Legends of Old Testament Characters/Chapter 31



As has already been related, Jethro formed one of the council of Pharaoh till he found that his incantations had no effect on the Israelites. He escaped from Egypt before Job; for he had found in the palace of the king the staff of Joseph which had been cut from the Tree of Life, and therewith he hied him into the land of Midian, along with his daughter Zipporah.

According to Mussulman tradition, Jethro, whom the Arabs call Schohair or Schohaib, was a great prophet; and he was sent by God to the Midianites to call them to repentance and the rejection of polytheism. Jethro was old and nearly blind. He preached to the people, and exhorted them with many words and for a long season, but all his words were in vain; the Midianites would not be converted, and at length they openly accused him of being a false prophet, and denied that God had sent him.

Therefore God gave over this nation to destruction. He sent a fiery breath upon the land, and the people could not bear the great heat, and retired into the fields, where there was shadow; for God sent a cloud to hide the face of the sun, and it cast a blot of shade upon the fields. But there were old men and women and little children, and the sick who could not leave the city and take refuge in the shade.

Slowly the cloud came down from heaven, like the lid of a saucepan, and covered all the Midianites that were in the field, and the cloud was of fire, and they fried "as fish fry in an oven." Then the angel Gabriel, gave a great shout, and all that were in the city, saving Jethro and his family, died of fright when they heard his cry.

Then Jethro lived in the land of Midian till Moses came to him out of Egypt.[1]

  1. Tabari, i. c. lxvii; Abulfeda, p. 31.