According to Josephus, Moshe was a great military leader who lead in battle for Egypt when Egypt and Ethiopia was at war and Moshe married the Ethiopian Queen and had a child with her who became the next King of Ethiopia.

(Josephus antiquities ||, x)

Exodus 32:9-10, G-d speaks of destroying the children of Yisrael and making a greater nation from Moshe but Moshe interceded for them turning G-d's anger from them.

Is this true and if so, why isnt this mentioned in Torah?


2 Answers 2


Yalkut Shimoni Shemos 168 does indeed record the story of Moshe being appointed the King of Kush (Kush = modern Ethiopia) and leading them in war, and that he married the Kushite princess. However, the Yalkut Shimoni says explicitly that Moshe did not cohabit with her because she was a descendant of Cham, and Moshe remembered the vow that Avraham had Eliezer take to not marry his child off to a descendant of Canaan. Therefore, having a child with her would have been quite difficult.

A translation of the relevant segment of Yalkut Shimoni, courtesy of Gemini Man:

they placed him on the throne and placed the royal crown on his head, and also the Cushite noble woman (the wife of the previous dead king, as it mentions earlier) they gave to him for a wife. But Moshe feared the God of his forefathers and did not sleep with her, because he remembered the oath which Avraham made his servant Eliezer swear, saying: Do not take a wife for my son from the daughters of Canaan. And so too did Yitzchok when Yaakov fled because of Eisav - he commanded him and said to him: Do not marry from the descendants of Ham, because we remember that God gave the descendants of Ham as servants to the descendants of Shem and to the descendants of Yefes.

See it here, on the right side column.

  • Does that mean they did not consummate the marriage or just could not have children? Also is there any evidence to suggest that this is the reason that Moses was not made a Kohen? After all, one scenario would be that he apparently married a women who had children from a previous marriage--the future royalty of Ethiopia.
    – JJLL
    Sep 15, 2014 at 10:34
  • 1
    @JJLL "the Yalkut Shimoni says explicitly that Moshe did not cohabit with her"
    – msh210
    Sep 15, 2014 at 18:13
  • @JJLL A) why couldn't she have children afterwards, B) Who says there was no other princess of Ethiopia to produce the royal line C) what does marrying a woman with children have to do with being a Kohen? A Kohen can marry a widow. As to your first question, what msh said. Sep 15, 2014 at 18:23
  • great answer, very interesting, I thought that an event like that would be found in the Torah, perhaps Moshe did not find it relevant to input into The Torah?
    – eliyah
    Sep 15, 2014 at 23:13
  • @eliyah the Torah did not find anything from the time Moshe fled Egypt to the time he reached Midyan relevant. We only have midrashim about that time period. Sep 16, 2014 at 0:18

You have two questions regarding this tale.

  1. Is it true?
  2. If so, why isn't it mentioned in the Torah?

I will answer the second question first. This is indeed mentioned in the Torah. When Moshe names his son Gershom, he gives the following explanation [Shemot 2:22]:

וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן, וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ גֵּרְשֹׁם: כִּי אָמַר--גֵּר הָיִיתִי, בְּאֶרֶץ נָכְרִיָּה

And she bore a son, and he called his name Gershom; for he said: 'I have been a stranger in a strange land.'

This pasuk can also be translated as "... for he said: I have been a stranger in the land of a Nochriah [gentile woman].'"

The land of a gentile woman would mean that the monarch is a queen, rather than a king. How do we know which land, and that he married that woman? Another pasuk [Bemidbar 12:1] states that he had married a Cushite, that is, Ethiopian, woman:

וַתְּדַבֵּר מִרְיָם וְאַהֲרֹן בְּמֹשֶׁה, עַל-אֹדוֹת הָאִשָּׁה הַכֻּשִׁית אֲשֶׁר לָקָח: כִּי-אִשָּׁה כֻשִׁית, לָקָח.

And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman.

By putting two and two together, we get four, that this Ethiopian woman was the queen of Ethiopia, and Moshe had married her. Perhaps other details of the story come from other ambiguously phrased verses, or from logical deductions. For instance, Moshe's meteoric rise to power, from rags to riches, is based on the fact that he was at some point גֵּר הָיִיתִי, an unaccepted stranger, yet he eventually married the queen.

However, we must admit that this is not mentioned explicitly in the Torah, but only alluded to. Why?

This question has been asked before on Mi Yodea, why midrash is not in the Torah. For instance, here.

There are many possible answers. For instance, (a) it might be that the Torah is meant to be a multilayered document, with meaning on both the surface (peshat) level and the deeper (midrashic) level. And not everything can be on the surface, or the Torah would be a much longer text, without any deeper meaning to be dug out. (b) it might be that this was left out of the peshat narrative because it was not critical to the story. (c) it might be that this was some author, perhaps not even a member of Chazal, who filled the vacuum which was the missing years in Moshe's life, such that this story is not at all true. (d) it might be that Chazal intended this story homiletically, such that it is not historically true. Answers (c) and (d) would answer your first question in the negative.

Rashbam, a pashtan, considers this story of marrying the Kushite queen to be historical, as well as the primary peshat of that verse in Bemidbar mentioned above. For more, see my blogpost here.

  • @joshwaxman I thought the "Cushite woman" referred to Tziporah?
    – SAH
    May 14, 2018 at 21:43

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