Circumcision of Moses's son

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The circumcision of Moses's son is a story from the Book of Exodus in which Moses and his wife Zipporah perform an impromptu circumcision of their son in order to prevent Yahweh from killing them. The strangeness of the passage has caused people wonder about it for generations, and nobody can agree upon what the passage is supposed to mean, or even the actual underlying text.


The complete passage is found in Exodus 4:24-26.

Leningrad Codex (c. 1008 CE)

24. ויהי בדרך במלון ויפגשהו יהוה ויבקש המיתו׃
25. ותקח צפרה צר ותכרת את־ערלת בנה ותגע לרגליו ותאמר כי חתן־דמים אתה לי׃
26. וירף ממנו אז אמרה חתן דמים למולת׃ פ

King James Version (1611 CE)

24. And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. 25. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 26. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

New International Version (1978 CE)

24. At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. 25. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said. 26. So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to circumcision.)

World English Bible (2000 CE)

24. It happened on the way at a lodging place, that Yahweh met Moses and wanted to kill him. 25. Then Zipporah took a flint, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet; and she said, "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me." 26. So he let him alone. Then she said, "You are a bridegroom of blood," because of the circumcision.


Since the segment only uses Yahweh, and Yahweh is a anthropomorphic, this story is most likely from the J source as described in the Documentary Hypothesis, putting the origin of the written story anywhere from 900-700 BCE, although the oral story could be older.


Historical Evidence

There is no physical evidence that any of the events in the story took place, and there is no literary evidence beyond Exodus to corroborate it.




In 2011, the Blasphemer's Bible depicted the story from Exodus and added commentary in comic 497.