This bothers me a lot, and I would like to understand Moses' approach to his family as the Torah describes it:

  1. Moses marries Tzipora (which seemingly converts) in Midyan and has two sons (that are seemingly Jews)

  2. Moses leaves Midyan with his wife and kids on his way to Egypt

  3. Something happens in between. The Mechilta says he meets Aharon and Aharon advises Moses not to bring them to Egypt (this is very weird, as we know that the Tribe of Levy weren't ever enslaved or hurt)

  4. A year of the ten Makkos passes, no Jews are hurt, and Aharon's fears fade away, and the Jews finally leave Egypt. Moses doesn't remember his wife and kids.

  5. The whole nation crosses the Red sea and sees the miracles. The Egyptians are fully defeated. No mention of changes in Moses' position.

  6. (There are two opinions here on when Yitro came to Moses - either before the Matan Torah or after) So either Moses is ready to receive the Torah without his family or actually receives the Torah without remembering them. (looks very strange to me)

  7. Yitro comes and brings Tzipora and Moses sons - no mention of the reunion, happy meeting etc. No mention of Moses relating to his sons at all.

The questions:

  • Was this behavior sanctioned by G-d?
  • What was Moses' intention toward his sons in the whole Parsha of Yetziat Mitzrayim?
  • Was Moses exempt from all his obligations toward his sons (Chinuch, Torah learning etc)?
  • I can't answer the question properly but I agree, it's all very strange. Moses also doesn't seem very close to his wife, as some commentaries claim he is foregoing intimacy with her on purpose, to focus on his relationship to God or his work, etc.
    – Cyn
    Jan 27, 2019 at 2:25

1 Answer 1


Midrash Shemos Rabba 4,4:

ובאלה שמות רבה (ד ד), וילך משה, להיכן הלך שהלך ליטול אשתו ובניו, אמר לו יתרו להיכן אתה מוליכן, למצרים אמר לו, משהם מבקשים לצאת את מוליכן למצרים, אמר לו, למחר עתידין לצאת ולעמוד על הר סיני ולשמוע מפי הגבורה אנכי ה' אלהיך אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים ובני לא ישמעו עמהם, אמר לו יתרו לך לשלום. ועל דעתם ראוי שנפרש אחרי שהסכימו בכך צוהו הקב''ה שישלים עצתו וישוב למצרים עם בניו ואשתו
Yisro asked Moshe "Where are you taking my daughter and grandchildren?"
Moshe respnded to Yisro "when the Jews go out of Egypt and receive the Torah from Hashem's mouth at Har Sinai saying: "I am Hashem your G-d" do you not want my children to hear this?".
So Yisro told Moshe "go in peace"

i.e Of course they were to be present at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah through Moshe's plea, so Moshe did care about the chinuch of his sons..

Even though the Mechilta says that Moshe followed Aharons advice and sent his wife and children back to Midian in order not to get enslaved in Egypt, this Medrash Rabba can still fit with the Mechilta because as soon as Klal Yisroel left Egypt it was safe for Moshe's family to join him once again, so Moshe would have summoned them to partake of Mattan Torah just like he had informed Yisro earlier("how could they miss Mattan Torah" see above). After Mattan Torah Tzipora and Moshe's sons would have gone back to Yisro to try to persuade him to join them as a guide (Moshe himself tried to persuade Yisro to remain with them and be a guide Bamidbar 10,31 והיית לנו לעניים )at which point he came back with them and then fully converted.

  • First, the Midrash is very interesting, it doesn't try to reconcile itself with the explicit Psukim. 2. "so Moshe would have summoned them to partake of Mattan Torah just like he had informed Yisro earlier" seems to be your [wild] guess, nothing in the source suggests that. But thanks for trying.
    – Al Berko
    May 6, 2019 at 18:45

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