Why did God want to kill Moses when he was traveling back to Egypt with Zipporah? What did Moses do to deserve death when God had chosen him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?


Exodus 4:24 - 26

NIV - 24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said.

Clarify Share Report Asked December 17 2021 Recent photo Jeremy Low

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Mini John Appelt
Exodus 4:21-26 is one of the most perplexing passages in Scripture. Commentators seem to unanimously say that Moses had sinned, but that the sin is not specified. It is usually summarized that somehow, he failed in his testimony, neglecting to do something important. 

Naturally this raises questions. Why would God kill Moses having given him the commission He did? Was the failure to circumcise worthy of death? Why did God make an issue of this now and not before? 

Part of the problem is that translators did not know what was going on either. Admittedly this passage is quite difficult. So, they tried to insert information to help, by replacing some pronouns with nouns, but their particular choices of nouns led to more confusion. 

The two instances of changing pronouns to what proved to be the wrong nouns are as follows: 
Verse 24 - ‘him’ is changed to ‘Moses.’
Verse 26 - ‘he’ is changed to ‘the Lord’ or “He’

In Exodus 4:24, some translations say the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But the name ‘Moses’ was put in place of the pronoun ‘him.’ A careful look shows ‘him’ refers back to Pharaoh’s firstborn who the Lord said he would kill if Pharaoh refused to let Israel go. So, verse 24 is still referring to Pharaoh’s firstborn. God would meet him and seek to kill him indicating there is no possible escape for Pharaoh’s firstborn son. Verse 24 may be rendered, “whether he is on the way or at the encampment, the Lord will meet him and seek to kill him.” He will not be able to dodge the impending judgment. Based on the pronouns, verses 21-24 should be treated as one unit. 

In Exodus 4:26 is the other substitution of a pronoun by the wrong noun. Most versions change ‘he’ to ‘the Lord’ or ‘He.’ The reader is led to believe God let Moses go. But ‘he’ refers back to Moses, the ‘husband of blood.’ 

Verses 25 and 26 introduce a new section about the circumcision of the son of Moses and Zipporah. Apparently, struck by the message, Moses may have realized his son, not having been circumcised, would be as the Egyptians, and thus in danger of judgment. Zipporah likely had to perform the procedure because Moses had to hold the son still. Then when the circumcision was completed, Moses let his son go, not before Zipporah let it be known she thought circumcision was very disgusting.

Because nouns were put in place of the pronouns, the story changed to something altogether different. The whole passage makes better sense when pronouns are correctly noted and when the passage is properly divided into two sections, separating 21-24 from 25-26. This helps the reader to understand that Moses had not done anything wrong, and God had no intentions of killing him. Moses received his commission to speak to Pharaoh and had dutifully performed circumcision on his son in preparation for the leaving of Israel from Egypt.

December 18 2021 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

20230618 192834 Donna Williams
In my opinion, it seems that Moses failed to circumcise his firstborn son. The covenant of circumcision was first instituted by God in Genesis chapter 17. This covenant was between the Lord and Abraham, and all of his descendants. God commanded that every male be circumcised in Abraham's household, and the foreigners who dwelt with him. This was a sign that they were under the covenant. God said, "Any male who refused to be circumcised would be cut off.” They would die for failure to do so! 

This is just a thought and nothing that is written in stone, but Moses was being sent to an uncircumcised people, meaning a people who were not a part of the commonwealth of Israel, and had failed to keep the commandment of God himself. His own son was about to be cut off, and his wife Zipporah stepped into rescue him!

December 24 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
This is an intriguing question, Jeremy Low! This IS perplexing. Why did God seek to kill him, since He had called him to lead Israel out of Egypt?

As one of God’s covenant Jewish people, Moses was obligated to circumcise his sons on the 8th day. For 1 reason or another, Moses had not performed the rite of circumcision on his son, probably the younger, as one of the covenant people of the Lord. It was not possible for the Lord to permit His chosen deliverer to represent Him to the people of Israel when he had not complied with the dictates of the covenant relationship himself. 

See more at https://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-solutions/Exodus_4.24.php

Another commentary says this: "The point is that this son of Abraham had not complied with the sign of the Abrahamic covenant. No one, according to Exod 12:40-51, would take part in the Passover-exodus who had not complied. So how could the one who was going to lead God’s people not comply?" 


Yet another commentator, JFB, say that "The meaning seems to be, that, led during his illness to a strict self-examination, he was deeply pained and grieved at the thought of having, to please his wife, postponed or neglected the circumcision of one of his sons, probably the younger."

April 13 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Janet Hegna
It seems to me, Moses thought he was unable to circumcise, thus being disobedient to God in the circumcision. Zipporah must not have agreed with what he was needing to do, but it seems like she stepped in and not only did as Moses was commanded, but also saved him from death. I could be completely wrong on this, but it also shows how, no matter, wrong or right, the wife will be there, for better or worse, the way it should be. Just another way to look at it, I suppose. Be blessed.

April 12 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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