Saved by the works done by another

Exodus 4:24
God is going to kill Moses, but Moses is saved by his wife Ziphorrah who circumcise their son. Also, I think that without Ziporrah works Moses would have ended in Hell.
Ziporrah words:
“Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me” I think they refer the unity of the man with his wife through marriage.
So there is in the Bible a passage that shows clearly that one can be saved by other peoples works…

This makes me think of the healing of the paralytic in Matthew. The passage says when Jesus saw THEIR faith, he said… So perhaps our Faith can save others as well.


The Healing of a Paralytic.

  • a He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town.
    And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”

I think you’re conflating two distinct notions: ‘saving the physical life of a person’ on one hand, and ‘eternal salvation’ on the other.

Zipporah did not earn eternal salvation for Moses by circumcising their son.

The passage you cite is a very difficult one to make sense of. The ‘bridegroom of blood’ reference is almost certainly a phrase that was well-understood at the time, but whose meaning has been lost to us. This – as well as the plethora of pronouns used in the passage – obscures its meaning for us.

A standard interpretation would merely be that Moses failed to circumcise his son, and this was displeasing to God. Zipporah remedied the situation by performing the ritual herself. There’s no implication of ‘hell’ here, since (at the time), they did not understand the notions of eternal bliss in heaven or eternal punishment in hell; rather, they only thought that everyone spent eternity in Sheol, the abode of the dead.

I think the physical one is often a type of the spiritual one. That is a frequent them in all of scripture, such as with the aforementioned healing of the paralytic juxtaposed with the forgiveness of sins, Jesus saying the healthy don’t need a doctor, the healing of the blind man juxtaposed with “seeing” who Jesus was, the physical passing through water in the Red Sea corresponding to the passing through water in baptism, Noah’s physical life preserved through water since he was in the Ark corresponding to baptism saving in the same way spiritually in 1 Peter 3, etc…

Perhaps that is the case. Then, the OPs question boils down to “does circumcision save a person?” Paul has already answered that question for us:

“We… who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal 2:16)

“neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision” (Gal 6:15)

In other words, then, one is not saved by circumcision (i.e., a ‘work of the [Mosaic] law’), but rather, through Christ. So, in answer to the OP… no: Zipporah’s circumcision of her son earned salvation neither for her son nor for Moses.

True, and no, it does not spiritually save, but it is still a type of baptism. :o*Col 2:11-14 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. *

The account in Exodus 4.24-26 has confounded exegetes for centuries, but it appears to be a late insertion into the text (based on a historical account) that may have derived from Jewish questions regarding how God could use Moses when, having lived as an Egyptian, it is likely that Moses would not have known to circumcise his son in obedience to the command given to Abraham in Genesis 17.10-12.

The story explains for the Jewish reader that God broached Moses with this issue upon his return to Egypt. Perhaps in some lengthy discussion between Moses and God about it (similar to the drawn out discussion between God and Abraham mentioned at Genesis 18.16-33), Moses’ wife Zipporah took it upon herself to circumcise their son (of note, the only woman in Scripture ever recorded as performing a circumcision).

While Moses’ life is spared from what was obviously a heated argument turned deadly, the issue is due not to circumcision but because Moses was being disobedient. (Perhaps this was part of Moses’ ongoing desire for God to use someone else instead of him, similar to Jonah’s protest over being used.) God may have told Moses to circumcise his son and an already reluctant Moses asks, “But why?” And like Jonah, Moses’ frustration and refusal must have escalated into this short account which only mentions the outcome.—Compare Exodus 4.10-14 with Jonah 4.1-9.

The resolution is one understood from a Jewish cultural perspective in which it is “normal” to “argue” points with God (a view still culturally shared among Jews today). Scripture is filled with such incidents, not only Abraham’s discussion regarding Sodom and Gomorrah, but Jacob’s wrestling with an angel (Genesis 32.25-31), Job demanding that God answer for his unjust suffering (Job 7.11; 21.4; 40.1-8; 42.1-6), and Gideon’s testing of the fleece (Judges 6.36-40). The incident in Exodus 4 is possibly one of these situations, but interestingly Zipporah, characteristic of a faithful woman, grows tired of the debate and does what needs to get done, settling the issue.

The expressions that God was trying to kill Moses and the account stating that Zipporah saved the day are not originally meant to be read with Christological overtones, as if claiming that salvation can be attained by another (although that is what is happening with Christ who saves us by His actions). Instead the account gives an explanation on how God must have settled issues about circumcision between Moses and his family before Moses’ assignment, and how a woman, Zipporah, helped move things along.

I,m sorry but I can post only occasionally, and can’t have real discussions but more like expressing points of view.
It is clear, written, if Zipporah wouldn’t have circucise their son Moses would have ended in Hell. Saved by his wife works. In this situation saved from hell does not mean attaining Heavens. That was still due but impossible otherwise.
Moses did not know how to do circumcision because he lived with the Egyptians but his wife Zipporah from Midian did know? Why didn’t Moses ask her how to do it? Moses was not isolated from Jews and he knew very well the difference while he had a lifetime to observe it.
Possible a lack of authority living on his father in law property.
Anyway, it was a must after God spoke to him, and after he left for Egipt.
So the good works made by a person on behalf of another are very important, even of capital importance. I think this is a very good example to learn humility, because it cuts the triumphalist view of our relationship with God. It happened to great Moses.(great by the great works that God made through him)
A Baptist guy boasted that there is no example/nobody in the Bible saved by the works. After I gave him this example he said that this passage might be a mistake??? from somebody who believes in sola scriptura King James edition??? Iv got no other explanation.

Sounds like a typology of the Theotokos. “Bridegroom of blood” - in other words you owe me your life, or you are forever indebted?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit