At a lodging-place on the way, Yahweh met Moshe and would have killed him, had not Tzipporah taken a flintstone and cut off the foreskin of her son. She threw it at his feet, saying, “What a bloody bridegroom you are for me!” But then, God let Moshe be. She added, “A bloody bridegroom because of the circumcision!”-Exodus 4:24-26 (Complete Jewish Bible version)
Okay, right out of the blue, we are thrust headfirst into a strange scene of twilight zone proportions.
While on the way to Egypt, we are told that God was about to kill Moses!
What in the world is going on here?
God was about to kill the very man He had just appointed to be His mediator?!
What are we to make of this incident?
Well, the importance of circumcision is the key to understanding this passage.
If you recall, back in Genesis 17, God established circumcision as the sign of the covenant with Abraham.
God gave very specific instructions that every seed or offspring of Abraham should WITHOUT EXCEPTION be circumcised.
Furthermore, the penalty for NOT circumcising your child in accordance with the covenant meant that the child would be cut off from his people.
So from the passage it is clear that Moses had not circumcised his son and that was the reason why God was furious with Moses.
The point is there is no way that God was going to allow His direct representative to lead the entire nation of Israel when he himself had not faithfully brought his own family under the covenant, of which circumcision was the sign.
So why hadn’t Moses circumcised his son?
Well, it seems like Moses’s Midianite wife Zipporah took issue with this practice.
Notice the disgust in her expression.
After finally acquiescing to and circumcising her son herself, she exclaims to Moses:
“What a bloody bridegroom you are for me!”
You see, in those days, the prevailing notion was that men could pick and choose which god or gods they wanted to worship.
If you didn’t like the idols you were presently keeping company with, you could just dump them and get a whole other set of new gods.
This was one of the characteristics of the mystery religions of Babylon.
Men assumed they were in control when it came to choosing whom or what to worship.
Zipporah was piping mad at Moses for choosing a God that would demand such a practice.
I should also let you know that concerning this incident, scholars are still undecided whether God actually sought to kill Moses or his son. (In verse 21, the pronoun “him” seem to have its antecedent in “Moses”).
Regardless, the spiritual takeaway here is quite obvious.
The fact that God was about to kill Moses (or his son) illustrates just how seriously God takes our commitment (or lack thereof) to His covenant.