IX.7. Was Moses’ Father-in-law’s Name Jethro; or Reuel?

Question:  Why does Moses’ father-in-law have two different names? Is this a contradiction?

Answer:  In Exodus 3:1 his name is "Jethro" and in 2:18 he is addressed as "Reuel." He is addressed as "Jethro" in nine other places and his name in the Hebrew means "His Excellence." If you will notice in Exodus 3:1, he was the priest of Midian. This name was his honorary title, representing the position he held. The name "Reuel" means "a friend of God" and was his personal name. For example, "Pharaoh" was a title given to the Egyptian kings; but it was not their personal name. It is the same with the titles "king" or "queen" of England or the "president" of the U.S. These are all representing the office they hold just as that of "Jethro," who was the priest of Midian.

The word "elohim" which is translated as "God" is found more than 2300 times in Scripture; yet, this is not the personal name of God. It is God’s official title—what He is—God! The words "GOD" and "LORD" (denoted by all capital letters) in the King James translation is the Hebrew, "Jehovah." Isaiah 42:8 makes this clear,

"I am the LORD (Jehovah): that is my NAME: and my glory I will not give to another...".

Good question! No contradiction at all!


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