Today we begin Exodus Chapter 18.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
“Jethro Moshe’s father-in-law brought Moshe’s sons and wife to him in the desert where he was encamped, at the mountain of God. He sent word to Moshe, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”-Exodus 18:5-6
Moses reunites with his father-in-law Jethro, his wife and his two sons.
And what a grand reunion this must have been!
I would have loved to have been a fly on one of those camels nearby listening to Moses as he excitedly related the tale of what happened and how God had mightily saved them from Pharaoh and his army.
In many ways this chapter stands in stark contrast to the one that came before it and sets the background for the new life Moses and the Israelites are about to begin.
In the last chapter, Israel confronted Amalek, a fierce and hostile nation that attempted to destroy Israel.
In this chapter, Moses encounters a representative of another people, Midian, that is marked by harmonious understanding, mutual respect, and the giving of sage counsel.
Notice that Jethro begins by inquiring of Moses’s “well-being” or “SHALOM” in Hebrew.
In the last chapter, Moses had to choose men for war.
In this chapter, Moses will be instructed to choose men for justice.
In the last chapter, Moses sat on a stone overseeing a fierce battle.
In this chapter, we will see Moses gradually assume the role he is now famous for, the Giver of the Law, as we see him sitting in judgment over the people.
Now I’m sure you’ve heard me mention before that the Torah is not always in perfect chronological order, and this chapter is a good example of this.
First, the very mention of God’s laws, an Altar, and Moses instructing the people on God’s rules etcetera could only have occurred AFTER the law was given at Mount Sinai.
Second, notice in verse 5 it says Moses was at “the mountain of God”.
This is another piece of evidence that this story is out of order because we don’t hear about the Israelites moving to the foot of Mount Sinai until the next chapter.
After hearing Moses’s action-packed tale, Jethro excitedly exclaims “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the Gods”.
I know I’ve already said this about 20 billion times but in spite of bible translators always choosing to use the generic terms “God” or “Lord”, the original text says “YHVH”.
So Jethro was familiar with the God of the Israelites name!
Again, understand that in those days, it was considered extremely important to know a god’s name.
Because if you knew a god’s name, that was the key to getting a god to do your bidding in whatever area that god held power over, whether it be weather, fertility, or money.
Also notice that Jethro’s response to Moses’s narrative confirms a point I’ve been hammering home for quite some time now.
Jethro’s statement reflects the prevailing heno-theistic mindset of the time which reflects the belief in the existence of other gods but affirms YHVH’s unrivaled greatness.
The biggest takeaway I get from today’s post is that God is indeed capable of rescuing us from trouble and getting us onto safe ground.
But the journey on the way can be quite a heart-stopping roller coaster ride.
The Israelites had to endure the terror of Pharaoh’s army, the fear of not having any water and just the general day-to-day frustrations that we all have to go through as part and parcel of being a human being living on this planet.
Yet God is faithful and here we have a heartwarming family reunion with exciting conversation based on all the great things HASHEM has done.
Let’s keep the faith!