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Posts Tagged ‘Moses’

“But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the Zipporahshepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock. When they came to Reuel their father, he said, ‘Why have you come back so soon today?’ So they said, ‘An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock.’ He said to his daughters, ‘Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat.’ Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses. Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.’” (Exodus 2:15-22)

Last week we posted a story about Jochebed, Moses’ mother. Jochebed bravely gave her son up for adoption so that he could live. An Egyptian princess raised Moses. This week we will see what a good wife, Zipporah, God gave to Moses.

When he grew up he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. Moses killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Pharaoh found out about it and tried to kill Moses, so Moses fled to Midian.

The Midianites occupied desert land in the Sinai Peninsula. Many years before this the land had been mined for semi-precious stones. By this time it was pretty desolate. It was occupied by a few sheepherders.

When Moses arrived he helped seven women water their flock. Isn’t it interesting that God found wives for Isaac (Rebekah) and Jacob (Rachel) in the same manner. Perhaps God wanted strong, hardworking wives for these men.

Anyway, Reuel (also called Jethro) had seven daughters and he gave his daughter, Zipporah, to Moses to be his wife. Zipporah’s name is translated “bird”. As she fiercely protected her husband and her sons she lived up to her name. Moses and Zipporah had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.

Moses was content to live with Zipporah’s father and care for the sheep. One day God called Moses for the special task of delivering the people out from under the bondage of the Egyptians. Moses went to his father-in-law and asked for permission to leave. In the meantime the Pharaoh who had wanted to kill Moses had died, so it was safe for him to return to Egypt.

Jethro gave his permission and Moses, Zipporah and the boys left for Egypt.

Along the way a disturbing event took place. “Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and Zipporah saving Mosessought to put him to death.” (Exodus 4:24) Apparently Moses had not circumcised his sons. We really don’t know why. Certainly Moses had been circumcised by his parents. He knew how important it was. Maybe he just didn’t get around to it. Maybe he didn’t think about it because his Egyptian family did not circumcise boys. Probably the Midianites didn’t either. But that was no excuse.

God was serious enough about it to seek to kill Moses. Zipporah “took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, ‘You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.’” (Exodus 4:25) So God let them go. The Bible tells us that Zipporah repeated that Moses was a bridegroom of blood to her because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:26) We do not know why Zipporah said to Moses twice that he was a “bridegroom of blood”. Maybe it was for each son? We only know that Zipporah knew about the rite of circumcision and that it was important as a sign of the covenant people and God. Her quick action saved her husband.

Zipporah continued on to Egypt with her husband. Moses’ brother Aaron joined them somewhere along the way.

It could not have been an easy life for her when Zipporah got to Egypt. She was a stranger to the Egyptians and to the Israelites. Zipporah was in Egypt as a witness to some of the ten plagues. At some point however Moses sent her and his two sons back home to Jethro.

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt after the last plague. Along the way to the Promised Land, God provided food in the form of manna for the Israelites and water from a rock. When the people had complained too much, God sent quails for them.

The Amalekites came and challenged the children of Israel to a battle. God helped them to defeat the Amalekites.

About this time, Jethro heard about all that had happened in Egypt. He went to visit Moses bringing Zipporah and Gershom and Eliezer with him. Moses greets his father-in-law and takes him to his tent. Jethro gave his son-in-law much needed important advice at this time.

We do not know for sure whether Zipporah stayed with Moses or went back to Midian with her father. It is most likely that she and the boys stayed with Moses. If she did then we have one more story about her.

During the journey to the Promised Land Moses had many problems with the people. They kept complaining. They sinned by building a golden calf to worship the minute Moses turned his back. Even Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, complained. They thought they should have a share in the rule.

Aaron and Miriam took an occasion to criticize Moses for the “Cushite woman” that he had married. (Numbers 12:1) Most scholars believe that they were criticizing Zipporah. Some Cushite people had migrated to Midian, so this would explain Aaron and Miriam’s slur of Moses’ wife.

Other scholars say that Zipporah went back to Midian with Jethro, and this Cushite woman was a second wife and that is why Aaron and Miriam were expressing their displeasure with Moses. The first option – Zipporah is the Cushite woman – is the more probable. There are no further children recorded for Moses, so it is hard to say. We will have to wait until we get to Heaven and can talk to Zipporah for ourselves!

Zipporah, like the wives of other Patriarchs – Sarah and Rebekah – was a strong woman with a trusting faith in God. Moses had no doubt instructed her in the ways of his people; that was how she knew about God’s covenant and circumcision. She remained faithful to God, her husband, and even her in-laws for as long as she lived. We can learn from her example of faith and fortitude.

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“I’ll meet you in de mornin’,
When you reach de promised land;
On de oder side of Jordan,
For I’m boun’ for de promised land.”

We recently watched “The Ten Commandments” a great movie with Charlton Heston. It was made in the 1950’s when it was still ok to talk about the Bible in a movie in a positive way. The nearly four-hour movie told the story of Moses and the rescue of God’s people during the Exodus from Egypt.

We don’t know why God allowed His people to bear cruel slavery for four hundred years before sending a deliverer and rescuing them. We must not run the danger of accusing God for the evil that sinful men are doing. He did allow the slavery for His own purposes. Our response should be of gratitude when He hears our prayers and rescues us and not question His sovereignty.

One woman who did just that was Harriet Tubman, the little lady who rescued three to fourHTubman-1 hundred slaves in the mid-nineteenth century, earning the title, of a “Moses to her people”. Harriet would not blame God for any hard circumstances but instead she would acknowledge that her difficult upbringing prepared her for the tasks ahead of her when she followed her calling to rescue slaves.

Born Araminta Ross around 1820 to Benjamin Ross and Harriet Greene, both slaves, she later took her mother’s name, Harriet. She took her husband’s name when she married John Tubman.

Harriet was born in Maryland and had ten brothers and sisters. She was later able to rescue many family members and her parents, who retired in New York on property that Harriet purchased for them.

When Harriet was six years old she was sent to live with the James Cook family and learn the trade of weaving. Her mistress was cruel. James Cook sent her out to check muskrat traps, and so she had to wade in water. Already ill from measles she grew very sick and was eventually sent home.

When she was in her teens she worked as a field hand. While working for that farmer she received a wound to her head that would affect her for the rest of her life. The farm overseer was trying to punish a disobedient slave and threw a two pound weight at him which fell short and hit Harriet, cracking her skull. It took her a long time to recover from this and for the rest of her life she was subject to sleeping spells. At times a sort of stupor would come over her even in the midst of a conversation and she would need to sleep. This would give the appearance of laziness or stupidity, but Harriet would show that she really had a fine mind and a courageous strength.

After this Harriet worked for John Stewart. She did many jobs usually given to men, such as cutting and hauling wood. Here she built up the incredible strength that would later allow her to do such things as carry grown men through the water to their safety.

Harriet married a free “colored” man named John Tubman around 1844. They had no children.

In 1849, she and some other slaves were to be sold. She determined not to be sold and so one night she just walked away. Eventually she arrived in Philadelphia where a white woman befriended her and she got a job. She saved her money and two years after her own escape from slavery she went south to rescue her husband. She found him living with another woman and unwilling to take her back. This did not stop her from her plan of rescuing other family members. She just moved on trusting in the Lord.

Between 1852 and 1857 she made many journeys to the south rescuing many people. It was during this time that people began to call her “Moses”, a name she retained for the rest of her life. She rescued so many people that a reward was put out for her capture.

Let’s don’t forget that a Fugitive Slave Law had been passed, making it a crime for people to help slaves escape. Harriet had to find ways to get the rescued slaves all the way to Canada since even many Northerners would not help for fear of getting fined or arrested for breaking the law. Many Christians would say that Harriet should not have defied the government because of what it says in Romans 13 about obeying all those in authority over us (see Romans 13:1). That is a subject for another post in the future, but for now let us not judge her conscience. Slavery is evil and the Lord helped Harriet to rescue many people.

Harriet was able to discern the voice of the Lord speaking to her, warning her and giving her guidance. Because of this she was able to avoid capture many times. She said that she always knew when danger was near though she didn’t understand quite how exactly, but “pears like my heart go flutter, flutter,” and she would know that something bad was going to happen.

One example of this was a time when Harriet was going back North and she had a premonition that told her to turn aside and cross a stream. The stream was swollen there and she did not know how deep it was. She obeyed the whispered warning in her head and stepped in to cross the water. The men that were with her hung back, but when they saw that the water was only up to her chin they followed her and all safely crossed the stream. Later they found out that there was a party waiting down the road to arrest her and if she hadn’t crossed the stream she would not have escaped.

Another time Harriet fell asleep in a park beneath a notice that was offering a reward for her capture! Of course, Harriet couldn’t read and had no idea of the irony until some friends found her and told her.

Because she was on the run, Harriet slept in wet swamps or in potato fields where she could lie hidden. Besides the obvious risk to her health there was always danger of being spotted. But the Lord always rescued her, sometimes through friends or by her own wits. And Harriet always gave the credit to God. When someone would express surprise at her boldness and daring she would reply, “Don’t I tell you, Missus, ’twasn’t me, ’twas de Lord!”

All through the War Between the States Harriet rescued slaves and nursed wounded soldiers. She was never paid for her efforts. Harriet remained poor for the rest of her life but she never complained.

Harriet-Tubman-2Harriet died on March 10, 1913, in Auburn, New York at around the age of ninety-three!  All through her life she had depended on the Lord and God had never disappointed her trust in Him.

Her life is an example of what can be done, even in the most horrible of circumstances, when a person does not give up or give in. Harriet’s attitude in life made all the difference in the world. Here we sit in our comfort and can’t seem to find time to help those around us. Harriet accomplished much in spite of illness, threats, poverty, and danger all around her. Her childlike faith and determination is an example for us all.

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