Numbers 10:29
(29) Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father in law.--Raguel is the same as Reuel (Exodus 2:18), and the orthography should be the same in all places. Reuel is commonly supposed to be identical with Jether (Exodus 4:18), or Jethro (Exodus 3:1), who is frequently described as the hothen (in the Authorised Version, "father-in-law") of Moses (Numbers 18:2; Numbers 18:5-6, &c.). But, according to the ordinary rules of Hebrew syntax, Hobab, not Jethro, is here spoken of as the hothen of Moses; and in Judges 4:11 he is expressly so called. Inasmuch, however, as the cognate noun hathan is used to designate any near relation by marriage--as, e.g., the sons-in-law of Lot (Genesis 19:14)--the word hothen may here and in Judges 4:11 be rendered brother-in-law. Some, however, think that Hobab, whether identical with Jethro or not, was the son of Reuel, and that Zipporah was the daughter of Hobab. But when it is remembered that more than forty years had elapsed since Moses left the land of Egypt and came into that of Midian, and that he was now upwards of eighty years of age, it is much more probable that he should seek the aid of a guide through the wilderness amongst those of the same generation with Zipporah than amongst those of a generation above her. Whether Hobab accompanied Jethro on the occasion of the visit to Moses which is recorded in Exodus 18, whilst the Israelites were encamped at Sinai, and remained with them after Jethro's departure (Numbers 10:27), or whether the Israelites had already commenced their journey (compare the words of Moses, "We are journeying," or, setting forward, with the concluding words of Numbers 10:28, and they set forward, and were at this time passing through the territory in which Hobab, as the chief of a nomad tribe, was living, cannot positively be determined.

We are journeying unto the place . . . --These words imply a strong faith in God's promise on the part of Moses, and a desire, not indeed altogether devoid of reference to mutual advantages, that those with whom he was connected by ties of earthly relationship should be partakers with himself and his people in the peculiar blessings which were promised to the chosen people of God. In any case, the invitation of Moses, when viewed as the mouthpiece of the Jewish Church, may be regarded in the light of an instructive lesson to the Church of Christ in all ages. It is alike the duty and the privilege of all who have heard and obeyed the Gospel invitation themselves to become the instruments of its communication to others. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come" (Revelation 22:17).

Verse 29. - Hobab, the sou of Raguel (or rather Reuel, of which Raguel is simply the Septuagint and Vulgate variation), Moses' father-in-law. It is not quite certain who this "Hobab" was. The name occurs only here and in Judges 4:11. The older opinion, followed by the A.V., identified Hobab with Jethro, and Jethro with Reuel the "priest of Midian," and father of Zipporah, Moses' wife. It is, of course, no real objection to this opinion that Hobab is here called the "son of Reuel;" for the name may quite well have been an hereditary one, like Abimelech and so many others. Nor need the multiplicity of names given to one individual astonish us, for it is of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament, and not infrequent in the New. The father-in-law of Moses was a priest, holding (probably by right of birth) the patriarchal dignity of tribal priest, as Job did on a smaller, and Melchizedec on a larger, scale. He may very well, therefore, have had one or more "official" names in addition to his personal name. If this is accepted, then it may serve as one instance amongst many to remind us how extremely careless the inspired writers are about names - "careless" not in the sense of not caring whether they are right or wrong, but in the sense of not betraying and not feeling the least anxiety to avoid the appearance and suspicion of inaccuracy. Even in the lists of the twelve apostles we arc forced to believe that "Judas the brother of James" is the same person as "Lebbaeus" and "Thaddaeus;" and it is a matter of endless discussion whether or no "Bartholomew" was the same as "Nathanael." On the face of it Scripture proclaims that it uses no arts, that it takes no pains to preserve an appearance of accuracy - that appearance which is so easily simulated for the purposes of falsehood. Holy Scripture may therefore fairly claim to be read without that captiousness, without that demand for minute carefulness and obvious consistency, which we rightly apply to one of our own histories. The modern historian avowedly tells his story as a witness does in the presence of a hostile counsel; the sacred historian tells his as a man does to the children round his knee. Surely such an obvious fact should disarm a good deal of the petty criticism which carps at the sacred narrative. Many, however, will think that the balance of probability is against the older opinion. It is certain that the word translated "father-in-law" has no such definiteness either in the Hebrew or in the Septuagint. It means simply a "marriage relation," and is even used by Zipporah of Moses himself (Exodus 4:25, 26 - Hebrew. The Septuagint avoids the word). It is just as likely to mean "brother-in-law" when applied to Hobab. As Moses was already eighty years old when Jethro is first mentioned (Exodus 3:1), it may seem probable that his father-in-law was by that time dead, and succeeded in his priestly office by his eldest son. In that case Hobab would be a younger son of Reuel, and as such free to leave the home of his ancestors and to join himself to his sister's people.

10:29-32 Moses invites his kindred to go to Canaan. Those that are bound for the heavenly Canaan, should ask and encourage their friends to go with them: we shall have none the less of the joys of heaven, for others coming to share with us. It is good having fellowship with those who have fellowship with God. But the things of this world, which are seen, draw strongly from the pursuit of the things of the other world, which are not seen. Moses urges that Hobab might be serviceable to them. Not to show where they must encamp, nor what way they must march, the cloud was to direct that; but to show the conveniences of the place they marched through, and encamped in. It well consists with our trust in God's providence, to use the help of our friends.And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite,

Moses's father in law,.... Some think this Hobab was the same with Jethro, whose father's name was Raguel or Reuel; so Jarchi and Ben Gersom; but rather Raguel or Reuel, and Jethro, seem to be the same, and was Moses's father-in-law, and this Hobab was the son of him, and brother of Zipporah, Moses's wife; and the same relation is designed whether the word is rendered his "father-in-law" or his "wife's brother", so Aben Ezra; as it may be either; if the former, then it may be joined to Raguel, if the latter, then to Hobab: Jethro or Raguel, Moses's father-in-law, came to see him as soon as he came to Horeb, and after some short stay with him returned to Midian, and left this his son Hobab, who remained with Moses unto this time; but now, as Israel was about to remove from the wilderness of Sinai, he showed a disposition to return to his own country, when Moses addressed him in order to persuade him to continue with them:

we are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you; that is, the land of Canaan, which God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their posterity: Moses puts himself among the children of Israel as journeying towards Canaan, with an expectation to possess it; for as yet the decree, as Jarchi observes, was not made, or made manifest, that he should not enter it; or he said this, as others think, because he would not discourage the Israelites nor Hobab, who might argue from thence, that if he, by whom God had brought Israel out of Egypt, and had done such wonders by him, should not enter into the good! and, how should they? but as yet Moses himself knew not that he should not enter into it; however, he speaks of it as a certain thing, that God had promised to give it to Israel, and it might be depended upon; and now they were just going to set forward in their journey, in order to take possession of it, he entreats that Hobab would go with them:

come thou with us, and we will do thee good; by giving him a part of the spoils of their enemies, and a settlement in the land:

for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel; and he is faithful, who has promised and will perform.

Numbers 10:28
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