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As on April 21, 2011
Taken from: Wikipedia - Zipporah
Zipporah or Tzipora (Hebrew: צִפוֹרָה, Modern Tsippora Tiberian Ṣippôrā ; Greek: Σεπφώρα Sephora; Arabic: صِفُّورَةَ, صوانة Ṣaffūrah or Safrawa; "bird") is mentioned in the Book of Exodus as the wife of Moses, and the daughter of Reuel/Jethro, the priest or prince of Midian. In the Book of Chronicles, two of her grandsons are mentioned: Shebuel, son of Gershom and Rehabiah son of Eliezer.
Zipporah was one of the seven daughters of Reuel, the Midianite priest or prince, who is also called Jethro (Exodus 3:1, 4:18, 18:1-2 ff.) and Hobab (Judges 4:11). While the Israelites/Hebrews were captives in Egypt, Moses killed an Egyptian who was striking a Hebrew, for which offense Pharaoh sought to kill Moses. Moses therefore fled from Egypt and arrived in Midian. One day while he sat by a well, Reuel's daughters came to water their father's flocks. Other shepherds arrived and drove the girls away so they could water their own flocks first. Moses helped the girls and watered their flock.
Upon their return home their father asked them, "How is it that you have come back so soon today?" The girls answered, "An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock." "Where is he then?" Reuel asked them. "Why did you leave the man? Ask him in to break bread." (Exodus 2:18–20)
Moses stayed and lived with the Midianite and his family. Reuel gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage and, in due time, she gave birth to Gershom and then to Eliezer.
After all the men in Egypt who had sought his death had died, God commanded Moses to return to Egypt. Moses took his wife and sons and started his journey back to Egypt. On the road, they stayed in an inn, where a mysterious and much-debated incident that features Zipporah took place. The Bible tells us that God came to kill Moses (Exodus 4:24-27). The passage contains four of the most difficult sentences in Biblical text. Zipporah quickly circumcised Gershom with a sharp stone and touched Moses' feet with it, saying "A bridegroom of blood because of the circumcision." (Exodus 4:26.) One possible interpretation is that something (perhaps God, perhaps an agent of God) tries to kill Moses, until Zipporah carries out a circumcision on their son. Other interpretations suggest that it is their son, Gershom, who is attacked, and yet another is that Moses tries to kill his own son and only after Zipporah cuts the child's foreskin, drawing blood and pain, does his anger subside.
After Moses succeeded in taking the Israelites out of Egypt, and won a battle against Amalek, Reuel came to the Hebrew camp in the wilderness of Sinai, bringing with him Zipporah, Gershom, and Eliezer. Bible does not say when Zipporah and her sons rejoined Reuel/Jethro, only that after he heard of what God did for the Israelites, he brought Moses' family to him. The most common translation is that Moses sent her away, but another grammatically permissible translation is that she sent things or persons, perhaps the announcement of the victory over Amalek. The word that makes this difficult is shelucheiha, the sendings [away] of her.
Another reference ("the Cushite reference") to a wife of Moses occurs at Numbers 12, in the story of Aaron's and Miriam's harsh criticism of Moses' marriage to a Cushite or Kushite woman, probably of ancestry from Kush, aka Nubia, in northeast Africa. The book of Genesis identifies the nations of Africa as descendants of Ham son of Noah. The Midianites themselves were a dark-skinned people often called Kushim, the Hebrew word used to describe dark skinned Africans. Traditional Jewish sources debated throughout Mishnaic and Medieval times whether Zipporah was the Cushite woman. Flavius Josephus refers to the Cushite as a wife that Moses married before fleeing Egypt—He married her during his campaign south of Egypt as a general for the Egyptians. Modern biblical criticism has posited that Zipporah and the Cushite were different individuals, particularly since bigamy was legal, and practiced by Jacob, a major patriarch. Conversely, some scholars identify Zipporah with the Cushite woman.