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5 Facts About Parshat Yitro that You (Maybe) Didn’t Know

Published on Friday March 5th, 2021

Discover and learn every week, "5 Facts" written on the weekly Parshah that you can share at your Shabbos table.


  וַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע יִתְר֨וֹ כֹהֵ֤ן מִדְיָן֙ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֵת֩ כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשָׂ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ לְמֹשֶׁ֔ה וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עַמּ֑וֹ כִּֽי־הוֹצִ֧יא יְהוָ֛ה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃

Jethro priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, how the LORD had brought Israel out from Egypt.

  • Yitro actually had 7 different names: Reuel, Yeter, Yitro, Hobav, Heber, Keini and Putiel. (Rashi)


וַיִּקַּ֗ח יִתְרוֹ֙ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת־צִפֹּרָ֖ה אֵ֣שֶׁת מֹשֶׁ֑ה אַחַ֖ר שִׁלּוּחֶֽיהָ׃

So Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after she had been sent home,

  • Yitro allowed Moshe to marry Tzippora on condition that Moshe allow his firstborn to practice  idolatry. It is explained that this means that the firstborn should be willing to take on any job, even one that might be below his dignity as son of the leader of the Jewish people. This was probably quite relevant considering that Moshe’s children didn’t succeed him, but rather, Yehoshua became the next leader. (Mechilta Shemot 18:3)


וְשֵׁ֥ם הָאֶחָ֖ד אֱלִיעֶ֑זֶר כִּֽי־אֱלֹהֵ֤י אָבִי֙ בְּעֶזְרִ֔י וַיַּצִּלֵ֖נִי מֵחֶ֥רֶב פַּרְעֹֽה׃

And the other was named Eliezer, meaning, “The God of my father was my help, and He delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

  • Moshe named his second son  Eliezer/”Hashem, my help” in gratitude for Hashem saving his life when Datan and Aviram reported  him to the Egyptian authorities when he  killed an Egyptian. Pharaoh sentenced him to death but when the executioner swung his sword, Moshe’s  neck became as hard as stone, and he was saved. (Meam Loez, Rashi)
  • Eliezer’s only son was Rechaviah. Rechaviah, on the other hand, had many sons and ultimately had more than 600,000 descendants. (Abarbanel, Targum on 1 Chronicles 23:17, 24:21, 26:25, Berachot 7a)
  • Yonathan, Gershom’s son, ultimately became an idolator, and accepted a job in an idolatrous temple. He claimed that his grandfather Yitro said that it is better to be an idolater than to ask for financial help. And indeed he was the first Jew to accept a job in an Avodah Zarah Temple. His descendants worked in idolatry during the 365 years of Mishkan Shilo. (Baba Batra 110a, Shoftim 18)


וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֲנִ֛י חֹתֶנְךָ֥ יִתְר֖וֹ בָּ֣א אֵלֶ֑יךָ וְאִ֨שְׁתְּךָ֔ וּשְׁנֵ֥י בָנֶ֖יהָ עִמָּֽהּ׃

He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons.”

  • At first Yitro wasn’t able to enter the Jewish camp because the Clouds of Glory completely sealed it off. He therefore wrote a letter requesting to be admitted, which  he tied to an arrow and shot through into the camp. (Meam Loez, Chizkuni, Tzedah Laderech)
Eytan Yéhouda DZIKOWSKI - © Torah-Box Account

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