Jethro of Midian

"One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand ... When Pharaoh [see also Who Was The Exodus Pharaoh?] heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock." (Exodus 2:11-12,15-16 RSV)

Jethro, Priest Of Midian

And so it was that Moses found himself out in the desert wilderness of the Sinai (see The Sinai Peninsula and Bible Places), the first time, long prior to the Exodus, and how he came to meet Reuel, or Jethro, a priest of Midian, who would soon become Moses' father-in-law.

Jethro was also called Reuel. Reuel meant friend of God, while Jethro meant excellence. Reuel was apparently his personal name, while Jethro may have been a more official or honorary name.

The Midianites originated from Midian, a son of Abraham (Genesis 25:1-2), which therefore actually made Jethro and Moses distant cousins. The Midianite territory consisted mostly in the area east of The Dead Sea and The Jordan River, but during the time of Moses also included a large part of the Sinai.

Moses married Zipporah, one of Jethro's seven daughters. Together during their life in the Sinai they had two sons - Gershom and Eliezer (Exodus 18:3-4). When God sent Moses back to Egypt for the Exodus, Zipporah and their two sons remained safely with Jethro until after Moses returned to the Sinai with the Israelites.

Jethro unknowingly (or possibly knowingly) played an important part in preparing Moses for his Exodus mission. Moses had been born and raised in Egypt. He had lived a relatively easy life - the hardships of living in the Sinai wilderness would have been unknown to him while growing up in the home of the Pharoah's daughter. (Exodus 2:10)

During the long time that Moses lived and worked keeping Jethro's flocks, Jethro no doubt taught him all about desert life. Many are surprised when they first read that Moses spent 40 years out in the desert wilderness before returning to Egypt for the Exodus. Certainly by then he would have become well familiar and accustomed to life in the Sinai, where he would later spend another 40 years leading the Israelites during their Wilderness Journey before their entry into the Promised Land. The long time spent out in the very same wilderness where the freed Israelites would be taken and held for 4 more decades was all part of God's education of Moses. And that training was accomplished through Jethro the Midianite.

Fact Finder: What is the name of the mountain where Moses saw the famous burning bush while tending Jethro's flocks?
Exodus 3:1-2
See also Mount Horeb

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This Day In History, September 7

1087: Norman King William I, known as "William the Conqueror," died. He was also instigator of the Domesday book, the first exhaustive survey of England.

1533: Queen Elizabeth I of England was born. The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, her reign began with the defeat of the Spanish Armada. During her time, Britain rose to international power and prominence, beginning colonization which led to its worldwide empire over the next 400 years. A golden age for Britain, Elizabeth's contemporaries were the likes of Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake, John Hawkins, Martin Frobisher and many others.

1543: Mary, Queen of Scots was coronated.

1630: The town of Trimontaine, Massachusetts, was renamed Boston.

1714: The Treaty of Badan was signed. It was one of the Treaties included in the Peace of Utrecht which ended the War of The Spanish Succession.

1776: The United States of America was born when the Continental Congress changed the name of the new nation from the earlier choice of the United Colonies.

1812: Russian forces retreated from the army of Napoleon after the Battle of Borodino, near Moscow. Like Adolf Hitler 130 years later however, the invaders were eventually "stopped cold" by the Russian winter.

1813: The term "Uncle Sam" was reportedly first used as a symbolic reference to the United States in an editorial in the Troy Post of New York.

1822: Brazil declared independence from Portugal.

1860 "Red Shirt" forces under Giuseppe Garibaldi took Naples. The victory permitted Victor Emmanuel to become king of Italy.

1867: Adolphus abdicated as duke of Nassau and was granted 8.5 million thalers (origin of "dollars") and a few castles as compensation.

1940: The Nazi "Blitz" of London began. The city was heavily bombed for 57 consecutive nights.

1942: In one of their rare attacks on the U.S. mainland during the Second World War, a Japanese plane dropped a few fire bombs on Oregon.

1986: Bishop Desmond Tutu was enthroned as Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. He was the first black head of South Africa's Anglicans.


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