These lessons from Zipporah in the Bible are for women who are wives of spiritual leaders.
The character of Zipporah is interwoven with Moses so we will talk about Moses a great deal in this post.
Zipporah is one of the strong women of the Scriptures who still speaks to us across time.
The story of Zipporah in the Bible
Zipporah is mentioned three times in the following Bible verses:
- Exodus 2:16-22
- Exodus 4:18-26
- Exodus 18
Of these three accounts, she only speaks once.
Zipporah in the Bible facts
As I said, Zipporah is such a quiet character. Not much details exist about her in the Scriptures. But there is enough for us to give us a little picture of who she was.
What does Zipporah mean in the Bible?
In the Bible, Zipporah means little bird.
Who was the father of Zipporah in the Bible?
Zipporah’s father was Jethro. He was a Midianite priest. He is also called Ruel and Hobab in the Bible.
What about the sisters of Zipporah in the Bible
Zipporah had six sisters. In total, her father had 7 daughters. Zipporah was probably the oldest of the 7.
What nationality was Zipporah in the Bible?
According to the Bible, Zipporah was a Midianite.
Midian was the son of Abraham and his wife Keturah whom he married after Sarah passed away.
The Midianites were therefore descendants of Abraham, making them relatives of the Israelites.
The Midianites lived in Northern Arabia. So it is likely that Zipporah was a dark skinned woman.
Who is Zipporah’s husband?
Zipporah was married to Moses. After Moses runs away from Egypt, he meets her and her sisters at a well.
He defended them against some mean men. Jethro welcomed Moses into his home for this kind deed and eventually give Zipporah to him in marriage.
How many wives did Moses have in the Bible?
In Numbers 12:1-10 there is a story about Moses’ wife who was a Cushite.
Bible study scholars do not all agree on whether this woman is actually Zipporah.
Some say this woman was a second wife that Moses married after Zipporah passed away.
Others say this was just another description of Zipporah.
Whatever the case, only God knows the real answer.
We do not really know for sure whether Moses was only married to Zipporah or he had another wife at some point.
Characteristics of Zipporah in the Bible
It is so interesting that Zipporah is mentioned only 3 times given how grand the figure of Moses is in the Bible.
Nevertheless, there are at least 3 qualities of Zipporah we can glean from what we do know.
Zipporah was a hard worker
When we first meet Zipporah in the story, she is out with her sisters watering her family’s flocks.
This tells us that she was not a lazy woman.
She was industrious and responsible.
The fact that her family owned flocks which required all 6 sisters to water tells us that her family did well for themselves.
Yet, Zipporah worked to earn her own means.
Zipporah was a supportive and faithful woman
When Moses received his call from God, Zipporah went with him.
She left the comfort and certainty of her Midian home, the company of her sisters, the cover of her father’s financial stability.
Zipporah embarked on a journey with Moses that was filled with unknowns.
She decided to be present with her husband as he took the journey of starting his ministry of spiritual leadership.
For some unknown reason, after the circumcision incident, Moses sends her back home.
Zipporah was a strong woman
Zipporah’s response in that circumcision incident is quite a picture.
When she realized that death was looming, she took flint and did the circumcision herself.
I have to say that that took some stomach.
Imagine all the blood.
Imagine that boy squealing in pain.
Thus is a real and raw story of a strong woman who will do whatever it takes to please God and stave off death.
And haven’t women across cultures been doing that for centuries?
Lessons from Zipporah in the Bible
The Moses and Zipporah love story, as some people call it, was not as glamorous as we think.
Chances are that Zipporah lived a fulfilling life but it could not have been easy.
What can we learn from Zipporah?
Lessons #1 – It is important to understand your spouse’s story
When Zipporah gave birth to their first son, Moses named him Gershom, “saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.” (Exodus 2:22).
Names were important in Hebrew culture. They said a lot about the person, their history, their lineage.
When Moses named his son, he was expressing some deep emotional struggles. The name tells us that Moses was lonely. He missed his family.
And who would not?
I imagine Moses reflecting on the charmed life he had in Egypt. He was somebody in Egypt. But he became a nobody in Midian.
While not everyone wants to be with the in crowd, nobody wants to be somewhere they don’t fit it at all.
Moses was a fugitive. He was runaway murderer who probably had a bounty on his head.
Moses was sure he was called to deliver Israel but here he was.
Out among complete strangers not fulfilling that call.
When Moses got married, there was no family there on his side of the island.
When his first son was born, there was no older brother or sister or any blood relative to celebrate with him and welcome the newest member of the family.
If you think about, these must have been heavy emotional burdens to carry.
Zipporah had all this to deal with in her husband.
It couldn’t have been easy.
Even spiritual leaders have their stories too.
When you try to see life from your spouses perspective, it makes a difference to the building and sustaining of your marriage.
Lessons #2 – As a wife of a spiritual leader, understand your influence
There are many different perspectives on why Zipporah’s son was not circumcised.
Some say that because she was a Midianite her customs and rituals were different from Moses who was an Israelite.
Research into Midianite tradition suggests that the Midianites didn’t perform circumcision until the child was much older.
Zipporah probably thought it was a barbaric thing to do to a baby so she might have just refused to do it all together.
Another perspective is that Moses had strayed from his Hebrew heritage of which circumcision was an important part.
God required it for all Hebrew male children.
Whatever the case, Moses almost lost his life over it not being done.
Whether she resisted circumcision or allowed Moses to neglect It, Zipporah’s influence on her husband was not felt in a positive way.
Wives of spiritual leaders have a heavy influence on the spiritual obedience of their spouses.
Consider how you can use yours to secure your spouse’s obedience to God so that His name can be glorified.
Lessons #3 – Getting on the same page with important issues is extremely critical
It was an arranged marriage but we can glean some dating advice from the
Moses and Zipporah love story.
It is important to discuss the things that are non-negotiable to you both.
It doesn’t matter that you’re of the same faith or have been attending the same church since you were in preschool.
I guarantee, you don’t have the same beliefs about some really important things.
When you marry someone who does not believe the same things you do, that’s a recipe for disaster.
The implications are many!
Zipporah’s father was a priest in his religious practice. Even if they believed in the God of heaven, they more than likely did not have the same rituals as Hebrews.
God certainly did not require the same things from them as He did the Hebrews.
That’s why premarital counseling is absolutely important and should never be skipped.
Lessons #4 – Be prepared to cover your spouse spiritually
When Zipporah realized Moses was about to lose his life, she jumped into action.
This reminds me of what Abigail did for her husband and household.
Sometimes even spiritual leaders miss the mark.
Zipporah sees what was lacking in Moses’ life and quickly fixed it.
Moses was about to start an intense spiritual battle with Pharaoh.
He was about to get deep into spiritual warfare. He needed to be clean in every sense.
Be vigilant with your own spiritual experience so you can watch your spouse’s spiritual back.
Lessons #5 – Ministry can get really lonely but stay encouraged
When Moses received his call to Egypt, he was taking his family.
For some unknown reason, he sends Zipporah and his son back home after that strange brush with death over the circumcision event.
She never sees him again until many months later when his father-in-law, Jethro, takes them to him in the wilderness.
I imagine how Zipporah must have missed him.
To be raising two boys on her own. Yes, their grandfather would have taken on the role of a father but there is nothing like the real thing.
Many ministers have this one flaw – they pour their all into Ministry.
They can be more absent than present.
Too often, it is to the detriment of family.
Zipporah missed a whole lot…
Witnessing the plagues in Egypt.
Witnessing the Exodus of the Israelites.
Watching God work at the Red Sea.
We cannot know for sure what the quality of their marriage was but I am guessing that long distance spousal relationships are not great.
I’ve tried it.
It does not work.
But no matter what, hold on to your faith.
Hold on to your prayer life.
And if possible, get creative with the issue of getting your spouse’s attention when it seems like ministry is about to swallow both your husband and your marriage.
Lessons #6 – God sees the work and sacrifice unsung heroines
How is it that we know so much about Moses but do little about Zipporah?
Zipporah lived in the shadow of her spouse.
Many ministerial spouses are invisible to people.
They are overshadowed with the public nature of their spouses’ work.
Many wives of ministers are introverted and don’t mind not being in the spotlight.
The problem has 2 parts:
#1 Ministry spouses hardly ever get appreciation for their unique personalities and gifts.
#2 Their contribution to his ministry is extremely undervalued.
In Zipporah’s case, her husband had not seen his family for 4 decades.
Her family was his family.
We might never know of the prayers she prayed and all the meals she prepared.
The encouraging words she might have spoken when he struggled.
How she had to explain and justify the absence of their father to her boys.
It’s a good thing God records these acts of love, sacrifice and service.
If you find yourself in such a position, don’t get weary in doing good. God sees you.
What happened to Moses’ wife, Zipporah
There are no details about Zipporah’s death in the Bible.
After her father takes her to Moses while he was leading in the Wilderness, she is never mentioned again.
Some sources say she had passed away which led Moses to marry the Cushite woman who was a beautiful Ethiopian woman.
We do not know for sure.
- Other women of faith you might like:
- Mary the Mother of Jesus
- The Widow of Zarephath
- The Canaanite Woman
Final words on Zipporah in the Bible
I pray that through this post you were able to meet Zipporah, the woman who was the wife of a leadership giant in the Bible.
I encourage you to find a good Zipporah Bible study to help cement these lessons in your mind.
If you’re in ministry with your spouse, I pray for your strength and wisdom and success in God’s work.