Jethro (Bible)

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This article is about the view of this character in the Hebrew Bible. For the view of him as a Prophet in Islam, see Shuayb (prophet).
For other uses, see Jethro.

In the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible, Jethro (/ˈɛθr/; Hebrew: יִתְרוֹ, Standard Yitro Tiberian Yiṯrô; "His Excellence/Posterity"; Arabic شعيب Shu-ayb) or Reuel was Moses' father-in-law, a Kenite shepherd and priest of Midian.[1] In Exodus, Moses' father-in-law is initially referred to as Reuel (Exodus 2:18) but then as Jethro (Exodus 3:1). He was the father of Hobab in the Book of Numbers 10:29.[2] He is also revered as a prophet in his own right in the Druze religion,[3] and considered an ancestor of the Druze.[4]

In Exodus[edit]

Moses takes his leave of Jethro by Jan Victors, c. 1635, from the incident in Exodus 4:18. Jethro is seated on the left, in red.

Jethro is called a priest of Midian and became father-in-law of Moses after he gave his daughter, Zipporah, in marriage to Moses. He is introduced in Exodus 2:18.

Jethro is recorded as living in Midian, a territory stretching along the eastern edge of the Gulf of Aqaba in what is today northwestern Saudi Arabia. Some believe Midian is within the Sinai Peninsula. Biblical maps from antiquity show Midian on both locations.[citation needed]

Jethro's daughter, Zipporah, became Moses's wife after Moses had fled Egypt, having killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. Having fled to Midian, Moses intervened in a water-access dispute between Jethro's seven daughters and the local shepherds; Jethro consequently invited Moses into his home and offered him hospitality. However, Moses remained conscious that he was a stranger in exile, naming his first son (Jethro's grandson) "Gershom", meaning "stranger there".

Moses is said to have worked as a shepherd for Jethro for 40 years before returning to Egypt to lead the Hebrews to Canaan, the "promised land". After the Battle at Rephidim against the Amalekites, word reached Jethro that under Moses' leadership the Israelites had been delivered out of Egypt, so he set out to meet with Moses. They met in the wilderness at the "Mountain of God";[5] Moses recounted to Jethro all that had taken place, and then, according to Exodus 18:9-12a:

Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the Lord had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.

And Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh, and who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them.”

Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and other sacrifices to offer to God.[6]

Following this event, it was Jethro who encouraged Moses to appoint others to share in the burden of ministry to the nation Israel by allowing others to help in the judgment of smaller matters coming before him.

These events take place in the Torah portion Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23).

Names[edit]

There is some disagreement over the name(s) of Moses' father-in-law. In the KJV translation of Judges 4:11, a man named Hobab appears as Moses' father-in-law, while Numbers 10:29 makes him "the son of Raguel [Reuel] the Midianite, Moses' father in law". Reuel is noted Exodus 2:16, as "a priest of Midian" who had seven daughters. Exodus 2:18 "the girls returned to Reuel their father". Reuel becomes Moses' father in law in Exodus 2:21 "Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage." One thing to consider is that there is only one Biblical Hebrew word for both "brother-in-law" and "father-in-law" (chathan).[7] It is, in fact, the word for any and all relations by marriage. If one takes into account the Biblical custom of multiple names for one person as well as Judges 4:11 calling Hobab Reuel's son, Reuel and Jethro both appear as Moses' father-in-law,[8] while Hobab may be seen as his brother-in-law. However, this is disputed among theologians.[9][10]

Jethro in Islam[edit]

Main article: Shuaib

Under the name Shuaib or Shoaib or Shu'ayb, (Arabic: شعيب‎; meaning Who shows the right path), Jethro is revered as a Prophet of Islam[11] though Islam attributes to him many deeds not attested in the Bible. He is believed to have lived after Ibrahim, and Muslims believe that he was sent as a prophet to two communities, namely the Midianites [12] and the People of the Wood.[13] To both the people, Shuaib proclaimed the faith of Islam and warned the people to end their fraudulent ways. When they did not repent, Allah destroyed both communities.[14][15] Shuaib is understood by Muslims to have been one of the few Arabian prophets mentioned by name in the Quran, the others being Saleh, Hud, Ishmael and Muhammad. It is said that he was known by early Muslims as "the eloquent preacher amongst the prophets", because he was, according to Islamic tradition, granted talent and eloquence in his language.[16]

Shuaib is particularly central in the rites and pilgimages of the Druze religion.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  2. ^ http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0704.htm#11
  3. ^ Lev, David (25 October 2010). "MK Kara: Druze are Descended from Jews". Israel National News. Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Blumberg, Arnold (1985). Zion Before Zionism: 1838-1880. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. p. 201. ISBN 0-8156-2336-4. 
  5. ^ Exod 18:5
  6. ^ Exod: 18:9-12a NKJV
  7. ^ Strong's number 2859
  8. ^ Exodus|2:21|NIV,Exodus|18:1,2,5,6,12,27|NIV
  9. ^ Parallel Translations of Judges 4:11 with commentaries
  10. ^ Parallel Translations of Numbers 10:29 with commentaries
  11. ^ Brandon M. Wheeler, Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Shuayb, pg. 303
  12. ^ Quran 7:85-93
  13. ^ Quran 26:176-177
  14. ^ Quran 7:85–91
  15. ^ Quran 26:189
  16. ^ Stories of The Prophets, Ibn Kathir, pg. 220

External links[edit]