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Exodus 18:1-12

1. When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt;

1. Audivit autem Jethro sacerdos Midian, socer Mosis, omnia quae fecerat Jehova Mosi, et Israeli populo suo: nempe quod eduxisset Jehova Israelem ex Aegypto.

2. Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back,

2. Tulit ergo Jethro socer Mosis uxorem Mosis, postquam miserat eam,

3. And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Getshorn; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land:

3. Duos quoque filios ejus: quorum nomen unius erat Gerson: quia dixerat, Peregrinus fui in terra aliena.

4. And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.

4. Nomen vero secundi Eliezer: quia Deus patris mei in auxilium meum, et eripuit me gladio Pharaonis.

5. And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:

5. Venit itaque Jethro socer Mosis, et filii ejus, et uxor ejus ad Mosen in desertum, ubi castra fixerat prope montem Dei.

6. And he said unto Moses, I thy father-in-law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.

6. Et dixit ad Mosen, Ego socer tuus Jethro venio ad te, et uxor tua, et duo filii ejus cum ea.

7. And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare: and they came into the tent.

7. Egressus autem Moses in occursum soceri sui, incurvavit se atque osculatus est eum: et interrogavit alter alterum de pace, veneruntque in tabernaculum.

8. And Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh, and to the Egyptians, for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them.

8. Et narravit Moses socero suo quaecunque fecerat Jehova Pharaoni et AEgyptiis propter Israel, et omnem molestiam quae invenerat eos in itinere, unde liberaverat eos Jehova.

9. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.

9. Et laetatus est Jethro, super omni beneficentia quam exercuerat Jehova erga Israelem qui liberaverat eum e manu Pharaonis.

10. And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.

10. Et ait Jethro, Benedictus Jehova, qui liberavit vos e manu Aegyptiorum, et e manu Pharaonis, qui liberavit populum e subjectione manus Aegyptiorum.

11. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.

11. Nunc cognosco quod magnus Jehova prae omnibus diis: quia secundum rationem qua superbe egerunt contra eos.

12. And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt-offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.

12. Et accepit Jethro socer Mosis holocaustum et sacrificia ad Deum. Venitque Aharon et omnes seniores Israel ad coinedendum panem cum socero Mosis coram Deo.

1. When Jethro, the priest of Midian. This chapter consists of two parts. First of all, the arrival of Jethro in the camp is related, and his congratulation of Moses on account of the prosperity of his enterprise, together with the praise and sacrifice rendered to God. Secondly, his proposed form of government for the people is set forth, in consequence of which judges and rulers were chosen, lest Moses should sink under his heavy task. The greater number of commentators think that Zipporah, having been enraged on account of her son’s circumcision, had turned back on their journey, and gone to live with her father; but to me this does not seem probable. For Moses would never have allowed his sons to be deprived of the redemption of which he was the minister; nor would it have been consistent that they should afterwards be appointed priests, of whom God was not the Redeemer. Besides, if he had deposited his wife and children in safety, and had advanced alone to the contest, he would have been deservedly suspected of deceit, or of excessive cowardice. Wherefore I have no doubt but that he underwent, together with his family, that miserable yoke of bondage by which they were long oppressed, and by this proof evidenced his faithfulness, so that greater authority might attend his vocation. The statement, then, in the second verse, “after he had sent her back,” I apply to Moses, because he had sent back his wife from the wilderness to visit her father, either having yielded to the desire which was natural to her as a woman, or, induced by his own feelings of piety, he had wished to show respect in this way to an old man nearly connected with him. There is something forced and cold in the words, which some would supply, “after he had sent back gifts.” The text runs very well thus, After Moses had sent back his wife, she was brought again by his father-in-law, thus returning and repaying his kindness.

3. And her two sons. It was remarked in its proper place, how distinguished a proof not only of faith, but of magnanimity and firmness Moses had manifested in giving these names to his sons. For we cannot doubt, but that he brought on himself the ill-will of his connections, as if he despised the country of his wife, by calling the one (Gershom) “a strange land;” and the name of his son continually cried out, that though he inhabited Midian, yet was he an alien in his heart, and though sojourning for a time, would afterwards seek another habitation. Whence also we may conjecture that he took them with him into Egypt, rather than banish from him these two pledges of his piety on account of the sudden anger and reproaches of his wife; since by their names he was daily reminded that God’s covenant was to be, preferred to all earthly advantages.

5. And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law. It was not so much love for Moses as the fame of the miracles which drew this old man,195195     “Ce bon veillard;” this good old man. — Fr. bowed down with age, from his home into the wilderness; for it will hereafter appear from the context, that he was not induced by ambition; because, after he had offered sacrifice to God, and, in solemn thanksgiving, had testified that he ascribed all the glory to God alone, he returned home again with the same simplicity in which he had come. Moses, too, at the beginning of the chapter, has stated the cause of his coming, for he does not say that he had heard of the arrival of his son-in-law, but how wonderful had been God’s goodness and power in delivering Moses and the people. He desired, therefore, to be in some measure a spectator of the things whereof he had heard, and not to neglect, by remaining at home, such illustrious instances of God’s bounty. I have already explained why Mount Horeb is distinguished by the name of “the Mount of God.” The vision, indeed, which had been already vouchsafed to Moses there, rendered it worthy of this honorable title; but here, as before, there is reference made rather to the promulgation of the Law, whereby God consecrated the mountain to Himself.

7. And Moses went out. In the foregoing verse he had related what happened last, viz., that Jethro said, I am come, and have brought to thee thy wife and children; but this transposition is common in Hebrew. Now, then, he adds, that Moses went to meet him, and to pay him honor; and that they met each other with mutual kindness, and respectively performed the duties of affection. “To ask each other of their peace,”196196     So in margin A. V. is tantamount to inquiring whether things were well and prospering. But the main point is, that Moses told him how gracious God had been to His people; for this was the drift of the whole of his address, that, when he had left his father-in-law, he had not yielded to the impulse of lightness, but had obeyed the call of God, as had afterwards been proved by His extraordinary aids and by heavenly prodigies.

10. And Jethro said, Blessed. Hence it appears that although the worship of God was then everywhere profaned by strange additions, yet Jethro was not so devoted to superstition as not to acknowledge and honor the true God. Nevertheless, the comparison which he subjoins, that “Jehovah is greater than all gods,” implies that he was not pure and free from all error. For, although the Prophets often so speak, it is with a different import; for sometimes God is exalted above the angels, that His sole eminence may appear, every heavenly dignity being reduced to its due order; sometimes, too, He is improperly called “Greater,” not as if the false gods had any rank, but that the greatness which is falsely and foolishly attributed to them in the world may be brought to naught. But Jethro here imagines, in accordance with the common notion, that a multitude of inferior gods are in subordination to the Most High. Thus, where the pure truth of God does not shine, religion is never uncorrupt and clear, but always has some dregs mixed with it. At the same time, Jethro seems to have made some advance; for in affirming that he now knows the power of God, he implies that he was more rightly informed than before; unless, perhaps, it might be preferred to understand this of the experimental knowledge, which confirms even believers, so that they more willingly submit themselves to God, whom they already knew before. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that by the name of Jehovah he designates the God of Israel; for, although they boasted everywhere that they worshipped the eternal God, yet by asserting the true Deity of the One God, he puts all others beneath Him. At any rate he confesses that, by the history of their deliverance, he was assured of the immense power of God, who had manifested himself in Israel; so as to despise, in comparison with Him, whatever gods were honored elsewhere in the world. The latter clause197197     S. M. has rendered this clause, In re qua insolenter egerunt contra illos [perierunt]; and in his note he says, “Hoc est, remensus est illis ea mensura qua ipsi mensi fuerunt Israelitis.” They drowned the little ones of Israel in the water, and they also perished in the waters. Thus Abraham Sepharadi expounds this passage: — “Alii sic exponunt; Propterea quod superbe egerunt contra eos, voluit quoque Deus se magnificum ostendere contra AEgyptios.” — W. of verse (11) is unfinished; for it stands thus, “According to the word (or reason) wherein they dealt proudly against them;” thus the principal verb is wanting to express that God repaid the Egyptians the just wages of their cruelty; just as He denounces “judgment without mercy,” upon all who proudly and unmercifully mistreat their neighbors, (James 2:13,) according to the declaration of our Lord Jesus Christ, “With what measure ye mete,” etc. (Matthew 7:2.) The exposition which some give seems too limited, viz., that the Egyptians, who had drowned the infants in the river, were themselves drowned in the Red Sea. I prefer, then, to extend it to every instance of punishment which they received.

12. And Jethro. Although I do not think that Jethro had previously sacrificed to idols, yet, because he worshipped an unknown God, with but a confused and clouded faith, it appears that this was his first sincere and legitimate sacrifice since the God of Israel had been more clearly known to him. We may gather from hence that it was duly offered, because Moses, and Aaron, and the elders openly professed themselves his companions, and partook with him; for it is not merely said that they came to eat bread with him, but “before God;” which expression describes a sacred and solemn feast, a part and adjunct of the offering and divine worship. But they never would have willingly polluted themselves with the defilement’s of the Gentiles for the sake of gratifying an unholy man. It follows, then, that this was a token of his piety, since they did not hesitate to become partakers with him. We ought, indeed, to have God before our eyes, as often as we partake of his bounty; but we shall hereafter see, that this expression is peculiarly applied to sacrifices, wherein the faithful put themselves in the presence of God. Yet. do I not admit that Jethro slew the victims in right of the priesthood which he exercised in the land of Midian; but because there was more liberty, as will be explained in its place, before the Law was prescribed by God. It is my decided opinion that by the word “bread,” the manna is incontestably meant.


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