“Jethro Mose’s father-in-law brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God, and Aharon came with all the leaders of Israel to share the meal before God with Moshe’s father-in-law.”-Exodus 18:12
After Jethro hears Moses’s excited tale of how the Lord rescued the Israelites from the Egyptians, he joyously proclaims that YHVH is greater than all gods and we are told he offered up a “burnt offering” and “sacrifices” to God.
In the Hebrew a “burnt offering” is an “OLAH” and the Hebrew word for “sacrifices” here is “ZEVAH”.
So Jethro brought an “OLAH” and a “ZEVAH” for YHVH.
Now what’s interesting is that these are two of the sacrifices God will instruct the Levitical priests to offer up to Him as part of His standard ritual worship protocol.
However, such sacrificial procedures won’t be officially ordained until the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.
And Jethro was a priest.
So do we have here an example of a priest of the God of Israel prior to the establishment of the Levitical sacrificial system?
The answer is NO!
The reason I can assert that with confidence is because in Israel, the ONLY priestly tribe of Israel was the Levites.
And the ONLY High Priest was Aaron.
The truth is not only was Jethro not a Levite, he wasn’t even a Hebrew.
That’s right, I’m saying Jethro was a Gentile.
What we have here is Jethro confessing allegiance to Israel and their God via sacrificing on Israel’s altar.
Many scholars have concluded that this scene is a depiction of a gentile conversion to the Hebrew religion.
We can see that Jethro underwent the standard covenant-making procedures of the time.
He made a sacrifice to YHVH in front of Moses and all the elders of Israel and then finished it up by breaking bread with those present.
And of course, this is the exact same thing we do when we declare our allegiance to Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.
A reminder that although Jethro acknowledged YHVH as the god of the Hebrews, his mindset did NOT adhere to a monotheistic ideal.
He and the Israelites believed in the existence of other gods.
But they were now confident in the fact that their god was the greatest among the many other gods.
What’s also interesting is that here again we witness the practice of sacrificial procedures that will be ordained by God Himself when He establishes the Levitical sacrificial system.
So we see that YHVH sometimes adopts certain ALREADY EXISTING customs and procedures and makes them His own.