Exodus 2:16-21 tells us, “Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.”  Along with that, let’s read Exodus 3:1, “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.”

Most of us know the story of how Moses was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter in Egypt.  It was as a man that Moses saw an Egyptian abusing a fellow Hebrew.  Moses killed that man.  We read in Exodus 2:15, “Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.”  Moses dwelt in Midian for forty years. (Read Acts 7:29-30).  We then read in Exodus 4:19-20, “And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.”

Moses lived to be 120 years old and his life can be divided into three sections of forty years each.  For forty years he lived in Egypt.  For forty years he lived in Midian.  For forty years he worked to deliver the Lord’s people out of Egypt and bring them into Canaan.  We read in Deuteronomy 34:7, “And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.”  When Moses died, he was just as strong as he was when he was a young man.

So far, we have seen that Moses, while living in the land of Midian, married a woman named Zipporah, who was the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian.  Moses lived in Midian for forty years before the Lord sent him to deliver His people out of bondage in Egypt.

We have an interesting event in the life of Zipporah given to us in Exodus 4:24-26, “And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him (Moses), and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.”  It is likely that the Lord caused Moses to become very sick.  Zipporah seemed to realize that the illness of Moses was due to his having neglected the duty of an Israelite.  He had not circumcised his own son, so Zipporah did it.  Not being an Israelite, Zipporah may have been disgusted with this rite of circumcision, but she did it anyway to save her husband’s life.

We also read of Zipporah in Exodus 18:1-4, “When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt; Then Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back, And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land: And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”  When Moses left Midian, he took his family with him (Exodus 4:20).  At some point (probably at Exodus 4:24), he sent his family back to Midian, possibly because of the danger he would face in Egypt.  In Exodus 18, we see that Jethro brought Zipporah back to Moses, along with their two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.

Although we have no record of Zipporah’s death, it is possible that she died, and Moses married again.  We read in Numbers 12:1, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.”  In this sad chapter we read about Miriam’s and Aaron’s rebellion against their brother.  Now, Zipporah was from Midian which was comprised of some of the descendants of Abraham.  She was not from Ethiopia, so it is probable that she had died, and Moses married again.  He obviously married someone who was from Ethiopia.

Before closing, let me include another thought concerning Moses and his wives.  Although it is not recorded in the Bible, Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, wrote that while Moses lived in Egypt, he commanded the Egyptian army in a war against Ethiopia and that he married an Ethiopian woman.  If this is true, Moses would have had two wives at one time, something that happened often in those days.  (368.2)