Bible Commentaries
Exodus 18

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

Verses 1-27

Exodus 18:11

You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. 'No man ever had a point of pride that was not injurious to him,' said Burke.... Treat men as pawns and ninepins, and you shall suffer as well as they.

Emerson on Compensation.

Exodus 18:18

'Manning,' says Mr. Purcell in his Life of the great Cardinal (ii. p. 505), 'never understood early or late the wisdom of cooperation; never valued the virtue of competition. His idea was the concentration of authority; one mind to conceive, one hand to execute. This narrowness of mind was his chief intellectual defect It led by degrees to the isolation of his life.'

Exodus 18:21

Our Bishops in St. George's Company will be constituted in order founded on that appointed by the first Bishop of Israel, namely, that their Primate, or Supreme Watchman, shall appoint under him 'out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place such over them to be rulers (or, at the least, observers) of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens'.... Of course for such work, I must be able to find what Jethro of Midian assumes could be found at once in Israel, these 'men of truth, hating covetousness,' and all my friends laugh me to scorn for thinking to find any such. Naturally, in a Christian country, it will be difficult enough; but I know there are still that kind of people among Midianites, Caffres, Red Indians, and the destitute afflicted, and tormented, in dens and caves of the earth, where God has kept them safe from missionaries: and, as I above said, even out of the rotten mob of money-begotten traitors calling itself a 'people' in England, I do believe I shall be able to extricate, by slow degrees, some faithful and true persons, hating covetousness, and fearing God.

And you will please to observe that this hate and fear are flat opposites one to the other; so that if a man fear or reverence God, he must hate covetousness; and if he fear or reverence covetousness, he must hate God; and there is no intermediate way whatsoever.

Ruskin, Fors Clavigera, Letter lxii.

'Able men, such as fear God.'

The Italians have an ungracious proverb: Tanto buon che val niente : so good that he is good for nothing. And one of the Doctors of Italy, Nicholas Macchiavel, had the confidence to put in writing, almost in plaine Termes: that the Christian Faith had given up Good Men in prey to those that are tyrannical and unjust. Which he spake because indeed there never was Law or Sect or Opinion did so much magnifie Goodnesse as the Christian religion doth. Therefore to avoid the Scandall and the Danger both, it is good to take knowledge of the Errours of a Habit so excellent. Seeke the good of other men, but be not in bondage to their Faces or Fancies; for that is but Facilitie or Softnesse; which taketh our honest Minde Prisoner.

Bacon, Essays ('of Goodnesse').

One has nothing to fear from those who fear God.

Eugénie de Guérin.

References. XVIII. 21. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Exodus, etc., p. 88. C. Silvester Home, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xli. 1892, p. 403. XVIII. 24. M. Eastwood, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. 1893, p. 22.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Exodus 18". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.