When Jethro (Yitro) met Moshe the confrontation must have been tremendous and a little funny at the same time. Moshe is the Lord’s hand picked leader of Israel, but this is a position of no value in the world. He once was the prince at the royal court of Egypt, but that was a long time ago. At the moment of meeting Jethro Moshe was homeless and solely navigating on the voice of the G-d he alone had seen. Jethro was minister and priest of Midian. For some reason priests in other religions than Judaism have always been more valued in the world and received more attention. Moreover Jethro had been adviser to Pharaoh, ex-home of Moshe.
For safety reasons the family of Moshe had been away, while Moshe was busy guiding his people to safer places where less wars took place. Moshe had taken his family to Egypt as we learn in Exodus 4:20. Aharon had given him the advice to let them go to Midian for protection. But Jethro had heard about the miracles. Now Jethro thought it to be the right time to rejoin the family.
Jethro was not Jewish. When he came into contact with the Jewish people his name was Jether. Later on he was able to give advice to Moshe that was so valuable that we can conclude that Jether had recognized the Lord and welcomed the G-d of the Jews into his life. This conclusion I base on the fact that Jether’s advice had become part of the Torah (18:17-26). His name was then changed: the letter wav had been added to his name, so that it became Jethro. The wav has the shape of a hook. Jethro had been hooked onto the religion of the one and only G-d of Israel.
Jethro had come at the right moment. He had heard about miracles, but the greatest miracle was still to happen: Moshe climbing Mount Sinai, communicating with the creator of the universe and receiving the Torah. Now Israel would know how it came into existence. Now we would know that Messiah would come to rescue us on a much greater scale than Moshe had done. And we would have the reference material necessary to check if our prophets spoke the truth or had to be stoned to death. And if they spoke the truth we would know, together with what Torah had taught us, how to behave ourselves in order to be eligible for eternal life.
By way of introduction to the Law the Ten Words are given to Israel in the action of Matan Tora. That makes Yitro one of the most important sidrot of them all. Now we have the manual to restore Israel and mankind back to the level of Gan Eden, growing into people of G-d that deserves to live in the Kingdom of the Lord.
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehilla of Beth Yeshua,