Jethro appeared to be a friendly guy to Moses, and even appeared to agree with what Moses believed in, especially in theological terms (i.e. worshipping Yahweh).

If that's the case, then how did Jethro know Yahweh, an Israelite God? How was he already an established priest of Yahweh, even though he didn't go to Egypt and interact with the enslaved Israelites etc.?

  • The only scripture available at the time would have been historic writings regarding the fathers. And, possibly, the book of Job (maybe, in a language other than Hebrew). Was Jethro a priest because he looked after such writings ? And did Moses translate the book of Job into Hebrew while he dwelt in Midian ? This is all my conjecture so this is a comment, not an answer.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 12:59
  • What passage from the Bible are you asking about specifically, and did you know we have another site hermeneutics.stackexchange.com that deals with questions about exegesis and drawing things out of the text like this specifically. On this site, you usually need to reference a teaching authority or some sort of Christian doctrine to get an answer for a question about the Bible, otherwise you invite a lot of different sorts of answers. This question is borderline off-topic but because it's so specific and not likely to elicit controversial answers, I think it's OK to keep.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 3:36
  • I think it poses questions such as whether Yahweh was more than just an ethnic god for the Israelites (I'm assuming this site is all about history relating to the Bible/Christianity). And if we assume that Yahweh was central to ancient Israelite culture/society, it may also pose questions on whether a proto-Israel was thriving in Canaan before the conquest of the Book of Joshua, thus explaining Jethro's extensive acquistion of knowledge on Yahweh, despite his lack of interaction with the Hebrews in Egypt in the Bible, and I Chronicles 7:20—24. Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 6:24

2 Answers 2


According to ancient tradition, Moses wrote down the book of Job. Clues in the text suggest that Job lived after Abraham and before Moses. These clues include genealogical references and place names.

The text of Job uses these names for God: El, Eloah and Elohim.

The theology of Job:

  • is monothesitic
  • denies the divinity of Sun, Moon and Stars
  • speaks of God creating all things
  • speaks of the flood of Noah
  • looks forward to a redeemer who would save people from death and perfect them

Given that Moses grew up in Egypt in the royal court where pantheism was practiced, it is unlikely that he became acquainted with Job there. The most likely source for Moses to learn about Job is from Jethro, since:

  • Midian is not far from the lands where Job's friends and Elihu came from.
  • the title "Priest of Midian" might actually mean religious functionary and not just local tribal elder or leader

Given that Job's friends were also monotheistic, it seems that such views were more widespread than some think. Rather than monotheism being a late development in religion, it may have been the original religion, which polytheism displaced as it spread like a cancer.


The term Priest as used in Genesis does not necessarily mean a Religious Leader, but in fact may have only designated the leader of a tribe and etc. the following is an excerpt from Strong’s dictionary.

kôhên ko-hane' Active participle of H3547; literally one officiating, a priest; also (by courtesy) an acting priest (although a layman): - chief ruler, X own, priest, prince, principal officer.

Jethro most probably, as the priest of Midian, was the comparative to a Mayor in our modern day.

As far as his knowledge of the Hebrew God, since Moses was his son in law, Jethro would as any father have queried Moses on many thing before allowing him to marry his daughter, especially since he was a leader to his people. It is also possible that Moses had convinced him to worship the Hebrew God.

Moses as an enlightened believer, gave a convincing description of the origin of all things; as in Chapter one of Genesis. We are not aware of any other explanations of Creation, prevalent at the time of Moses. It must be remembered that God spoke directly with Moses.

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