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Morrish Bible Dictionary [1]

Father-in-law of Moses, and a priest of Midian, with whom Moses spent forty years of his life. He brought to Moses his wife and their two sons soon after Israel had left Egypt. He advised Moses to appoint judges for minor cases. He rejoiced and blessed God for the deliverance He had given to His people, and said, "Now I know that Jehovah is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them." He also took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat bread with him before God. He thus prefigures the joy of the Gentiles in the Lord's salvation and deliverance witnessed to them in His dealings with Israel.  Deuteronomy 32:43;  Psalm 67;  Psalm 117 . He departed again to his own land.  Exodus 3:1;  Exodus 4:18;  Exodus 18:1-12 .

He is apparently called REUELin  Exodus 2:18; and HOBAB in  Numbers 10:29 , where RAGUELis REUELin the Hebrew. This passage says that Raguel, the Midianite, was the father of HOBAB, the father-in-law of Moses (see also  Judges 4:11 ), so that in  Exodus 2:18 'father' may signify 'grandfather.' Hobab may have been the personal name, and Jethro an official name. In   Judges 1:16 Moses' father-in-law is called a Kenite, but the exact signification of this term is not known.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

JETHRO (once,   Exodus 4:18 a Jether ). An Arab sheik and priest of the Sinaitic Peninsula, the father-in-law of Moses; referred to by this name in   Exodus 3:1;   Exodus 4:18;   Exodus 18:1-2 ff. (E [Note: Elohist.] ), as Reuel in the present text of   Exodus 2:18 (J [Note: Jahwist.] ), and as Hobab in   Numbers 10:29 (also J [Note: Jahwist.] ). He welcomed Moses and received him into his family (  Exodus 2:21 ), and many years later visited him at Sinai (  Exodus 18:1 ff.), heard with wonder and delight of the doings of Jahweh on behalf of Israel (  Exodus 18:9 ff.), and gave advice about administration (  Exodus 18:17-26 ). Later still he probably acted as guide to the Israelites (  Numbers 10:29 ff.; cf. the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] of   Judges 1:16;   Judges 4:11 ). As to the two or three names, it may be noted that Arabic inscriptions (Minæan) repeatedly give a priest two names. The name Jethro (Heb. Yithrô ) may mean ‘pre-eminence.’ See art. Hobab.

W. Taylor Smith.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

(See Hobab .) Reuel's oldest son. Father-in-law of Moses, by whose counsel Moses chose chief men from the tribes to be rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and to judge minor causes, reserving the weightier ones to himself (Exodus 18). "Jethro took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God," being a priest of the true God. The primitive faith still had its representatives here and there in the Gentile world after Abraham's call, e.g. Jethro, and Melchizedek. Reuel's name, from Εl ("God"), implies he too was a God-worshipping priest-prince of his tribe, though the majority of the tribe bordering on the Hamite Canaan were idolaters ( Exodus 2:16). Zipporah's repugnance to circumcision ( Exodus 4:24-26) shows that it was not universal even among worshippers of the true God.

She circumcised the younger son only to save Moses from God's wrath, the elder was evidently already circumcised. Moses' delay in circumcising the younger was a sinful yielding to his wife. The occurrence induced him to send her back and his sons, and not take them to Egypt; Jethro brought them to him after Israel's arrival at Sinai. Jethro of Midian (Abraham's descendant) celebrated a sacrificial meal with Aaron and Israel's elders; the representative firstfruits of the pagan who would afterward enter into fellowship with God and His people; as Amalek, another descendant of Abraham, represents on the contrary the pagan world hostile to the Lord and His people.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

The father-in-law of Moses. This man is rendered memorable in Scripture history from his connection with Moses; but for this, it is more than probable he would never have been known even by name in the christian church. His name signifies excellence. His being a priest in Midian, doth not explain what his religion was. Some have thought, that he had a knowledge of the God of Israel, else Moses would not have been allied to him; and they that are of that opinion say, that he was descended from Midian, the son of Abraham, and Keturah. (See  Genesis 25:1-2) There is some little difficulty in explaining one Scripture by another respecting this man.  Exodus 3:1 he is called Jethro;  Numbers 10:29 he is called Raguel; and some have thought, that Hobab was a third name by which he was known: but this, it should rather seem, was the brother of Moses's wife, Zipporah.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Je'thro. (His Excellence). Jethro was priest, or prince of Midian. Moses married his daughter Zipporah. (B.C. 1530). On account of his local knowledge, he was entreated to remain, with the Israelites throughout their journey to Canaan.  Numbers 10:31;  Numbers 10:33. (He is called Reuel , in  Exodus 2:18, and Raguel , in  Numbers 10:29, the same word, in the original for both). Reuel is probably his proper name, and Jethro his official title. - Editor).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Jethro ( Jç'Thro or Jĕth'Ro ), His Excellence. A priest or prince of Midian, and father-in-law of Moses.  Exodus 3:1. He is called Raguel (R. V. "Reuel"),  Numbers 10:29, and Reuel,  Exodus 2:18, and was probably known by either name, while Jethro was his official title. It is highly probable, too, that he was a descendant of Abraham by Keturah, the mother of Midian,  Genesis 25:2; but what was the nature of his office as priest—or prince, as some say it should be rendered—we know not.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

"Moses' father-in-law," a shepherd-prince or priest of Midian,  Exodus 3:1   4:18   18:1-27 . When the Hebrews were at mount Sinai, he visited Moses, gave him some wise counsel as to the government of the tribes, and then returned to his own people. See  Exodus 18:10,11 , and some infer that he was a descendant of Abraham, through Midian,  Genesis 25:2 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Exodus 3:1 Exodus 2:18 Numbers 10:29  Exodus 18:11Moses

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 Exodus 18:8 Exodus 18Moses

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

jeth´rō , jḗ´thrō ( יתרו , yithrō , "excellence,"   Exodus 3:1;  Exodus 4:18;  Exodus 18:1-12 (in   Exodus 4:18 , probably a textual error, יתר , yether , "Iether," the King James Version margin, the Revised Version margin); Septuagint always Ἰοθόρ , Iothór ): The priest of Midian and father-in-law ( ḥōthēn ) of Moses.

1. His Relation to Reuel and Hobab:

It is not easy to determine the relation of Jethro to Reuel and Hobab. If we identify Jethro with Reuel as in  Exodus 2:18;  Exodus 3:1 (and in Ant , III, iii; V, ii, 3), we must connect "Moses' father-in-law" in  Numbers 10:29 immediately with "Reuel" (the King James Version "Raguel"), and make Hobab the brother-in-law of Moses. But while it is possible that ḥōthēn may be used in the wider sense of a wife's relative, it is nowhere translated "brother-in-law" except in  Judges 1:16;  Judges 4:11 ("father-in-law," the King James Version, the Revised Version margin). If we insert, as Ewald suggests (Hi, Ii 25), "Jethro son of" before "Reuel" in   Exodus 2:18 (compare the Septuagint,   Exodus 2:16 , where the name "Jethro" is given), we would then identify Jethro with Hobab, the son of Reuel, in  Numbers 10:29 , taking "Moses' father-in-law" to refer back to Hobab. Against this identification, however, it is stated that Jethro went away into his own country without any effort on the part of Moses to detain him ( Exodus 18:27 ), whereas Hobab, though at first he refused to remain with the Israelites, seems to have yielded to the pleadings of Moses to become their guide to Canaan ( Numbers 10:29-32;  Judges 1:16 , where Kittel reads "Hobab the Kenite";  Judges 4:11 ). It may be noted that while the father-in-law of Moses is spoken of as a "Midianite" in Exodus, he is called a"Kenite" in  Judges 1:16;  Judges 4:11 . From this Ewald infers that the Midianites were at that time intimately blended with the Amalekites, to which tribe the Kenites belonged ( HI , II, 44).

2. His Hearty Reception of Moses:

When Moses fled from Egypt he found refuge in Midian, where he received a hearty welcome into the household of Jethro on account of the courtesy and kindness he had shown to the priest's 7 daughters in helping them to water their flock. This friendship resulted in Jethro giving Moses his daughter, Zipporah, to wife ( Exodus 2:15-21 ). After Moses had been for about 40 years in the service of his father-in-law, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush as he was keeping the flock at Horeb, commanding him to return to Egypt and deliver his enslaved brethren out of the hands of Pharaoh ( Exodus 3:1 ff). With Jethro's consent Moses left Midian to carry out the Divine commission (  Exodus 4:18 ).

3. His Visit to Moses in the Wilderness:

When tidings reached Midian of "all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel" in delivering them from Egyptian bondage, Jethro, with a natural pride in the achievements of his relative, set out on a visit to Moses, taking Zipporah and her two sons with him ( Exodus 18:1-12 ). On learning of his father-in-law's arrival at the "mount of God," Moses went out to meet him, and after a cordial exchange of courtesies they retired to Moses' tent, where a pleasant interview took place between them. We are told of the interest Jethro felt in all the particulars of the great deliverance, how he "rejoiced for all the goodness which Yahweh had done to Israel," and how the conviction was wrought within him that Yahweh was "greater than all gods; yea, in the thing wherein they dealt proudly against them" ( Exodus 18:11 ). In this condition so expressed there is evidently a reference to the element by which the Egyptians thought in their high-handed pursuit they would be able to bring back Israel into bondage, but by which they were themselves overthrown.

It is worth noting that in the religious service in which Jethro and Moses afterward engaged, when Jethro, as priest, offered a burnt offering, and Aaron with all the elders of Israel partook of the sacrificial feast, prominence was given to Jethro over Aaron, and thus a priesthood was recognized beyond the limits of Israel.

4. His Wise Counsel:

This visit of Jethro to Moses had important consequences for the future government of Israel ( Exodus 18:13-27 ). The priest of Midian became concerned about his son-in-law when he saw him occupied from morning to night in deciding the disputes that had arisen among the people. The labor this entailed, Jethro said, was far too heavy a burden for one man to bear. Moses himself would soon be worn out, and the people, too, would become weary and dissatisfied, owing to the inability of one judge to overtake all the eases that were brought before him. Jethro, therefore, urged Moses to make use of the talents of others and adopt a plan of gradation of judges who would dispose of all eases of minor importance, leaving only the most difficult for him to settle by a direct appeal to the will of God. Moses, recognizing the wisdom of his father-in-law's advice, readily acted upon his suggestion and appointed "able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens." Thereafter, Jethro returned to his own country.

5. His Character and Influence:

The story of Jethro reveals him as a man of singular attractiveness and strength, in whom a kind, considerate disposition, a deeply religious spirit, and a wise judgment all met in happy combination. And this ancient priest of Midian made Israel and all nations his debtors when he taught the distinction between the legislative and the judicial function, and the importance of securing that all law be the expression of the Divine will, and that its application be entrusted only to men of ability, piety, integrity and truth ( Exodus 18:21 ).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

Jethro [HOBAB]