Historical Fiction · Review

Zipporah, Wife of Moses by Marek Halter

Zipporah, Wife of Moses was written by Marek Halter. It is not part of a series. This is the synopsis on the back of the book:

In the time of the Pharaoh, an infant is rescued from the banks of the Red Sea. She is named Zipporah, “the little bird.” Although she is a Cushite by birth – one of the black people of the lands to the south – she is taken in by Jethro, high priest of the Midianites, who live on the Arabian peninsula. Jethro the sage adores his adopted daughter, and she is an honored member of his family. But the darkness of Zipporah’s skin sets her apart: she will be an outsider, and the men of her adopted tribe will not want her as a wife.

But one day, Zipporah’s destiny changes forever. While drawing water at a well, she meets an extraordinary and mysterious young man. Like her, he is an outsider, a foreigner. His name is Moses. A Hebrew raised in the house of the Pharaoh, he is a fugitive, forced to flee his homeland after murdering a man. Exhausted and tormented by guilt, Moses seeks shelter with the Midianites. Zipporah knows almost immediately that this man will be the husband and partner she never though she would have.

At first Moses wants nothing more than a peaceful life in Midian, content in his role as Zipporah’s lover. But Zipporah will not let Moses forget his past or turn away from what she believes to be his true destiny. Although he is the father of her children, Zipporah refuses to marry Moses until he agrees to return to Egypt to free his people. When God reveals himself to Moses in the burning bush, his words echo Zipporah’s, and Moses goes back to Egypt with Zipporah by his side. A passionate lover and a thoughtful wife, Zipporah becomes Moses’ strongest ally. With the help of her powerful father, she teaches the rebellious young man about the force of justice and the power of destiny.

This is the only book I’ve seen that gives Zipporah’s perspective. It is pretty accurate, biblically. The author also seems to be keeping up with what’s in the Book of Mormon, but that is only judging from one of the quotes at the very beginning of the book (it clearly says that it’s from the Book of Mormon).

Zipporah clearly has a strained relationship with her envious sister, Orma. Sefoba is the nicer sister, but sometimes is at odds with Zipporah. I also like that Zipporah is strong-willed, wise, and loving. I’m surprised that she was willing to have two children outside of marriage. She avoided marrying Moses because he was refusing to go rescue the Hebrew slaves. I was happy for them when Zipporah finally did marry him. It’s weird when Zipporah calls herself his “bride of blood” after she circumcises their son. Also, why does Moses never have to be circumcised?

I know that Jethro is Hebrew and so are her sisters. We’re not sure whether Zipporah is Hebrew because she was adopted by Jethro. I want to know why they don’t seem to be worshipping the Hebrew God (Yahweh). They keep worshipping this God named Horeb. After Moses has his revelation, Jethro acts as if this is who he has been worshipping the whole time.

It really surprised me how hateful Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ siblings, were toward Zipporah. I know that they dislike the Cushites, but she is Moses’ wife! They drive her out of Egypt. What’s really hurtful is that shortly after she leaves, God talks to Moses again. After the Hebrews are brought out of Egypt, they are still full of contempt for Zipporah. When they are afraid they trample her sons to death (on accident). After she is killed by her sister, Orma, they are willing to go to war with the Midianites over it. That is so hypocritical! You either like her or you don’t.

It kind of bothers me that Moses was urged to go up the mountain by Jethro to make some laws. The Commandments weren’t really divinely stated in this novel. I do like that Moses realizes that the adult Hebrews still have the slave mindset, so he has to break the news that it will be their children who will reach the land of milk and honey because the kids won’t have the slave mindset.

It was a very good and entertaining book. Some may dislike some of the sex scenes (there are a handful of them), but it’s not really that graphic or detailed. I’m glad to have read it, but I think it could have been better. Zipporah was a strong character, but Moses had a lot of weak moments. I recommend it to anyone who likes Christian/Jewish fiction, specifically when it comes straight out of Bible stories.

Genres: Christian Fiction, Jewish Fiction, Folklore, Mythology

Stars (out of 5): ****


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