The “Bloody Bridegroom” in Exodus 4:24-26 -- By: Ronald B. Allen

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 153:611 (Jul 1996)
Article: The “Bloody Bridegroom” in Exodus 4:24-26
Author: Ronald B. Allen


The “Bloody Bridegroom” in Exodus 4:24-26

Ronald B. Allen

[Ronald B. Allen is Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.]

[This is article three in a four-part series, “On Paths Less Traveled: Discovering the Savior in Unexpected Places in the Old Testament,” delivered by the author as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 7–10, 1995.]

Exodus 4:24–26 comprises possibly the most perplexing passage in all the Torah, surpassed perhaps only by the puzzlement many feel concerning “the sons of God” and “the daughters of men” in Genesis 6:1–4.

The Book of Exodus begins in chapter 1 with a brief recital of the plight of Israel in their long period of servitude in Egypt. Then in chapter 2 the story records the birth of Moses, whose protection in his infancy was a most remarkable instance of divine providence, including humor.1 The balance of chapter 2 through nearly all of chapter 4 focuses on Moses’ early life, as Yahweh prepared him for his lifework of being the human agent for God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt. Along the way God revealed Himself to Moses in terms of His divine name Yahweh (2:22–3:15),2 and then He told Moses of His choice of him to be His agent. Moses was reluctant at first, but finally was convinced that his purpose in life was this grand task. So at last in Exodus 4:18 Moses prepared to leave Midian, where he had lived for forty years, to return to Egypt to obey God’s command.

As Moses was on his way to Egypt, the Lord came to kill him. Surely these three verses (Exod 4:24–26) are among biblical

paths less traveled. Childs wrote, “Few texts contain more problems for the interpreter than these few verses which have continued to baffle throughout the centuries.”3 In the New King James Version, Exodus 4:24–26 reads as follows: “And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’<...

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