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Who is Zipporah?

What a bird!” my father would say to describe someone who was acting silly.

Birds can be silly sometimes. They can also be quite determined, protective, and clever. I have seen little birds courageously fly after big birds who may have otherwise threatened them. Soaring through the air, birds often inspire the free spirit inside us. Birds are beautiful!

It makes me wonder what kind of personality my baby granddaughter will grow into. You see, on September 17th, I became a grandmother! My son and daughter-in-law named their baby Zipporah, a name which means bird. But that is not why they named her Zipporah.

Growing up, my daughter-in-law loved the animated movie The Prince of Egypt, and her favorite character was the feisty Zipporah.

Zipporah is the wife of Moses. In case you have not seen the movie, she is in the book – the book of Exodus, that is. I never really gave her much thought, to tell the truth, until my granddaughter was born. So, I decided to read up on her, and found bits and pieces of her story in the second, fourth, and eighteenth chapters of Exodus.

Like all good Old Testament romances, the couple met at a well. Zipporah and her sisters were trying to get water for their father’s sheep, but the local shepherds chased them away. Moses, however, took up for the young ladies, got their sheep to the well, and watered them himself.

Jethro, a priest of Midian and the father of the seven girls, was so grateful for Moses’ kind and protective nature that he gave him his daughter Zipporah’s hand in marriage. She bore him two sons – Gershom and Eliezar. Moses settled down in Midian and became the shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock. Until.. God made Himself known to Moses in a burning bush and gave him a mission.

Can you imagine the conversation they had when Moses got home after his supernatural experience? “You were talking to a what? It told you to do what? Go back to Egypt? Aren’t you wanted for murder there? Doesn’t the Pharoh want you dead? What does ‘I am who am’ mean anyway?” All these questions must having been going through her mind, if not coming out of her mouth!

Though Zipporah was a daughter of a priest, Jethro was not a priest of the Almighty God. They believed in pagan gods. The God of her husband, she thought, was just one of many gods.

Yet, she was loyal and faithful to her husband. So, when Moses set out for Egypt, she took their sons and went with him, despite any fear or hesitation she may have had.

However, it does seem that Zipporah did draw a line at one of the practices of Moses’ religion – circumcision – for the story takes a strange twist in chapter four. Moses is headed back to Egypt as God has commanded when, unexpectedly, “the Lord came upon Moses and sought to put him to death” (24). It does not say why. But there is a clue as to what Moses might have done that so angered the Lord.

It seems that Moses allowed Zipporah to talk him into not circumcising their sons. God expects, however, obedience, even if your spouse doesn’t want you to obey. Still, Zipporah was wise enough to realize the cause of God’s wrath, and immediately, she corrected the situation. Yep, Zipporah “took a piece of flint and cut off her son’s foreskin,” declaring, “Surely, you are a spouse of blood to me” (25). Totally submitting to God’s will, Zipporah was finally all in.

At some point, Moses sent Zipporah and their sons back to Midian. Perhaps he feared for their safety with all the plagues that were happening, especially that last one. It wouldn’t have been the first time Moses’ trust in the Lord faltered, nor would it be the last. But Zipporah had seen enough. She reported to her father all the marvels God worked for the Israelites.

When Jethro, Zipporah, and the boys met up with Moses in the wilderness, the priest gave praise and offered burnt sacrifices to the one, true God. Her father became a believer because Zipporah shared with Jethro the good news – God saved His people.

After reading about Zipporah, I reflected on the qualities of the woman who faithfully walked with Moses. This wife was very protective of her husband and sons. She was wise enough to recognize when she was wrong and courageous enough to fix the wrong she had done. Most of all, I love that she became a big fan of God, telling others about His marvelous deeds.

I pray that my little granddaughter grows up to be faithful, wise, and courageous. May she zealously share the Good News and evangelize her little part of the world. One thing is for sure, my little “bird” is beautiful. And she is destined to soar to the heights of Heaven. I praise God for Zipporah.


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