For about thirty-nine years he grew up in Midianite country. Then in 2513 AM (1491 BC) his father and mother took him and his younger brother Eliezer to Egypt, after Moses received a call from God to deliver the people of Israel out of slavery. On the way, God was on the point of killing Moses, but Zipporah took a flint and circumcised Gershom with it. (Exodus 4:24-26 )
Some sources, including James Ussher, suggest that Eliezer, not Gershom, was the boy who had to undergo the circumcision. All sources agree that Moses sent Zipporah and his two sons back to Zipporah's father Jethro before the Exodus of Israel actually took place. They rejoined Moses after the Exodus. (Exodus 18:1-5 )
The Bible does not give a specific date for the death of Gershom. But the Bible plainly says that every Israelite who was of adult age (thirty years for a Levite and twenty for a member of any other tribe) died before the invasion of Canaan, except Joshua and Caleb. Therefore, Gershom died on or before the year 2553 AM (1451 BC).
In the period between the death of Joshua and the Judgeship of Othniel, a certain Levite named Jonathan hired himself out to be an illicit priest, first to a man named Micah and then to the Danites. The Bible calls him Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Manasseh. (Judges 18:30 ) Modern Biblical scholars identify this "Manasseh" as Moses, on account of the spelling of the two names. Moses is spelled מֹשֶׁה in Hebrew, and Manasseh is spelled מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה. The difference in the two names is a single letter nun (נַ). In the original manuscripts, this nun is suspended above the line and inserted between the mem and the shin, thus: מנשה. This supports the idea that the Hebrew scribes, mortified that Moses should have had so unworthy a grandson, inserted the extra letter to disguise Jonathan's actual patrimony.
If this theory is correct, then the scribes might have had an additional motive. The name Manasseh connotes forgetfulness. Perhaps the scribes wanted people to forget that Moses had a grandson who disgraced his name.
Gershom appears as a minor character in two motion picture projects and one television project depicting the life and career of Moses. In these projects he appears as a child varying in age from infancy to five years old. The two motion picture projects both compress the time that Moses spent in exile. The television project implies that Moses did not actually conceive Gershom until shortly before his return to Egypt.
- Blank, Wayne, "Gershom and Eliezer," Daily Bible Study, n.d. Accessed December 11, 2008.
- Konig, George, "Gershom," AboutBibleProphecy, n.d. Accessed December 11, 2008.
- Jones, Floyd N., The Chronology of the Old Testament, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004, p. 216
- James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003, pgh. 175.
- Jones, op. cit., p. 80