Why Did God Seek to Kill Moses?
Can you explain Exodus 4:24? Why was God seeking to kill Moses?
In Exodus 4:24-26 we find a strange story inserted in the record of the journey of Moses from the wilderness to Egypt in order to free the Israelites from bondage.
Sometimes, with a passage like this, it is best to start with what we do know and can safely conclude. Here are the facts:
- From the time of Abraham, all the boys of the tribes of Israel were to be circumcised (Genesis 17:7-14). This was not an option. The uncircumcised male was to be cut off from the people (Genesis 17:14), a phrase that probably meant to put them to death.
- We know from this passage that the son of Moses had not been circumcised before Moses headed for Egypt. At this time, Moses was 80 years old, though we do not know the age of his son.
- We can also safely conclude that Zipporah opposed the circumcision of her son. She called Moses a "bloody husband" because of the circumcision. Zipporah was not a Hebrew woman, but a Midianite (Exodus 2:16-22). The first son of Moses and Zipporah was called Gershom, which means stranger. This name was given to him as a testimony by Moses that he was "a stranger in a strange land" (Exodus 2:22).
- I think we can also safely assume that God was demanding that Moses immediately obey the covenant God had made to Abraham. Moses' son had not been circumcised on the eighth day after his birth as commanded. But now, Moses was taking his place as the man that God had chosen to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. He must have his own house in order. His son must be circumcised.
The facts and conclusions give us a solid framework in which to understand the rest of the story. Only a little assumption shows us that Geshom had not been circumcised because of the opposition of his Midianite mother. Moses had avoided pressing the issue until God pressured him. However, even at this point, Moses was more prone to give in to his wife's opposition than to God's command. When Zipporah saw that God was ready to take her husband's life because of this disobedience, she circumcised Gershom herself, but not without a last attack on the character of her husband. God, having been obeyed (though unwillingly) allowed Moses to go on his way.
There are many lessons to be drawn from this story, but I will leave them for you to dip from God's living water for yourself.