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Zipporah, from the Hebrew meaning a female bird, or a small bird, was the daughter of Reuel (see Jethro), a priest of Midian. Moses met and married Zipporah when he fled from Egypt after killing an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew. They had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. There remains some controversy as to whether Moses' "Cushite wife" (Numbers 12:1) that Aaron and Miriam disliked years later was actually Zipporah, or another woman from a subsequent marriage. Zipporah and her children remained with her father Jethro when Moses went back to Egypt for the Exodus, but Moses rejoined them later when they were camped near Mount Sinai (Exodus 18:1-8).

Sheep Moses and Zipporah

"One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand." (Exodus 2:11-12 RSV)

"When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. The shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock."

"When they came to their father Reuel, he said, "How is it that you have come so soon today?"

"They said, "An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and even drew water for us and watered the flock."

"He said to his daughters, "And where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread." And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She bore a son, and he called his name Gershom; for he said, "I have been a sojourner in a foreign land." (Exodus 2:15-22 RSV)

Fact Finder: What route did the Israelites take after leaving Egypt?
See Wilderness Journey

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