It is known that Jethro was one of Pharaoh's advisors. Moses was wanted by Pharaoh. How did Jethro take the risk in offering his residence and daughter to Moshe? Moreover, how did Moshe risk living in Jethro's house and marrying his daughter?

1 Answer 1


So firstly, to contextualise Yisro's position in Pharoah's court. Whilst he was indeed an advisor, he fled. If he were to revert to Pharoah, it probably would not have gone down too well...

Refer to Sotah 11a:

בִּלְעָם שֶׁיָּעַץ — נֶהֱרַג, אִיּוֹב שֶׁשָּׁתַק — נִידּוֹן בְּיִסּוּרִין. יִתְרוֹ שֶׁבָּרַח — זָכוּ מִבְּנֵי בָנָיו שֶׁיָּשְׁבוּ בְּלִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וּמִשְׁפְּחוֹת סוֹפְרִים יוֹשְׁבֵי יַעְבֵּץ תִּרְעָתִים שִׁמְעָתִים שׂוּכָתִים הֵמָּה הַקִּינִים הַבָּאִים מֵחַמַּת אֲבִי בֵית רֵכָב״, וּכְתִיב: ״וּבְנֵי קֵינִי חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה וְגוֹ׳״.

Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba teaches what occurred to each of them: Balaam, who advised Pharaoh to kill all sons born to the Jewish people, was punished by being killed in the war with Midian (see Numbers 31:8). Job, who was silent and neither advised nor protested, was punished by suffering, as detailed in the eponymous book in the Bible. Yitro, who ran away as a sign of protest, merited that some of his children’s children sat in the Sanhedrin in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, as it is stated: “And the families of scribes who dwelt at Jabez, Tirathites, Shimeathites, and Sucathites, these were the Kenites who descended from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab” (I Chronicles 2:55). And it is written: “The children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law” (Judges 1:16). (William Davidson translation & notation).

Once he fled, therein began a spiritual journey where he began to give up on his idol worship...

See Shemos Rabbah 1:32:

וּלְכֹהֵן מִדְיָן שֶׁבַע בָּנוֹת. וַהֲלוֹא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שׂוֹנֵא עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים, וְנָתַן מָנוֹס לְמשֶׁה אֵצֶל עוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים. אֶלָּא אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ, יִתְרוֹ כֹּמֶר לַעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים הָיָה, וְרָאָה שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ מַמָּשׁ וּבִסֵּר עָלֶיהָ, וְהִרְהֵר לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה עַד שֶׁלֹא בָּא משֶׁה, וְקָרָא לִבְנֵי עִירוֹ וְאָמַר לָהֶם, עַד עַכְשָׁיו הָיִיתִי מְשַׁמֵּשׁ אֶתְכֶם, מֵעַתָּה זָקֵן אֲנִי בַּחֲרוּ לָכֶם כֹּמֶר אַחֵר, עָמַד וְהוֹצִיא כְּלֵי תַּשְׁמִישֵׁי עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים וְנָתַן לָהֶם הַכֹּל, עָמְדוּ וְנִדּוּהוּ שֶׁלֹא יִזְדַּקֵּק לוֹ אָדָם וְלֹא יַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ מְלָאכָה וְלֹא יִרְעוּ אֶת צֹאנוֹ, וּבִקֵּשׁ מִן הָרוֹעִים לִרְעוֹת לוֹ אֶת צֹאנוֹ וְלֹא קִבְּלוּ, לְפִיכָךְ הוֹצִיא בְּנוֹתָיו.

“The priest of Midian had seven daughters.” But doesn’t the Holy One blessed be He hate idol worship, and yet He provided Moses haven with an idol worshipper? Rather, our Rabbis said: Yitro was a priest for idol worship and he saw that it lacked substance, and he scorned it, and he thought about repenting before Moses arrived. He called the residents of his city and said: ‘Until now, I have served you. Now I am old; choose another priest.’ He arose and removed the service vessels of idol worship and gave them all to them. They arose and ostracized him so that no one should have ties with him, no one should perform labor for him, and no one should herd his flocks. He asked the shepherds to herd his flocks for him, but they did not agree; therefore, he sent his daughters out.

Finally, even if one argues that it might still have been dangerous for Moshe to settle there, and that Yisro still potentially posed a threat, the Midrash relates how Moshe acquired his famous staff which proved a dealbreaker.

The Yalkut Shimoni, Shemos 168 notes that initially when Moshe told Reuel (Yisro) that he had fled from Mitzrayim, Yisro reasoned that he might gain favour from the children of Cush and therefore imprisoned him for 10 years. Tzipporah had pity on him and fed him bread and water. After 10 years he was released, and when he went out into Yisro's garden, he saw a sapphire staff that had been planted and pulled it out. (Note that in the Midrash Hashkem (Greenhut edition), Shemos 4, it writes that this staff was given by Adam to Sheis, with each generation passing it on to the next. When Yosef died, Yisro who was one of Pharoah's advisors and knew the importance of the staff, took it and planted it in the garden of his house where it took root. He divined that whoever would be able to uproot the staff would be the redeemer of Israel). When Yisro saw that he had extricated the staff he was amazed and gve Tzipporah as a wife to Moshe.

  • 2
    Wow who knew we had a Jewish version of Excalibur Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 15:00
  • 2
    I know right!! Our's came first!
    – Dov
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 15:00
  • @Dov Yalkut Shimoni and Excalibur both date from the about the 12th century.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 20:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .