Her name is Zipporah – one of the 7 daughters of Jethro, the priest of Midian.  She was a beautiful black woman who married a fugitive Hebrew from Egypt named Moses.  She gave birth to 2 sons.  Like many black mothers, history doesn’t celebrate her.  She was overshadowed by her father, who was a religious leader descended from Abraham by one of his later wives, Keturah.  Her father Jethro, the Priest of Midian (also called Reuel), is noted for giving wise counsel to his son-in-law on the necessity of delegation in leadership.  Zipporah’s husband, Moses, is the famous deliverer of the Hebrew’s from Egyptian bondage.  He is memorialized for challenging Pharaoh with God’s miraculous and lethal power, instigating the parting of the Red Sea, and receiving the law of God.  Later, Moses’ sister-in-law grew jealous of his “Cushite” wife and was stricken with leprosy. (See, God absolutely defends black women!!) Zipporah’s husband Moses stands with Noah, Abraham, David, and Paul as perhaps the most well-known Biblical characters who didn’t die on a cross to save the world.  But Zipporah, this black mother and wife, saved Moses’ life.

The 4th chapter of Exodus tells us that Moses had received his mission from God, speaking from a burning bush on the mountain side, while Zipporah was likely tending to her household duties.  But like so many women, she was not oblivious to what was going on in the male-dominated world.  So, when her father gave his blessing to her husband to go back to Egypt to see about his people, she and the boys went with him.  And it’s a good thing she did!  Apparently, Moses, having grown up in the Egyptian royal palace was unacquainted with the religious requirements of his people.  God had made a covenant with their patriarch Abraham and they were supposed to circumcise their sons.  Exodus 4:24-26 explains that the Lord met the family on the way back to Egypt and was going to kill Moses.  I don’t know how Zipporah knew why God was about to kill her husband, or what to do about it, but she did.  Perhaps its because the Midianites who were also descendants of Abraham, followed the same rituals as the Hebrews.  And perhaps, even though she was a woman she paid attention to what her father did as a priest.  But as Moses likely cowered in fear, this brave black woman picked up a sharp rock, grabbed her son and circumcised him on the spot.  Then as you might expect her to react, she threw the boy’s foreskin at her husband’s feet and said, “you are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me!”  The Bible said that upon seeing the audacity and intelligence of this ebony wife and mother God eased up, and Moses was saved.

Here’s to all the black mothers who, like Zipporah, do what you have to do – even when it’s bloody, and difficult; even when you are mad and think somebody else should have done it; even when people don’t appreciate it; even when it hurts your child but it’s the best thing for them.  You may think your name is forgotten, but please know that we see you, and we honor you. 

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