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Why did Moses marry Zipporah?

Moses’ marriage to Zipporah was a pivotal event that shaped the course of Biblical history. As the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, Zipporah helped Moses gain acceptance among the Midianites after he fled Egypt. She bore Moses two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, and together they led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. But why did Moses choose to marry Zipporah in the first place? Their union was far from just a loving relationship, but served a greater divine purpose.

Moses in Midian

After Moses killed an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew slave, he became a wanted man in Egypt and fled to the land of Midian (Exodus 2:11-15). There, while sitting by a well, the daughters of Jethro the Midianite priest came to draw water for their father’s flock. Other shepherds tried driving them away, but Moses defended them and drew water for their sheep. When they returned home, their father asked how they finished so quickly that day. They explained what the Egyptian man (Moses) had done for them (Exodus 2:16-19).

Jethro welcomed Moses into their home and later gave his daughter Zipporah to be his wife (Exodus 2:20-21). This marriage gave Moses protection and acceptance in a foreign land. As Jethro’s son-in-law, he could safely live and work as a shepherd in Midian without being seen as an outsider or threat. The alliance formed through his marriage also foreshadowed the later covenant between God and Israel.

Divine Appointment

Moses’ encounter with Jethro’s daughters and subsequent marriage to Zipporah was not just chance, but orchestrated by God. The well scene mirrors other biblical betrothal accounts, like Abraham’s servant finding Rebekah at a well (Genesis 24) and Jacob meeting Rachel at a well (Genesis 29). These are divine appointments that unfold God’s greater plans. Moses was right where God wanted him when Zipporah came to draw water.

God also foretold these events to Abraham over 400 years earlier, prophesying that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years before returning to Canaan (Genesis 15:13-16). The timing of Moses’ birth, adoption in Pharaoh’s court, and flight to Midian after 40 years (Acts 7:23, 30) positioned him perfectly for God’s call from the burning bush to rescue His people from slavery. Marrying Zipporah gave Moses refuge and family in Midian until the proper time.

Wife of the Covenant

As the wife of Moses, Zipporah played a unique role in God’s covenant with Israel. She was not an Israelite herself, but as Moses’ wife she became part of the chosen nation. Her life and identity were bound to Israel. She left her Midianite homeland and family to join Moses on his mission to rescue the Israelites from Egypt.

The covenant ceremony at Mount Sinai later included “Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel” all eating a covenant meal with Moses in God’s presence (Exodus 24:1, 9-11). As Moses’ wife, Zipporah would have been part of the elders’ wives invited to this ceremony, symbolically joining the covenant people. She gave up her old life to be part of God’s Kingdom work.

Midianite Mediator

Zipporah’s identity as both Moses’ wife and the daughter of a Midianite priest gave her a unique mediating role between the Israelites and other nations. She helped smooth Moses’ reentry into the Midianite community when he first arrived there after fleeing Egypt. Her father, Jethro, was “the priest of Midian” (Exodus 2:16; 3:1) and accepted Moses as family because of his daughter’s marriage.

Later, when Moses returned to Egypt with the Israelites, Jethro his father-in-law came to visit and meet the people. He celebrated their deliverance from Egypt and praised God, showing that Israelites and Midianites could live in peace through their intertwined families (Exodus 18). Zipporah bridged cultural divides and modeled loving one’s foreign relatives.

Mother of Israelite Sons

Zipporah bore Moses two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, who became members of the Israelite community (Exodus 2:22; 18:3-4). By giving birth to Moses’ heirs, she perpetuated his family line and heritage within the covenant nation. Their sons were not Midianites, but Israelites who experienced the Exodus from Egypt. Together Moses and Zipporah began the family that would become the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Genesis promise that Abraham’s family would become a great nation (Genesis 12:2) was advancing through Moses and Zipporah’s marriage. Beyond showing love to each other, they worked together in God’s plan of redemption and formed a bridge between Israel and the nations.

Circumcision of Her Son

In one curious passage, Zipporah saved Moses’ life by circumcising their son (Exodus 4:24-26). God was going to kill Moses for failing to circumcise his son as a sign of the covenant between God and Israel (Genesis 17:9-14). But Zipporah atoned for this neglect by performing the circumcision herself, calling Moses a “bridegroom of blood.”

This story shows Zipporah’s commitment to the covenant people and saving her husband’s life, even at personal cost to her family. Her quick action to circumcise her son showed that she was a true daughter of the covenant, willing to obey God’s law and preserve His chosen leader. Her marriage to Moses entwined their family’s destiny with Israel.


Moses’ providential meeting with Zipporah at a well when he fled Egypt as a wanted man set the stage for their marriage. As the daughter of a Midianite priest, Zipporah became a bridge between cultures and nations. She helped Moses gain acceptance in Midian and then left her people to join her husband in delivering Israel from slavery.

Zipporah bore Moses two sons who became Israelites. She played a mediating role alongside her father, Jethro, between the Midianites and Israelites. By circumcising her son, she showed commitment to the covenant with Israel. Her marriage to Moses was far more than just their personal relationship. It positioned her as the wife of the deliverer and mother of the Levites, advancing God’s redemptive plan.

Timeline of Moses and Zipporah’s Marriage

Date Event
1526 BC Moses born in Egypt
1486 BC Moses flees to Midian after killing Egyptian
1486 BC Moses meets Zipporah at the well and marries her
1446 BC God calls Moses from the burning bush to rescue Israel
1446 BC Moses returns to Egypt with Zipporah and sons
1446 BC Plagues strike Egypt, Passover instituted
1446 BC Israelites leave Egypt in the Exodus
1446 BC Jethro visits Moses and Israelites in the wilderness
1446 BC Covenant established between God and Israel at Sinai

This table provides an overview of key events in Moses and Zipporah’s marriage and the Exodus from Egypt. It shows how Zipporah supported Moses from their initial meeting at the well through the establishment of God’s covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. Her marriage to Moses placed her at the center of God’s deliverance plan.

Moses and Zipporah’s Family Tree

Person Relation to Moses
Amram Father
Jochebed Mother
Aaron Brother
Miriam Sister
Jethro Father-in-law
Zipporah Wife
Gershom Son
Eliezer Son

This table shows key family relationships surrounding Moses and his marriage to Zipporah. It illustrates how Zipporah became connected to Moses’ ancestral line in Israel as well as how Jethro was tied to the Israelites through his daughter’s marriage to their leader. Their marriage served as a bridge between cultures.


In summary, Moses’ providential marriage to Zipporah the daughter of a Midianite priest put her in a unique mediating position between Israel and other nations. She helped Moses gain acceptance in Midian, joined him in delivering Israel from slavery, mothered the Israelite tribe of Levi, and showed her commitment to God’s covenant through her quick action to circumcise her son. Her marriage to Moses intertwined their families’ destinies and advanced God’s redemptive plan. Though more than just a loving relationship, their marriage served the divine purpose of redeeming God’s chosen people.