Zipporah, Wife of Moses

Written by Marek Halter
Review by India Edghill

A foundling adopted by Jethro, High Priest of Midian, Zipporah is intelligent, beautiful, and black. Although she’s Jethro’s favorite daughter, Zipporah knows her black skin means she is undesirable as a wife in his tribe. Her dreams of a husband and children seem unattainable until a stranger named Moses wanders into her life. Moses is fleeing the wrath of Pharaoh and his own inner demons; he finds love and comfort in Zipporah’s arms, and she urges him to return to Egypt to free his enslaved people. When God speaks to Moses from a burning bush, it is Zipporah who ensures Moses does God’s bidding and returns to Egypt to fulfill his destiny.

Since I have a huge problem with this book that has nothing to do with its historical accuracy, I won’t do more than mention the unlikelihood of a woman being allowed to have two children by a man she refuses to marry until he confronts Pharaoh, or that the Egyptian army wasn’t equipped with iron swords at this time.

As those who’ve read my own books know, I’m not usually apt to complain that someone changed what was in the Bible to suit their novel. I’ve done it myself. But in this case, I must comment on the change Halter chose to make – making Zipporah a foundling out of Africa rather than one of Jethro’s biological daughters – because this book is the most amazing case of purblind racism I’ve ever run into.

Jethro’s descended from Abraham and his second wife, Keturah. Moses marries Zipporah and they have two sons. Halter draws on a long-standing tradition that Zipporah was black; fine. But he then makes her adopted, and her entire lineage dies out. This means that while Zipporah’s black, not to worry, folks, because she’s not descended from Abraham and her line is cut off entirely. So Halter has created a woman of wit, charm, strength, and admirable character, a woman anyone ought to be proud to call “ancestor” – and then made sure no one is descended from her. Halter wants to have his politically-correct cake without actually having to eat it.

I can’t believe the author did this, and it absolutely infuriated me.