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I was reading today's weekly portion and it caught my eyes (Shemot 18:6):

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֲנִ֛י חֹֽתֶנְךָ֥ יִתְר֖וֹ בָּ֣א אֵלֶ֑יךָ וְאִ֨שְׁתְּךָ֔ וּשְׁנֵ֥י בָנֶ֖יהָ עִמָּֽהּ׃

And he said unto Moses: 'I thy father-in-law Jethro am coming unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.'

See also verse 3 with a similar phrasing, while verse 5 is using a masculine form.

If anyone had asked me, I would have said: and your wife and your two sons. Why it is important to stress that Gershom and Eliezer were Tzipporah's sons? I checked a few commentators, but haven't found anything yet. Does it have any relevance?

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Yisro is saying that if Moshe is not in a position to take care of his family (which is why he had sent them back from Mitzrayim) then Yisro would still continue to take care of them as members of his family. Moshe is currently responsible for the entire nation and Yisro understands what is involved in that.

Rav Hirsch explains in Yisro 18:5

In V.2 where we are informed of Jethro's decision, and in V.6, in the message with which he announces his arrival to Moses, the children are called בניה Zipporah's children. Jethro wishes to be neither a burden nor a hindrance to Moses. Moses had sent his wife and children home to him. It could very well be that Moses was still not in a position to keep them with him. Accordingly, Jethro had the intention of still keeping his daughter and grandchildren with him. It was not to take them back to his son-in-law, that led him to go with his daughter and grandchildren into the wilderness. But here in verse 5, the objective fact is recorded of what they were to Moses, and of course the fact was, that they were Moses' father-in-law, his sons and his wife. That is why here the sons are mentioned before the wife, who in any case, as the father-in-law is mentioned first, comes last as being dearest and nearest.

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  • Actually I thought that it had to do something with the midrash that told the story of Moses letting his first son be taught by Yitro to all kinds of idol worship. So somehow Moses wanted to distance himself from this embarrassment. sefaria.org/Mekhilta_d'Rabbi_Yishmael.18.3.1?lang=bi – Kazi bácsi Feb 17 at 21:09

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