The words of Exodus 4:24 have long been a source of concern to most Bible students, because what both the Hebrew and Greek texts appear to say that an angel wanted to kill ‘him’ at an inn. Since the person mentioned in the preceding verse was Moses, we could logically conclude that he was the person that the angel was planning to kill.
Yet this scenario is illogical, because God had just commissioned Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that His people be set free. So, why would a messenger from God try to thwart God’s plans?
However, the problem may just be that we’re reading it through modern eyes. The ‘him’ spoken of in the verse doesn’t have to be Moses, because writers of these ancient languages frequently use personal pronouns, such as ‘him,’ without saying exacty who they mean. That’s why you’ll sometimes see names in translation insertion brackets [ ] in this translation, to clarify who is (probably) being referred to.
In this case, the next male spoken of in connection with this event is Moses’ son. We read that his mother apparently saved his life by circumcising him on the spot. This was important because God’s instructions to AbraHam were that all of his male descendants were to be circumcised, and since this hadn’t been done, by law he was to be put to death (see Genesis 17:14).
So it seems likely that the ‘him’ who was in danger of being killed by God’s messenger was Moses’ son, not Moses.
Why hadn’t Moses circumcised his son? We don’t know, but the fact that his mother circumcised him may indicate that she was the one to blame… and she knew it. Remember that her father is described as being ‘the priest of Midian.’ Thus he could have been a priest to a pagan god. And if so, this may be why she opposed the circumcision of her son.
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