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The Cushite Woman

The Cushite Woman

Tzipporah, wife of Moses


Tzipporah, the wife of Moses, is referred to as a Cushite. Why is she described as a Cushite when she actually was a Midianite?

The Cushites historically were a dark-skinned people. A dark-skinned woman is a rare visage in the Torah; thus, the Torah is metaphorically describing that Tziporah was unusual in her deeds. (Talmud, Moed Katan 16b)

Commentaries explain that just as a dark-skinned person is immediately noticeable, so too an individual described as a Cushite possesses a character that is obvious and clear to all. (Ben Yehoyada, ibid.)

What was so great about Tzipporah? She was exceptionally modest and unassuming in her actions. (Talmid Rabeinu Yechiel of Paris, ibid.)

Alternatively, she was capable of transforming the physical into spiritual and darkness into light. (Shaloh, Shavuot 242 and 247).

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Dan Montreal December 27, 2015

Zipporah was indeed a medianite kushite! Zipporah was indeed a Medianite Kushite, i.e. dark skinned. There is no metaphora involved! (Genesis lists Afrik -a dark skinned descendant of Midian (who gives his name to Africa!) It is just that dark skinned persons and women in particular were indeed considered "beautiful" in Moses time! So Miriam was revolted that after marrying such a "beautiful woman" who gave him 2 sons, Moses after receiving Torah decided to abandon her! Miriam thought Moses feeling "important" abandoned her of his own! To show us that Moses did not abandon his wife, because, she was "ugly" for example, Torah (read Hashem) makes emphasis on this fact that she was actually "a kushite woman", so no question about being ugly! she was beautiful! So the devotion to Hashem required from Moses was made more special "since it was actually a sacrifice" to leave such a beautiful woman! Torah is "living" all time, & today it still teaches that those who think dark skin is ugly are wrong!Hashem meant it to be beautiful!:) Reply

Tawaunna Washington, DC December 22, 2015

Mosos wife The Cushite reference to the wife of Moses occurs at Numbers 12.[11] In the story Aaron and Miriam harshly criticize Moses' marriage to a Cushite or Kushite woman after he returned to Egypt to set the children of Israel free. Cushites were of the ancestry of Kush, a.k.a. Nubia, in northeast Africa. 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.[12][13] Reply

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