Bishop Dr Peter (UK)
JETHRO JOIN MOSES
Exodus 18:1-12 (ESV)
Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”).
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God. And when he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her,” Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent.
Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.
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 has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.”
And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.
Exodus Map - Hammond Exodus Map 2
Notes on the Scripture
We know nothing about the religion of the Midianites, although scant circumstantial evidence suggests that they were willing to adopt and add gods to their worship from other tribes, and so probably worshipped Baal (Baal-peor) and Ashtaroth (the “Queen of the Heavens”). But they were descended from Abraham — Midian was his son by his late wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2) — and might well have worshipped the God of Abraham, as well as others.
We have encountered the Midianites before; Joseph’s brothers sold him to Midianite traders. (Gen. 37:28) So we know they were both traders and herders of livestock, and that they ranged from Canaan to Egypt, including the southern part of the Sinai. It was Mount Sinai, or Horeb, where Jethro had sent Moses to graze sheep when God first appeared to him in the burning bush.
Not much is said of the relationship of Moses, Jethro, and Zipporah. There is certainly an informality and fluidity to their relationship, but they always appear to be on good terms. There is an equal ease of accepting Jethro into Judaism. Scholars enjoy debate over whether Moses “divorced” Zipporah or simply sent her to safety while he undertook a dangerous mission to Egypt, but the truth is, there would have been little difference.
Moses will later marry a Cushite woman, but polygamy was common among the Hebrews of the day. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that polygamy is not forbidden in the Bible — including the New Testament! One might say that both Christ and Paul discourage it, or at least consider monogamy the norm; but nowhere is it called sinful.