ויהי משה בדרך במלון: ויהי AND HE WAS — Moses was — DURING THE JOURNEY IN THE LODGING PLACE.
ויבקש המיתו. (המלאך ל)מֹשֶׁה: לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא מָל אֶת אֱלִיעֶזֶר בְּנוֹ, וְעַל שֶׁנִּתְרַשֵּׁל נֶעֱנַשׁ מִיתָה. תַּנְיָא אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, לֹא נִתְרַשֵּׁל אֶלָּא אָמַר, אָמוּל וְאֵצֵא לַדֶּרֶךְ, סַכָּנָה הִיא לַתִּינוֹק עַד שְׁלוֹשֶׁת יָמִים, אָמוּל וְאֶשְׁהֶה ג' יָמִים, הַקָּבָּ"ה צִוַּנִי לֵךְ שֻׁב מִצְרָיִם וּמִפְּנֵי מָה נֶעֱנַשׁ? לְפִי שֶׁנִּתְעַסֵּק בַּמָּלוֹן תְּחִלָּה (מכילתא). בְּמַסֶּכֶת נְדָרִים: וְהָיָה הַמַּלְאָךְ נַעֲשֶׂה כְּמִין נָחָשׁ וּבוֹלְעוֹ מֵרֹאשׁוֹ וְעַד יְרֵכָיו וְחוֹזֵר וּבוֹלְעוֹ מֵרַגְלָיו וְעַד אוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם, הֵבִינָה צִפּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּשְׁבִיל הַמִּילָה הוּא (נדרים ל"ב): ויבקש המיתו AND HE SOUGHT TO PUT HIM TO DEATH — the angel sought etc., because he had not circumcised his son Eliezer; and because he had showed himself remiss in this, he brought upon himself the punishment of death. It has been taught in a Boraitha (Nedarim 31b): Rabbi José said: God forbid that this was so; Moses had not been remiss in this duty; but he thought, “If I circumcise him and immediately proceed on the journey, the child’s life will be in danger for three days. If, on the other hand, I circumcise him and wait three days — the Holy One, blessed be He, has commanded me, “Go return to Egypt!” Consequently, he obeyed His command, intending to circumcise the child as soon as the opportunity presented itself. There was therefore no remissness on his part; why, then, was he threatened with punishment? Because he busied himself with the affairs of the lodging place first, (i. e. because when he arrived at the inn he troubled himself first about eating and drinking. He should first have circumcised his son. Being now so much nearer Egypt, the danger that follows upon the circumcision was not so great, since the interval of time between the operation and his arrival in Egypt was now shorter than if he had circumcised him before he set out on the journey). See this in Treatise Nedarim. — The angel became a kind of serpent and swallowed him (Moses) from his head to his thigh, spued him forth, and then again swallowed him from his legs to that place (the membrum). Zipporah thus understood that this had happened on account of the delay in the circumcision of her son (Nedarim 32a; cf. Exodus Rabbah 5:8).