obscure passage

Well I just read exodus, chapters 1 thru 14. I’ve heard this story so many times that not much impressed me this time around (I’m not doing an in-depth study, remember), except for the little aside in Exodus 4:24-26

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.

Now, to understand the context… Moses was an Israelite and had been nursed by his own mother, but had been raised as Pharaoh’s nephew, so he most likely didn’t know much of the customs of his people. He had fled Egypt after killing a guard and had taken Zipporah as a wife. This passage comes a while after Moses had the conversation with God (from the burning bush), in which he had to ask what God’s name was, because he didn’t know what the Israelites called their God.

Moses would have been circumcised, because his mother didn’t put him in the bulrushes until he was well past the 8 day mark, but chances are he didn’t know much about it. This passage comes as Moses is taking his family back to Egypt to meet up with Aaron and start the job of getting Pharaoh to let His people go.

I don’t even recall having read this passage before, but the defining mark of an Israelite is the circumcision, and Moses’ son would not have been circumcised, as his father-in-law was a priest of Midian (quick edit, I originally thought Midian was a false god, but it turns out it was a place, and his father in law was actually a priest of God) and Moses probably didn’t know much about circumcision himself (quick edit, I’m assuming the priest fo Midian was not Hebrew, so would not have practiced circumcision).

This passage is rather obscure — it appears that the Lord was threatening to kill Moses until his wife circumcised his son, at which point he backed off and let him go. Perhaps it was necessary for his son to be circumcised before he went to work for the Lord, but a previous verse mentions him having “sons”, and this verse only mentions the one. Also, this passage seems to omit any dialog that happened that would have caused his wife to suddenly circumcise her son, so this whole passage remains a bit of a mystery to me…

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