses married before fleeing Egypt—He married her during his campaign south of Egypt as a general for the Egyptians. Modern biblical criticism has posited that Zipporah and the Cushite were different individuals, particularly since bigamy
In cultures that practice marital monogamy, bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another. Bigamy is a crime in most western countries, and when it occurs in this context often neither the first nor second spouse is aware of the other...

 was legal, and practiced by Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

, a major patriarch. Conversely, some scholars identify Zipporah with the Cushite woman.

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