This week’s Torah portion, Behalotcha, contains an episode of Moses speaking to Hovav, son of Ruel (Jethro), Moses’ father-in-law:
We are journeying to the place of which the Lord said to us, “It will I give to you.” Come with us and we shall be good to you, for the Lord has spoken a good thing for Israel. And [Hovav] said to [Moses], “I shall not go, but to my land and to my birthplace I shall go.” And [Moses] said to him, “Pray, do not leave us, for do you not our encampment in the wilderness? And you will serve us as eyes. And so, if you go with us, by that good which the Lord will do for us, we shall be good to you.”
Contrast Hovav’s response with Ruth’s response to Naomi:
But Ruth said, “Do not press me to go back and abandon you!
Wherever you go I will go,
wherever you lodge I will lodge.
Your people shall be my people
and your God, my God.
Where you die I will die,
and there be buried.
May the Lord do thus to me, and more, if even death separates me from you!”
The Moabites (nation of Ruth) and Midianites (nation of Hovav), took a completely different ending. Moses said to the Children of Israel, “Do not besiege Moab and do not provoke them to battle.” The Midianites were defeated by the Israelites; they were eradicated. Hovav should have gone with Israelites.