ho'-bab (chobhabh, "beloved"; Septuagint Obab):
This name occurs only twice (Numbers 10:29; Judges 4:11). It is not certain whether it denotes the father-in-law or the brother-in-law of Moses. The direct statement of Numbers 10:29 is that Hobab was "the son of Reuel" (the King James Version "Raguel"). This is probably the correct view and finds support in Exodus 18:27, which tells us that some time before the departure of the Israelites from Sinai, Jethro had departed and returned to his own land. The statement of Judges 4:11 is ambiguous, and therefore does not help us out of the difficulty, but is rather itself to be interpreted in the light of the earlier statement in Numbers 10:29.
Mohammedan traditions favor the view that Hobab was only another name for Jethro. But this has little weight against the statements of Scripture. However, whether father-in-law or brother-in-law to Moses, the service he rendered to the leader of the hosts of Israel was most valuable and beautiful. Hobab was an experienced sheikh of the desert whose counsel and companionship Moses desired in the unfamiliar regions through which he was to journey. His knowledge of the wilderness and of its possible dangers would enable him to be to the Israelites "instead of eyes."
The facts recorded of this man are too meager to enable us to answer all the questions that arise concerning him. A difficulty that remains unsolved is the fact that in Judges 1:16 and 4:11 he is described as a Kenite, while in Exodus 3:1 and 18:1, the father-in-law of Moses is spoken of as "the priest of Midian."
Jesse L. Cotton
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