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Why “Abumidian”?

Why “Abumidian”?

It is simply because we gave our son the name “Midian”, and in the first telephone call, when Yair Dalal congratulated us to the birth, he named me  “Abumidian”, what means “father of Midian” (in Arabic).  That is not by chance.  Yair has its rights: when he was not so famous, he was the leading figure in the quartet “Midian”, and I loved this quartet and the music over all.  I went with the four to many performances, and I supported Yair and the other three, when it was necessary.  Moreover Yair is a study colleague of Michal, the mother of Midian.

So why did Yair named its quartet “Midian”  ?

Midian in the Bible


Midian is the son of Abraham and Ktora (Genesis, 25, 2).  He established the tribe Midian and lived in the northwestern corner of the Arabic peninsula, named Midian. After some generations it is Jitro who is the high priest of Midian, and we find him the first time in  Exodus, 2. Not less important is its entrance in chapters 18 in the same book.


Mose defends the daughters of Jithro

Giovanni Batista, 1540-1494

I want to join here a text, that is very important  to me: a statement of a sermon of Matthias Hui.

( The text is shortened. )

Sermon 6 December 1998, Spiez

2 Mose 2, 15b-22

2 Mose 18, 1-22

Dear community!

Palestinian children, with whom I lived and worked during four years in the west bank, grow up with a terrible picture of Jewish peolpe.  “Jews” are named according to their experience certain grown-up men, unpredictable soldiers or dangerous settlers.  It is rarely explained to them that a Jew is not always a soldier and not exactly like an Israeli.  No one makes the effort to bring togehter these children with Jewish people, who carry no weapon.  Jews are the men in the jeep, before whom one must have large anxiety, people who do not understand one, threaten you or take you away.  They must be people, who are and want the opposite of what the characteristic family embodies.

Which impressions do we have of Jewish persons, of Israelis?  Are they living experiences or also entirely fixed pictures?  I experienced in the west bank the arrogant shot-ready occupier.  But as one, who came from outside, boundaries were penetrable . I am grateful that I was able to become acquainted, beside the Palestinian people in my daily life, with a couple of Jewish Israelis as entire persons, as friends.

One of them is only two years old, his name is Midian. He is a boy that wants permanently to expand its boundaries and is always in movement, formerly creeping, today going and jumping,.  His parents gave him this pretty name in memory of biblical stories. The Midianites lived in the desert at the red sea, in the current Saudi Arabia.  Related and friends of the parents of Midian reacted first with surprise and amazement, some quite with confusion to the unorthodox first name.  It is delivered how the Midianites covered the Israelites ancesters again and again with war and frights.  And just at these terrorist neighbors should the name now point?  At these strangers, that embody the opposite in the general memory of the biblical world of what the people wanted and wants?

[it is true, the reaction to this extraordinary name is generally negative.  At the same time Anat – a very usual women name – is a kanaanitic God, Nimrod a kanaanitic hero, Dagon -; an usual surname, and surname often are selected, like mine for example – a phönikischer God.]

But in the Bible it is Mose, that makes the first encounter with the Midianites.  We heard two texts.  Before our story starts, Moses’ people lived suppresses and convicts to compulsion working in Egypt.  In a despairing act of resistance against the screaming injustice, Mose killed an egyptian, who harrassed before a Hebrew.  The text tells then how Mose found asylum as a political fugitive in strange countries.

[one of the defenders in the show process against Marwan Barghouthi is Schamai Leybowitsch, the grandson of Yeschajahu Leybowitsch, and this made much excitement therefrom, that he compared his client with Mose and the district attorney's office to the officials of the Pharao.]

While thinking of the Midianite Jethro I understood, what my Israeli friends Michal and Uri perhaps wanted to express, when they gave its son, one out of the people of Mose, that name.  Without knowing all thoughts of the parents, it seems me, that the name Midian will later announce much to this little, energetic boy.  His life, and naturally the life of its people, lies not simply in power and aggressiveness.  The other, that strange, which one knows first only as enemies, terrorists, as retarded beduins, have its share on that – so like Mose owed its asylum the beduins in their tents in the desert.  Midian receives in its name also a message contrary to the official country politics: the boundary of the identity of its Jewish people and its Jewish country are not as clear as they artificially are pulled in nationalistic speeches and in wars again and again.  The name Midian means, that one can imagine himself also today a Mose with a saudi, or lets say with a Palestinian woman.  And that there are arab fathers-in-law, on whom one could count, instead of compare it permanently in political propaganda with the terrible Egyptian, or say fascist murderer.  Finally its name Midian refers a life long on that that in the release of incorrect Gods and bad circumstances allies can be found.  Over boundary away there are persons who advocate the same justice.

The quartet “Midian” exists no longer. Today Yair Dalal composes, plays and sings in the quintet “Alol”, also in this quintet, he plays a piece by the name of Jethro and also alone, its music is beautiful, but “Midian” was yet something special.

Midian in the Talmud

A story tells, that Yitro were one of the three counselors of the Pharao, the other two were Hiob and Bil’am.  When the murder of the Hebrew babies was decided, Jitro  opposed and left the Pharao.  Hiob – remained irresolute, and he paid for that with incredible sorrows (see book Hiob), and Bil’am the evil, who invented the “punishment”, was murdered in the war.  http://www.netivot-shalom.org.il/parshheb/yitro2.php

Midian in the Koran

The Moslems named Jitro Schu’éb, it is not known from where this name comes.  For the Druses, Schu’éb is the concealed prophet that guided the visible prophet Moses, and not only in the desert after the exodus, but also before.  He taught Mose all the tricks (the ten hits and the other feats).  He occurs in the Suren 7, 11, 20, 22, 28, 29, and he is busy above all with the distribution of the monotheism.  For the druses he is very important.

nabi shueb

The grave of Jethro, honored by the Druses

By the way: the word Midian is near the word Medina, and the Saudi town of Medina is actually in the vicinity of Midian, a little more southern.

Midian – a Zionist attempt

At the beginning of the zionist adventure, it was not yet clear where the Jewish people should be established.  Everyone knows of course about the Argentinian proposal, and Uganda, and afterwards Birobidjan; but few know that there was also an attempt of the colonization in Midian.  The attempt failed, but it had its certainly attractive force just because of the vicinity to Palestine and because of the familiar and sentimental vicinities to Mose.

Midian in the Bible research


Today it is supposed more and more, that Midian, the people and the country, could be the origin of the Jewish people.  There are some who claim the location of the mountain Sinai in Midian (see card), other again think there was no exodus out of Egypt, and others again found in Midian more and more signs of the vicinity with the hebrew people and the hebrew language.

I would conclude gladly with Huis words:

“…I would be glad if I may pursue the life and the arising questions of Midian at its place middle in Israel further.  I wish for that it can avoid all the falling, which politicians set up, terrorist and religious fanatists around him.  I hope that he will seek and receive possibilities to meet Palestinian children not as a soldier.  I hope, they will meet him as a Midian, one of them, one who admits himself to cross boundaries and see new things…”


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