Exodus 4:24-25 NASB

[24]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."

How Zipporah know that it was circumcision that brought the threat of death either to Moses or his son?

  • Because the Abrahamic custom of child-circumcision (Genesis 17) was more-or-less intended as a symbolic replacement for the pagan pre-Abrahamic custom of child-sacrifice, which was abolished starting with Isaac (Genesis 22).
    – Lucian
    Mar 11, 2019 at 0:32
  • (It's basically the same logic as in Exodus 12).
    – Lucian
    Mar 11, 2019 at 1:13

2 Answers 2


We are not explicitly told how Zipporah knew the cause of the problem. Indeed, the pulpit commentary observes:

A bloody husband. Literally, "a bridegroom of blood." The words are clearly a reproach; and the gist of the reproach seems to be that Moses was a husband who cost her dear, causing the blood of her sons to be shed in order to keep up a national usage which she regarded as barbarous.

How did she know? we have the following possibilities:

  1. Zipporah and Moses had had some arguments about this previously where Zipporah had refused to allow her sons to be circumcised. However, this does not fully explain the problem.
  2. When the angel appeared, the angel said something about circumcision that she was in danger unless she circumcised her sons.

I am inclined to think it is a combination of both.


A commentary from the book Patriarchs and Prophets:

On the way from Midian, Moses received a startling and terrible warning of the Lord's displeasure. An angel appeared to him in a threatening manner, as if he would immediately destroy him. No explanation was given; but Moses remembered that he had disregarded one of God's requirements; yielding to the persuasion of his wife, he had neglected to perform the rite of circumcision upon their youngest son. He had failed to comply with the condition by which his child could be entitled to the blessings of God's covenant with Israel; and such a neglect on the part of their chosen leader could not but lessen the force of the divine precepts upon the people. Zipporah, fearing that her husband would be slain, performed the rite herself, and the angel then permitted Moses to pursue his journey. In his mission to Pharaoh, Moses was to be placed in a position of great peril; his life could be preserved only through the protection of holy angels. But while living in neglect of a known duty, he would not be secure; for he could not be shielded by the angels of God.

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