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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Exodus 18

 

 


Verses 1-12

Jethro Meets Moses - In Exodus 18:1-12 Moses encamps at Mount Sinai, while the children of Israel are still at Rephidim. While Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, he honours Jethro, his father-in-law. Jethro offers the sacrifice and they eat together. Jethro's visit to Moses could symbolize Jesus Christ as He offers His blood at the Father's throne. Perhaps the fact that he went ahead of the encampment symbolizes that fact that Jesus went before us to God's throne to offer His atoning sacrifice in our behalf. There he met his father-in-law, who made a sacrifice unto God. This may symbolize God the Father receiving Jesus' sacrifice, which was actually a sacrifice that God gave to mankind for his salvation.

Exodus 18:1 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;

Exodus 18:1 — "When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses" father in law" - Comments - The individual named Jethro, or Reuel, or Hobab, is the priest of Midian and the father-in-law to Moses. The Hebrew name Jethro ( יתרו) (H 3503) occurs ten times in the Old Testament Scriptures ( Exodus 3:1; Exodus 4:18; Exodus 18:1-2; Exodus 18:5-6; Exodus 18:9-10; Exodus 18:12). He is also called by the name Reuel ( רעוּאל) (H 7467) ( Exodus 2:18) and by the name Hobab ( חבב) (H 2246), the son of Raguel ( רעוּאל) (H 7467) ( Numbers 10:29, Judges 4:11).

Exodus 2:18, "And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?"

Numbers 10:29, "And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses" father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel."

Judges 4:11, "Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh."

Josephus calls him by the name Raguel and Jethro (Antiquities 33; 523).

"Now when Raguel, Moses's father-in-law, understood in what a prosperous condition his affairs were, he willingly came to meet him" (Antiquities 33)

"They also gave land for habitation to the posterity of Jethro, the Midianite, who was the father-in-law to Moses; for they had left their own country, and followed them, and accompanied them in the wilderness." (Antiquities 523)

Midian was the son of Abraham and Keturah ( Genesis 25:1-3).

Genesis 25:1-3, "Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan…"

However, the book of Judges calls Jethro a Kenite ( Judges 1:16).

Judges 1:16, "And the children of the Kenite, Moses" father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people."

"heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt" - Comments - The news of Israel's exodus from Egypt and deliverance through the Red Sea quickly spread throughout the region.

Exodus 18:2 Then Jethro, Moses" father in law, took Zipporah, Moses" wife, after he had sent her back,

Exodus 18:2Comments - Scholars are in general agreement that Moses must have sent Zipporah his wife back at the beginning of their journey to Egypt when they were at the inn ( Exodus 4:24-26). This was just prior to his meeting with Aaron.

Exodus 4:24-26, "And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her Song of Solomon , and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision."

Exodus 18:3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land:

Exodus 18:3Word Study on "Gershom" - Gesenius says the name "Gershom" ( גֵּרְשׁוֹן) (H 1648)means, "expulsion." Strong says it means, "a refugee." PTW says it means, "exile." Note:

Exodus 2:22, "And she bare him a Song of Solomon , and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land."

Comments- Exodus 2:22 refers to the birth of Gershom, Moses" first son. It is assumed that Gershom was circumcised in Exodus 4:24-26; however, it is possible that the second son named Eliezer was the one circumcised on that day.

Exodus 4:24-26, "And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her Song of Solomon , and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision."

Exodus 18:4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said Hebrews , was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh:

Exodus 18:4"And the name of the other was Eliezer" - Word Study on "Eliezer" - PTW says the name "Eliezer" means, "God is help." Note:

1 Chronicles 23:15, "The sons of Moses were, Gershom, and Eliezer."

Comments - Exodus 18:4 provides the first mention of the second son of Moses named Eliezer.

Exodus 18:4 — "for the God of my father, said Hebrews , was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh" - Comments- The phrase "delivered me from sword of Pharaoh" most likely refers to the time when Moses first escaped from the hands of Pharaoh after killing an Egyptian taskmaster ( Exodus 2:14-15). However, if Eliezer was born or named during Moses' return to Egypt, the name may declare Moses' help in God to deliver him from Pharaoh upon his return to deliver the children of Israel.

Exodus 2:14-15, "And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well."

Exodus 18:5 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:

Exodus 18:5Comments- In Exodus 18:1-12 Moses encamps at Mount Sinai, while the children of Israel are still at Rephidim. Perhaps Moses went ahead to scout out the location where God was leading the children of Israel. We find a reference to Mount Horeb in the preceding passage ( Exodus 17:6), which suggests that Moses did go ahead of the people ( Exodus 17:5) to Mount Horeb, which is called the mountain of God in Exodus 3:1.

Exodus 17:6, "Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel."

Exodus 3:1, "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb."

Exodus 18:6Comments - Jethro has sent a messenger to Moses telling him of his plans to visit. They must have agreed to meet at Mount Sinai, a familiar location for both of them.

Exodus 18:11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.

Exodus 18:11Scripture References- Note:

Exodus 12:12, "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD."

Exodus 18:12 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.

Exodus 18:12 — "to eat bread with Moses" father in law before God" - Comments- This meal was symbolic of the Lord"s Supper in the New Testament.


Verses 1-27

Moses Honours Jethro — - Exodus 18:1-27 records the visit of Jethro to Moses at Mount Sinai ( Exodus 18:5) and their sacrifice and meal together. Jethro becomes the central figure in this narrative material, perhaps because Moses gives honor to his father-in-law when writing the book of Exodus. Jethro was greatly received and honoured by Moses. In this story, it is possible that Jethro serves as a type and figure of God the Father, while Moses is a type and figure of Jesus Christ bringing God's people through redemption ( 1 Corinthians 10:2).

1 Corinthians 10:2, "And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;"

In the story of redemption, Jesus rose from the grave, ascended to Heaven, and offered His blood sacrifice once for all for mankind ( Hebrews 9:12).

Hebrews 9:12, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."

Perhaps the meeting of Jethro and Moses represents this atoning sacrifice of Jesus that God the Father gave to mankind when the Jethro brought a sacrifice and offered it unto the Lord ( Exodus 18:12).

Note two divisions to this section:

1. Jethro Meets Moses — Exodus 18:1-12

2. Jethro Advices Moses — Exodus 18:13-27


Verses 13-27

Jethro Advices Moses - Exodus 18:13-27 records the incident in which Jethro advises Moses on how to delegate judges to assist him in judging the matters of the people. After Moses honours Jethro, his father-in-law gives Moses wisdom regarding organizing leadership among the children of Israel so that all of them can receive wisdom and ministry. This event symbolizes High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, seen in Jethro's comment to Moses, "You be for the people an advocate before God, and you bring the problems to God." 79] ( Exodus 18:19). The ordaining by Moses of leaders over the people represents church order and service. Jesus is seated at the Father's right hand to judge His church, while sending forth the Holy Spirit to anoint the five-fold ministry and give the gifts of the Spirit to the body of Christ ( Ephesians 4:8-13). If a child of God will submit himself to the leadership of a local fellowship, he will be able to experience the gifts and anointings of the Holy Spirit and join in the ministry of helps.

79] Translation by John I. Durham, Exodus , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 3, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), translation of Exodus 18:19.

Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and tells them "When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." ( Ephesians 4:8) Paul then lists the 5-fold ministry gifts that God gave the Church. Exodus 18:13-27 is a type and figure of God equipping the Church through the offices and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Exodus 18:19Comments - Jethro tells Moses to stand before God and bring the difficult issues that Moses could not resolve before Him. Jethro could say this because he was a priest himself ministering in behalf of his people ( Exodus 2:16). Moses would teach the people the laws and statutes so that the leaders could have guidelines to follow in helping judge matters. Those matters that could not be resolved at lower levels of leadership could be brought to Moses, who could bring them before the Lord for an answer. We see a clear example of this happening in Numbers 15:32-36 when the people brought a man to Moses who had been picking up sticks on the Sabbath. The Lord spoke to Moses to have the man put to death.

Exodus 2:16, "Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father"s flock."

Exodus 18:20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.

Exodus 18:20Comments - The tribe of Levi will be called out to teach the Israelites the Mosaic law and its statutes. When these laws are understood by the people, there would be less offences and clear guidelines in resolving conflicts.

Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

Exodus 18:21 — "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness" - Comments - Jethro told Moses to choose out men with leadership qualities. In the midst of the murmuring and complaining, there were men in the camp who feared God and were willing to walk in His statutes. Paul wrote a similar charge to Timothy to choose out men with similar qualifications for the office of a bishop ( 1 Timothy 3:1-13).

Exodus 18:21-22Comments - Jehoshaphat organized the nation of Judah using a similar order of judging the people ( 2 Chronicles 19:5-11).

Exodus 18:25Comments- Note that Israel's first two kings, Saul and David, will later organize the armies of Israel by these same divisions. Jesus himself, while feeding the five thousand, organized the meal by dividing people into groups of hundreds and fifties ( Mark 6:40).

Mark 6:40, "And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties."

Exodus 18:26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.

Exodus 18:27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Exodus 18:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/exodus-18.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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