Moses settled in the land of Midian and married Zipporah, daughter of the Midianite priest. No mention is made of love on the part of either husband or wife.
Moses Meets Daughters of Reul
Though Moses was raised as an Egyptian prince, he never forgot his Hebrew heritage. As an adult, Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and on impulse, he killed the Egyptian and buried his body. But someone witnessed his crime, so Moses went on the run.
He came to the land of Midian and sat down by a well. While he was there, seven shepherdesses, the daughters of Reuel, came to water their sheep. But shepherds came and drove them away. So Moses came to the girls’ rescue and helped them take care of their flock.
When the girls got home earlier than usual, their father asked what had happened. They told him about the Egyptian who delivered them from the shepherds.
Reuel asked them where the man was and why they’d left him without offering him hospitality. Reuel welcomed Moses to their home, inviting him to live with them, and then giving Moses his daughter Zipporah as a wife.
The scene shares similarities with Jacob meeting Rachel at a well, but Rachel hurried to share with her family about the man she’d met. These girls waited until their father asked before they said anything. Of course, this could be because they perceived Moses as an Egyptian rather than a man of God. Fortunately, Reuel showed kindness regardless.
Though the Bible uses the word priest to describe Reuel, it can also mean a priest-king. He was likely a ruler of the Midianites, a people who came from Abraham and Keturah’s son Midian. He was a godly man or else Moses would have never married his daughter.
Zipporah and Moses
Moses needed a place to hide out after killing the Egyptian. Zipporah needed a husband. It was a marriage of convenience. The couple had two sons, first Gershom, which means “foreigner”, for Moses was a stranger finding refuge in a foreign land, then Eliezer, which means, “the Lord was my help.”
Moses settled into life in the country, tending to the flock of his father-in-law, but God had bigger plans for Moses. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, calling him to go back to Egypt to rescue the Hebrew nation.
Moses went to his father-in-law, asking permission to return to Egypt to check on his brethren. Reuel, his father-in-law, also known as Jethro, gave his blessing.
Moses took his wife and sons with him on the journey back to his homeland. On their way, Moses had an unusual encounter with God, where God sought to kill him. Both Moses and Zipporah seemed to understand this was in response to their failure to circumcise their newborn son. It is believed that Zipporah delivered Eliezer right before they left, but they failed to circumcise him on the eighth day as was God’s command.
Angry at Moses and God, Zipporah grabbed a sharp stone and performed the surgery, calling Moses a husband of blood. We learn from chapter 18 that Moses sent Zipporah and their two sons back home to Midion while Moses continued on his way to Egypt.
Later, after Moses delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt and were leading them through the wilderness, Jethro heard of all that God was doing through Moses and went to meet with Moses. He brought Zipporah and her two sons with him. The Bible tells us of the conversation between Moses and Jethro, but no mention of the interaction between him and his wife. Exodus 18 concludes by telling us that Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went his way to his own land.
Zipporah was married to one of the most godly men in history, yet she had no respect for him. As a result, she missed out on being an active witness of God’s miraculous power.