by Fr. John A. Peck
There is a powerful allegory happening here. So, let’s look at the scene.
The Angel of the Lord appears at an Inn, specifically bringing death to his servant Moses (whom, by the way, He has just sent to proclaim His Word to Pharaoh). The implication here is that unless something changes/happens to change Moses, he will die before he can complete his mission.
Sephora, Moses’ wife, takes a sharp stone, circumcises her first born son, and throws the remains of the foreskin onto Moses, proclaiming
“The blood of the circumcision of my son is staunched (ceased/stopped)”
This evidently satisfies the Lord. The Angel of the Lord departs the inn, and the Lord tells Aaron to meet Moses, after which they go on their mission and fulfill the will of the Lord.
First, it takes place at an Inn. Other allegories in Scripture take place at an Inn (the Good Samaritan, for example). The Inn (or lodging place, in some translations), represents the Church.
Second, we have Moses. The fathers tell us that because Moses name means ‘drawn from the water‘ he, Moses himself, represents the life of every Christian, as every Christian is born again through the waters of baptism. This is the chosen soul.
Third, we have Sephora. While her name is rendered Zipporah in Masoretic translated Bibles, but the Septuagint calls her Sephora, and therefore so shall we.
The name Sephora appears elsewhere in Exodus, at the very beginning. She is one of the two midwives who fear God and refuse Pharaoh’s command to slay newborn male Hebrew children. The fathers say that Sephora and Phua represent the Old and New Testaments. Phua, whose name means ‘blushing‘ represents the new, as red is the color of Christ’s blood, and humility is the virtue of the Christian. Sephora, whose name means ‘bird‘ from the word for chirping, represents the Old Testament, who sings the praises of the God of heaven.
Fourth, circumcision is a ritual act on inclusion into the Covenant. This is the first, and only, time in Scripture in which a woman performs a ritual act. That alone should tell us to pay attention as something significant, and symbolic, is happening here.
Some say the reason God came to kill Moses was because of the covenant He made with Abraham.
“‘He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.'” (Genesis 17:10-14)
So, we have an Inn (the Church), and a woman (representing the Old Testament) who performs a Covenantal act (circumcision), on her first born son (indicative of another first born son?).
The blood of the son (who is part of the Covenant) is applied to the chosen soul (who is not part of the Covenant, as he has still not be circumcised – representing the Christian soul), and is now included in the Covenant, and is not cut off from the people of God. They are one.
Why “the blood… is staunched”? Because there is one shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins.
It is the blood of Christ (who was circumsised, and part of the Covenant) which is represented by the blood of the Old Testament circumcision, and its application to Moses (the Christian Soul, not circumcised, but to which the Blood of Christ has been ‘applied’ and is sufficient!) pleases God, Who then sends Aaron, his brother, to him so that they may journey to Egypt (a land of Gentiles) and proclaim the Word of the Most High God, to set the souls of the people free.
And where does an uncircumsized Gentile go for inclusion into the Covenant with Christ’s blood? The Church! We, the uncircumcized Gentiles are ushered into the new and everlasting Covenant because the blood of Christ has been ‘applied’ to us. And God is satisfied.
This is a powerful allegory, and especially so for Christians.
In fact, this passage from the Bible only makes sense from a Christian perspective.