QUESTION:  Why did the Lord want to kill Moses and then Zipporah circumcised him?


ANSWER:   We read in Exodus 2:11-15 how that Moses had killed an Egyptian and fled into the land of Midian and there he stayed for forty years.  After those years, the Lord sent Moses back to Egypt with a message for Pharoah, “Let my people go.”  Exodus 4:20 says, “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.”  We then read in verses 24-26, “And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, 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.”

The Lord had chosen Moses for a very important work.  He would be the one, along with his brother Aaron, to appear before Pharaoh and demand that he let the Jewish people leave the country.  Moses would become one of the Lord’s greatest servants.  His name is mentioned in the Bible over 750 times!  Yet, here in our portion, we find the Lord seeking to kill Moses.  Why?  Moses seems to acting in obedience to the Lord’s command for him to return to Egypt and be His messenger.  While on his journey, Moses and his family stopped in an inn, or a place to rest.  It was there that “the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.”  How the Lord planned to kill Moses is not known.  I think we can all agree that if the Lord had wanted Moses dead, He could have killed him in an instant.  The fact that he ‘sought to kill him’ seems to be a strategy of the Lord to give Moses time to avert his own death.  He possibly caused a disease to come upon Moses that could have led to his death.  But why did the Lord want to kill Moses?

Let’s go back to Genesis 17:9-11 where we read, “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.”  As a token of his covenant with Abraham, the Lord commanded all baby boys to be circumcised.  Let’s read verse 14, “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.”  Moses certainly knew the Word of God well.  He knew the commandment regarding circumcision.  He knew the penalty for not obeying this commandment.  Yet, he did not circumcise one of his own sons.

We can only speculate why Moses did not circumcise his son.  It is obvious that it was a willful decision because the Lord found him guilty of disobedience.  Moses must have realized why the Lord wanted to kill him, and because of his illness, he told his wife to circumcise one of his sons.  As we read this account, it is obvious that Moses’ wife, Zipporah, did not like the idea of circumcision.   We don’t know which son it was, but Zipporah took a sharp stone and circumcised her son and cast the foreskin at Moses’ feet, saying, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.”  It may have been because of her own unbelief and disdain for the things of the Lord, that Moses eventually sent her and their two boys back to Midian.  (Read Exodus 18:2-3)

What are we to learn from this event?

  • Obedience to the Word of God is crucial to the servant of the Lord. Moses could not go back to the Jewish people and ask them to obey the Word of the Lord if he was being disobedient.
  • Abiding in the presence of unbelievers can cause us to become careless about obeying God’s Word.
  • All believers, men and women alike, should have our HEARTS CIRCUMCISED (Read Romans 2:29). We should ‘CUT OFF’ ourselves from the world and its evil influences so that we might truly be faithful servants of the Lord.  (205.10)