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Monday, May 08, 2006

Book Review: Zipporah, Wife of Moses: A Novel

In the Bible, Zipporah, the wife of Moses, is barely mentioned. Her father Jethro and her Midian family is discussed a lot, but you can come across her name infrequently. In fact, in some of the few parts, she isn't even mentioned by name. She is referred to as "the Cushite," which has been interpreted as her being Ethiopian or her simply being foreign.

Now, Marek Halter has given her a voice in his novel Zipporah, Wife of Moses.

In the book, Zipporah is the adopted daughter of Jethro. While she is accepted in the Midian society, she still feels set apart because of the color of her skin. While out tending sheep with her sisters, she is attacked by three young men from an enemy village. She is saved though, by a mysterious stranger who identifies himself as "Moses." Thus begins the story of how Zipporah and Moses meet...most of which is definitely NOT mentioned in Biblical texts. Let's just say Moses and Zipporah did a lot of "knowing."

While the plotline pretty much follows the plotline of Moses, Halter shows the story entirely through Zipporah's eyes...even embellishing a little. He makes her the reason why Moses went back to Egypt to save his people. But more importantly, Halter emphasizes that even though Moses' love for Zipporah was colorblind, the rest of the world saw her as different, as an outsider. She inspired Moses to fight against Pharoah and for the Hebrew people, yet her words are ignored by Moses' followers and she is eventually banished physically and emotionally to her death.

Well, that's how the novel goes at any rate. Halter dedicates the book as a "humble tomb" to Zipporah's memory.

Zipporah, Wife of Moses is the second book in Halter's "Canaan Trilogy." The first book in the series is Sarah and the third book Lilah will be released on June 27th. The book itself is a quick but good read. It flows well and keeps the reader engaged, even if it isn't factual. (Though, isn't the Bible just a bunch of novels too?) So if you can forgive the author for stretching the story a bit, then I definitely recommend it as a good summer read.


  • At 5:36 AM, Blogger El Keter ben Tzadik said…

    Actually, there's no evidence to indicate that the "Cushite" woman whome Moshe's family speaks out against is Zipporah. Zipporah's family were most likely Kenites ( a pre-historic tribe who somehow became melded with the Israelite tribe of Judah ) who were for some reason operating as a priestly class amongst the Midianites during the Israelite bondage in Egypt. There's some evidence to suggest that there continued to be a tradition of members of this Judahite sub-clan marrying members of the tribe of Levi up until the time of the Roman occupation. The "Cushite" woman is likely an actual Cushite whome Moshe may have married during a military campaign to Cush while a "prince of Egypt." There's some Egyptian historical record to indicate that this may in fact be the case, but it's a contentious subject.

  • At 5:40 AM, Blogger El Keter ben Tzadik said…

    Oh, and for the record, I hate these Biblical dramas like this joint and that 'Red Tent' claptrap.


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