Jethro and the Jews
Beatrice J.W. Lawrence, Seattle University
In Jethro and the Jews, Beatrice J. W. Lawrence examines rabbinic texts that address the biblical character of Jethro, a Midianite priest, Moses’ advisor and father-in-law, and the creator of the system of Jewish jurisprudence. Lawrence explores biblical interpretations in Midrash, Targum and Talmud, revealing a spectrum of responses to the presence of a man who straddles the line between insider and outsider. Ranging from character assassination to valorization of Jethro as a convert, these interpretive strategies reveal him to be a locus of anxiety for the rabbis concerning conversion, community boundaries, intermarriage, and non-Jews.