from Monday, 16 December 2013

On compromising and purification…..

“A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

One of the most mysterious passages in the Old Testament is Exodus 4:24–26. Moses, on his way to Egypt to free the Hebrews, has been told by God in the verses before these, that the son of Pharaoh would be killed.

The firstborn of Egypt would be killed in order to free the Chosen People of God. Now, according to Jewish commentaries, Moses had made a compact with the pagan priest, Jethro, his father-in-law, to raise one of the boys as a pagan and one as an Israelite. But, God was not happy with this compromise.

In the night, the passage states that God came to destroy the first born of Moses. Zipporah, ever a strong and good woman, quickly circumcised the son who had not been, Gershom. Zipporah, in righteous anger, take the foreskin of the boy and lays it on his feet, to show the Angel of Destruction, that the boy is now circumscribed. But, in her anger, she says to Moses, that he is “a bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

Moses had compromised and the fact that God was willing to kill Moses’ firstborn is a lesson in being orthodox. Zipporah calls Moses a bridegroom as he willingly married the daughter of a pagan priest, but did not keep his promise, his covenant to God to pass on the circumcision, the sign of the covenant.

Moses was being warned that he should have taken God seriously about fulfilling the law of the covenant. Moses was going into Egypt to do God’s work. Moses had to be purified before doing the great thing of causing and leading the Exodus.

Many Jewish commentators disagree on the interpretation, but this one makes the most sense to me. I have added the bit about purification, but blood was a sign of life and the sacrifice to God; blood was life-giving.

The Jewish comments go back centuries.

I have studying Zipporah since last summer, as she “speaks” to me somehow. I wrote a poem about her a while ago. I share it again below. But, the point of this post is that we can not have any sin or tendencies to sin in order to do God’s work. We must not compromise. We must allow God to purify us.

This is why we seek purification-to gain heaven and to do the work of God.

The results of compromise ruins families. In fact, the grandson of Moses, Jonathan, the son of Gershom, became the head priest of idolatry in the land of Canaan. And, notice that it was to Joshua and Caleb that the line of leaders was given, not to the sons of Moses.

Being someone’s son or daughter does not guarantee holiness. But, being obedient, not falling into idolatry, not compromising does….See Judges 17.13 for the sad defection of Jonathan. Parents, do not compromise. The salvation of your children is at stake.

Exodus 18 and 19 A Poem by Supertradmum

Zipporah, wandering bird
waiting in the tents of Yitro

Faithful to the wandering Jew
now crossing the Sea of Red.

She and her two sons, the
second, one of promise

Like Isaac, Jacob, second
but chosen-Eliezer-while

Zipporah weeps for Gershom,
passes the springs, not sharing

In the four cups of seder.
How long will this bird wander?

Moses no longer mere shepherd
but king, steps forward, taking

Yitro into his tent, the
mirror-image of times past.

The wandering bird is left
outside, the Kushite beauty

Separated, not loved, like
Sarah, Rebecca, or Rachel

Sisters in the Lord, sans gold
since the new Revelation.

Moses becomes God’s eunuch.
The bird fades into the desert.