Jul 28, 2010

Notes from Zipporah and Bridegroom of Blood

It may be useful to look over the notes prior to the class on Cushite woman.   In the discussion, some suggested that since God had decreed circumcision with Abraham, Moses was not in compliance and therefore Zipporah needed to circumcise  Moses.  In this view, it was not Gershom who was circumcised.   My notes  contain an alternate view.

Keturah and Midian
Ø      Gen 25:1-2  After death of Sarah, and Rebekkah moves into Isaac’s tent – Moses takes Keturah for wife– one son is Midian.  (nomadic desert tribes) –
Ø      Gen 25:6 sons of Abraham’s concubine (pilagesh) are sent eastward.  (Perhaps Keturah’s sons.).  I Chron 1:32 states “Sons of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine (pilagesh).   Pilagesh is between wife and slave, technically independent, sustained by man, yet free to leave.  (TWC p 125)

Exodus –Jethro and Zipporah
Ø      2:15-22 – Moses flees from Pharoah after killing the Egyptians and goes to the land of Midian.  He marries Zipporah, the daughter of the priest (cohen) of Midian (outside of Egyptian jurisdiction).  First called Reuel.  Look how Moses is a savior, like with the Hebrews.  They have a son named Gershom (“ger” resident alien, no land).  What does Zipporah know from being a priest’s daughter?
·         Per Etz Hayim: early history of close friendly relations between Midianites and Israel – became enemies following conquest of Canaan (see Num 31)
Ø      3:1 – Father in law priest now called Jethro.  Moses tending flocks goes to Horeb (Sinai) and burning bush; mysterious and miraculous Presence.  YGod calls Moses to service, Moses demurs.  --YMagic rod snake;  --Yleprous hand [CUSHITE];  --Ywater turns to blood [ZIPPORAH];  --YAaron to speak [CUSHITE].
Ø      3:20 – So Moses took his wife and sons.
Ø      4:18-20 – Moses takes leave of Jether (Jethro) and Moses heads to Egypt with Zipporah and sons (note plural)
Ø      4:22-3 – Moses to say to pharoah about killing first-born (he never does)
Ø      4:24-26 – the mysterious bridegroom of blood and Zipporah’s evident priestess power.  Echoes of burning bush mysteriousness and blood.
·         Moses’ legs could be genitals.
·         Tosefta Shabbat 15:8 – women can circumcise, but not in Bavli.  See also Cohen.
·         (JSB 113)  the saving power of the bloody foreskin may foreshadow the protective role of blood on the Israelite’s door posts.
·         (Pardes) Interpretations of why God seeks to kill Moses (strictly speaking not clear if Moses or son is intended victim)
o        premonition of things to come re Pharaoh: plague against firstborns;  danger to nation as a whole during last plague
o       variation of theme of Moses refusing call – comes after God’s revelation at bush and Moses’ reluctance
·         (Pardes) Interpretations of Zipporah’s action
o       she placates the attacker and illustrates to Moses that the weak can overcome the strong – and can stick hostile oppressors;  and Moses did seem paralyzed by weakness here.
o       right after this Ex 5, Moses goes to pharoah.
o       she rescues him a bit like Miriam and Pharaoh’s daughter did
·         Note Jacob wrestling with Angel: Gen 32:23-33 for a comparable mysterious encounter with God
·         Etz Hayim: confrontation with God is so terrifying that it makes confrontation with Pharaoh minor.  hatan damim could convey “you are now circumcised and so protected for me by means of the blood of circumcision.”   Shades of protection of pascal lamb blood.

Etz = Etz Hayim
Fischer = Exodus to Deuteronomy A Feminist Companion to the Bible: “The Authority of Miriam,” Imrtraud Fischer
JSB = JPS Study Bible
Nashim = Nashim Spring 2010 Wendy Zierler “On Account of the Cushite Woman that Moses Took”
Pardes = Countertraditions in the Bible

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