Exodus 4:25
Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband are you to me.
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(25) A sharp stone.—On the use of stone knives by the Egyptian paraschistœ see Herod. ii. 86. They were regarded as more pure than metal knives. From Joshua 5:2 it would seem that stone knives were in the early ages commonly employed for circumcision by the Israelites.

At his feet.—Moses’ feet, undoubtedly. The action was petulant and reproachful. Zipporah regarded the bloody rites of her husband’s religion as cruel and barbarous, and cast the foreskin of her son at his feet, as though he were a Moloch requiring a bloody offering.

A bloody husband.—Heb., a husband of bloods A husband, i.e., who causes the blood of his children to be shed unnecessarily for some unintelligible reason.

Exodus 4:25. Zipporah took a sharp stone — Or a knife made of flint, a species of knives commonly used, as ancient writers assure us, in those days; and cut off the foreskin of her son — She perceived, it seems, the danger of her husband, and the cause of it, and he being disabled from performing the office, whether by some stroke of affliction, or the terror of so dreadful and unexpected an appearance, and a delay in a matter of such moment being dangerous, she immediately performed the work herself. And now, the cause being removed, God’s anger ceased, and Moses was permitted to pursue his journey. Surely a bloody husband art thou to me — The words in the original are short and ambiguous. As here translated, they imply that she passionately reprobated both him and his religion, which required this bloody ceremony, as if she had said, This I have for marrying a Hebrew. But the words may be understood as expressing great affection, and signifying that she had now espoused him afresh by circumcising her son, the blood of that rite having been the means of restoring him to her again, or that her child was now espoused to God by the covenant of circumcision, as some read it. The Septuagint renders the passage, Zipporah, having taken a sharp knife, circumcised her son, and fell down at his (Moses’s) feet, and said, The blood of the circumcision of my child is stopped, and she went away from him; that is, she and her children went home to Midian, when she found the child was out of danger, and able to travel. It is at least probable, that on this occasion she went back to her father with the children, and that Moses consented to this that they might not create him any further uneasiness. When we have any special service to do for God, we should remove as far from us as we can whatsoever is likely to be our hinderance. Let the dead bury their dead, but follow thou me.4:24-31 God met Moses in anger. The Lord threatened him with death or sent sickness upon him, as the punishment of his having neglected to circumcise his son. When God discovers to us what is amiss in our lives, we must give all diligence to amend it speedily. This is the voice of every rod; it calls us to return to Him that smites us. God sent Aaron to meet Moses. The more they saw of God's bringing them together, the more pleasant their interview was. The elders of Israel met them in faith, and were ready to obey them. It often happens, that less difficulty is found than was expected, in such undertakings as are according to the will of God, and for his glory. Let us but arise and try at our proper work, the Lord will be with us and prosper us. If Israel welcomed the tidings of their deliverance, and worshipped the Lord, how should we welcome the glad tidings of redemption, embrace it in faith, and adore the Redeemer!Sharp stone - Not "knife," as in the margin. Zipporah used a piece of flint, in accordance with the usage of the patriarchs. The Egyptians never used bronze or steel in the preparation of mummies because stone was regarded as a purer and more sacred material than metal.

Cast it at his feet - Showing at once her abhorrence of the rite, and her feeling that by it she had saved her husband's life.

A bloody husband - Literally, "a husband of blood," or "bloods." The meaning is: The marriage bond between us is now sealed by blood. By performing the rite, Zipporah had recovered her husband; his life was purchased for her by the blood of her child.

24. inn—Hebrew, "a halting place for the night."

the Lord met him, and sought to kill him—that is, he was either overwhelmed with mental distress or overtaken by a sudden and dangerous malady. The narrative is obscure, but 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. To dishonor that sign and seal of the covenant was criminal in any Hebrew, peculiarly so in one destined to be the leader and deliverer of the Hebrews; and he seems to have felt his sickness as a merited chastisement for his sinful omission. Concerned for her husband's safety, Zipporah overcomes her maternal feelings of aversion to the painful rite, performs herself, by means of one of the sharp flints with which that part of the desert abounds, an operation which her husband, on whom the duty devolved, was unable to do, and having brought the bloody evidence, exclaimed in the painful excitement of her feelings that from love to him she had risked the life of her child [Calvin, Bullinger, Rosenmuller].

Perceiving the danger of her husband, and the cause of it, and her husband being disenabled from performing that work, whether by some stroke or sickness, or by the terror of so dismal and unexpected an apparition to him, and delays being highly dangerous, she thought it better to do it herself as well as she could, rather than put it off a moment longer; whether because the administration of that sacrament was not confined to any kind or order of persons, or because, if it was so, she did not apprehend it to be so, or because she thought this was the least of two evils, and that it was safer to commit a circumstantial error, than to continue in a substantial fault.

A sharp stone, which she took as next at hand in that stony country. Let none think this strange, for not only this work, but the cutting off of that part, which some used to do, was commonly performed with a flint, or a sharp stone, as is expressly affirmed by Herodotus, 1. 2; Plin. 35. 12. See also Juvenal, Sat. 6. and Martial. Epigram. 3. 18. But the word may be rendered, a sharp knife. See Joshua 5:2,3. Cast it at his feet: the words are very short, and therefore ambiguous, and may be rendered, either thus, she cast herself at his feet; either,

1. At the feet of the angel, as a supplicant for her husband’s life. But it is most probable that she directs this action and her following speech to the same person. Or,

2. The feet of her husband, to make request to him, that she and her Children might depart from him, and return to her father, which also he granted. But neither was she of so humble a temper, nor at this time in so mild a frame, as to put herself into such a lowly posture to her husband; nor was she likely to present her humble supplication to him, to whom at the same time she showed such scorn and indignation. Or rather thus, she cast it at his, i.e. her husband’s, feet: it, either the child; but that being tender, and now in great pain, she would not use it so roughly: or rather the foreskin cut off, or at least the blood which came from it; which she did in spite and anger against her husband, as the cause of so much pain to the child, and grief to herself.

A bloody husband art thou to me: this some think she spake to the child, whom she calls her spouse, as some late rabbins affirm the infant used to be called, when it was circumcised, though they bring no competent proof for this usage; or her son, as the Hebrew word chathan signifies. But indeed that signifies only a son-in-law, as 1 Samuel 18:18, which is not true nor proper here. Yet some make these to be the form or solemn words used in circumcision, Thou art a spouse, or a son of bloods, to me, i.e. made so to me by the blood of circumcision. But it doth not appear that this was the usual form. Nor was it likely that she, being a Midianitish, not a Hebrew woman, and doing this suddenly, and in a rage, should be so expert to know, and so punctual to use, the right form of words, when she did not use a fit and decent carriage in the action, as appears by her casting it at his feet. It is therefore more probable she spoke thus to her husband. And because she durst not accuse God, the author of this work, she falls foul upon her husband as the occasion of it, and as a costly and bloody husband to her, whose endangered life she was forced to redeem with blood, even the blood of her little child, by which as he received a new life after a sort, so she did anew, and the second time, espouse him; whence she calls him chathah, which properly signifies a spouse, not a husband. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son,.... Perceiving that it was the neglect of circumcising her son was the cause of the divine displeasure against her husband; and he being either so ill through the disease upon him, or so terrified with the appearance of the Lord to him, in the manner it was, that he could not perform this rite himself, she undertook it; and, according to the Jewish canons (b), a woman may circumcise; and having with her no instrument more proper to do it with, took a sharp stone, very probably a flint, of which there was great plenty in Arabia Petraea, where she was, and did it; and so the Jewish writers say (c), they circumcise with a flint stone, with glass, or anything that will cut; and such like actions have been performed with sharp stones among the Heathens (d): and cast it at his feet; not at the feet of the infant Eliezer, as R. Samuel in Aben Ezra; the blood of the circumcision running down to his feet, as Lyra interprets it; and so touched his feet (e), as some render the words; not cast at the feet of the destroying angel, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, in order to pacify him; but at the feet of Moses, as the Jerusalem Talmud (f); and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra:

and said, surely a bloody husband art thou to me; those who think it was at the feet of the child the foreskin was cast, take these words to be spoken of that, and observe that it is usual for women, at the circumcision of a child, to call it a bridegroom or husband, because it is then espoused unto, and reckoned among the people of God; but this is not well supported; it is a custom of too late a date to give any countenance to such a sense of the words, which seem plain enough to be spoken to and of Moses; but not in an angry upbraiding way, as if he was a bloody cruel man to oblige her to do such an action, but rather in a congratulatory way, as being thankful and rejoicing, that by this means, through the blood of the circumcision, she had saved her husband's life; and as it were in that way had bought him, and afresh espoused him to herself as her husband; or otherwise it would have been all over with him, but now to her great joy he was delivered from the threatened destruction, and restored to her; and so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase the next verse,"then Zipporah gave praise, and said, how amiable is the blood of circumcision, which hath delivered my husband from the hand of the destroying angel.''

(b) Maimon. Hilchot Milah, c. 2. sect. 1. Shulchan Aruch, par. 2. Yore Dea, Hilchot Milah, c. 264. sect. 1.((c) Maimon. ib. Shulchan ib. sect. 2.((d) "Mollia qui rupta secuit genitalia testa." Juvenal Satyr 6. "Devolvit ipse acuto sibi pondera silice." Catullus. (e) "tetigitque pedes ejus", V. L. (f) T. Hieros. Nedarim, fol. 38. 2.

Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and {m} cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

(m) This act was extraordinary: for Moses was very sick and God even then required it.

25. a flint] in accordance with the oldest custom (cf. Joshua 5:2-3; Joshua 24:30 LXX.); because the practice of circumcision originate among peoples, or in an age, in which metal knives were either not yet in use, or used but rarely (Di.).

and made it touch his feet] to connect him with what she had done, and make her son’s circumcision count as her husband’s. For the Heb., cf. Isaiah 6:7, Jeremiah 1:9.

a blood-bridegroom] Originally the expression may have denote the bridegroom, as one who (see below) was himself circumcised. Here however it is used in the sense of a bridegroom secured to his wife by the circumcision of his son.Verse 25. - Zipporah took a sharp stone. Literally "a stone." Stone knives were commonly used in Egypt for making the incisions necessary when bodies were embalmed, and were regarded as purer than iron or bronze ones. Joshua ordered the preparation of stone knives for the circumcision of those born in the wilderness (Joshua 5:2); and the Jews seem to have used stone for circumcision for many ages, though before the compilation of the Talmud they had changed their practice. Cast it at his feet. Not, certainly, the child's feet, but her husband's, to whom at the same moment she addresses herself. A bloody husband. Literally, "a bridegroom of blood." The words are clearly a reproach; and the gist of the reproach seems to be that Moses was a husband who cost her dear, causing the blood of her sons to be shed in order to keep up a national usage which she regarded as barbarous. Return of Moses to Egypt. - Exodus 4:19-23. On leaving Midian, Moses received another communication from God with reference to his mission to Pharaoh. The word of Jehovah, in Exodus 4:19, is not to be regarded as a summary of the previous revelation, in which case ויּאמר would be a pluperfect, nor as the account of another writer, who placed the summons to return to Egypt not in Sinai but in Midian. It is not a fact that the departure of Moses is given in Exodus 4:18; all that is stated there is, that Jethro consented to Moses' decision to return to Egypt. It was not till after this consent that Moses was able to prepare for the journey. During these preparations God appeared to him in Midian, and encouraged him to return, by informing him that all the men who had sought his life, i.e., Pharaoh and the relatives of the Egyptian whom he had slain, were now dead.
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