12 Responses to “Bible Study: Moses’ Two Marriages and Two Fathers-in-Law?”

  1. Andrew says:

    John, there is another likelihood you seem to have passed over here, although the details of this aren’t exactly found in the Bible but through the writings and traditions of Josephus.

    Moses’ Ethiopian wife was his first wife, was actually an Ethiopian princess by the name of Tharbis that he essentially won as a “prize” while fighting in the Egyptian army. Quoting below:

    “However, while Moses was uneasy at the army’s lying idle, (for the enemies durst not come to a battle,) this accident happened: – Tharbis was the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians: she happened to see Moses as he led the army near the walls, and fought with great courage; and admiring the subtility of his undertakings, and believing him to be the author of the Egyptians’ success, when they had before despaired of recovering their liberty, and to be the occasion of the great danger the Ethiopians were in, when they had before boasted of their great achievements, she fell deeply in love with him; and upon the prevalency of that passion, sent to him the most faithful of all her servants to discourse with him about their marriage. He thereupon accepted the offer, on condition she would procure the delivering up of the city; and gave her the assurance of an oath to take her to his wife; and that when he had once taken possession of the city, he would not break his oath to her. No sooner was the agreement made, but it took effect immediately; and when Moses had cut off the Ethiopians, he gave thanks to God, and consummated his marriage, and led the Egyptians back to their own land.” (Antiquities of the Jews, book 2, chapter 10, paragraph 2)

    (source of copy: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/The_Bible_shows_that_Moses'_wife_was_Ethiopian_or_Cush_so_was_she_black_or_semitic_white )

  2. Andrew says:

    I should follow up and say that since this is tradition, I don’t take it as completely accurate or what happened. But it is a possibility of how this all occurred and something left out of your analysis in either case.

    • John D says:

      @Andrew: Actually, it was “left out” intentionally, and I freely admit doing so because I just don’t buy it. However, it is still more likely than Zipporah also being the Ethiopian, which still involves a lot of word play (i.e., twisting).

      The problem I have with Josephus’ account is that it requires the Ethiopian woman to have been left abandoned in Egypt after he left. That would have counted as a divorce by abandonment, and she most likely would have been returned to her father’s house and country.

      40 years is a long time. I cannot see her sitting in either place pining away and not remarrying.

      • John D says:

        Oh, and I forgot that it would still be a mixed marriage even if that were true. :) Yet, God never said anything against Moses, yet again, still. :)

  3. Andrew says:

    He decidedly didn’t. And yet I’ve heard people cite the grumbling and situation that came about there as proof you shouldn’t. And yet they are usually surprised when they find out that Moses actually didn’t get in trouble. Only Miriam and Aaron for their grumbling against him.

    But people get really hung up on the mixed marriages thing. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “Noah was ‘pure’ in his generations in that he came from pure genetic stock and no mixing of races” as a reason to say that mixed marriages were sinful.

    • John D says:

      It was extra-biblical nonsense like Noah’s supposed lineage that helped drive me away from WCG as a teen. In fact, that was so puzzling to me that I knew on the day that I first heard it that I didn’t want to be there any longer.

      I found it especially hypocritical because even if it was true, it still means that two of his sons had mixed marriages, and God used them to repopulate the world. If it were a sin, surely He would have found another way.

  4. Big Red Big Red says:

    Ah, the old conundrum about Noah being perfect in his generations. The Hebrew can be taken figuratively or literally. Some have a problem with the figurative interpretation, because Jesus Christ was only person who was ever “perfect” (without spot). Others have a problem with the literal interpretation of it referring to racial purity, however, because there are examples of interracial marriage in the Bible.

    I read an alternative explanation for this verse. It runs something like this: “Perfect in his generations” does refer to physical lineage or pedigree, but it has nothing to do with ‘racial purity.’ Instead, it refers to genetic disorders or conditions that can be passed down through the generations – such as spinal bifuda, or what have you.

    The skeptic in me says, “yeah, but we have genetic disorders today.” The alternative explanation replies, “you start engaging in weird stuff that God forbids, of course genetic disorders will return.”

    I’m not sure what position to take about this alternative explanation, but I do find it intriguing, so I thought that I would pass it along.

    • John D says:

      @Big Red: Actually, it does not mean perfect in lineage. There are two words for “generations” used in Ge 6:9. The first definitely means lineage or better “genealogy”. The second means contemporaries or at that period of time. Therefore, Noah was perfect among his peers. S. Church of the Great God article “‘Perfect In His Generations’“.

  5. Andrew says:

    Also the word for perfect can simply mean upright, among many other things according to Strong’s. So perfect is not the literal word intended there I would say.

    • John D says:

      @Andrew: True. I would expect that if it were physical, it would say “without blemish”, much as is in used in the sacrifices.

  6. Big Red Big Red says:

    Okay guys, I wasn’t trying to promote the alternative explanation; I was just throwing it out there, because I did find it a interesting take. (By the way, I think that Strong’s concordance does include the meaning “without spot” in its definition of the Hebrew word for “perfect” in this verse. I’ll double check).

    Anyway, the subject is one of those twig arguments that people get too hung up on.

    • John D says:

      Yeah, a twig, but it’s one that certain “Christian” groups nurture and allow it to grow bigger than the trunk. It’s one of the main excuses for opponents of the Church to dismiss a very valuable key to prophecy. It gives the appearance of God being a respecter of persons.

      Most of all, I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to step back and ask, “Yeah, but a twig of which tree?”