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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: Moses and Zipporah: Relating With Relations *
Introduction: You know the background story for Moses: he was born in
Egypt as a Hebrew slave. Worse than that, Pharaoh decreed that he,
like all Hebrew baby boys, was to be drown in the Nile river. Moses'
mother put him in the Nile, but had him in a little floating basket.
Pharaoh's daughter found Moses in his little basket, decided to adopt
him as her own, and Moses grew to manhood as the son of Pharaoh's
daughter. Let's dive right in to learn more about Moses and his
- Read Exodus 2:11. What kind of emotion would you expect
from Moses? Although in his very early years he was raised
by his own Hebrew mother ( Exodus 2:1-10), he had
undoubtedly been educated as an Egyptian elite. Would he
identify with the slaves or with his sophisticated adopted
family? What would you do?
- Read Exodus 2:12. This answers our previous question, he
obviously identifies with the Hebrews. Perhaps he just
objects to injustice. Does Moses think it is right for him
to kill the Egyptian? Why not just intervene to stop the
beating? (The Bible reveals that Moses knew this killing
was unlawful, because he looked around to see if anyone
was watching. Plus, he hid the body.)
- Should this be your standard for conduct - whether
anyone will find out?
- Read Exodus 2:13-14. What kind of emotions would be
flowing through Moses' mind now?
- What are his thoughts about his own people? (They are
ungrateful for what he has done.)
- What are his thoughts about his adopted people? (That
he has betrayed them and violated one of the
- If Moses had not been a Hebrew, do you think killing the
Egyptian would have mattered? (I'm not sure how strong the
"rule of law" was in Egypt. My guess is that this would
not normally be a problem - royalty killing a slave -
considering the death decree for Hebrew baby boys. The
problem here was that this showed that Moses was disloyal
to Egypt and had loyalties to the slave nation. Obviously,
that would be a problem for a future leader of Egypt.)
- Read Exodus 2:15-16. We see that killing a Hebrew was a
serious problem for Moses. He escapes death and runs away.
Have you noticed a pattern in our last few lessons? Where
should you go to meet women? (A well.)
- Last week we discussed Jacob's emotions when he found
Rachel, the daughter of Laban. How would you compare
Moses' emotional state?
- What is the modern equivalent of the well for meeting
women? The grocery store? The gas station? The bar?
The pet park? The Laundromat? (Now we know why it is
not so easy to meet women these days - working and
watering have been separated. Guess that leaves the
water fountain in the office.)
- Read Exodus 2:17. What insight are we getting into the
character and skills of Moses? He kills the Egyptian
bully, he intervenes in the fight between the Hebrews, and
he drives the shepherd bullies away. (He not only has a
highly developed sense of justice, he believes that he has
the burden of intervening to make things right. Generally,
small, weak men do not do such things. Thus, I conclude
that Moses was, if not a large man, a strong and highly
- Read Exodus 2:18-20. Apparently, the daughters were not
looking for a man at the well, but the father was. What do
we learn about this father in these few verses? (He is a
religious leader - a "priest of Midian." ( Exodus 2:16) He
has a lot of daughters and perhaps not enough sons! He
either has a sense of gratitude, or he is looking for
someone to help his daughters in their daily work. (A note
about his name. Exodus 2:18 calls the father "Reuel."
Later, in Exodus 3:1 he is referred to as "Jethro." We'll
just call him "Jethro Reuel.")
- Read Exodus 2:21-22. What is Moses' attitude? What would
be your attitude if you were in Moses' place?(Moses lived
in the palace of one of the most prominent and
sophisticated countries in the world. He is now an alien
in a foreign land - living with shepherds. (Egyptians had
historically detested shepherds. Genesis 46:34.) I think
Moses' comment is a note of resignation about his sorry
- How would you evaluate Moses' chances for success in
his marriage to Zipporah? What factors do you think
are important to consider. (She has a different
religious background. She has a different cultural
background. She has a different racial background.
She has a different economic background - although
the differences might not be a significant as it
seems. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the
Old and New Testaments, says that "priest of Midian"
could also be understood as "prince of Midian" - and
the offices were generally joined. Thus, this
commentary considers him the ruler of the Cushites.
My belief is that the more differences in the
backgrounds of a couple, the more difficult it is to
"become one." These two have nothing in common.)
- God calls Moses to rescue the Hebrews from their Egyptian
slavery. Let's pick up the story by reading Exodus 4:18-20. How is the marriage going? (Contrary to my
predictions! Acts 7:30 tells us Moses was in Midian for 40
years. Thus, it appears he has been married for about that
length of time.)
- What reason does Moses give to his father-in-law for
going to Egypt? (Sort of an inspection tour - to see
if any of his old friends are still alive. Class
reunion kind of thing. Very innocuous.)
- What is Moses' real reason for going? (Read Exodus
3:9-11. He is going, at the command of God, to
confront Pharaoh and convince him to free the Hebrew
- Is Moses just being modest? Why does he so seriously
misstate to "dad" the reason for his trip?
- Read Exodus 4:24-26. The Bible does not say how it was
that God "was about to kill" Moses. Clearly, God could
have easily killed him. My belief is that Moses became
ill. What does a serious illness cause most people to do?
(Re-examine their life. In this case, Moses was on a very
important mission and his life needed to be in accord with
- Why would the circumcision of his son be such a "big
deal" to God? (In Exodus 3 God repeatedly says that
He is the God of Abraham and He is remembering and
fulfilling His promise to take Abraham's descendants
to the promised land of Canaan. Genesis 17:10-14
reminds us that the symbol of this covenant between
God and Abraham was the rite of circumcism. How
could Moses be the leader in fulfilling that promise
while ignoring the very symbol of that promise?)
- What would logically account for Zipporah calling
Moses a "bridegroom of blood?" (The Bible does not
say, but I imagine Zipporah would be against
circumcising her sons. Who wants to start carving on
their child? She indicates here her feelings about
the rite. My bet is that this has been a source of
friction between the two of them. Moses has deferred
to his wife. But, now that he is gravely ill, he is
convicted of his obligation, but is too weak to
perform the rite. He tells Zipporah of his
conviction about the nature of his illness - so she
reluctantly performs the rite to save her husband's
life. She is not happy about having to do it - and
- After a great struggle with Pharaoh, Moses leads the
Hebrews out of Egypt. Read Exodus 18:1. How much of a
shock do you think this was to Jethro Rueul? (Contrary to
Moses' statement that he is just taking a trip to check on
the life and health of his friends, Jethro Reuel now hears
that Moses has brought the entire Hebrew nation out of
slavery - and drowned the Egyptian army in the process!)
- Read Exodus 18:2-5. Why would Moses send his wife and sons
away? We last saw them traveling towards Egypt together?
(Read Exodus 4:22-23. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that
He would kill Pharaoh's first-born son if he did not free
the Hebrews. On such a mission, I would not bring my sons
along. I would not have them anywhere in the neighborhood.
I think that thought crossed Moses' mind and caused him to
send his wife and sons back to their father.)
- Read Exodus 18:6-12. What kind of relationship do Jethro
and Moses have?
- How has Moses' faithfulness to God affected the
spiritual life of Jethro Rueul?
- How has Moses' relationship to God affected the
spiritual life of Zipporah?(It is not clear whether
Jethro and Zipporah have ended their relationship
with all other gods, but they clearly are convinced
about Moses' God - that He is greater than all
- Friend, if you are married to someone who is not a
believer, your faithfulness to God may well convert the
heart of your spouse and your in-laws. It is better not to
marry outside your faith, but do not let that be an excuse
for losing your faith. Use it as an opportunity to convert
- Next week: Sampson and His Women: The Folly of Passion.