Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband are you to me.
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Augustine of Hippo
If I had been a Jew in the times of the ancient people, when there was nothing better to be, I would surely have accepted circumcision. That “seal of the justice of the faith” had so much power at that time, before it was rendered void by the coming of the Lord, that the angel would have strangled the infant son of Moses if his mother had not taken up a stone and circumcised the child and thus by this sacrament warded off his imminent destruction. This sacrament even tamed the river Jordan and reduced it to a brook. The Lord himself received this sacrament after birth, although on the cross he made it void.
And this was made manifest by the message of an angel in the case of Moses’ son, for when he was carried by his mother, being yet uncircumcised, it was required, by manifest present peril, that he should be circumcised. And when this was done, the danger of death was removed. As therefore in Abraham the justification of faith came first and circumcision was added afterwards as the seal of faith, so in Cornelius the spiritual sanctification came first in the gift of the Holy Spirit. And the sacrament of regeneration was added afterward in the laver of baptism. .
At the place where they were spending the night, the Lord came upon Moses and wanted to kill him, because he had discontinued circumcision in Midian for one of his sons who had not been circumcised. From the day [the Lord] spoke with him on Horeb, he had not been united to his wife, who was distressed; and she was under judgment because she had not put full faith in his word. [Moses] blamed her for keeping his son from being circumcised. They spent the night [preoccupied] with these thoughts. Suddenly an angel appeared for both of these reasons, while seeming to appear only because of circumcision. [The angel] appeared to Moses in anger so that his departure [from Midian] would not be ridiculed because he had discontinued circumcision without necessity, while the Hebrews had not interrupted it in spite of the death of their children. Now whom should he have feared, God, who prescribed circumcision, or his wife, who had stood in the way of circumcision? When Moses’ wife saw that he was ...
Stone, like a flint. Such stones are very common in Egypt, and are used by the embalmers to open the side of the deceased. The Galli priests make themselves eunuchs without danger, by means of sharp stones. (Pliny, Natural History xxxv. 12.) Josue circumcises with the like, Josue v. But any instrument will suffice. (Calmet)
Sephora seized the first thing that came in her way, to save the life of her husband, with whom God was displeased for this neglect of complying with the law, whatever might be his pretext. It was not fit that he should be a legislator, who was not a pattern of obedience. (Tirinus)
Spouse. I have redeemed thee from destruction, by shedding the blood of my son; therefore, I will deem this a ratification of our marriage. Never forget our union, which costs me so much, and which has placed you in such imminent danger. The Hebrew mothers style their newly circumcised infants bloody spouses, in imitation of Sephora, who on this occasion perhaps addresses the words to E...
As regards Moses, it is clear that he would have been in peril at the inn, if Zipporah, which is by interpretation “a bird,” had not circumcised her son and cut off the foreskin of marriage with the knife which prefigured the gospel.