Ex 18:1-27. Visit of
1-5. Jethro … came … unto Moses,
&c.—It is thought by many eminent commentators that this
episode is inserted out of its chronological order, for it is described
as occurring when the Israelites were "encamped at the mount of God."
And yet they did not reach it till the third month after their
departure from Egypt (Ex 19:1, 2;
compare De 1:6, 9-15).
6. and thy wife, and her two sons—See
7. Moses went out to meet his father-in-law,
&c.—Their salutations would be marked by all the warm and
social greetings of Oriental friends (see on Ex
4:27)—the one going out to "meet" the other, the "obeisance,"
the "kiss" on each side of the head, the silent entrance into the tent
for consultation; and their conversation ran in the strain that might
have been expected of two pious men, rehearsing and listening to a
narrative of the wonderful works and providence of God.
12. Jethro … took a burnt
offering—This friendly interview was terminated by a solemn
religious service—the burnt offerings were consumed on the
altar, and the sacrifices were peace offerings, used in a
feast of joy and gratitude at which Jethro, as priest of the true God,
seems to have presided, and to which the chiefs of Israel were invited.
This incident is in beautiful keeping with the character of the
parties, and is well worthy of the imitation of Christian friends when
they meet in the present day.
13-26. on the morrow … Moses sat to judge
the people, &c.—We are here presented with a specimen of
his daily morning occupations; and among the multifarious duties his
divine legation imposed, it must be considered only a small portion of
his official employments. He appears in this attitude as a type of
Christ in His legislative and judicial characters.
the people stood by Moses from the morning unto
the evening, &c.—Governors in the East seat themselves at
the most public gate of their palace or the city, and there, amid a
crowd of applicants, hear causes, receive petitions, redress
grievances, and adjust the claims of contending parties.
17. Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing
… is not good—not good either for Moses himself, for
the maintenance of justice, or for the satisfaction and interests of
the people. Jethro gave a prudent counsel as to the division of labor
18:21, 22], and universal
experience in the Church and State has attested the soundness and
advantages of the principle.
23. If thou shalt do this thing,
&c.—Jethro's counsel was given merely in the form of a
suggestion; it was not to be adopted without the express sanction and
approval of a better and higher Counsellor; and although we are not
informed of it, there can be no doubt that Moses, before appointing
subordinate magistrates, would ask the mind of God, as it is the duty
and privilege of every Christian in like manner to supplicate the
divine direction in all his ways.