19 May, 2007
Was Moses' Wife Zipporah an Ethiopian?
When he fled Egypt Moses was taken in by Jethro Ruel, a priest of God
in Midian. Midian is located in the region of Mt. Sinai in northern
Arabia. The Midianites were also descended from Abraham, through
Keturah. In time Moses was given Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, for his
wife. Her name meant sparrow or swallow. Two sons were born to them,
Gershom and Eliezer (Ex. 2:15-22). Zipporah accompanied Moses when he
returned to Egypt (Ex. 4:25), but during the long sojourn in the
wilderness he sent her and the boys back to her father (Ex. 18:2).
Fairly early during the sojourn Moses married a Cushite woman (Num.
12:1). This cause Aaron and Miriam to criticize him. Cushites were
Nubians who inhabited Ethiopia and were a dark-skinned people. Egypt
and Ethiopia were geographical neighbors and frequently under a common
ruler. The woman may have been among the mixed multitude that followed
Moses and the Hebrews out of Egypt (Ex. 12:38).
There is no indication that Zipporah and the Cushite woman were the
same. Because the information is limited we have two possibilities
about Moses and his Cushite wife. Zipporah might have died, or Moses
might have taken her as a second wife. Such was a common practice in
the ancient Middle Eastern societies. Abraham and Jacob and later David
and Solomon all had multiple wives and concubines.
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