Exodus 2:16 introduces Reuel (who was later Moses's father-in-law) as "a priest of Midian" without specifying anything further about which deity he was priest of:

Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father's flock.

Is it known which deity he's associated with?

  • "Is it known which deity he's associated with?" According to whom? There is some controversy about this person.
    – Mast
    Feb 17 '20 at 20:02
  • @Mast Yeah, I've heard that. If there are multiple positions on which deity he worshipped, are there references from different scholars on that point? Feb 17 '20 at 20:06
  • Some say it was actually Hobab, the son of Reuel that was called Jethro as a title. Some say he had something to do with the Druze, and he has a special place in Islam (Shuaib) as well. How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?
    – Mast
    Feb 17 '20 at 20:14

The midianites were children of Abraham through his concubine called Keturah

KJV Genesis 25:2,4-6 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah... And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

So Midian, along with his siblings, was sent away from Isaac with gifts for sustenance. The Bible says of Abraham:

KJV Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

All Abraham's children were brought up in the way of the Lord.

It is notable that there have been people worshipping God outside of Israel:

KJV Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

As Midian was Abraham's son and was instructed in the way of the Lord, it is very very likely that Jethro was a priest of the Most High God.


It was to Midian that Moses fled after slaying an Egyptian and where he married Zipporah the daughter of Jethro—also known as Reuel (Exod 2:11-22). Some speculate that worship of Yahweh originated in Midian, based on the fact that Jethro is called “the priest of Midian” and that the “mountain of God,” the place where Yahweh first appeared to Moses, is located in or close to Midian (Exod 3:1). These passages are thematically similar to other biblical texts that refer to Yahweh as coming from areas south of Palestine—not quite Midian but locations close to it, such as Edom, Seir, Sinai, and Teman. Is there any historical reality behind these allusions? Egyptian sources mentioning the name Yahweh as a place or tribal name of a people situated south of Canaan at the end of the second millennium BCE lend some credibility to these biblical references. The theory of the southern origins of Yahwism is thus known as the “Midianite hypothesis.” Juan Manuel Tebes, "Midian", n.p. [cited 16 Feb 2020]. Online: https://www.bibleodyssey.org:443/en/places/related-articles/midian

  • (+1) Hi Jeffrey, welcome to BHSE! Please take the Site Tour when you get a chance. This is an excellent first answer (and you've got the up-votes to prove it), but it could still be improved by expanding slightly, and perhaps adding a bit of formatting. Look forward to seeing more from you on the site!
    – Steve Taylor
    Feb 21 '20 at 14:19

Rueul is another name of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses (Ex 2:18, 21, 3:1, 4:18, Num 10:29; see also Ex 18).

Jethro's actions in advising Moses, his preparation of sacrifices (as recorded in Ex 18) Jethro's position as priest in Midian, and his willingness to praise the LORD (Ex 18:1, 10) all indicate that he was priest of Jehovah = LORD God.

  • 2
    But that was after he heard of the exodus and said, "Now I know that YHVH is greater than all the gods" (18:11) - so maybe beforehand he didn't know. The question is, was this a part of his function as a priest from before, or a repudiation of his former worship?
    – b a
    Feb 17 '20 at 10:57
  • This question is based on a series of assumption about which the Bible is silent. Any comments would be guesses
    – Dottard
    Feb 17 '20 at 11:25

The name Reuel translates as "Friend of God".

Much like other Biblical names that end with "el" such as Michael, Daniel, and Israel, that "el" part is a shortening of one of God's titles.

Admittedly, not everyone's name indicates what they will do in life, but if that was one of the names he used, that at least indicates he was familiar with the idea.

As an aside, that same name is one of the Rs in J.R.R.Tolkien but not G.R.R.Martin.

  • He was a priest, so stating he was familiar with the idea of a deity would be obvious. It doesn't have to refer to God though, it could refer to any god (to the best of my understanding).
    – Mast
    Feb 17 '20 at 20:08
  • 1
    Looks like you are right. The Hebrew אֵל "el" is a generic syllable meaning a supreme being or god - not necessarily God. So, even though his name follows that same structure of other Biblical names, you can easily argue that it doesn't mean the same thing in this case. Feb 18 '20 at 15:20
  • Hi Scott, welcome to BHSE. Please do take the [Site Tour] when you get a chance, so you can become a bit more familiar with the scope of the site. Hope to see more responses from you in future.
    – Steve Taylor
    Feb 25 '20 at 10:08

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