Moses & Zipporah had been married for almost 40 years by the time God sent him back to Egypt. His children were probably grown men (or else they were miraculously conceived), which puts a whole new twist on the family donkey ride across the desert interrupted by mom performing a late circumcising. But why did they continue to tag along with Mom instead of going on to Egypt with Dad? Surely it wasn’t just about their safety.
In Exodus 18:2-6, we’re told 3 times that Jethro cared for Moses’ family, bringing them to meet him in the wilderness. Then in 18:7-10, we’re told 3 times that God delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, with Moses leading them out to meet Him at Sinai. Clearly we are meant to see a parallel between Moses’ wife and sons leaving Midian to meet him and the Hebrews leaving Egypt to meet God.
- Moses brings Israel into the Wilderness to meet God at Sinai.
- Jethro brings Moses’ family into the Wilderness to meet Moses at Sinai.
- Moses and God greet one another on the mountain and speak privately in the tent.
- Jethro and Moses greet one another publicly and speak privately in the tent.
Jethro restoring Moses’ family to him at Sinai is a living metaphor of Moses restoring Israel to God at Sinai. Israel is God’s family.
One reason that Moses’ wife and sons (who were probably grown men) were separated from him was so that God could give us this metaphor of how he feels about us. We are God’s family and He wants us to leave Egypt and go out to meet with Him in the wilderness.