We read in Ex 4: 19-24:

Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.” So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand......... At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him.

One is intrigued by the mention of the Lord wanting to `kill' Moses in Verse 24. There is nothing to show that Moses had earned the wrath of God by disobedience or otherwise. Could it be an error of translation?

My question therefore, is: Why did the Lord want to kill Moses on the latter's way back to Egypt?

Inputs from any denomination are welcome.

2 Answers 2

  • Exodus 4:23-25 KJV And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. 24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. 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.

The context seems to be firstborn sons. I believe it was Moses' firstborn son he was going to kill as Moses had not circumcised him according to the commandment given to Abraham.

  • Thanks, Paul Walker. Things fall in place if we read Lord as Lord' s messenger , and understand that Zipporah was addressing the Messenger ,and not Moses. So, it was a case of mistaken identity that got averted by the timely intervention of Zipporah. Apr 6, 2022 at 15:03

The issue was circumcision, not Gershom's status as first-born. An echo of the story is seen in Joshua 5:

... all the people that were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6 For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the nation, the men of war that came forth out of Egypt, perished, because they did not hearken to the voice of the Lord.. It was their children, whom he raised up in their stead, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.

Moses' son was in the same situation as those who had been born during the Exodus. He needed to be circumcised because this ritual was the sign of God's covenant:

God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised (Gem 17:9-10)

The text does not say that God "wanted" to kill Moses. The author of this passage, whether one thinks of him as Moses, God himself, or a later human writer such as a Levitical priest, wanted to emphasize that the covenant of circumcision was a matter of life and death.

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