masc. proper name, biblical father-in-law of Moses, from Hebrew Yithro, collateral form of Yether, literally "abundance," from base y-t-r "to be left over, to remain."
his excellence, or gain, a prince or priest of Midian, who succeeded his father Reuel. Moses spent forty years after his exile from the Egyptian court as keeper of Jethro's flocks. While the Israelites were encamped at Sinai, and soon after their victory over Amalek, Jethro came to meet Moses, bringing with him Zipporah and her two sons. They met at the "mount of God," and "Moses told him all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh" (Ex. 18:8). On the following day Jethro, observing the multiplicity of the duties devolving on Moses, advised him to appoint subordinate judges, rulers of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens, to decide smaller matters, leaving only the weightier matters to be referred to Moses, to be laid before the Lord. This advice Moses adopted (Ex. 18). He was also called Hobab (q.v.), which was probably his personal name, while Jethro was an official name. (See MOSES.)