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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

("beloved".) Only in  Numbers 10:29;  Judges 4:11. Not probably "father-in-law," but as the Hebrew Chathan often means, "brother in law," of Moses. Son of Raguel = Reuel (as Gazah = Azzah),  Exodus 2:18. Moses' entreaty, "Leave us not, I pray thee, forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes," implies that Hobab was younger than Moses' father-in-law could now have been. Reuel had seven grown daughters when Moses first went into the wilderness at 40, and now Moses was 80. It is therefore probable that by this time Reuel's son Jethro had succeeded him in his hereditary priesthood. Moreover, Hobab is not Jethro ( Exodus 18:27), for Jethro left the Israelites for his own land Midian before they reached Sinai, whereas Hobab accompanied them and settled in Canaan ( Judges 1:16;  Judges 4:11).

Hobab and Jethro ("excellency") were probably brothers of Zipporah, Moses' wife, and sons of Reuel; Hobab the younger, and therefore not bound, as Jethro the elder, to his own tribe by the duties of an hereditary priesthood. We do not hear of Jethro after his departure from Israel before Sinai. As Jethro helped Moses in counsel as a judicious administrator, so Hobab helped him as the experienced Arab sheikh familiar with the tracks, passes, and suitable places of the wilderness for an encampment, quick eyed in descrying the far off shrubs which betoken the presence of water, and knowing well where there was danger of hostile attacks. The ark of the covenant was their main guide ( Numbers 10:33). But divine guidance does not preclude human; nay, the God of ordinary providence works by natural means and is the same as the God of special grace.

Moses' words to Hobab, "We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you," imply Israel's assured faith in God's promise; as sure as if it were in their hands. So the believer answers every allurement to make this pilgrimage world his rest ( Hebrews 13:14;  Hebrews 11:13-16). He is no longer in the Egypt of the world in spirit, nor is he yet in the heavenly Canaan; he is on the way, and has no doubt of the end ( 2 Timothy 1:12). He tries to persuade all others to join him, for, whereas other riches are diminished by sharing, these are increased: "Come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." Holy importunity succeeds at last.

Hobab said: "I will not go, but I will depart to mine own land and kindred." Moses replied: "Leave us not, I pray thee ... and it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee." The Kenite complied, and in due time shared in Israel's blessing in Canaan. So  Zechariah 8:23. Going with those with whom God is, we shall share in their blessing from God ( 1 John 1:3). So Ruth experienced, who did not need to be entreated, but entreated to go with her godly mother-in-law ( 1 John 1:16-17). Hobab's family by joining Israel escaped Amalek's doom ( 1 Samuel 15:6). If we suffer with Israel in the wilderness, we shall reign with Israel in Canaan ( 2 Timothy 2:12;  Luke 22:28-29).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

HOBAB . In E [Note: Elohist.] (  Exodus 3:1;   Exodus 4:18;   Exodus 18:1-2 ff.) the father-in-law of Moses is uniformly named Jethro . But   Numbers 10:29 (J [Note: Jahwist.] ) speaks of ‘Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite Moses’ father-in-law’ ( hôthçn ). It is uncertain how this should be punctuated, and whether Hobab or Reuel was Moses’ father-in-law. The former view is found in   Judges 4:11 (cf.   Judges 1:16 ), the latter in   Exodus 2:18 . The RV [Note: Revised Version.] in   Judges 1:16;   Judges 4:11 attempts to harmonize the two by rendering hôthçn ‘brother-in-law.’ But this harmonization is doubtful, for (1) though it is true that in Aram. [Note: Aramaic.] and Arab. [Note: Arabic.] the cognate word can be used rather loosely to describe a wife’s relations, there is no evidence that it is ever so used in Heb.; and it would be strange to find the father and the brother of the same man’s wife described by the same term; (2)   Exodus 2:16 appears to imply that the priest of Midian had no sons. It is probable that the name Renel was added in   Exodus 2:18 by one who misunderstood   Numbers 10:29 . The suggestion that ‘Hobab the son of’ has accidentally dropped out before Renel is very improbable. Thus Jethro (E [Note: Elohist.] ) and Hobab (J [Note: Jahwist.] ) are the names of Moses’ father-in-law, and Reuel is Hobab’s father. A Mohammedan tradition identifies Sho’ aib (perhaps a corruption of Hobab), a prophet sent to the Midianites, with Moses’ father-in-law. On his nationality, and the events connected with him, see Kenites, Midian, Jethro.

A. H. M’Neile.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

The son of Raguel or Reuel,  Numbers 10:29 . According to one supposition he was the same as Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, Zipporah being called the daughter of Reuel as one of his descendants. According to another view, he was the brother of Jethro. Those who hold this opinion maintain that the Hebrew word rendered father-in- law,  Judges 4:11 may denote simply a relation by marriage. When the Hebrews were about leaving mount Sinai, Moses requested him to cast in his lot with the people of God, both for his own sake and because his knowledge of the desert its inhabitants might often be of service to the Jews. It would appear that he acceded to this request,   Judges 1:16;  4:11 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 Numbers 10:29 Judges 4:11 Exodus 3:1 Exodus 18:2 Exodus 2:16 Numbers 10:29MosesJethroReuel

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

 Exodus 18:5,27 Numbers 10:29,30 Judges 4:11 Genesis 19:14 Numbers 10:29 Judges 1:8-11,16

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Ho'bab. (Beloved). This name is found in two places only,  Numbers 10:29;  Judges 4:11. Hobab was brother-in-law to Moses. (B.C. 1530).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

This name occurs only in  Numbers 10:29 and   Judges 4:11 . He was apparently the father-in-law of Moses, and if so he is the same as Jethro. See JETHRO.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [8]

Son of Jethro, and brother-in-law to Moses, His name signifies, beloved, from Chabab, to love.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [9]

Ho´bab, kinsman of Moses and priest or prince of Midian, a tract of country in Arabia Petræa, on the eastern border of the Red Sea, at no great distance from Mount Sinai. The family of this individual seems to have observed the worship of the true God in common with the Hebrews .

Considerable difficulty has been felt in determining who this person was, as well as his exact relation to Moses; for the word, which, in , , , is translated father-in-law, and in , son-in-law, is a term of indeterminate signification, denoting simply relationship by marriage; and besides, the transaction which in one place is related of Jethro, is in another related of Hobab. The probability is, that as forty years had elapsed since Moses' connection with this family was formed, his father-in-law Reuel or Raguel (the same word in the original is used in both places) was dead, or confined to his tent by the infirmities of age, and that the person who visited Moses at the foot of Sinai was his brother-in-law, called Hobab in ,; Jethro in; and the Kenite in .

About a year after the Exodus he paid a visit to Moses, while the Hebrew camp was lying in the environs of Sinai, bringing with him Zipporah, Moses' wife, who, together with her two sons, had been left with her family while her husband was absent on his embassy to Pharaoh. The interview was on both sides affectionate, and was celebrated first by the solemn rites of religion, and afterwards by festivities, of which Aaron and the elders of Israel were invited to partake. On the following day, observing Moses incessantly occupied in deciding causes that were submitted to him for judgment, his experienced kinsman remonstrated with him on the speedy exhaustion which a perseverance in such arduous labors would superinduce; and in order to relieve himself, as well as secure a due attention to every case, he urged Moses to appoint a number of subordinate officers to divide with him the duty of the judicial tribunals, with power to decide in all common affairs, while the weightier and more serious matters were reserved to himself. This wise suggestion the Hebrew legislator adopted (Exodus 18).

When the Hebrews were preparing to decamp from Sinai, the kinsman of Moses announced his intention to return to his own territory; but if he did carry that purpose into execution, it was in opposition to the urgent solicitations of the Jewish leader, who entreated him, for his own advantage, to cast in his lot with the people of God; at all events to continue with them, and afford them the benefit of his thorough acquaintance with the wilderness. 'Leave us not, I pray thee,' said Moses, 'forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes;' in other words, that Hobab might perform the office of a hybeer or guide [CARAVAN]—his influence as an Arab chief, his knowledge of the routes, the situation of the wells, the places for fuel, the prognostics of the weather, and the most eligible stations for encamping, rendering him peculiarly qualified to act in that important capacity. It is true that God was their leader, by the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, the advancement or the halting of which regulated their journeys and fixed their encampments. But beyond these general directions the tokens of their heavenly guide did not extend. And as smaller parties were frequently sallying forth from the main body in quest of forage and other necessaries, which human observation or enterprise was sufficient to provide, so Moses discovered his wisdom and good sense in enlisting the aid of a native sheik, who, from his family connection with himself, his powerful influence, and his long experience, promised to render the Israelites most important services.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

hō´bab ( חבב , ḥōbhābh , "beloved"; Septuagint Ὀβάβ , Obáb ): This name occurs only twice (  Numbers 10:29;  Judges 4:11 ). It is not certain whether it denotes the father-in-law or the brother-in-law of Moses. The direct statement of  Numbers 10:29 is that Hobab was "the son of Reuel" (the King James Version "Raguel"). This is probably the correct view and finds support in   Exodus 18:27 , which tells us that some time before the departure of the Israelites from Sinai, Jethro had departed and returned to his own land. The statement of  Judges 4:11 is ambiguous, and therefore does not help us out of the difficulty, but is rather itself to be interpreted in the light of the earlier statement in   Numbers 10:29 .

Mohammedan traditions favor the view that Hobab was only another name for Jethro. But this has little weight against the statements of Scripture. However, whether father-in-law or brother-in-law to Moses, the service he rendered to the leader of the hosts of Israel was most valuable and beautiful. Hobab was an experienced sheikh of the desert whose counsel and companionship Moses desired in the unfamiliar regions through which he was to journey. His knowledge of the wilderness and of its possible dangers would enable him to be to the Israelites "instead of eyes."

The facts recorded of this man are too meager to enable us to answer all the questions that arise concerning him. A difficulty that remains unsolved is the fact that in  Judges 1:16 and   Judges 4:11 he is described as a Kenite, while in   Exodus 3:1 and   Exodus 18:1 , the father-in-law of Moses is spoken of as "the priest of Midian."

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

(Heb. Chobab', חֹבָב , Beloved; Sept. Ο᾿Βάβ , in Judges Ι᾿Ωβάβ ), the son of Raguel the Midianite, a kinsman of Moses ( Numbers 10:29;  Judges 4:11). B.C. 1657. He has usually been identified with Jethro (see  Exodus 18:5;  Exodus 18:27, compared with  Numbers 10:29-30); but it is rather his father Reuel to whom the title "Moses's father-in-law" is intended to apply in  Numbers 10:29; for that these two latter were' names of the same person, and that the father of Moses's wife, seems clear from  Exodus 2:6;  Exodus 2:21;  Exodus 3:1. Hence Hobab was Moses's brother-in-law (and so we must render חֹתֵן in  Judges 4:11, where the Auth.Vers. has "father-in-law," being, it is true, the same applied elsewhere to Jethro, but merely signifying any Male Relative By Marriage, and rendered even "son- in-law" in  Genesis 19:14); so that while Jethro (as was natural for a person of his advanced age) returned to his home ( Exodus 18:27), Moses prevailed upon Hobab (whose comparative youth rendered his services the greater object to secure) to remain (as. seems implied by the absence of any refusal to his second importunity in  Numbers 10:32), so that we find his descendants among the Israelites ( Judges 4:11). (See Jethro).