God sought to kill Moses.


Exo 4:24  And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. 

Exo 4:25  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. 

Exo 4:26  So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. 
 

These three verses in the Bible cause a lot of thought and a lot of debate and many commentaries skip by it.
However, it is in scripture and it is there for a reason.

Why, after calling Moses to deliver the children of Israel from bondage, would God want to kill Moses?
This is a very puzzling text.
The controversy starts with trying to determine who the text is referring to.
Who is “the Lord” of verse 24? Who is the “him” of verse 24? Who’s feet was the foreskin cast at? Who is the “him” of verse 26?

We cannot read something into the text that is not there. We can only take what we know.
There are certain things that are clear.

We know that Zipporah, the wife of Moses is the one that cuts the son. We know that she is addressing Moses, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me” and we know that because of Zipporah’s actions, God left him alone.
However, did the Lord try to kill Moses or did the Lord try to kill Moses son?
We know that God gave Moses the commission to go to Egypt to set the Israelites free from bondage.
Moses set out on the journey back to Egypt.

 

Exo 4:20  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 know that whilst on this journey they paused.
 

Exo 4:24  And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. 
 

The first question is, who is the “him” that the Lord sought to kill?
It would appear that because the previous text is talking about Gods call to Moses and it was Moses that took his wife and sons with him, that verse 24 must be relating to the subject in question. So the answer to this first question must be Moses.
It was the Lord, that met Moses.
“that the LORD”H3068 Strongs (Yehôvâh). (Yhvh).
In the Old testament, when God appeared to men, it was as a Theophany, or a Christophany, a physical manifestation of God.

The Lord appeared to Abraham.


Gen 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
The Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar.
Gen 16:7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.


This was the Angel of the Lord.

So, it was the Angel of the Lord that met Moses and sought to kill him.
Why? We are not told.
However, we can determine that it had something to do with circumcision. This we know because after the actions of Zipporah, God left “him” alone.
Was it because Moses himself was not circumcised or was it because his sons were not circumcised?

The scriptures do not tell us that Moses was circumcised. He was brought up in an Egyptian home and the scripture does not tell us he was circumcised, so we must take it that he was not.
This being the case, he had not fulfilled the covenant that was placed on Abraham, that every Hebrew male should be circumcised on the eight day.
Also we know that Zipporah’s sons were not circumcised. The reason for this could be that Zipporah’s father, Jethro did not permit it, being a priest of Midian a pagan religion.
Some Jewish scholars say that Jethro had placed an additional condition on the marriage between his daughter and Moses—that their firstborn son would be given over to idolatry and thus explaining why Moses was viewed negatively by God. One Midrashic interpretation is that, while God allowed Moses to put off circumcising his son until they reached Egypt, rather than weaken him before the journey, Moses did not hasten to perform the task as soon as possible after he had arrived.

One can speculate as much as one wants but the text does not reveal why God sought to kill him.
On this, there is much speculation.
There are those that would advocate that God was not speaking of physical death but a dying to self.
Others believe that the surrounding verses highlight Moses as fearful or ill.

One scholar, named John Durham, hypothesizes that Zipporah’s only option to save her family was to circumcise her son and touch Moses with the foreskin to “transfer the effects of the rite to Moses.” 
Apparently the phrase, Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, has a significant meaning.

Again, we have to examine the text to see at who’s “feet”, the foreskin was cast at.
The answer is in the text. It was the son’s foreskin, so Zipporah had
circumcised her son. It must have been cast at Moses “feet” because of the next phrase, which is directed at Moses.
“Surely a bloody husband art thou to me”. 

Scripture says that she takes their son's foreskin and touches Moses' feet with it.  "Feet" here is the word (Rehgelim), it is a Hebrew euphemism for “private parts” (our own English euphemism for genitals). The genitals are so private that they are not mentioned . 
Every Israelite reading or hearing the story would know that Zipporah did not touch Moses' “feet” with the foreskin, but his private parts. 
Could it be, that she performed a vicarious circumcision? Identifying

Moses with the circumcision of their son. 

Upon this act the LORD
“let him alone”(4:26) and let Moses live. 
Zipporah's quick thinking (and cutting) saved Moses' life.  This is now the fourth time that Moses has been saved by women: his mother, his sister, Pharaoh's daughter, and now his wife.

The fact was, when Zipporah did this, the Lord let him alone, this suggests that whatever the reason, this action did the trick and that it was something to do with circumcision.

Another question arises here if this is the answer. Why didn’t Zipporah circumcise Moses as well.
The answer could be, that a man would not travel well after a circumcision.

Also there is the question, why would God want to kill Moses for not being circumcised?

Again, this could suggest that it was not a physical killing of Moses that God was after but a spiritual surrender necessary for the task ahead.
 

The truth is, the text does not say. However, for whatever the reason that God sought to”kill Moses”.
 

It was stayed by the actions of Zipporah.

                                                     .........................................................................................


The historical account of this story can be read in the non canonical book of Jasher.
There are 13 ancient history books that are mentioned and recommended by the Bible.

The Ancient Book of Jasher is the only one of the 13 that still exists. It is referenced in
Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18; and 2 Timothy 3:8. 

The Hebrew title can be translated as Sefer Hayashar (Hebrew), "Book of the Upright." 
 

The Book of Jasher, is characterized by Jewish scholars as midrashic haggada—an exegetical type of legendary or historical narrative.

2Sa 1:17  And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: 
2Sa 1:18  (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher
.

It appears that this is where the Hebrew Rabbis get their interpretation, that also suggests the reason why God sought to kill Moses was because he had not circumcised his son.


Jasher 79: 8—10
8 And Moses rose up to go to Egypt, and he took his wife and sons with him, and he was at an inn in the road, and an angel of God came down, and sought an occasion against him.
9 And
he wished to kill him on account of his first born son, because he had not circumcised him, and had transgressed the covenant which the Lord had made with Abraham.
10 For Moses had hearkened to the words of his father-in-law which he had spoken to him, not to circumcise his first born son, therefore he circumcised him not.

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