Name of Moses' wife

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QUESTION: What was the name of Moses' wife? How many children did he have?

ANSWER: Zipporah, the name of Moses' wife, is only referenced three times in the Bible (Exodus 2:21, 4:25, 18:2). The word Zipporah comes from the Hebrew tsipporah (Strong's Concordance #H6855) which means "a bird." Although her name is listed only a few times in Scripture, her interactions with one of the most famous men in Scripture is worth studying.

How did Moses meet his future wife? At the age of about forty he witnessed an Egyptian taskmaster unjustly beating a Hebrew slave. Commentaries such as the JFB and Gill's Exposition of Scripture state the taskmaster actually beat the Hebrew to death. Greatly angered at one of his brethren being mistreated, Moses attacked and killed the Egyptian. Fearing for his life when it was discovered what he had done, he flees to Midian to escape the wrath of Pharaoh (Exodus 2:11 - 15).

Moses, while traveling through Midian, arrives at a well. Near the well are seven daughters of a priest who, while watering their father's flocks, are harrassed by some local shepherds. Moses stands up for the virgins and chases away the rude and unkind shepherds. The daughters inform their father about what occurred and he invites the man of God for a meal. Moses ends up dwelling with the family and eventually takes as a wife one of the priest's daughters named Zipporah (Exodus 2:15 - 21).

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While living in Midian, for what would end up being forty years, Moses and his wife have two children. Their first child is named Gershom which means "a stranger in a strange land" (Exodus 2:22). Interestingly, the meaning of his name is used as the title of a best-selling science fiction book written in 1961 by Robert Heinlein. Her second son is called Eliezer, which means "God is my help" (18:3 - 4).


Landscape with the Finding of Moses
Landscape with the Finding of Moses
Etienne Allegrain

Scripture is silent regarding further information on Zipporah's two sons. Nothing else seems to be known about them except that they were eventually married and had children.

What few people realize is that the wife of Moses was instrumental in saving his life BEFORE he had a chance to save the Israelites! Evidence suggests his firstborn son was circumcised but his second son was not. As the family traveled to Egypt they stayed at an inn. The Lord, angered that Eliezer had not been circumcised, "met him and sought to kill him" (Exodus 4:24)! Zipporah, seeing the threat to her husband, circumcised her son herself but angerly stated, "Surely a bloody husband you are to me" (verse 25).

The Bible seems to indicate that Moses' wife Zipporah and her two sons were sent back to Midian after the event involving circumcision. Her name reappears one last time in Scripture when Jethro, her father, brings her and the sons to Mount Sinai to meet up with Moses and the children of Israel who are camped at its base (Exodus 18:1 - 4).

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