Bridegroom of Blood, I Will Slay Your Firstborn Son

2009 November 11

Filed in:

The Bible is a Book of Tales (Narrative Theology)

X Marks the Spot (Chiasms)


Exodus 4.21-26

Have you ever wondered about that three verse section in Exodus 4, the “bridegroom of blood” passage?  Have you secretly thought, “This sounds like an insertion into the text… it doesn’t belong!”?

I think the passage is put there as a companion of the three verse section before it, and it might be that they are both part of a larger chiastic structure.

But, if nothing else there is antithetical parallelism going on.

The passages are so short that I can post the whole thing here:

21And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son23and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'”


24At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.  (Ex 4.21-26, ESV)

In one way or another,

  • Moses has threatened Pharaoh with a dead child for the lack of following God’s command.
  • God has threatened Moses with death for lack of following God’s command for his child.

I am sure there is MORE in there to be ferreted out.