Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. — Exodus 18:5
In Hebrew, the word for love is ahava, which comes from the root word, hav, “to give.” In Judaism, to love is to give. Giving to others forms the connection that enables us to love one another. Join us this month, as we offer a devotional series exploring the Jewish perspective on love.
At the beginning of Exodus chapter 18, we read, “Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 18:1). The question comes to mind: what exactly did Jethro hear that made him want to leave his life as a wealthy high priest? Did he hear about the ten plagues? Did he hear about the parting of the sea? Did he hear about the miraculous battle against the Amalekites?
The Jewish sages all answer the question differently, and they give validity to each of those possibilities. However, I want to explore another possibility: Jethro heard that there was hope for love.
Let’s explain with some background. We found out in verses 2-4 that Moses had divorced his wife Zipporah. He had left her, along with their two sons, in Midian with her father Jethro. Moses couldn’t reconcile family life with his God-given mission. The couple parted ways, and both moved on.
Then, Jethro heard about the parting of the Red Sea. The sages explain that when God parted the sea, He created a reality that could have lasted forever. The seas parted in such a way that there was land between both parts of the sea – land that kept each part from the other. However, what caught Jethro’s attention was that after the sea was parted, it came back together as if it had never been parted in the first place. A lightbulb went on in Jethro’s head, and he said to himself, “If the sea, which was parted, can come back together, there is yet hope for my daughter’s marriage.”
The next thing we read in verse 5 is that Jethro brought Zipporah and her sons back to Moses, and according to Jewish tradition, Moses married her a second time. Just as the sea came back together to the degree that it was as if it had never parted, so, too, did Moses and Zipporah come back together and their marriage was as it always had been.
Friends, I want to encourage us that there is always hope for love. Sometimes, there is a separation between people. It can be a parent and child, two spouses who have drifted apart, or friends who have had a quarrel. But never give up on those cherished relationships. Don’t be so quick to say that things can never be the same. Sometimes, in extreme cases, it’s true; things can’t go back to how they were. However, don’t be too quick to give up. If you have been parted, you can yet come back together.
Download our complimentary Bible study, “The Life of Ruth,” to learn more about this courageous young foreigner, whose love and devotion to the God of Israel led to unexpected blessings.