by Avram Yehoshua
The story of Moses on his way to Egypt to free Israel from Egyptian slavery speaks of an encounter with God who wanted to kill Moses, either directly or with some disease (C. F. Keil)1, or who wanted to kill his firstborn son, whose name was Gershom, with ‘a deadly ailment’ (Nahum Sarna)2. Scripture seems to indicate that it was Moses whose life was in danger (Ex. 4:24), and both Keil and Sarna think that God’s wrath was occasioned by the neglect of Moses to circumcise his son:24“And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that Yahveh met him and sought to kill him. 25Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and touched the feet of Moses with it, and said, ‘Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.’ 26So He let him alone. Then she said, ‘You are a bridegroom of blood,’ because of the circumcision.” (Exodus 4:24-26)Keil thinks that it was Eliezer, the second born son of Moses, who was the object of the circumcision. He suggests that Gershom, the firstborn son, had previously been circumcised, but that by the time Eliezer came along, Moses hadn’t circumcised Eliezer. Some think, from what Zipporah says in calling Moses a bridegroom of blood, that she despised circumcision, and so, she didn’t want her son circumcised, but this, as we’ll see, may be reading more into her words than is justified.
Sarna believes it was Gershom, the firstborn son, who was circumcised because circumcision is theologically linked to the sparing of the firstborn sons of Israel in Egypt at the Passover. It would seem strange, though, if that’s the case, for when did Eliezer get circumcised? He’s obviously with the family (Ex. 4:20). Would Moses have needed to circumcise his firstborn son, but not his second born son? Yet, as we’ll see, the idea of the firstborn son does weave itself into this divine scriptural tapestry.
Whichever son was circumcised, the incident is theologically linked to two significant events in Scripture. The first is the blood covenant that God made with Abram (Gen. 15:1f.). Two chapters later God changes his name to Abraham and makes circumcision the sign of that covenant (Gen. 17:1-14). Any male who wasn’t circumcised would be cut off from his people.
The second event is the Passover: the firstborn son was saved from God’s wrath in Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb. God’s firstborn Son Israel (Ex. 4:22) was spared from death, while the wrath of God destroyed all of Pharaoh’s firstborn sons (all the firstborn sons of his kingdom, including his own firstborn son; Ex. 12:1f.). God then interweaves the requirement of circumcision for any Gentile who wanted to keep Passover (i.e. to become part of God’s redeemed people Israel; Ex. 12:43-49). It’s here that Sarna’s thought on Moses’ firstborn son being circumcised finds support. It was the wrath of God that had threatened Moses with death (Ex. 4:24) and it was the blood of the circumcision that spared him. The blood of the circumcision and the wrath of God tie the incident of Moses into the Passover. The failure of Moses to circumcise his son was a matter of life and death,3 but why would God require Moses’ life, and not that of his uncircumcised son? Also, if circumcision was so important to God, why does He forbid circumcision to the Gentile believer in the New Testament?
X Marks the Spot for Circumcision and the Firstborn
Sarna makes an ingenious schematic comparison of scriptures that tie into the incident of Moses. Note how it forms an X with ‘Firstborn’ and ‘Circumcision’ (below). Both he, and Keil, also speak of God commanding Israel to be circumcised after their 40 years of Wilderness wanderings, once they had entered into the Promised Land (Josh. 5:1f.), as a way of re-emphasizing the importance of circumcision:‘The featuring of the circumcision episode following the reference to the first-born provides an artfully wrought literary framework for the entire narrative, one that encompasses the struggle for liberation from Pharaoh’s oppression. That struggle begins with Moses’ setting out to return to Egypt’ (Ex. 4:20) ‘and its successful conclusion is signaled by the death of the Egyptian first-born (12:29-36). This latter is followed immediately by the law requiring circumcision as the precondition for participation in the paschal sacrifice (12:43-49), which in turn is followed by the law of the first-born (13:1, 11-15). The effect is a thematically arranged chiasm:’4Circumcision (blood covenant), Passover (blood redemption-salvation of the firstborn; the essence of a family or nation), and the averting of God’s wrath are all theologically interrelated. Interesting, too, is that the Hebrew who didn’t keep the Passover was cut off from his people (Num. 9:13), which makes Passover and circumcision interrelated at that point, also.A. First-born (4:22-23) B. Circumcision (12:43-49)‘In addition to the literary structure, there is also a functional correspondence between the blood of circumcision and the visible sign of the blood on (sic: of) the paschal sacrifice. In both instances,’ wrath ‘is averted on account of it (4:26; 12:7, 13, 22-23). This inextricable tie between circumcision and the Passover, as plainly set forth in 12:43-49, is also unmistakably operative in’ Joshua 5:1f;—‘after crossing the Jordan into the promised land a mass circumcision ceremony was performed as a prelude to the first celebration of the Passover feast inside the country (vv. 2-11).’5
B. Circumcision (4:24-26) A. First-born (13:1, 11-15)
Keil rightly believes that Moses was the recipient of the bloody foreskin, while Sarna thinks that it was his firstborn son. Sarna also notes that ‘feet’ can be a euphemism in Scripture for the genitals,6 which would then speak of the bloody foreskin of the son being applied to the genital (procreative) region of Moses.7
The Bridegroom of Blood
Keil writes that the phrase, ‘a bridegroom of blood,’ was spoken by Zipporah because by performing the circumcision she had saved Moses from God’s wrath (death). In this way she had ‘gotten him back’ as her husband, so to speak:“the words, ‘a blood-bridegroom art thou to me,’ were addressed to Moses, and not to the boy. Zipporah calls Moses a blood-bridegroom, ‘because she had been compelled, as it were, to acquire…him anew as a husband by shedding the blood of her son’ (Glass). ‘Moses had been as good as taken from her by the deadly attack which had been made upon him. She purchased his life by the blood of her son; she received him back, as it were, from the dead, and married him anew; he was, in fact, a bridegroom of blood to her’ (Kurtz).”Sarna insightfully connects the Hebrew word for cut off in Ex. 4:25 (‘cut off the foreskin’) with the penalty for not being circumcised (to be cut off from Israel):“cut off…The unique use of the Hebrew k-r-t for this action rather than the otherwise invariable m-w-l may reflect Midianite terminology. But there may also be a double word play here, for k-r-t berit is the Hebrew term for making a covenant,8 and in Genesis 17:9-14 circumcision is called ‘the sign of the covenant.’ Further, in that same text (v. 14) it is stated that he who fails to fulfill the rite—the first command in the Torah specifically enjoined upon Abraham and his descendants—‘shall be cut off from his kin; he has broken My covenant.’ The Hebrew term for the prescribed penalty is karet” (k-r-t). “An uncircumcised Israelite who thereby alienates himself from the community of Israel would be excluded from the Passover and from the redemption from Egypt. Joshua 5:5 explicitly records that all the males who came out of Egypt had undergone the rite. It would have been ironically paradoxical indeed” if the “central figure in the story of the Exodus”9 had an uncircumcised son.Sarna is saying that k-r-t (cut) is used in the Hebrew phrase ‘to make/cut a covenant’ and that circumcision, the cutting of the flesh, is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant. Any Israeli who failed to have the sign was cut off from the covenant, and also Passover with its subsequent redemption. Moses, having an uncircumcised son, was walking outside the covenant by not having circumcised him, but why did God want to kill Moses?
In speaking of what happened with the foreskin after Zipporah cut it off her son, Sarna connects what she did with it, to how the blood of the Passover was placed upon the lintels and doorpost. Then he speaks of the blood, in both instances, averting God’s wrath:“the Hebrew verb used here (rendered ‘touched;’ Ex. 4:25) is the same as that used for the daubing of the blood of the paschal lamb on the lintel and doorposts in 12:22 (rendered ‘apply’). In both cases, the purpose would be the same: The blood would act as a protective sign against” the wrath; “the Destroyer would not smite” (Ex. 12:13, 22).10Sarna also relates that there’s no known ancient usage of Zipporah’s phrase, bridegroom of blood, outside of its use in Ex. 4:25-26. He then notes that in Arabic the word for ‘bridegroom’ means both to circumcise and to protect. This certainly harkens back to Zipporah, with both meanings coming from the commandment of circumcision and its penalty of being cut off averted:“a bridegroom of blood…This is the traditional English rendering of the unique Hebrew phrase hatan damim, for which, so far, no parallel has been found in ancient Near Eastern literature…Hatan damim may be a linguistic fossil…the meaning of which has been lost. However…in Arabic the stem h-t-n” (bridegroom) “denotes ‘to circumcise’ as well as ‘to protect.’ This latter is also its meaning in Akkadian. Hence, the enigmatic phrase could convey, ‘You are now circumcised [and so] protected for me by means of the blood—the blood of circumcision.’ Curiously, p-s-h, the Hebrew stem behind Passover, can also mean ‘to protect.’”11The blood of the circumcision certainly protected both the son and the father from the wrath of God, but it seems that Zipporah was speaking to Moses, not the child (as Sarna thinks) when she said, ‘You are a bridegroom of blood to me,’ after she had placed (not cast, as some English translations have) the bloody foreskin on Moses. Sarna rightly concludes that the brief passage in Exodus 4:24-26,“underscores the paramount importance of the institution of circumcision and the surpassing seriousness of its neglect.”12
Yeshua’s Water Baptism and Gentile Circumcision
If circumcision was so important in the days of Abraham, Moses and King David, and it was, why does God in the New Covenant nullify circumcision for the Gentile believer in Yeshua? Circumcision is nullified for the Gentile because both the sacrifice and the sign have changed. Covenants are made through the shedding of blood. Yahveh linked the act of a bloody circumcision to the blood sacrifices of the animals of the covenant that He made with Abram (Gen. 15:1f.) by making circumcision the sign of that covenant. The eight day old Hebrew infant, unbeknownst to him, but chosen by God, was brought into the covenant of Abram by the shedding of its own blood in the act of circumcision. This linked the infant back to the animals sacrificed when God made His covenant with Abram. Before the believer comes to Messiah, also unbeknownst to him, he was chosen by God. Yeshua said:“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16)The covenant of circumcision included redemption (salvation) from Egyptian slavery and entry into the Promised Land (Gen. 15:12-14; Ex. 6:1-8) . It was the prototype of God’s New Covenant with Israel (Jer. 31:31-34) in which His Son’s sacrifice as the Lamb of God brings about Israel’s redemption from Satan and entry into the eternal Kingdom of Messiah. The sign of the New Covenant is not physical circumcision, but water baptism in the name of Messiah Yeshua,13 but how can water baptism link the believer to the blood of Yeshua’s sacrifice?
“And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’” (John 6:65)
Baptism in water signifies the believer’s death (Rom. 6:1f.), with the shedding of his own blood, so to speak, in dying to self. This is the ‘blood’ of water baptism, which is the physical sign that both Jew and Gentile must have. The hope of God, and every righteous Hebrew, was that the infant who was circumcised would grow into a man who would love Yahveh and keep His commandments. Baptism in water speaks of that same hope, but now, with the blood and Spirit of Messiah one is able to love God with all his heart and keep His commandments by God’s Spirit. This new power to overcome our sinful carnal nature is available to us in the name of Messiah Yeshua. Baptism in water brings this new reality with it—the circumcision of the heart. In Deut. 10:16 God commanded Israel to circumcise their hearts and to no longer resist Him and His ways by their stubbornness (carnal nature), but in Deut. 30:6 Yahveh said that He would circumcise the hearts of Israel so that they would no longer be stubborn, but instead, love Him, and consequently, delight to keep His commandments.
With the shedding of the sacrificial blood of Yeshua, both circumcised Jew and uncircumcised Gentile are called to enter into the New Covenant, the Kingdom of Messiah, by faith in His shed blood. It is this blood that God requires for keeping Passover in the Kingdom of His Son, and it is this blood that will avert God’s wrath on Judgment Day, not the blood of physical circumcision, nor the blood of Abram’s sacrifice. A Jew who is only physically circumcised cannot enter into Messiah’s Kingdom, nor participate in His Passover. As circumcision linked the ancient Israeli infant to the sacrifices of the covenant of Abram, so water baptism links the believer to the blood of Messiah’s sacrifice.
Water baptism has another incredibly significant aspect to it, which further emphasizes its potent spiritual reality. This leads us to another question—why was Yeshua baptized in water? Certainly not, as some think, for identification with Israel in her sins and need for cleansing, for it’s Israel that must identify with Him, and certainly not to wash away any sins that Yeshua had, for He was sinless.14 The water baptism of Yeshua was a physical reenactment of how Yeshua, God the Son,15 came forth from the Father1616] and the Holy Spirit on Day One of Creation. Therefore, all who follow Yeshua in this physical-spiritual sign of ‘death to self’ are not only saying that their ‘death to self blood’ links them to Yeshua’s sacrifice, but are also saying that they have come forth from God (been born from Above) as Yeshua was, and one day they will be like Yeshua is now—glorified.
Water baptism is a real spiritual picture of dying to self so that one might become a new creation in Yeshua (Jn. 3:5-6; Rom. 6:1f., 2nd Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). In the Beginning Yeshua came forth from the Father and the Spirit. If we look at the very first words recorded in Scripture that God uttered (“Let there be light!” Genesis 1:3) we are privy to seeing how Yeshua came forth from the Father and the Spirit. Yeshua was not created, but came forth as a baby comes forth from its mother’s womb.
The waters of Genesis 1:2 picture the Father.17 The verse also speaks of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters like a bird.18 In Genesis 1:2-3 we see the Father, the Spirit, and then the Son coming forth as both the Word of God,19 alive!,20 and the Light of God. This, then—how Yeshua came forth from the Waters of the Father (and the Spirit), is why Yeshua was baptized in water 1,981 years ago. It was a living reenactment of His coming forth from the Father and the Spirit. When Yeshua came forth from the waters of baptism, the Father spoke and the Spirit descended upon Him like a dove:“When He had been baptized, Yeshua came up immediately from the water, and behold! Heaven was opened to him (John) and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him, and suddenly, a Voice came from Heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!’” (Matthew 3:16–17)This is one reason why God has taken away the sign of the covenant that He made with Abraham (for the Gentile) and commands all of us to be immersed in water—it’s a spiritual picture of our coming forth from the Father and the Spirit like Yeshua—of being made like Yeshua. As a believer is fully immersed in water baptism and comes up from the waters he is a living reenactment of how Yeshua came forth from the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is why water baptism is so essential. When salvation in the name of Messiah Yeshua was first proclaimed it was immediately linked to water baptism. Now we know why:“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent! Let every one of you be baptized in the name of Yeshua the Messiah for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your sons, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’” (Acts 2:38–39; see also 10:44-48)How are sins remitted in water baptism? By death to self, which aligns the believer with Messiah’s atoning sacrificial death. Water baptism, with its multifaceted spiritual pictures, is the sign of the New Covenant and why the Gentile must not be physically circumcised for covenantal-religious reasons.21 Both Jew and Gentile enter into the New Covenant not by the sign of circumcision, but by the sign of water baptism, which as we read above is biblically linked to Spirit baptism. Unfortunately , there are many today who don’t understand this and teach that the Gentile, in order to obey God’s commandments for circumcision and Passover, must be circumcised (Gen. 17:9-14; Ex. 12:43-49), but this teaching presumes upon God’s word and negates the shed blood of Yeshua. It adds a work of man (physical circumcision; Gal. 5:1-12) to what God has done in sacrificing His Son for salvation and entry into the New Covenant. Circumcision links the Gentile to the wrong sacrifice! Circumcision of the flesh brings the Gentile to the animals of Abram’s sacrifice, which cannot eternally save anyone, nor make them acceptable for celebrating Messiah’s Passover. This false and perverse teaching of Gentile circumcision is ‘works righteousness’ and nullifies what God has done for the Gentile.22
Those who teach Gentile circumcision assume that since it’s commanded in the Old Testament it must also be kept in the New. They have absolutely nothing in the New Testament, though, that supports their position, and they refuse to hear the many New Testament Scriptures that forbid it. Their sin is the deadly sin of presumption. They think that God wants something when He doesn’t, even though He may have wanted it earlier, as in the case of physical circumcision, or in God wanting Israel to conquer Canaan after coming forth from Egypt. Yet, because Israel believed the faithless report of ten of the spies, God told them ‘to turn around’ and go back into the Wilderness where they would die over the next 40 years because of their contempt for God. After the incident some of the Hebrews said that they would (now) obey God and go into the land, but Moses warned them not to go because God had redirected them, and that neither He (God), nor the Ark of the Covenant, nor Moses would go with them. They insisted, though, on ‘obeying’ what God had previously said and many of them were killed by the Amalekites and the Canaanites (Num. 14:1-45). It’s not a superficial sin to presume upon God and His word, but this is exactly what all those who teach Gentile circumcision are guilty of:“But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on Yahveh, and he shall be cut off from among his people because he has despised the word of Yahveh and has broken His commandment—that person shall be completely cut off. His guilt shall be upon him!” (Num. 15:30–31; see also Dt. 1:19-43)The New Testament never modifies the decision of Acts 15, which struck down Gentile circumcision in order to be saved, to make allowance for Gentile circumcision for Passover and/or to fulfill the commandment given to Abraham because God has changed both the sacrifice and the sign for the New Covenant. The Old sign means nothing in terms of entry into the New Covenant. Circumcision of the flesh didn’t change the infant’s nature, but circumcision of the heart, the sign of which is baptism in water, does change our nature and is the New Covenant’s fulfillment of circumcision of the flesh, with its admonition to not be stubborn anymore. This is why circumcision of the flesh doesn’t do anyone any good in terms of the New Covenant and why Paul wrote:‘But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the assemblies. Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised!23 Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised! Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing’ (in terms of entering Messiah’s Kingdom) ‘but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.’24 (1st Corinthians 7:17-19)The sign of circumcision given to Abraham has given way to the sign of water baptism. Circumcision has given way to the reality that God promised in Dt. 30:6. Those who insist on Gentile circumcision are walking in the sins of presumption and rebellion to God and His word in the New Covenant.
Gentile circumcision is a false and dangerous heresy. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote against it. He also spoke of Titus, a righteous Gentile believer, not having any need to be circumcised. Where, then, is any New Testament Scripture support for Gentile circumcision?‘Yet, not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek,Paul was saying that he, too, could have confidence in the flesh (circumcision!) if that was what God wanted. The Gentile believer is covered by the shed blood of Messiah Yeshua and the waters of baptism. He must not seek to be circumcised in order to keep the commandments of God concerning physical circumcision. It’s God’s commandment to him through the New Testament that he not be circumcised in the flesh, but baptized in water (and circumcised in his heart). It’s water baptism, with its death to self, that links the believer to the blood sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua and glorification.
was compelled to be circumcised.’ (Galatians 2:3)
‘For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Messiah Yeshua, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so.’ (Phil. 3:4)
On the other hand, the Jew must continue to physically circumcise his sons because he is literally part of the covenant that God made with Abraham and all his descendants through Isaac and Jacob. One day, in the thousand year reign of Messiah Yeshua from Jerusalem, in the land of Israel on this Earth, that covenant will be fulfilled, to the glory of Yahveh and His words to Israel.25
The circumcision of Moses’ son (Ex. 4:24-26) brought out two theologically interwoven events: the covenant that God made with Abram and the First Passover (which spared Israel’s firstborn sons). Both are linked together by blood sacrifice, the sign of circumcision, and the averting of God’s wrath. These two biblical rivers flow into the Second Passover (Mt. 26-28), and the sign of water baptism. The Second Passover established the New Covenant by the blood sacrifice of God’s Firstborn Son Yeshua so that all God’s other firstborn sons would be spared from His wrath.
As circumcision protected the child from being cut off from Israel, and also, being a part of redeemed Israel, so too, water baptism. Circumcision personally linked the infant (or man), by the shedding of his own blood, back to the sacrificial covenant that God made with Abram. It was a blood covering for every male. Water baptism personally links the believer, by the shedding of his own blood, to the sacrifice of Yeshua, another blood covering for every believer, and makes them part of redeemed Israel. Interesting to note, God ordained circumcision for the eight day old infant. All those who believe in Yeshua are Born Again, which means that they are spiritual infants, but instead of being circumcised, God requires the infinitely more powerful spiritual sign of water/Spirit baptism.
Water baptism pictures both Jew and Gentile dying to self—presenting their own life’s blood, so to speak, which links them to both the Sacrifice of Messiah, and also, how Yeshua came forth as God the Son on Day One. Water baptism is the sign of the New Covenant, and rightfully so.
Water baptism’s spiritual reality also averts the wrath of God on Judgement Day, as well as connecting the ‘blood of water baptism’ to the salvific blood of the Passover Lamb. This makes both Gentile and Jew acceptable to God the Father and able to partake of Yeshua’s Passover Body and Blood, which also averts God’s wrath on Judgment Day (just as circumcision and the First Passover did).
What circumcision pointed to, the circumcision of the heart; the transformation of the carnal nature and total consecration to Yahveh, water baptism, through the blood of Messiah and the power of the Holy Spirit, fulfills. Believers become new creatures in Messiah circumcised by God. Yahveh hinted at this in Deut. 30:6 when he said that He would circumcise the hearts of Israel. This is why God nullifies physical circumcision for the New Covenant Gentile—it has nothing to offer him.
The Gentile who becomes physically circumcised negates God’s design of eternal redemption. This violates God’s will—His word in the New Testament. Gentile circumcision is an act of pride and presumption, rebellion and ignorance, and works righteousness because it is very clear to see that the New Testament forbids it and never modifies that ruling ‘in order to keep Passover,’ etc. Any Gentile who has been circumcised in order to keep God’s commandments in Genesis 17 and Exodus 12 needs to repent and to seek the Lord for forgiveness of his sin.
The sign of the covenant that God made with Father Abraham was very important to God, so much so that anyone failing to keep the sign would be cut off from the covenant. Is the sign of water baptism of any less importance to God? As the New Covenant is the flowering and fulfillment of the Old, so is water baptism to physical circumcision and why all who call upon the name of Yeshua need to be immersed in water, not sprinkled, and certainly not immersed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are immersed into Yeshua’s death (Rom. 6:1f.). Neither the Father, nor the Spirit, died for us. We are to be immersed in the name of Yeshua.
Why did God want to kill Moses? After all, it says nothing about the father dying because his son was not circumcised, but only that the son was to be cut off. Moses would become the greatest picture of Messiah Yeshua of all the people of the Old Testament, and therefore, he, more than any other, had to obey God. Because of his incredible intimacy with Yahveh, Moses would be held to a greater accountability than any other man.26
In not having circumcised his son, Moses was corrupting the holy Picture of Messiah Yeshua. It was not acceptable to God that Moses had a son in his house that wasn’t circumcised because Yahveh says in Dt. 30:6 that He would circumcise the Sons of Israel to love Him, that they might not be stubborn anymore (Dt. 10:16), which strongly implies the keeping of His commandments. This means that God’s House, built by Messiah (Zech. 6:12-13; 1st Peter 2:1-5f.), would be ‘in order,’ and so, Moses had to have his house ‘in order,’ too. The (firstborn?) son of Moses is a picture of all of us who believe in Yeshua. In Messiah Yeshua, we, as Firstborn Sons of God, are all circumcised in our hearts by the Spirit of Yeshua:“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Messiah, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11–12)The phrase bridegroom of blood points to Moses being spared from the wrath of God when Zipporah circumcised their son. Therefore, she ‘gained back’ her husband through the bloody sign of circumcision when God sought to kill him because his son hadn’t been circumcised. Moses truly became a bridegroom of blood to Zipporah, but Zipporah was also speaking prophetically of Yeshua as our Bridegroom of Blood. By His blood sacrifice He has made Himself the Bridegroom of Blood. Just as circumcision saved the son of Moses from being cut off from Israel, so too, the circumcision of our hearts (pictured in the ‘bloody’ waters of ‘death to self’ baptism) saves us from being cut off from the Bridegroom of the New Jerusalem. Yeshua has made a way for us to be with Him eternally. We are truly the Bride of Messiah Yeshua. 27
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and congregation of the Firstborn (Sons) who are registered in Heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Yeshua, the Mediator of the New Covenant…” (Hebrews 12:22–24)
The Father, through His Son and by His Spirit, has fulfilled His promise to Israel. Israel’s heart is circumcised and we are no longer stiff-necked against God and His Torah. Glory to Yeshua!
Just as Moses carried Israel in the Wilderness for 40 years, so too, our Bridegroom carries us in the Wilderness of this world our entire earthly lives. As great as Moses would become after this incident in Ex. 4:24-26, his failure to follow the commandment of circumcision almost cost him his life and future commission as God’s servant. It’s an important lesson for all of us—we must be faithful to our God and not be swayed away from keeping His commandments. The Father has chosen us, all of us, to pour out His great love upon and to reveal His faithful, forgiving loving-kindness to. Be faithful to Him and His word, wherever you are and whomever you are—rich or poor, great or small, young or old—let His Light, the Light of His Son, shine through you for all the world in darkness to see:“And Yahveh your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your sons, to love Yahveh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6)
“For Yahveh will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake because it has pleased Yahveh to make you His people.” (1st Samuel 12:22)
- C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1, The Pentateuch (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2001), pp. 298-299.
- Moses had two sons: the firstborn was Gershom (Ex. 2:22; 18:3; spelled Gershon in 1st Chron. 23:15) and the second was Eliezer (1st Chron. 23:15).
Nahum M. Sarna, Exodus (The JPS Torah Commentary; Accordance electronic ed. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1991), pp. 24-26. Note 35: So R. Simeon ben Gamaliel in Ned. 32a; TJ Ned. 3:16 (38b), Exod. R. 5:8; so Targ. Jon., Shadal. Samuel ben Hofni, Saadia, Ramban take the victim to be the second son.
- Sarna, Exodus, pp. 24-26, note 33: Cf. Gen. 21:4; 34:14; Lev. 12:3; Judg. 14:3.
- From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiastic_structure: “Chiastic structure (also called chiastic pattern or ring structure) is a literary structure used in ancient literatures including epic poetry (Odyssey and Iliad); scripture (the Torah, the Bible), as well as in the texts of other pre-modern cultures texts. Concepts or ideas are placed in a special symmetric order or pattern in a chiastic structure to emphasize them.” The pattern is usually found in an X form, as above with Sarna’s firstborn and circumcision. “When read left to right, up to down, the first topic (A) is reiterated as the last, and the middle concept (B) appears twice in succession.”
A B X B A
- Sarna, Exodus, pp. 24-26.
- Ibid., note 38: “Cf. Judg. 3:24; 1 Sam. 24:3; 2 Kings 18:27 = Isa. 36:12; 7:20; cf. Deut. 28:57; Ezek. 16:25; Ruth 3:4, 7.” It’s hard to imagine, as Sarna presents (Ruth 3:4, 7), that Ruth would have uncovered the genitals of Boaz. It would have made her more of a lewd woman than a virtuous one (3:11). Her laying down at his feet was a picture of her desired submission to him to become his wife.
- It hardly seems possible that the ‘daubing’ of the blood (and foreskin) would be upon the son as there was already blood upon him from his own circumcision. There would seem to be little in symbolic value for the foreskin to be placed upon either his feet or his genitals.
- Literally, k-r-t berit means to ‘cut a covenant,’ which refers to the animals slaughtered and sacrificed to make a covenant (see Gen. 15:1f.).
- Sarna, Exodus, pp. 24-26.
- Acts 2:38; 8:36-39; 10:47; Hebrews 10:22; 1st Peter 3:20.
- John 8:46; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1st John 3:5; 1st Peter 2:22.
- See Yeshua: God the Son at http://seedofabraham.net/yeshua.html for the Hebraic concept of how Yeshua is deity, along with His Father (and the Spirit).
- Psalm 2:7; 89:26-37; John 1:14, 18; 3:16; with John 16:27-28 and 17:8 having Yeshua saying that He ‘came forth’ from the Father. John 8:42 has the identical concept that Yeshua ‘proceeded forth’ from the Father. See also Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; 1st Jn. 4:9.
- The ‘waters’ of Gen. 1:2 picture of the Father (see also Psalm 104:3; 148:4; Is. 8:6; 55:1; Jer. 51:16; Ezk. 1:24; 2nd Peter 3:5). The waters in Gen. 1:2 are not the waters of the oceans of the Earth because on Day Two (Gen. 1:6-8), these waters are divided by a ‘firmament,’ which God called ‘Heaven.’ Creation took place in the waters under Heaven, while God dwells in the waters above the firmament, above Heaven. This is what Paul means when he says that he was caught up to the third Heaven (2nd Cor. 12:2).
- The Hebrew word in Gen. 1:2 for the Spirit hovering over the waters is מְרָחֶפֶת mira’cheh’fet and it speaks of the hovering motion made by the wings of a dove or an eagle as they hover over an object (Dt. 32:11).
- In Hebrew the first words of God are literally, “Light, be!” which makes Yeshua the first word of the Father (John 1:1-9; 1st John 1:1-4; Rev. 19:13).
- God’s living Word came forth from the Waters (which pictured the Father). This living Word was the Light of Day One. This Light wasn’t the sun, moon or the stars, for they were created on Day Four (Gen. 1:14-19).
- Many Gentiles were circumcised by their parents for medical-health reasons and that’s alright because it is not the same reason as covenantal circumcision for Gen. 17:9-14 and Ex. 12:43-49.
Any Gentile who has wrongly followed the teaching that he must be circumcised in order to keep the Passover, etc., has grievously sinned. He should repent and ask God, who is rich in mercy, to forgive him.
- See Gentile Circumcision? at http://seedofabraham.net/Gentile_Circumcision.html for more on why God nullifies the commandment of physical circumcision for Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua.
- Paul’s admonition to the Jewish believer to not become uncircumcised was a real prohibition. In the Apostle’s day there was a surgical operation to attach some skin to the remaining foreskin so that it would look like the man hadn’t been circumcised. See 1st Maccabees 1:15; 1:2f; Josephus, Antiquities xii. 241.
- Some might say that Gen. 17:9-14 and Ex. 12:43-49 are part of the commandments of God for Gentile believers, but this totally negates what God says about physical circumcision for the Gentile believer in the New Covenant.
- Genesis 12:7; 13:14-15; 15:7, 12-16, 18-21; 17:7-8, 19-22; 24:7; 26:2-5; 28:3-4, 13-15; 35:9-13; 48:3-4; 50:24-25; Ex. 3:7-10, 14-17; 6:1-8; 12:21-25; 13:3-5, 11-12; 23:20-33; 32:7-14; Ezk. 40–48; Rev. 20:3-6.
- See Exodus 32:1–34:7f; Numbers 12:1-10f., Deuteronomy 34:10-12; Matthew 17:3.
- Believers in Messiah Yeshua are also known as His Bride (Rev. 21:2, 9; 22:17; see also Rev. 19:9).
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