Saturday, May 02, 2009

Exodus 4: Why was Zipporah so afraid of Moses’ failure to circumcise his own son?

When I preached Exodus 4 last weekend I made no reference to the bit about Zipporah, partly because John Peel of Waterfront Church Plymouth had preached this for us recently. Jacky Lam writes on this:

"To begin with, this is a character-building experience for Moses to not over-spiritualise the gospel and fail to complete the sacraments. He himself was most likely circumcised before being put in the ark, being born in the tribe of Levites. If Moses was going to be the man to tell the Israelites about the Law, then he must take the law entirely seriously. The Angel (v.24 - “the LORD met him and sought to put him to death”) was very angry with Moses because of this failure to circumcise his son. Did Moses forget Genesis 17?

At least Zipporah did not. Apostle Paul understood the truth of taking the sacraments seriously (1 Corinthians 11:29-32), so why shouldn’t Moses? Zipporah, his Gentile wife, had at least a Christian understanding of the sacraments. She immediately circumcised his son, and touched the LORD’s feet with her son’s foreskin. When this sign of blood is given to the Angel, Christ, He does not kill Moses. Zipporah then worships Christ as her “Bridegroom of Blood”. The ESV among other reliable translations seem to translate this with some misconceptions, because the Hebrew does not say “Moses’ feet” in v.25 - it simply says “his” feet. If you follow the context, v.25-26 - “Zipporah took a flint and cut of her son’s foreskin and touched his feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone.” The grammatical syntax doesn’t really make sense if you say that Zipporah cut the son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it, because v. 26 refers the “he” to Christ, not Moses. The point of Zipporah touching Christ’s feet is to enable Christ to let Moses alone - that is why v.25 goes on to v.26. Any other translation (even offered by ESV/NIV etc) will fail to make sense of these two verses.

Zipporah’s theology is rich here - she actually understands the Second person to be the bridegroom of blood, in effect putting herself before Christ as the bride of blood. She understands the Second Person’s role in the Trinity, and understands her role in relation to the Second Person’s blood covenant. She is no daughter of a priest of foreign religion; she is the daughter of a Christian priest*, and wife to a Christian husband who is struggling with his understanding of the sacraments."

* See Exodus 18 for Jethro: The Christian Priest who instituted both a Trinitarian modelled-church, and headship in one go, stemming from his understanding of God

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