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Per Bamidbar 10:29 (see below), חֹבָב בֶּן רְעוּאֵל was the father-in-law of מֹשֶׁה. There, רש"י asks why רְעוּאֵל is referred to in Shemoth 2:18 as the "father" of בנות יתרו, and he answers that they called their grandfather, "father." But in Shemoth 18:1 רש"י lists רְעוּאֵל as one of the seven names of יתרו and states that only some say the aforementioned answer about רְעוּאֵל being the grandfather.

What is the deal with יתרו/רְעוּאֵל? Does רש"י give any insight anywhere else? Does anyone else address this? I know there is a citation within the commentary for ספרי. Is there an explanation there (Chabad.org says it's in Beha’alothecha 10:29, the first location in this question)?

כט. וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לְחֹבָב בֶּן רְעוּאֵל הַמִּדְיָנִי חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה נֹסְעִים אֲנַחְנוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם...‏
חובב: הוא יתרו, שנאמר (שופטים ד, יא) מבני חובב חותן משה, ומה תלמוד לומר (שמות ב, יח) ותבאנה אל רעואל אביהן, מלמד שהתינוקות קורין לאבי אביהן אבא. ושמות הרבה [ושני שמות] היו לו יתר על שם שיתר פרשה אחת בתורה. חובב על שחבב את התורה וכו

(Above quotations copied/pasted from here.)

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Mizrachi, on the Rashi to Shemos 18:1, seems to assume that according to the midrashic opinion that Yisro had seven names, which included both Chovav and R'uel, both Yisro and his father had the name R'uel.

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+1 for finding that, but two things: First, why, then, is there a need for Rashi (or "Yesh Omerim") to say that the daughters called their grandfather "father"? Second, it's hard to read the text, but I think he might be saying that he doesn't think along the lines of that interpretation (that they both had the same name). Maybe I'm just struggling with the print/scan quality. – Seth J Feb 6 '12 at 17:30
@SethJ, Rashi is citing conflicting midrashim, which as Mizrachi points out, is not uncommon. – jake Feb 6 '12 at 17:33
OK; I just expanded my question above. – Seth J Feb 6 '12 at 17:35
He seems to fully endorse the Yesh Omerim, though. – Seth J Feb 6 '12 at 17:37
@SethJ, I'm not sure what you're saying exactly, but who can blame Rashi for endorsing the yesh om'rim? If I were a p'shat commentator, I would do the same, as that opinion makes more contextual sense. The better question is why Rashi finds the need to bring the "seven names" midrash. But I would assume he brings it just to show that Chovav = Yisro. – jake Feb 6 '12 at 17:43

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