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Biblical Story of Jethro

A Wise Father-in-law

The biblical story of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses and his wise advice to both his daughter and his son-in-law proves helpful to families till date.

We know little about Jethro, the priest of Midian, where Moses landed after he fled from Egypt. Whether Jethro was a real servant of God is not clear, but he certainly was a wise man. The story begins in Exodus(2), where Moses committed murder, left Egypt and went east to Midian. Then, just as happened in several earlier stories, he found a well where women were having trouble watering their animals. He helped them out, was invited to their home and was eventually given Zipporah as a wife.

They had two sons together, but later, in a strange circumstance, Moses was to be slain by God (Exodus 4). His wife left him, and Moses went on to Egypt to free the children of Israel. Like other fathers-in-law in a marriage break-up, Jethro must have been upset that his daughter and two grandsons came back home to live with him. He heard of all the plagues through which the children of Israel were freed from Egypt and knew that Moses was camped in Rephidim. So, in chapter (18), Jethro made a wise move.

The conversation in his home went something like this: "Zipporah, come sit here with your sons. I want to talk to you." She obeyed him.
"Your husband has come into this part of the world with the job he went to accomplish. Now it is time for you to go to live with him." Perhaps objections were raised by the two growing sons: "Aw, Grandpa, we like it here." In any case, away they went grandfather, daughter and grandsons. Broken marriages can be mended.

Jethro loved his grandchildren but they were more the responsibility of their father. Jethro had sent word to Moses: "I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons" (18:6).We do not read that Moses was elated about having his family again. But again Jethro gave Moses wise advice: "What you are doing is not good. Your workload is too heavy for you" (18:17). He went on to advise Moses to share his workload with assistants. Moses did what he was advised, and consequently had more time for his wife and family.

The lesson that we learn from this story is that:
Second, the advice of elders, fathers, mothers and even in-laws can be very valuable. Jethro took it upon himself to bring the family together, and could also see that Moses' workload was leading to burnout. He was not afraid to give advice.
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