ZIPPORAH (Heb. צִפּוֹרָה), wife of Moses. The name of Zipporah's father is variously given as Reuel (Ex. 2:18, 21) and jethro (18:2; cf. 3:1), priest of Midian. She was one of seven daughters (2:16). Zipporah bore Moses two sons, Gershom and Eliezer (2:22; 18:3–4). She appears to have accompanied her husband on his return to Egypt when, at a night encampment on the way, she averted his imminent death by circumcising her son with a flint (4:24–26). Zipporah seems to have returned with her children to her father's home in Midian, rejoining Moses at Mt. Sinai after the Exodus from Egypt (18:1–6). Nothing further is recorded of her. (Nahum M. Sarna) -In the Aggadah Zipporah is praised in the Midrash both for her piety and virtue (MK 16b; Ex. R. 1:32) and for her beauty (Mid. Ps. 7:18). Various explanations are given of her name ("bird"): When questioned by her father about Moses, she ran after him like a bird and returned with him (Ex. R. 1:32); she cleansed her father's house from every vestige of idolatry as a bird collects the smallest crumbs from the ground (ibid.); she is compared to the bird used in the purification rites of the leper (Tanḥ. B., Ex. 6). As soon as Jethro realized that Moses was the Hebrew who had fled from Egypt he had him thrown into a pit. During the ten years he spent in the pit, however, Zipporah provided him with food until he was set free (Targ. Jon., Ex. 2:21). The "sending away" of Zipporah after the Exodus is interpreted as meaning that Moses gave her a bill of divorce (Mekh., Amalek, 3). Identifying the "Cushite woman" (Ethiopian) in Numbers 12:1 with Zipporah whom he remarried, the rabbis explain that as a Cushite woman is distinguished by her skin, so was she distinguished by her virtuous deeds (MK 16b). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Talmon, in: Eretz Israel, 3 (1954), 93–96 (Heb.), 4 (Eng. summ.); J. Blau, in: Tarbiz, 26 (1956/57), 1–3 (Heb.), 1 (Eng. summ.); S. Ben-Shabbat, ibid., 213 (Heb.), 7 (Eng. summ.); H. Kosmala, in: VT, 12 (1962), 14–28 (incl. bibl.); J. Morgenstern, in: HUCA, 34 (1963), 35–70; Ginzberg, Legends, index.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Zipporah — or Tzipora ( * …   Wikipedia

  • Zipporah — f Jewish: common female form of the rare Hebrew male name Zippor meaning ‘bird’. The female name is borne in the Bible by the wife of Moses and mother of Gershom and Eliezer (Exodus 18: 2–4) …   First names dictionary

  • Zipporah — noun a) The wife of Moses. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. b) of biblical origin …   Wiktionary

  • Zipporah — Wife of Moses, daughter of Reuel (Jethro), priest of Midian (Exod. 2:16–22). When Moses returned to Egypt to lead out the people of Israel in the Exodus, Zipporah and her sons stayed in Midian (Exod. 18:2–5) …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • Zipporah — /zi pawr euh, pohr euh, zip euhr euh/, n. the daughter of Jethro and the wife of Moses. Ex. 2:21. * * * …   Universalium

  • Zipporah —    A female bird. Reuel s daughter, who became the wife of Moses (Ex. 2:21). In consequence of the event recorded in Ex. 4:24 26, she and her two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, when so far on the way with Moses toward Egypt, were sent back by him to… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Zipporah — (fl. ?13th cent BCE)    Israelite woman, wife of Moses. She was the daughter of Jethro, priest of Midian. She travelled to Egypt with Moses to plead with Pharoah for the release of the Israelites; on the journey she saved the life of her son… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Zipporah — n. daughter of Jethro and the wife of Moses (Bible); female first name …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Zipporah — Zip•po•rah [[t]zɪˈpɔr ə, ˈpoʊr ə, ˈzɪp ər ə[/t]] n. bib the wife of Moses. Ex. 2:21 …   From formal English to slang

  • Zipporah — /zi pawr euh, pohr euh, zip euhr euh/, n. the daughter of Jethro and the wife of Moses. Ex. 2:21 …   Useful english dictionary

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