Daughters of Reuel: Seven Shepherd Sisters
Zipporah and her six younger sisters* were eager to bring their father’s thirsty flock to the well. They had spent the morning with the flocks while the sheep grazed on the patches of vegetation that had sprung up during the rainy season. The trails were steep and narrow. Even though they were used to walking these long distances, they always looked forward to resting while the sheep drank their fill of the cool well water.

Zipporah was an experienced shepherdess. Her father had taken her with him as he led his flock. He taught her when and where the new grasses could be found; he taught her to avoid the pools of water in the valleys  because of the danger of flash flood; he taught her how to protect the flock from predators, what vegetation was harmful, and how to treat the sheep for parasites. She knew where to look for the occasional sheep or lamb that strayed away. The flock came to know and recognize her voice. She in turn was teaching her younger sisters how to care for the sheep.

Zipporah smiled as she watched the youngest girls giggle and chatter while they carried the water she was drawing from the well. They splashed almost as much water on each other as they managed to pour into the stone watering troughs. Zipporah also shyly kept an eye on the stranger she assumed was an Egyptian who was resting in the nearby shade.

Another flock was approaching. “Oh, no,” Zipporah thought. “Not those rude cousins again.”

The teenage shepherd boys thought it was fun to show off how strong they were. They could just shove the sisters out of the way and water their own sheep with the water Zipporah had drawn. They were “only girls” after all.

The shepherd boys began yelling and shoving Zipporah and her sisters and scattering Reuel’s sheep. They hadn’t noticed the traveler sitting quietly, apparently dozing in the nearby shade. A hand grabbed the oldest and biggest boy and, with the voice of a man who expected to be obeyed, asked them to wait their turn. While the cowed shepherds gathered their own flock and waited, the Egyptian drew water for the sheep the sisters had been tending.

With their flock following, the sisters hurried back to the tents. They all tried to talk at once as they described their adventure to their father who wanted to know why they were back so early.

“An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

Reuel (Jethro)didn’t immediately see the man his daughters described. “And where is he? He asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat?”

The Egyptian had followed behind, expecting to be received with the hospitality common to this nomadic people. He introduced himself as Moses. He was pleased to find a family descended from Abraham and Keturah who worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Reuel was pleased to receive into his family a brave and kind man whom he could trust to care for his daughters and his flocks. He soon arranged a marriage between this capable man and his daughter Zipporah.

It’s easy to see a Messianic type in this brief story. 

  • Jesus called himself “The Good Shepherd.”
  • Our Heavenly Father entrusted his firstborn Jesus with his flock. 
  • Jesus in turn is training those who are like little children in humility to be shepherds of God’s flock. He commissioned his disciples to “Feed my sheep.” 
  • The father’s flock and his children are being scattered and oppressed by shepherds bent on serving themselves. 
  • Like the sheep they tend, the true shepherds (shepherdesses) do not have the strength to defend themselves or their flock. God sent Jesus to deliver his own as Moses delivered Zipporah, her sisters, and their flock. 
Moses is a type of Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures. We can see aspects of the work of Jesus in the interaction of Moses and the seven shepherd sisters.
  • Moses drove off the wicked shepherds and watered the flock himself. Jesus is the source of the living waters of salvation. 
  • He rested by the well in Samaria as Moses rested by the well in Midian. 
  • Jesus offered the water of salvation to the woman who met him there. Moses drew water for the Midianite sisters and their flock. 
  • The Samaritan woman’s neighbors received Jesus; Moses was received by the shepherd family. 
  • Jesus is compared to a bridegroom; the church is compared to his bride. As Reuel (Jethro) gave his daughter to Moses in marriage so our Heavenly Father gives his church to Jesus to provide and care for her. 
  • Just like Jethro (Reuel) invited Moses in to eat and drink, so must we invite Jesus into our lives so that he eats and drinks with us. 
Our heavenly Father entrusts his flock to shepherds who follow the teachings of Jesus, feed them on the “Bread from heaven” and water them with the message of salvation. 

*The youngest children after being trained were often given the job of tending the flocks. (I Samuel 16:11)

References: Exodus 2:15-22; Genesis 25:1-6; Zondervan NIV Study Bible notes; Zondervan Handbook to the Bible (1999); Faith Lessons on the Prophets & Kings of Israel (1999); Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible (1986); Bridges for Peace Israel Teaching Letter Vol. # 771003 October, 2003

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Daughters of Reuel, Seven Shepherd Sisters, Feed My Sheep

Scarlett Stough