Friday, April 5, 2013

Moses's Divorce?

This issue is something that I came across when I was translating my Samaritan Pentateuch. Let's take a look see complete variants here):

Exodus 18:2
‎2 ‏וַיִּקַּ֗ח יִתְרוֹ֙ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת־צִפֹּרָ֖ה אֵ֣שֶׁת מֹשֶׁ֑ה אַחַ֖ר שִׁלּוּחֶֽיהָ׃ 
2 Then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back,

Here, a rare word (שלוחיה / shilucheyha) is used, which may mean "send her back", yet at the same time it can also mean "her divorces". Either way, this word is only used in a sense of divorce between husband and wife. Good examples can be found in Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8.

We know from Exodus 2:21 that Moses had a wife in Midian that bore him two sons. We also know that she went to Egypt with him (Exodus 4:20). We also know that she and her sons did not leave Egypt with the rest of the Hebrew during the Exodus (Exodus 18:5).

This means, that Moses had to divorce his wife either to protect her and her sons and also because she was Midian (Numbers 25:17-18).

Thus, we now know that Moses was not officially married roughly from the time of Exodus from Egypt until the events of Numbers 12:1, from which we learn that he finally remarried some time during the desert journey. And thus, Moses only had 1 wife (at a time), total of two.

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