•  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Listen from:
We come now to the family of Moses; here again, as in some of the families we have already considered, one is filled with shame to speak of the faults of these holy men of God; and yet it is for our admonition that these records have been left for our consideration. You will recall that in Ex. 2:2121And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. (Exodus 2:21), we read of Moses’ marriage to Zipporah, daughter of Reuel (Ex. 2:1818And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? (Exodus 2:18)), or Jethro (Ex. 18:55And Jethro, Moses' father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God: (Exodus 18:5)). We must remember that Zipporah was a Gentile woman; and I hope that at some time you will each read and enjoy Mr. J. G. Bellett’s remarks about the line of famous Gentile women that entered into the most illustrious places in Israel. Zipporah was one of this remarkable line, which tells out to those who have ears to hear, of the Gentile bride that our Lord is preparing for Himself at the present time.
Moses had two sons, Gershom (A Stranger There) and Eliezer (My God is an Help), names which bear bright witness to the true and faithful heart of their father. In Ex. 4:24, 2624And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. (Exodus 4:24)
26So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:26)
we have a hint that all was not well in Moses’ own household, and evidently Zipporah refused to allow the sons to be circumcised, for to her, apparently, it appeared to be a cruel, unnecessary custom. But Zipporah not only was quite out of her place of subjection, but quite wrong in choosing her own way, instead of bowing to God’s order. But before God could use His servant this must be set right, and his household, as well as he himself, must bear the mark which testifies of death. Finally, to save her husband’s life, Zipporah herself performs the act on her sons, but with the complaint: “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me!” It is well for us to remember that we cannot with impunity set aside God’s order, even though we may prefer our own way. Both Aaron’s family and Moses’ family tell us that we may not trifle, or choose our own path, in the things of God. Well is it indeed when father and mother together, with one heart, can join in acknowledging through God’s method, that death and blood-shedding is the only portion that is due by right to our offspring.
The years go by, and in Number 12:1 we read, “Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” We know the stern rebuke that the Lord administered to Aaron and Miriam, and the terrible punishment of leprosy that fell on Miriam, for speaking against Moses. But that did not justify Moses in what he had done. As we remember that Moses was used of God to write these Books, we may read his own acknowledgment and confession of his act in these words, “For he had married an Ethiopian woman.” We are not told whether Zipporah was dead, or whether Moses had taken this woman, as well as his own wife. When Moses married Zipporah he was not in a position to take a wife of his own people; but now there was no such reason for taking one outside the people of God. However, the grace of God has drawn a veil over all the details of this matter, and we would not join with Aaron and Miriam in speaking against God’s honored servant. It is good to remember that it is no delight to the Spirit of God to expose the failings of the Lord’s people. Love covers sin when it can rightly do so, and so our God mercifully acts towards us.
But though so much is covered, perhaps these few allusions to the family life of Moses let us into a sad, sad secret of which few, even today, are aware. Can it be that God in His mercy has even now allowed the bitter shame that came to the grandchild of Moses to be covered to most, except to those who love His writings, and delight to dig beneath the surface of the Word? However that may be, if you will turn to the New Translation, or the Revised Version, of Judg. 18:3030And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. (Judges 18:30), there you will read the tragic words, “Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.” If this reading is correct, (and probably it is, though perhaps we may not be absolutely sure of it), then the first idol priest recorded in Israel was the grandson of Moses. It is too sad, too tragic, to discuss; and we perhaps do best to leave it, with just this bare statement, as God has left it, without comment; but does it not say to every parent, no matter how honored he may be; no matter how grace covers it up from the eye of man —yet the sad harvest of his own folly must be reaped.
But there is joy as well as sorrow as we trace the descendants of Moses, for “Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was ruler of the treasures.” (1 Chron. 26:2424And Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was ruler of the treasures. (1 Chronicles 26:24)). And Shelomith, descended from Eliezer, Gershom’s brother, was another who was “over all the treasures of the dedicated things.” (1 Chron. 26:2626Which Shelomith and his brethren were over all the treasures of the dedicated things, which David the king, and the chief fathers, the captains over thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the host, had dedicated. (1 Chronicles 26:26)). This was in the days of David. It is refreshing, indeed, to find these children of Moses entrusted with some of the most responsible work in the kingdom: especially when we remember that “Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Moses” was glad to share in the theft of Micah’s treasures. (Judg. 18:18-2018And these went into Micah's house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye? 19And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel? 20And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people. (Judges 18:18‑20)).