Moses Zipporah Jethro

Zipporah (Hebrew for "little bird") was apparently a nic name that Moses gave his Kushite wife. Her father or "guardian" Jethro was a high priest (or prince). Jethros Hebrew title Reu'el means "a friend of God". Jethro is said to be a descendant of Midia and Kenia. This mention of his multiple "lineages" has confused many to belive that Jethro hailed from "over seas" and over the desert even though bible clearly states Jethro and Zippora were descendants of the Kenʹite aka Kush (descendants of Cain ie. Kenia'tes/Kanites/Caʹnaan·ites) - Numbers 12:1, Judges 1:16. Exodus never mentions that Moses did a desert crossing not to mention crossing Nile or Red Sea to reach Zippora's home. This seems to be urban legend concocted to support the idea that Media existed in Saudi Arabia.

Kush was an ancient kingdom in Nubia, located at the southern Nile Valley. To control commerce on Nile the Egyptians pressed south into Kush. Many centuries caravans from the south supplied Egypt with exotic treasures while adopting their religion and paying customs to their Egyptian rulers. Such caravans offered easy escape to south from Egypt. Genesis lists Afrik a dark skinned descendant of Midia who gives his name to Africa! These families were spread far and wide and should not be confused with locations. In this context both Kenʹite and Midia clearly refer to family lineage while Kush refers to kingdom, language and location. "Kush" was also the language that Moses spoke 40 years after escaping Egypt to the Kingdom of Kush. The native name of the Kushite Kingdom was recorded in Egyptian as k3š, likely pronounced kuɫuʃ or kuʔuʃ in Middle Egyptian when the term was first used for Nubia, based on the New Kingdom-era Akkadian transliteration as the genitive kūsi. Meroitic is an extinct language also referred to some as Kushite after the apparent attested endoethnonym Meroitic qes, qos (transcribed in Egyptian as kꜣš).

Nubia aka Kush

Understandably Moses did not wish to leave his family home near Horʹeb and return to Egypt where he was wanted for murder to "speak" to people who had rejected his help. After Moses (and Aaron) returned to Egypt from Kush (ref. burning bush where Jehovah tells Moses his brother is coming to see him) Aaron and Miriam harshly criticize Moses' marriage to a Kushite woman. Having spent the first 40 years of his life speaking middle-egypt in Pharao's court and the next 40 years speaking kush with his family - Moses barely spoke Hebrew (the slave tongue). This explains why he said he was not a "fluent speaker" when refering to the God of "their" forefathers ie. the "Hebrews" - Exodus 4:10-14.

"He will speak for you to the people, and he will be your spokesman, and you will serve as God to him."

The Book of Genesis identifies the nations of Africa as descendants of Ham (son of Noah.) The Midianites themselves were a dark-skinned people often called Kushim (the Hebrew word used to describe dark skinned Africans.) Interestingly this would put the burning bush (at mount Horʹeb) in Africa somewhere in Sudan (probably not as far as current Kenia.) (Exodus chapter 3:1.) This explains why - at first - Moses and Aaron were retracing their path and leading Jews back to south towards Kush and mount Horʹeb where the "mission" to save Jehovah's people started (and towards his home and safety) rather than east towards the promised land. It was only later that Jehovah God reminded them of His "promise" and diverted them east accross the Red Sea towards wildernes of Sinai. Perhaps because of this many believe that Moses went to Jethro to mount Horʹeb but bible clearly states that Jethro went to Moses to unspecified mountain (Horʹeb or Sinai?) apparently in an effort to reunite Moses with his family whom the Jews had rejected because of their skin color and different customs. (See recurring argument about circumcision). Exodus 4:24-26, 18:1-5.

"So Jethʹro, Moses’ father-in-law, along with Moses’ sons and his wife, came to Moses into the wilderness where he was camping at the mountain of the true God."

"And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on account of the Ethiopian woman whom Moses had taken, because he had taken an Ethiopian woman."

This interpretation was also adopted by the medieval commentator, Rashbam. Already in the Second Temple period, a backstory was created in order to explain when and why Moses married this woman. Josephus (Ant. 2:252-253) offers one version of this fantastical tale, which begins with Moses in his early years as an Egyptian prince (before he killed the Egyptian taskmaster and went into exile), leading the Egyptian army in a battle against the Ethiopians:

--- 252 Tharbis was the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians. Observing Moses leading his army near the walls and fighting courageously, marveling at the inventiveness of his undertakings and believing that for the Egyptians who had earlier despaired of their freedom he was responsible for their success, while for the Ethiopians who had prided themselves on their successes against them, he was responsible for their danger in the extreme, she fell madly in love with him. When passion got the better of her, she sent to him the most trustworthy of her servants to enter into discussion about marriage.

--- 253 When he accepted the proposal on condition of her surrendering the city and gave pledges on oath, indeed, that he would take her as a wife and that, having conquered the city, he would not transgress the agreement, the deed anticipated the words. After the annihilation of the Ethiopians, giving thanks to God, Moses contracted the marriage and led the Egyptians back to their land. Josephus did not make up the story of Moses’ escapades in Ethiopia, since part of it (the campaign against Ethiopia) already appears in the work of the second-century B.C.E. Hellenistic Jewish writer Artapanus. It was likely a Judean legend popular among Hellenized Jews in the diaspora.

Biblical text returns to this theme in the life of Solomon with the visit of the Queen of Sheba which is also understood to be Ethiopia or Kush which would possibly make her a royal descendant of Moses and Zippora (aka Princes Tharbis) either trough Gershom or Eliezer. Haile Selassie was the last King of Ethiopia. Amazingly, this royal lineage was founded on the understanding that they were the decedents of the House of Solomon.

But, the real oddity that this seemingly oddball story explains is, “Why did Moses undertake to organize Israel as an army?” Jethro is credited for suggesting a military “style” structure for delegating the work of justice for the people, but the text clearly envisions and organizes the people into martial movements troop by troop. This was clearly unsuited to this group of people, former slaves who were accompanied by their families, herds and all of their possessions. And, the first military engagement this group faced was an abysmal route. So why do this? Because, perhaps, this is what Moses knew. A general deals with this problem in a certain way, and this seems to be training that Moses has. This military organization sets up the problems this community will face, and eventually cause. The rag-tag group of the first generation gave way to a real army developed by Moses and given to Joshua to conquer the land rather than to simply enter it as missionaries and the outcome is not at all as promised. Then again people respond poorly when “millions” of folks show up on the doorstep so a military formation isn’t completely wrongheaded.

This pattern of facts is also reinforced by genetic studies of African populations claiming Jewish ancestry.

So where is Mount Horeb (Hebrew: חֹרֵב Hor'eb) the "mountain of the true God" at which the Bible states that Moses saw the burning bush (often mixed with Mount Sinai where Moses recived the 10 commandments both of which many belive to be volcanic mountains? Nobody seems to know. There are no active or inactive volcanoes in Siʹnai peninsula but there are several in Sudan and Saudi Arabia so logic dictates these to be the probable locations for these holy mountains.)

There is also no consensus as to the meaning of Mount Sinai (Hebrew: הַר סִינַי‬, Har'Siʹnai) or where it was located. The Protestant reformer John Calvin took the view that Sinai and Horʹeb were the same mountain, with the eastern side of the mountain being called Sinai and the western side being called Horʹeb. Abraham Ibn Ezra suggested that there was one mountain, "only it had two tops, which bore these different names". Hebrew Bible texts describe the theophany at Mount Siʹnai in terms which a minority of scholars, following Charles Beke (1873), have suggested may literally describe the mountain as a volcano.

Mount Siʹnai smoked all over, because Jehovah came down upon it in fire and its smoke was rising like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain was trembling violently. As the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and the voice of the true God answered him. - Exodus 19:18-19

How ever in 1 Kings 19:8, Elijah's visit to Horʹeb gives us a clue to the approximate location if we assume that he walked 50 km per day on average. His trip took him 40 days (2000 km) That would put Hor'eb's location somewhere near Khartoum Sudan.

While unpopular among the Jews this "Kushite theory" would explain many things that confuse people.

  • The near constant confusion people have with mount Horʹeb, the stone of Hor'eb and mount Siʹnai.
  • The need for elaborate explanations for the phrase "40 days and 40 nights" ie. why it took Elijah as long as 40 days to walk to Horʹeb since it only takes 11 days to walk to Siʹnai from Jerusalem. (1. Kings 19)
  • It explains the harsh criticism by Aaron and Miriam. Moses married a black woman and had two black sons.
  • It also explains why Moses somehow appeared to cross Red Sea when taking his sheep out to pasture. Midian is usually thought to be east of Gulf of Agaba (Red Sea) while mount Horʹeb is usually thought to be west over the Red Sea in the middle of Sinai peninsula. How far did Moses take his sheep to graze? Almost 200km over the sea and desert? Not likely. The location of "the Midian Priest" and Horeb makes no sense in that context.
  • It removes the need to concoct elaborate stories why Moses would have traveled so far just to graze the sheep.
  • It also explains why the "Exodus" originally headed south instead of east.
  • It removes the "need" to invent a second wife (Tharbis in Kush) for Moses. One in Midia and one in Kush.
  • The traditional Aramaic translation of the Torah from Rabbinic times, Targum Onkelos (ad loc.), who understands “Kushite” to mean beautiful (and thus a reference to Zipporah) suggesting that Miriam and Aaron were upset about their separation not her color or customs. This seems odd considering it was Aaron who escorted Moses back to Egypt. Zipporah and their sons only turned back halfway trough the journey. Perhaps there was more than one argument recurring on the journey?

It's more likely that the burning bush was located near some active volcano near or in Southern Nile Valley (Kush). (The word mountain in the Hebrew is har - Hor'Eb aka mountain of Eb.) "Eb" might simply mean "holy" in Kush language. That would explain the "holy" stone near the "mountain" that Moses struck to get water. Remember that Moses stayed with the Kushite people 40 years after his escape from Egypt where he spent the first 40 years of his life. Middle-egypt was his "mother" tongue (even though Miram probably tried to teach him Hebrew) and he probably spoke Kus better than Hebrew so the eventual translation problems with Kush/Meroitic "names" in now an extinct language make more sense than trying to figure out why Hor'Eb and Har'Siʹnai seem to constantly change places in Torah. According to the documentary hypothesis, the name Siʹnai is used in the Torah only by the Jahwist (people like Jesus who insist on using Gods personal name) and Priestly Source, whereas Horʹeb is used only by the Elohist and Deuteronomist (people like Pharisees and Sadducees who refuse to use Gods personal name). It is interesting to note that originally name Sadducees (Heb. sōperêm, writers) was used merely of clerks whose function was to copy royal and sacred manuscripts. This huge difference of translation styles between these two groups would also imply a translation problem rather than logical contradiction in the use of "holy" names.



The "name" Horʹeb first occurs at Exodus 3:1, with the story of Moses and the burning bush. According to Exodus 3:5, the ground of the mountain was considered holy, and Moses was commanded by God to remove his sandals.

Exodus 17:6 describes the incident when the Israelites were in the wilderness without water. When Moses was "upon the rock at Horʹeb", he strikes the rock and obtains drinking water from the rock. Exodus 17:7 goes on to say that Moses "called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, 'Is the Lord among us or not?'”

In Deuteronomy, Horʹeb is mentioned several times in the account of the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness: Deuteronomy 1:2, 1:6, and 1:19. Moses recalled in Deuteronomy 1:6 that God had said to the Israelites at Horʹeb, "You have dwelt long enough at this mountain: turn and take your journey", confirming that Mount Horʹeb was the location from which they set off towards Caʹnaan·ites. Exodus 33:2.

The account of the delivery to Moses of the Ten Commandments, and references back to it, include mentions of Horʹeb at Deuteronomy 4:10, 4:15, 5:2,9:8, 18:16 and 28:69. There are similar references at Psalms 106:19 and Malachi 4:4.

Deuteronomy 5:2 is confusing on many levels because it clearly states that the people to whom Moses was speaking had been present at Mount Horʹeb when Moses descended with the commandments. This speech indicates this happened before Jehovah destroyed that generation at the desert - so many believe Moses was speaking figuratively and that this actually refers to nation of Israel rather than it's individuals. This text would also indicate that Hor'Eb and Sinai are the same mountain as many believe. Whether Mount Sinai is also called Hor'Eb is unknown.

1 Kings 8:9 and 2 Chronicles 5:10 state that the Ark of the Covenant contained only the tablets delivered to Moses at Horʹeb. In 1 Kings 19:8, Elijah visits "Horʹeb - the mount of God".

There are no references to Horʹeb in the New Testament. In Galatians 4:24–25, Mount Sinai is mentioned: "… One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children." Mount Sinai/Horʹeb is alluded to in Hebrews 12:18-21.


List of volcanoes in Saudi Arabia
List of volcanoes in Sudan

List of places on the map

Commonly assumed path of Exodus!

Ref. Place | - - - - - - Biblical reference - - - - - - | - - - - Description - - - - | - - Modern location

  1. Raamses - - - - - - Ex. 12:37; Nu. 33:3,5 - - | - - The Raamses district was of the highest quality land in Egypt (Ge. 47:11) - - | - - Uncertain although it has been argued that it was Pi-Ramesses
  2. Sukkoth - - - - - - Ex. 12:37, 13:20; Nu. 33:5-6 - - | - - An Egyptian city near the border - - | - - Tjeku (Zuko), Tell el-Maskhuta (Pithom)
  3. Etham - - - - - - - Ex. 13:20; Nu. 33:6-8 - - | - - "On the edge of the wilderness" Ismailia?
  4. Pi-Hahiroth - - - - Ex. 14:2-3; Nu. 33:7-8 - - | - - Lit. Mouth of the Gorges, "between Migdol and the sea, opposite Ba'al-Zephon" - - | - - ("the Bay of Hiroth?") "Near the Red Sea."
  5. Marah - - - - - - - - - Ex. 15:23; Nu. 33:8-9 - - | - - Lit. 'bitterness' - - | - - 30 kilometres north of As Suways (the port of Suez)?
  6. Elim - - - - - - - - - - Ex. 15:27, 16:1; Nu. 33:9-10 - - | - - Had 12 wells and 70 palm trees ?
  7. By the Red Sea - - - - Nu. 33:10-11 - - | - - Near Gulf of Suez
  8. Sin Wilderness - - - - Ex. 16:1, 17:1; Nu. 33:11-12 - - | - - God supplies quail and manna, "Between Elim and Sinai"
  9. Dophkah - - - - - - - Nu. 33:12-13
  10. Alush - - - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:13-14
  11. Rephidim - - - - - - - - - Ex. 17:1, 19:2; Nu. 33:14-15 - - | - - God commands Moses to strike a "Rock of Horeb", water gushes forth to alleviate thirst. ?
  12. Sinai Wilderness - - Ex. 19:1-2; Nu. 10:12, 33:15-16 - - | - - Near Mount Sinai
  13. Kibroth-Hattaavah - - Nu. 11:35, 33:16-17 - - | - - Lit. Graves of Longing or Graves of Lust - -
  14. Hazeroth - - - - - - - - - Nu. 11:35, 12:16, 33:17-18
  15. Rithmah - - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:18-19
  16. Rimmon-Perez- - - - - Nu. 33:19-20
  17. Libnah - - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:20-21
  18. Rissah - - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:21-22
  19. Kehelathah - - - - - - - Nu. 33:22-23
  20. Mount Shapher - - - - Nu. 33:23-24
  21. Haradah - - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:24-25
  22. Makheloth - - - - - Nu. 33:25-26
  23. Tahath - - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:26-27
  24. Tarah - - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:27-28
  25. Mithcah - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:28-29
  26. Hashmonah - - - - - - Nu. 33:29-30
  27. Moseroth - - - - - - - Nu. 33:30-31
  28. Bene-Jaakan - - - - - Nu. 33:31-32
  29. Hor Haggidgad - - - - - Nu. 33:32-33
  30. Jotbathah - - - - - - - Nu. 33:33-34
  31. Abronah - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:34-35
  32. Ezion-Geber - - - - - Nu. 33:35-36 - - | - - Near northern tip of Gulf of Aqaba
  33. Kadesh - - - - - - - - Nu. 20:1,22, 33:36-37 - - | - - Located in the Wilderness of Zin; Miriam's burial place Probably Ain el Qadeis
  34. Mount Hor - - - - - Nu. 20:22, 21:4, 33:37-41 - - | - - On the Edomite border; Aaron's burial place
  35. Zalmonah - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:41-42
  36. Punon - - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:42-43
  37. Oboth - - - - - - - - Nu. 21:10-11, 33:43-44
  38. Abarim Ruins - - - - - Nu. 21:11, 33:44-45
  39. Dibon Gad - - - - - - - - Nu. 33:45-46
  40. Almon Diblathaim - - - - - Nu. 33:46-47
  41. Abarim Mountains - - - - - Nu. 33:47-48 - - | - - Israelites encamped beneath Mount Nebo - -
  42. Moab Plains - - - - - - - - Nu. 22:1, 33:48-50 - - | - - Israelites encamped on the Jordan River from Beith Hayishimoth to Aveil Hashittim Occupied most of the Trans-Jordan region

    Wanderings in the desert map