This chapter is concerning Moses himself, and the affairs of his
Jethro his father - in - law brings him his wife and children, ver. 1 - 6.
Moses entertains his father - in - law with great respect, ver. 7.
with good discourse, ver. 8 - 11.
with a sacrifice and a feast, ver. 12.
Jethro adviseth him about the management of his business as a judge
in Israel, to take other judges in to his assistance,
ver. 13 - 23.
and Moses after some time takes his counsel, ver. 24 - 26.
They part, ver. 27.
1: Jethro to congratulate the happiness of Israel, and
particularly the honour of Moses his son - in - law; comes to rejoice with
them, as one that had a true respect both for them and for their God. And
also to bring Moses's wife and children to him. It seems he had
sent them back, probably from the inn where his wife's lothness to have
her son circumcised had like to have cost him his life, (Ex 4:25).
3: The name of one was Gershom - A stranger, designing thereby
not only a memorial of his own condition, but a memorandum to this son of
his, for we are all strangers upon earth.
4: The name of the other was Eliezer - My God a help: it
looks back to his deliverance from Pharaoh, when he made his escape
after the slaying of the Egyptian; but if this were the son that was
circumcised in the inn, I would rather translate it, The Lord is mine
help, and will deliver me from the sword of Pharaoh, which he had
reason to expect would be drawn against him, when he was going to fetch
Israel out of bondage.
11: Now know I that JEHOVAH is greater than all gods - That the
God of Israel is greater than all pretenders; all deities, that usurp
divine honours: he silenceth them, subdues them all, and is himself the only
living and true God. He is also higher than all princes and
potentates, who also are called gods, and has both an incontestable
authority over them, and an irresistible power to control them; he manages
them all as he pleaseth, and gets honour upon them how great soever they
are. Now know I: he knew it before, but now he knew it better; his
faith grew up to a full assurance, upon this fresh evidence; for wherein
they dealt proudly - The magicians or idols of Egypt, or Pharaoh
and his grandees, opposing God, and setting up in competition with him,
he was above them. The magicians were baffled, Pharaoh humbled, his
powers broken, and Israel rescued out of their hands.
12: And Jethro took a burnt offering for God - And probably offered
it himself, for he was a priest in Midian, and a worshipper of the true
God, and the priesthood was not yet settled in Israel. And they did eat
bread before God - Soberly, thankfully, in the fear of God; and their talk
such as became saints. Thus we must eat and drink to the glory of God;
as those that believe God's eye is upon us.
13: Moses sat to judge the people - To answer enquiries; to
acquaint them with the will of God in doubtful cases, and to explain the
laws of God that were already given.
15: The people came to enquire of God - And happy was it for them
that they had such an oracle to consult. Moses was faithful both to him
that appointed him, and to them that consulted him, and made them
know the statutes of God, and his laws - His business was not to make
laws, but to make known God's laws: his place was but that of a
16: I judge between one and another - And if the people were as
quarrelsome one with another as they were with God, he had many causes
brought before him, and the more because their trials put them to no
17: Not good - Not convenient either for thee or them.
19: Be thou for them to God - ward - That was an honour which it was
not fit any other should share with him in. Also whatever concerned the
whole congregation must pass through his hand, (Ex 18:20).
But, he appointed judges in the several tribes and families, which should
try causes between man and man, and determine them, which would be done
with less noise, and more dispatch than in the general assembly.
Those whose gifts and stations are most eminent may yet be greatly furthered
in their work by the assistance of those that are every way their inferiors.
This is Jethro's advice; but he adds two qualifications to his counsel.
That great care should be taken in the choice of the persons who should
be admitted into this trust; it was requisite that they should be men of the
For judgment and resolution, able men: men of good sense, that
understood business; and bold men, that would not be daunted by frowns
or clamours. Clear heads and stout hearts make good judges.
For piety, such as fear God, who believe there is a God above them,
whose eye is upon them, to whom they are accountable, and whose judgment
they stand in awe of. Conscientious men, that dare not do an ill thing,
though they could do it never so secretly and securely.
For honesty, men of truth, whose word one may take, and whose
fidelity one may rely upon.
For a generous contempt of worldly wealth, hating covetousness, not
only not seeking bribes, or aiming to enrich themselves, but abhorring the
thought of it.
That he should attend God's direction in the case, (Ex 18:23).
If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so - Jethro knew
that Moses had a better counsellor than he was, and to his counsel he
24: So Moses hearkened unto the voice of his father - in - law. When
he came to consider the thing, he saw the reasonableness of it, and resolved
to put it in practice, which he did soon after, when he had received
directions from God. Those are not so wise as they would be thought to be,
who think themselves too wise to be counselled; for a wise man will
hear, and will increase learning, and not slight good counsel, though
given by an inferior.
27: He went into his own land - It is supposed the Kenites
mentioned (1Sa 15:6), were the posterity of Jethro, (compare(Jdg 1:16),) and they are taken under special protection, for the
kindness their ancestor shewed to Israel.