Winslow, Karen Strand
Dr. Karen Strand Winslow is Associate Professor at the Haggard School of Theology of Azusa Pacific University in southern California. Until 2004, she was Associate Professor of Religion and History and chair of Jewish and Christian Studies at Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois. In addition to biblical and Jewish studies, Dr. Winslow’s areas of research include women in religion and sociology of religion. She has also taught at Seattle Pacific University, University of Washington, and Fuller Theological Seminary.2005 0-7734-6032-2
This book “frames” the appearances of Moses’ wives in Israel’s story and in the interpretive literature of Jews and Christians. Their responses to the account of Zipporah and the Cushite in the Scriptures reveal their views on circumcision, exogamy, monogamy, and even chastity, for an exegetical motif emerged that Moses “withdrew” from his wife after he became a prophet for God.
Zipporah enters the script of Exodus as Moses’ wife, a foreign woman who performed the ritual that marked male Jews as God’s covenant partners and members of God’s people. Zipporah is one of three named circumcisers in the Jewish Scriptures, joining Abraham and Joshua. By circumcising her son, she made a way for the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Like Abraham, she took a knife to her son, not to slay him, but to save his – or his or his father’s – life. The Torah also mentions Moses’ marriage to a Cushite woman – another outsider, which the priestly and prophetic leadership of Israel – Miriam and Aaron – disparaged, but which the LORD affirmed. Like other outsiders in the Bible, Moses’ foreign wives are featured and celebrated to combat trends toward separatism and exclusivism that emerged among post-exilic Jews.
However, the early interpreters of the Scriptures were not concerned with the social dynamics of Persian period Yehud or the tensions between Second Temple scribes and redactors. Early Jews and Christian sages had their own agendas for Zipporah and the Cushite and used their stories to influence their constituencies regarding marriage, procreation and sexual renunciation, as well as circumcision and baptism. Thus, this project traces the exegetical trajectories of Jews and Christians along these lines.