The day was hot as usual in Midian. As my sisters and I made our way to the well, I noticed someone had set up a camp nearby. At first I didn’t see anyone, but then I saw him. The tallest man I had ever seen was gathering wood for what I assumed to be his campfire. He was dressed like an Egyptian and he was handsome. He didn’t appear to notice us, but suddenly he turned around as if he knew he was being watched. I dropped my head as my sisters giggled when he gave us a slight greeting with a nod. We rushed to the well to draw water for our father’s sheep. We went to the well daily and each day when we went the well, we greeted our new neighbor with little waves and a flurry of giggles.
One day while we were at the well, a band of shepherds who were passing through interrupted our work. They demanded access to the well, “Move aside, girls. We need to water,” growled the man who appeared to be the leader of the group.
“We are almost finished, sir.” I replied as we were filling the last trough.
“You will step aside now or we will take the water you have already drawn. Decide,” the brute said as he shoved me aside.
I slipped on the mud and fell. The next thing I knew our mysterious neighbor was at my side helping me up. He turned to the brutish man and said, “You do not touch her. You wait until they are finished.” My rescuer towered over the brute with a scowl on his face that could scare lions away. My heart fluttered, not just from the confrontation with the evil shepherds, but my rescuer’s protective stance in front of me made me feel self-conscious. I was the oldest of my sisters and was not married. We rarely had visitors and I often wondered when I would meet someone I wanted to marry.
“Are you alright?” my rescuer asked. All I could do was nod. I was awestruck by his strength. My sisters sighed. He looked at them and smiled. “Let me finish drawing your water. I will water your sheep for you today.”
“Oh,” I said. “That is very kind of you. Thank you.” When he finished we invited him to meet our father, Reuel (Jethro). Papa was a priest and he would want to know about how the shepherds treated us, but he would be pleased with how the stranger defended us.
As we were approaching home, our father met us and asked, “Why are you back so soon today? Did you finish watering the sheep?”
“Yes, Papa. An Egyptian protected us from a band of shepherds and he drew the water and watered the flock,” I explained as my sisters described the incident in detail to others who were nearby.
“Where is this Egyptian?” Father asked. “Bring him here so that I may thank him and so he can eat with us.”
“He is coming after us, Papa I knew that you would want to meet him.” I hurried to my tent to freshen up. I was very excited. I knew that something important had happened and maybe I had met the man of my destiny.
Moses came to dinner and my father invited him to dwell with us. It wasn’t long before he asked Papa for me as his wife. Papa was happy and we were married.
Being married to Moses was sweet at first. Our first born was a boy. Moses named him Gershom which means “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” The name was beautiful and I thought it applied more to Moses than to me, but soon I learned that I too would be a sojourner to a foreign land.
One day Moses didn’t come home at his usual time. I kept watching for him. When he finally returned, he announced that he had met with God near a burning bush. God told him to return to Egypt to lead his people out of bondage. The call of God changed everything for us. We soon packed up and obeyed God’s command.
In Egypt I met my new family and watched as Moses grew stronger and more confident in his endeavor to obey God. I was so unsure of what my role was in this new venture, but I knew that he had changed. He was more at peace within. He told me about his past and seemed to forgive himself. He also told me that we would not be in Egypt for very long. God was moving His people to some promised land. I didn’t completely unpack and watched Moses every day to know if it was moving day. Then one day he came home and smeared blood over the door. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“Doing what the Lord told me. Tonight is going to be a dark night. Death is coming to Egypt and no household is exempt except those with the blood over the door,” Moses explained.
“What kind of God is this?” I thought as I held our sons close to me. When we were on the way to this place, God was going to kill Moses unless we circumcised our son. I was so angry. I had to circumcise Gershom because Moses suddenly became very ill to the point of death. When I put the foreskin on Moses’ feet, he recovered. I told Moses he was a bridegroom of blood. Now God was going to kill the first born of the children in Egypt.
I tried to stay calm, but I was afraid. I’ve never been around anyone who had a relationship with God like Moses did. Moses seemed to have daily conversations with God and then strange things would happen. Thinking about the frogs and flies still made my skin crawl. Can you imagine walking through a floor of frogs? Then having so many flies that you could hardly see in front of you. Ugh! I love Moses and respect what he is doing, but I am ready to move on. Pharaoh was cruel and would punish us every time a plague would leave. I couldn’t imagine what he would do after their children died tonight.
We sat down for our evening meal. We ate bread without yeast and the lamb Moses killed to get the blood he smeared on the door. Moses told me that God told him this would become a feast tradition called Feast of Unleavened Bread. The meal was to remind us about how God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt with a Passover sacrifice. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could forget this experience. After we finished eating, we sat and waited. As the night grew darker, it was very quiet at first, and then around midnight, people began to cry out. I could hear women yelling about their babies not breathing or for their husbands to do something. I looked at Moses and hugged Gershom. “What’s happening?” I asked.
“The Lord has done what He said.” Moses replied as someone yelled outside our door.
“Moses, Pharoah requires your presence at once.” A group of soldiers stood just outside and waited until Moses appeared.
Moses touched my face and said, “Get ready it’s time to move.” He left.
I closed my eyes and drew in a deep breath. I was so afraid that Pharoah was going to have Moses executed all I could do was pace back and forth. I finally packed all the things Moses told me to gather earlier. I didn’t want to leave the house for fear that death lingered. Finally Moses came home and said, “It’s time to leave.”
We started out in the direction of Succoth toward the wilderness. There were over six hundred thousand of us along with our livestock. We stopped to set up camp at a place called Etham. As we were getting settled, I turned to look around and realized the magnitude of what was taking place. The Israelite people had been in Egypt for 430 years and now they were moving because my husband told them the Lord said so. I looked at Moses who was setting up our tent. I wondered what the Lord was going to do next. It didn’t take long for me to find out. When night fell, a large pillar of fire dropped from the sky. Even though the desert was cold, we were warm because of the huge fire provided by the Lord. When we were settled down to sleep Moses told me that he was sending me and our children to my father.
“Why can’t we go with you?” I asked.
“I would feel better if you were with your father at least until I know where we are going to settle. When we are settled, I will send for you. Please do this for me. I have so much on my mind, I don’t want to include wondering if you and our children are safe.”
I nodded, but I was afraid. I felt safe with Moses. He was right, though. So much was happening and the people were unpredictable. He did need to concentrate on his purpose.
The next morning, my children and I were loaded on donkeys and sent with escorts to Midian. Moses and his people started towards the Red Sea surrounded by a huge cloud of dust. I prayed that all would go well for them. I didn’t know where they were going or how long it would take for them to get there. But I did know they were very fortunate to have a God who protected them and they were blessed to have my husband as their leader. He wasn’t afraid to obey God and he wasn’t so proud that he couldn’t listen to advice from others.
I wondered what my role was in his quest to lead his people to their Promised Land. When I returned home to my family, I realized that I didn’t have to be in the middle of what Moses was doing. I just needed to be where he needed me the most. I decided that I would make sure our sons learn to recognize when God speaks and to obey when He does. God may not speak with words, He may use things like burning bushes, frogs, flies, bloody water, or pillars of fire. He is a creative God and He is very powerful. We should never underestimate His ability to deliver us from the things that would hinder our praise or steal our joy. Our God is Jehovah and there is no other god like Him. He hears our prayers and He answers them.
In honor of Ministry Appreciation Month, I selected a wife of a famous spiritual leader. Zipporah was only mentioned three in the book of Exodus (Chapters 2, 4 & 18), but she played a significant role in the deliverance of Israel. She was wise enough to know that God wanted their son circumcised. She obeyed God and saved her husband. He was healed and was able to play the role God had for him in the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt.
In honor of Ministry Appreciation Month, I say, “Bless you, Women of God, who are married to pastors, preachers, priests, evangelists, prophets, missionaries, and teachers. You are loved and appreciated as part of the ministry your spouses serve. May you find joy in your journey and may your children grow in wisdom, stature, and the fear of the Lord.
I pray that the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and that you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11