Sunday, December 15, 2019

Arabs in the Bible #3 An Arab created Israel's Judicial System

Jethro and Moses, as in Exodus 18, watercolor ...
Jethro and Moses, as in Exodus 18, watercolor by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jethro, the father-in-law to Moses, was called the "priest of Midian." It appears he was a religious leader among the Arab tribes living in and around the biblical city of Midian. Midian is within the modern-day borders of Saudi Arabia. Jethro appeared to worship the God of Abraham and Moses. At least we can deduce from Exodus 18 that he was deeply moved by God's deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian slavery, and therefore began to worship the God of Moses.

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites. He heard about how the Lord had rescued them from Egypt. (Exodus 18:1)
وَسَمِعَ يَثْرُونُ كَاهِنُ مِدْيَانَ وَحَمُو مُوسَى بِجَمِيعِ مَا أَجْرَاهُ اللهُ لِمُوسَى وَلإِسْرَائِيلَ شَعْبِهِ، وَكَيْفَ أَخْرَجَهُمْ مِنْ مِصْرَ، 
St. Catharines Monastery
We are told in Exodus 18:5, Jethro was taking care of Moses's wife (his daughter/grandchildren) Zipporah and their two sons during the time that Moses returned to rescue the Jews from Egypt.  Jethro meets with Moses in the wilderness near the "mountain of God" once Moses has safely left Egypt. This was likely Mount Sinai which scholars argue may have been in either modern-day Egypt or Saudi Arabia. I tend to believe the "mountain of God" is in Egypt. However, there is a possible site in Saudi Arabia. See the fascinating video below.

Currently, the site in Saudi Arabia is off-limits to tourists and scholars. Other experts believe Mount Sinai is in the Sinai Peninsula near St. Catherine's Monastery in Egypt. This site is accessible to tourists and is an amazing place to visit. The ride by night to the summit on camel-back or donkey is unforgettable. The view from the summit at the top of Mount Sinai at sunrise will take your breath away and fill your heart with ancient visions of Moses, the Jewish slave nation set free, the pillar of fire, and Jethro the priest of Midian sacrificing to God at the base of the mountain. For more information on the whereabouts of Mt. Sinai click HERE.

Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. He bowed low and kissed him. They asked about each other’s welfare and then went into Moses’ tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the Lord had rescued his people from all their troubles. 9 Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians.10 “Praise the Lord,” Jethro said, “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt! 11 I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.”12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came out and joined him in a sacrificial meal in God’s presence. (Exodus 18:7-12)
7 فَخَفَّ مُوسَى لاِسْتِقْبَالِ حَمِيهِ، وَانْحَنَى لَهُ احْتِرَاماً وَقَبَّلَهُ. وَسَأَلَ كُلٌّ مِنْهُمَا الآخَرَ عَنْ أَحْوَالِهِ، ثُمَّ دَخَلاَ إِلَى الْخَيْمَةِ. 8 وَسَرَدَ مُوسَى عَلَى حَمِيهِ كُلَّ مَا أَجْرَاهُ الرَّبُّ عَلَى فِرْعَوْنَ وَالْمِصْرِيِّينَ لإِنْقَاذِ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ، وَمَا تَعَرَّضُوا لَهُ مِنْ مَشَقَّةٍ فِي الطَّرِيقِ، وَكَيْفَ أَنْقَذَهُمُ الرَّبُّ مِنْهَا. 9 فَاغْتَبَطَ يَثْرُونُ بِجَمِيعِ مَا صَنَعَهُ الرَّبُّ مِنْ إِحْسَانٍ إِلَى إِسْرَائِيلَ، إذْ أَنْقَذَهُمْ مِنْ يَدِ الْمِصْرِيِّينَ. 10 وَقَالَ يَثْرُونُ: «مُبَارَكٌ الرَّبُّ الَّذِي أَنْقَذَكُمْ مِنْ يَدِ الْمِصْرِيِّينَ وَمِنْ يَدِ فِرْعَوْنَ، وَحَرَّرَ الشَّعْبَ مِنْ نِيرِ الْمِصْرِيِّينَ. 11 الآنَ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ الرَّبَّ هُوَ أَعْظَمُ مِنْ جَمِيعِ الآلِهَةِ، لأَنَّهُ عَامَلَهُمْ بِمِثْلِ مَا بَغَوْا بِهِ». 12 وَقَدَّمَ يَثْرُونُ حَمُو مُوسَى مُحْرَقَةً وَذَبَائِحَ لِلهِ. وَجَاءَ هَرُونُ وَجَمِيعُ شُيُوخِ إِسْرَائِيلَ لِيَأْكُلُوا طَعَاماً مَعَ حَمِي مُوسَى فِي حَضْرَةِ اللهِ. (Exodus 18:7-12)
Jethro reminds me of my own father-in-law who has given me so much encouragement and support over the years. While watching Moses settle disputes between the people "from morning till night" Jethro quickly realizes that Moses is going to burn out keeping this kind of a schedule. He proclaims, "This is not good." Exodus 18:17 Jethro then suggests a system of delegation. We are told in vs. 24 that Moses listens to his father-in-law and follows his advice. There are many great lessons to take away from this story.

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