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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb.Tsipporah', צַפֹּרָה . fem. of Zippor; Sept. Σεπφώρα; Josephus, Σαπφώρα Ant. 3, 3, 1 Vulg. Sephora), one of the seven daughters of Retiel or Jethro the priest of Midian, who became the wife of Moses and mother of his two sons Gershom and Eliezer (Exodus 2, 21; Exodus 4:25; Exodus 18:2; comp. Exodus 18:6). The most noteworthy incident in her life is the account of the circumcision of the former, who had remained for some time after his birth uncircumcised; but an illness into which Moses fell in a khan when on his way to Pharaoli, being accounted a token of the divine displeasure, led to the circumcision of the child, when Zipporah, having, it appears, reluctantly yielded to the ceremony, exclaimed, "Surely a bloody husband thou art to me" (im, 26; see Frischmuth, De Circumcisioine Zippor-e [Jen. 1663]; Hase, De Sponso Sanguineo [Hal. 1753]). This event seems to have caused some alienation of feeling, for Moses sent his wife back to her father, by whom she was again brought to her husband while in the desert, when a reconciliation took place, which was ratified by religious rites:(Genesis 18:1 sq.). B.C. 1658. It has been suggested that Zipporah was the Cushite (A.V. "Ethiopian"), wife who furnished Miriam and Aaron with the pretext for their attack on Moses (Numbers 12:1, etc.). A slight confirmation for this appears to be that in a passage of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:7) the names of Cushan and Midian are mentioned together. Another suggestion is that of Ewald (Gesch. 2, 229, note), namely, that the Cushite was a second wife, or a concubine, taken by Moses during the march through the wilderness-whether after the death of Zipporah (which is not mentioned) or from other circumstances must be uncertain. (See MOSES).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Zipporah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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