How did Zipporah come to know that God was going to kill Moses?

Exodus 4:24–25 (NASB)
Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then 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."

  • 2
    What is more interesting is that she seemingly knew what to do to resolve the issue and avert judgment before Moses knew.
    – Steve
    Sep 7, 2015 at 13:07

3 Answers 3


Moses surely would have told Zipporah about God's command to circumcise. While we have to speculate about the details, the Pulpit Commentary suggests a plausible sequence of events.

The suggestion is that it was the eighth day after the birth of their second son; that the first son had already been circumcised; and that Zipporah talked Moses into not circumcising the second.

The narrative of verses 24-26 is obscure from its brevity; but the most probable explanation of the circumstances is, that Zipporah had been delivered of her second son, Eliezer, some few days before she set out on the journey to Egypt. Childbirth, it must be remembered, in the East does not incapacitate a person from exertion for more than a day or two. On the journey, the eighth day from the birth of the child arrived, and his circumcision ought to have taken place; but Zipporah had a repugnance to the rite, and deferred it, Moses weakly consenting to the illegality.

The commentary goes on to suggest Moses may have become seriously ill, and recognized it was a judgment for his weakness. He no doubt would have said something to Zipporah, who then might have needed to do the circumcision because of Moses' weakness, but complained about it. According to the commentary, the complaint likely referred to both circumcisions.

The commentary acknowledges that the language suggests a miraculous appearance, but that it could refer to an illness as well.


It could be that Moses had already told her about the God of Israel and His command and consequences regarding circumcision. Moses had 2 sons, he probably circumcised the first one and Zipporah didn't like it. Therefore she refused to let Moses circumcised the second one. And when God came upon them and confronted them about this issue. She immediately knew what was it all about and what to do next.

[This is just assumption, Bible did not reveal these details]

  • 2
    Do you know of any published commentaries that offer this explanation? If you do, citing one would greatly improve your answer.
    – ThaddeusB
    Sep 8, 2015 at 3:11
  • +1. Good theory. Needs a little more meat. Don Nov 7, 2015 at 15:48

We would have to assume that the Lord appeared to Moses in a visible and threatening way. Though the text isn't explicit, this was apparently one of the many Theophanies in the life of Moses, and often with these experiences, those around are involved somehow, and to some degree or other.

When Yahweh chooses to appear in the physical realm--either personally or through the agency of angels--there will be no mistake as to His intentions. Everyone who witnesses it will understand His purpose in doing so, I would expect.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .