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Zippora ( Hebrew צִפֹּרָה ṣipporāh , "(female) bird") is a biblical figure. She is the daughter of the priest Jitro (or Reguel or Hobab) of Midian and became the wife of Moses .

Zipporah had two sons with Moses, Gerschom and the younger Eliéser (“my God is help”). When Moses was struck down by an apparition of God, Zippora saved his life by circumcising her previously uncircumcised son Gershom and then touching Moses with the bloody foreskin ( Ex 4 : 24–25  EU ). It is unclear whether Zippora is identical with the Cushitic wife of Moses mentioned in Numbers or whether Moses took a second wife. Since Martin Luther always translated Kush with Mohr in his translation of the Bible , it was long discussed whether Zippora might have been dark-skinned.

Zippora in literature

Zippora, section from a fresco by Botticelli on the south wall of the Sistine Chapel

With Moses und Zipora , a “heavenly-earthly idyll in twelve songs” (1874), Josef Viktor Widmann was the first author to dedicate an entire work to the Zippora motif - and at the same time caused a scandal: his thesis, which was both elegant and benevolent and ironic That only years of indulging in sensual love gave Moses the strength for his deeds as a tribal leader was a century ahead of his time.

In Marcel Proust's Eine Liebe Swanns , the protagonist's love for Odette de Crécy awakens when he notices that her face is similar to that of Sandro Botticelli's Zippora portrayal :

"[...] Swann suddenly noticed that she was strikingly like the figure of Sephora [sic!], Jethro's daughter on one of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel."

In the poem The Egyptian Plagues: The Wounds of Moses by the Albanian poet Ridvan Dibra , Zippora is the focus. The poem ends with the words: "It is beautiful and difficult to be a prophet wife / My Zippora".

In 2003/04, the French writer Marek Halter published a trilogy of historical novels about female characters in the Bible: Sarah , Tsippora and Lilah .

Feridun Zaimoglu dedicated the first chapter of his novel Die Geschichte der Frau (Cologne 2019) to Zippora .


The real name of the Jewish dancer Tatjana Barbakoff , who comes from Aizpute in Courland , is Tsipora Edelberg .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time , Volume 1: On the Way to Swann, Part Two : A Love Swann . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1994, p. 324.