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Nave's Topical Bible - Jethro; Moses; Priest; Shepherd; Women; Zipporah; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Children; Midianites; Sheep; Wells; Woman;
Verse Exodus 2:16. The priest of Midian — Or prince, or both; for the original כהן cohen has both meanings. See it explained at large, Genesis 15:18. The transaction here very nearly resembles that mentioned Genesis 29:0. concerning Jacob and Rachel; see the notes there.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/exodus-2.html. 1832.
Preparation of Moses (2:1-25)
Moses was the person God chose to save his people and lead them out of Egypt. He was born of godly Hebrew parents, who no doubt taught him that the true and living God was the only legitimate object of human worship, and this God had chosen Israel to be his people. At the same time Moses grew up in the Egyptian palace, where he was trained in the best learning and culture available at that time (2:1-10; see Acts 7:22; Hebrews 11:23).
By the time he was forty years of age, Moses believed that God had chosen him to deliver Israel from oppression in Egypt. But when in a burst of anger he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew, he showed that he was not yet ready for the task God had for him. Neither were his people ready to recognize him as their deliverer. To save his life Moses fled Egypt, and in so doing he rejected, willingly and decisively, his Egyptian status (11-15; see Acts 7:23-29; Hebrews 11:24-25).
Midian, the place to which Moses escaped, was a semi-desert region to the east, believed to be somewhere in the Sinai peninsular. (The Midianites were descended from Abraham through one of his lesser wives, Keturah, and so were distant relatives of the Hebrews; Genesis 25:2-4.) Moses lived for many years in the house of a Midianite chief, Jethro (also known as Reuel), whose daughter Moses married. Here Moses no doubt learnt much about desert life and tribal administration, experience that later proved useful in his leadership of Israel on the journey to Canaan (16-22).
For forty years Moses remained in Midian (Acts 7:30). During this time the Hebrews back in Egypt were suffering increasingly cruel persecution, but at the same time God was preparing Moses to save them. God was teaching Moses those qualities of discipline, toughness, obedience and trust that were necessary if Moses was to rescue God’s people from slavery in Egypt and bring them safely to their new homeland (23-25).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/exodus-2.html. 2005.
"Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon today? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and moreover he drew water for us, and watered the flock. And he said unto his daughters, Where is he? Why is it that ye have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the man.' and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare a son, and he called his name Gershon,' for he said, I have been a sojourner in a foreign land."
What a comprehensive summary we have here! Moses, because of the conflict at the well, in which he defended the young women against the shepherds, was taken into Reuel's home, perhaps upon such an arrangement as that between Laban and Jacob, received Zipporah for his wife, and, in time, became the father of Gershon. Moses' status for the ensuing forty years would be that of a subordinate in the home of the priest of Midian.
"Priest of Midian ..." We believe that Reuel was a priest of the one true God, [~'Elohiym], as indicated by his name, Reuel. "This name is given as Raguel in Numbers 10:29, but the Hebrew spelling is the same in both places. The word means `friend of God,' and implies monotheism." As for the name Jethro, as applied to Moses' father-in-law elsewhere in Scripture, (this is disputed), "If Reuel be identified with Jethro, then Reuel was his proper name, and Jethro, which means Excellency, was his official designation." There is no reason to suppose, as some have done, that Moses learned of Jehovah (Yahweh) from the Midianites."
In the Tyndale Bible, we find this footnote: "The Reuel mentioned here is not Jethro, but the father of Jethro, the grandfather of Zipporah, and also the priest of Midian. If this is correct, it would explain why the grandfather did not himself help his daughters (granddaughters) against the shepherds, due to his age. Jethro might have been absent at the time.
Despite Moses having received Zipporah for a wife, the bitterness and loneliness of Moses in his long residence far from his own people seems to have been acute, as attested by the name he gave his firstborn Gershon, which means "Banishment." The name of Moses' second son was Eliezar, meaning, "The God of my father is my help, and has delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh." The proud arrogance in which Moses had first offered himself as a champion of the Chosen People was at last broken down by his long and trying discipline, and, as indicated by the names of these sons, he was approaching the time when he would be fully qualified to "draw out from" Egypt the Israel of God. "This preparatory sojourn of Moses in Midian may be compared to that of John the Baptist in the wilderness (Luke 1:80), and that of Paul in Arabia (Galatians 1:17)."
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/exodus-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
The Priest of Midian - Reuel Exodus 2:18. His name, and the detailed notices in Exodus 18:0, prove that he was a priest of the one true God who was known to the patriarchs especially under the name El. The great bulk of his tribe, certainly those who lived farther north and more closely in contact with the Hamites of Canaan, were already plunged in idolatry. The conduct of the shepherds Exodus 2:17 may indicate that his person and office were lightly regarded by the idolatrous tribes in his immediate neighborhood.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/exodus-2.html. 1870.
16. Now the priest of Midian. The profane would attribute this meeting to good fortune, whereas God affords us in it a striking picture of his providence, in thus with an outstretched hand directing the steps of his servant. Those damsels were in the habit of coming daily to the well; and Moses sat down to ask for hospitality at the waterside, whither in a dry country the inhabitants were likely to flock in the evening. But it was by no means due to chance that he came so opportunely to render assistance to the damsels, and that Jethro so hospitably invited him; but God was the guide of his wandering servant’s way, not only to obtain for him a resting-place for a day, but a comfortable habitation even to the close of his exile. For Jethro (whose title shews that he was of some dignity amongst his people) not only engaged his services, but chose him for his son-in-law. Although the occupation of a shepherd was a humble one, yet there was no little consolation in this high connection. All are not agreed about the word כהן, cohen (29) The Chaldee paraphrast badly translates it “Prince,” because it does not accord with the fact that the shepherds of the country were at variance with his daughters. Nor is it more probable that a rich and chief man would have been without servants, so as to be obliged to expose his daughters daily to the insults and quarrels of the shepherds. I think, then, that he was a priest ( sacrificum,) which is the opinion most generally received. But the question is, whether he worshipped false gods, or the one true God? and certainly many probable reasons lead us to conclude, that he did not sacrifice to idols; because Moses could scarcely have been persuaded, not merely to live in a house which was defiled by foul unrighteousness, but even to marry into it. Besides, hereafter, many indications of piety will appear in the language of Jethro. Although, as almost the whole world had then fallen into many corrupt practices, it seems likely to me that his priesthood was in some measure corrupted. In the time of Abraham, Melehizedek was the only priest of the living God. Abraham himself was extricated from a deep abyss of idolatry into which his family was plunged. It was, then, hardly possible that the Midianites should have retained the pure worship; and indeed it is plain from other passages, that they were joined to idols. After duly weighing all these points, nothing occurs to me as more probable, than that under the priesthood of Jethro the true God was worshipped, according as tradition had revealed Him, but not purely; because religion was at that time everywhere contaminated by diverse superstitions. But there is some difference between idolatry and the impure worship of God, corrupted in some respects. I say, then, that they were worshippers of the true God, because they had not entirely departed from the principles of His religion, although they had contracted some defilement from the stinking puddles of error which had gradually crept in. There is also another question among interpreters as to the name “Jethro.” Those who think Bethuel (30) was a different person from Jethro, are easily refuted; for it is quite evident, that Moses in the next chapter speaks of the same person, though under another name. Nor would it agree with the mention of his marriage, that the name of the father should be altogether omitted; and it is a forced construction to suppose, that in such immediate connection two persons should be spoken of as in the same degree of relationship. Again, if Jethro was the son of Bethuel, living in the same house, he would have been a member of the family, but not its head, and therefore Moses would not be said to have fed his flock. Besides, it is probable that Hobab (who will be afterwards called the son of Bethuel, Numbers 10:29) was the brother-in-law of Moses, i e. , the brother of his wife; from whence we collect, that Jethro, as is not unusual, had two names. For it is absurd to think that it is Hobab whom Moses here calls Jethro, and an unreasonable invention. We shall hereafter see that Jethro came into the Desert to congratulate Moses; but it is related in the same place that he “let him depart;” and certainly it would not have been kind to press a man bowed down by age to accompany him on his long journey. For if he was older than Moses, he was scarcely less than ninety; and what sense would there have been in promising a decrepit old man the reward of his labor, after they should reach the land of Canaan?
But the whole controversy is put an end to in one word; because Moses writes that Jethro returned home, but that Hobab was persuaded to listen to his earnest requests, and to remain with him. Nothing can be more probable than that the old man Bethuel, who was unequal to bear the fatigue of a long journey, returned straight home, having left his son behind with Moses, to be to him “instead of eyes,” and to guide them on their way.
(29) כהן. This verb does not occur in Hebrew in its primary conjugation (kal), but is found in Arabic, where it signifies to draw nigh. Hence the noun, being of the form of the present participle, means in strictness one who draws nigh; and in usage a priest who draws nigh to God; a prince who draws nigh to the sovereign; or, sometimes the sovereign’s guards, ministers, or near kinsmen.
(30) See note on ver. 18. In the French version he is always called Raguel.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/exodus-2.html. 1840-57.
There went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months ( Exodus 2:1-2 ).
The word "goodly" is "beautiful", so this woman had a beautiful little boy, and she just couldn't bring herself to throwing him in the river. Now that was the order of the Pharaoh. But he was such a beautiful little boy, and of course what mother could really just throw her son into the river? So she hid him for three months.
And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, [with tar] and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's bank ( Exodus 2:3 ).
So in other words, she was fulfilling, cast the child in the river. But she just fixed a little basket, and waterproofed it so that she put him in the river, but in the basket.
And his sister stood afar off, to find out what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she opened it, and saw the child: and, behold, the baby cried. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children ( Exodus 2:4-6 ).
So we see the beautiful story of God's preservation. The child was placed in this little waterproof basket there in the river. The sister stayed back in sort of the bushes, to watch the basket to see what happens. Here the daughter's Pharaoh came down to take her bath, and they saw the basket and she sent one of her maidens out to get the thing and find out, you know, curiosity. She opened it up and just at that time, little Moses started crying, and her heart was touched. "Ah, it's one of the Hebrew's children."
So Moses' sister came up, [Miriam who we will learn more about later.] and she said to Pharaoh's daughter, Do you want me to get a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you ( Exodus 2:7 )?
Now that was a very common thing in those days. Wet nursing. So you get a woman to just wet nurse your child for you. So that's what Miriam is offering to do, get a woman to nurse the child.
And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And so the maid went and called the child's mother. [Moses' mother.] And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give you wages. And so the woman took the child and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: [Which means, "to be taken out of the water".] because I drew him out of the water ( Exodus 2:8-10 ).
So interesting way that God has of working, Moses was able to grow up at home during the early years where he received the strong inculcating of the Hebrew traditions, endued with a sense of a nation of destiny. Certainly, it's a tremendous example of what the proverb declares, "If you train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it." Because in those early formation years, Moses had received such a strong foundation that it was strong enough that he was able to withstand all of the pressures of the many years of the education within the Egyptian schools. Don't underestimate the value of those early years. It is said that the Jewish mothers from the time the baby was first cradled in their arms, would begin to whisper in their ears, "Jehovah is God". I think for some of you mothers, one of the greatest things you can do is just whisper in your children's ears, "Jesus loves you". Paul wrote to Timothy, and spoke of how at youth he was taught in the scriptures by his godly mother and grandmother. What a heritage.
I thank God that I had a similar kind of a heritage. From my youth, taught in the scriptures by my mother. I didn't have the normal, "Goldilocks and the three Pigs", bedtime stories. I wasn't frightened by those horror tales. Imagine the wolf eating up your grandmother, you know. The woodsman coming and chopping the wolf. "So go to sleep now, honey." I can't quite understand our mentality in some of the stories that we call bedtime stories. Even the, "Rock-a-bye baby on the treetop, when the wind blows the cradle will rock, and when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall", poor child. How are we marking our children? My parents were wiser than to fill me with that garbage.
So I grew up knowing how God would always take care of His children. How God delivered the giant into the hands of David. I knew all about Moses and the bulrushes, and God's delivering power. I knew about God's deliverance from the lion's den. I knew that no matter what would happen, God would be with me, and protect me, and shelter me. My mother used to follow me around the yard when I was playing ball, or swinging, or whatever, just giving me scriptures, making me repeat them, helping me to memorize them, filling me with the knowledge of the Word of God. Those early years are important years.
Even before you think your child can understand, begin his education and training. In the very first few months, it is so important that their brain be stimulated because all of those little neuron connections are being made back there. They're being made according to the stimulus that the child receives. So that's why they say have mobiles in the crib, and colors that will move and all kinds of action to stimulate the development of the connections there during that crucial time. Because their future mental capacities will be directly proportionate to the number of connections that are made in those early months.
So Moses' mother did an excellent job. God even saw she got paid for it. I like the way the Lord operates. So rather than losing a son she gained a son, and also had wages as she nursed him. Then she brought him into the Pharaoh's court and presented him, and then he was schooled in Egypt.
Now Hebrews tells us it was by faith that she put that little ark in the river. By faith she refused to obey the Pharaoh's order, but built a little ark and placed the child in it. By faith Moses when he came to age, refused to be called the son of the Pharaoh's daughter, or to identify himself with the Egyptians, but he identified himself with the people of God. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, in order that he might enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, for he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. That shows you that there was such a strong background in Moses.
Now not only a strong background, but a sense of destiny and God's purpose for these people was instilled into Moses. So that Moses when he went out in the field, which we'll be studying in just a moment, and found an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite, killed the Egyptian. The next day when he saw two Israelites striving together and he went to break them up, when they said, "Who made you a judge over us? Are you going to kill us like you did that Egyptian yesterday?" We are told in Stephen's oration in the Acts of the Apostles, that Moses thought that they understood that God had destined him to be the leader to lead them out of their bondage. Moses thought they'd understand that. He had such a sense of destiny in those early years.
Let's move on.
And it came to pass [Verse eleven, chapter two] in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brothers, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brothers ( Exodus 2:11 ).
So he had this identity with the Hebrew people rather than with the Egyptians, and it had to come in those early years.
And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand ( Exodus 2:12 ).
Now some say the mistake was "he looked this way and that way", but he didn't look up. We make that mistake so often. We look this way and that way, and then we act, not realizing that God sees us. He tried to hide his deed by burying the Egyptian in the sand.
Now as I said, Moses had a sense of destiny. Somehow he felt, and perhaps because of the position, somehow he felt that he was destined to lead these people out of their bondage. He seemed to have this awareness and consciousness. He was surprised that they didn't recognize it. The problem with Moses was that he just got ahead of God. He tried to do what God wanted done in the ability and in the power of his own flesh. Knowing what God wanted, aware of the purposes of God, his big mistake was getting ahead of God.
Now this is a mistake that we often make. We know what God wants to do, we don't wait for God or His empowering to do it, we get out and we try to do in the energy of our own flesh, what we realize God desires to be done. But I want you to notice how unsuccessful he was in trying in the ability of his own flesh to do what God wanted done. He was not even successful in burying one Egyptian. Now when God was gonna do it, He wanted to bury the whole army, which He did later in the Red Sea.
We must be careful about this zeal that we oftentimes feel for the work of God, where we start off without the anointing and the direction of the Holy Spirit. In the ability and the energies of our flesh accomplish the purposes and the work and the purposes of God, we, like Moses will end up in failure. The work of the Spirit can never be accomplished in the ability of our flesh. To do the work of the Spirit, I must be anointed, empowered, and directed by the Spirit of God. So many of my problems have arisen from this same mistake that Moses made. Having a consciousness of what God wants to do, having an awareness of the purposes of God, I try to fulfill the purposes of God without the leading and the direction, and the help of the Holy Spirit. I get ahead of God and every time I do, I botch things up just as Moses did. "He tried to hide the Egyptian."
Now when he went out the next day, two men who were Hebrews were fighting together: and he said to them that did the wrong, Why did you smite this fellow? And he said, Who made you a prince and a judge over us? you intend to kill me, like you killed the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of the Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well ( Exodus 2:13-15 ).
So when the Pharaoh discovered that Moses had taken the side of a Hebrew over an Egyptian, he had determined to kill Moses. But Moses fled and went out to the area of Sinai, the Sinai Peninsula.
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came to draw water, and they filled the troughs to water their father's flocks. And the mean shepherds came and drove them away ( Exodus 2:16-17 ):
They'd stand back and watch the girls draw all the water out, and then they'd come and chase the girls off and water their own flocks. Moses saw what was going on.
so Moses stood up and he helped them, and he watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How come you're home so early? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of their shepherds, and he also drew water for us, and he watered the flocks. And he said to his daughters, Where is he? why did you leave the man? call him, that he may eat bread. [Typical kind of Bedouin-kind of hospitality.] And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and called his name Gershom: [Which means "stranger".] for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land. And it came to pass in the process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of their bondage, and they cried, and their cry came unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, and with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them ( Exodus 2:16-25 ).
Now between verses twenty-two and twenty-three, a period of about forty years. So it doesn't really show it in the text, but it is there. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/exodus-2.html. 2014.
5. Moses’ life in Midian 2:16-25
This section introduces some of the secondary characters in Exodus and sets the stage for Moses’ call. Its purpose is primarily transitional.
Moses provided water for Jethro’s daughters and their sheep in the wilderness (Exodus 2:16-17). Later he provided water for God’s people and their flocks in the wilderness (cf. Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:7-11). This was the third time Moses sought to deliver others from harm (Exodus 2:17; cf. Exodus 2:12-13).
As "the priest of Midian" (Exodus 2:16) Reuel ("friend of God," Exodus 2:18) was the spiritual head of his branch of the Midianites. Moses’ father-in-law had at least two names: Reuel (or Raguel, Exodus 2:18; Numbers 10:29) and Jethro (or Jether, Exodus 3:1; Exodus 4:18; Exodus 18:1-2; Exodus 18:5-6; Exodus 18:9-10; Exodus 18:12). He appears to have been a worshipper of the true God (cf. Exodus 18:12-23). At this time he may simply have been a God-fearing Semite.
Moses’ years in Midian were years of bitter humiliation. He gave expression to his feelings by naming his first son Gershom (Exodus 2:22), meaning "banishment."
"The pride and self-will with which he had offered himself in Egypt as the deliverer and judge of his oppressed brethren, had been broken down by the feeling of exile." [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, 1:435.]
Moses lived in Midian "many days" (Exodus 2:23) before Pharaoh (Thutmose III) died. Stephen said it was a period of 40 years (Acts 7:30).
". . . Moses is at home in the author’s view because he has come at last to a people who worship the God of his fathers. The Moses-Midian connection is theological. Suggested deftly in this climactic section of the narrative of chap. 2, that connection will be affirmed in chaps. 3-4 and 18." [Note: Durham, p. 22.]
The prayers of the Israelites in their bondage touched God’s heart, and He began anew to act for them (cf. Exodus 3:7-9). This is another of the many references in Scripture that indicate that prayer affects some of God’s actions. Remembering His covenant with the patriarchs, God acted for the Israelites by commissioning Moses.
God graciously and sovereignly used Moses’ sin (evidently manslaughter, Exodus 2:12) to bring ultimate blessing for His chosen people (cf. Romans 5:20). This is important to observe as we seek to understand God’s ways.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/exodus-2.html. 2012.
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters,.... Who being a descendant of Abraham might have retained the knowledge of the true God, and might be a priest of his, as Melchizedek was, or otherwise it may be thought improbable that Moses would have married his daughter, as he afterwards did; and so Aben Ezra says, he was a priest of God; though the word is sometimes used of a prince, ruler, and governor; and is so rendered here by the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; and Artapanus r, an Heathen writer, expressly calls him αρχων, a "prince" of those places, that is, of Arabia; he might be both prince and priest, as Melchizedek before mentioned was, and as has been the usage of many countries:
and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock; which is no contradiction to their being daughters either of a priest or a prince, which were both high titles and characters; since it was usual in those early times, and in those countries, for the sons and daughters of considerable persons to be employed in such services; :-.
r Ut supra, (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27.) p. 434.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/exodus-2.html. 1999.
|The Marriage of Moses.||B. C. 1533.|
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. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? 19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. 20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
Moses here gains a settlement in Midian, just as his father Jacob had gained one in Syria, Genesis 29:2, c. And both these instances should encourage us to trust Providence, and to follow it. Events that seem inconsiderable, and purely accidental, after wards appear to have been designed by the wisdom of God for very good purposes, and of great consequence to his people. A casual transient occurrence has sometimes occasioned the greatest and happiest turns of a man's life. Observe,
I. Concerning the seven daughters of Reuel the priest or prince of Midian. 1. They were humble, and very industrious, according as the employment of the country was: they drew water for their father's flock,Exodus 2:16; Exodus 2:16. If their father was a prince, it teaches us that even those who are honourably born, and are of quality and distinction in their country, should yet apply themselves to some useful business, and what their hand finds to do do it with all their might. Idleness can be no one's honour. If their father was a priest, it teaches us that ministers' children should, in a special manner, be examples of humility and industry. 2. They were modest, and would not ask this strange Egyptian to come home with them (though handsome and a great courtier), till their father sent for him. Modesty is the ornament of woman.
II. Concerning Moses. He was taken for an Egyptian (Exodus 2:19; Exodus 2:19); and strangers must be content to be the subjects of mistake; but it is observable, 1. How ready he was to help Reuel's daughters to water their flocks. Though bred in learning and at court, yet he knew how to turn his hand to such an office as this when there was occasion; nor had he learned of the Egyptians to despise shepherds. Note, Those that have had a liberal education yet should not be strangers to servile work, because they know not what necessity Providence may put them in of working for themselves, or what opportunity Providence may give them of being serviceable to others. These young women, it seems, met with some opposition in their employment, more than they and their servants could conquer; the shepherds of some neighbouring prince, as some think, or some idle fellows that called themselves shepherds, drove away their flocks; but Moses, though melancholy and in distress, stood up and helped them, not only to get clear of the shepherds, but, when that was done, to water the flocks. This he did, not only in complaisance to the daughters of Reuel (though that also did very well become him), but because, wherever he was, as occasion offered itself, (1.) He loved to be doing justice, and appearing in the defence of such as he saw injured, which every man ought to do as far as it is in the power of his hand to do it. (2.) He loved to be doing good. Wherever the Providence of God casts us we should desire and endeavour to be useful; and, when we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can. And he that is faithful in a little shall be entrusted with more. 2. How well he was paid for his serviceableness. When the young women acquainted their father with the kindnesses they had received from this stranger, he sent to invite him to his house, and made much of him, Exodus 2:20; Exodus 2:20. Thus God will recompense the kindnesses which are at any time shown to his children; they shall in no wise lose their reward. Moses soon recommended himself to the esteem and good affection of this prince of Midian, who took him into his house, and, in process of time, married one of his daughters to him (Exodus 2:21; Exodus 2:21), by whom he had a son, whom he called Gershom, a stranger there (Exodus 2:22; Exodus 2:22), that if ever God should give him a home of his own he might keep in remembrance the land in which he had been a stranger. Now this settlement of Moses in Midian was designed by Providence, (1.) To shelter him for the present. God will find hiding-places for his people in the day of their distress; nay, he will himself be to them a little sanctuary, and will secure them, either under heaven or in heaven. But, (2.) It was also designed to prepare him for the great services he was further designed for. His manner of life in Midian, where he kept the flock of his father-in-law (having none of his own to keep), would be of use to him, [1.] To inure him to hardship and poverty, that he might learn how to want as well as how to abound. Those whom God intends to exalt he first humbles. [2.] To inure him to contemplation and devotion. Egypt accomplished him as a scholar, a gentleman, a statesman, a soldier, all which accomplishments would be afterwards of use to him; but yet he lacked one thing, in which the court of Egypt could not befriend him. He that was to do all by divine revelation must know, by a long experience, what it was to live a life of communion with God; and in this he would be greatly furthered by the solitude and retirement of a shepherd's life in Midian. By the former he was prepared to rule in Jeshurun, but by the latter he was prepared to converse with God in Mount Horeb, near which mount he had spent much of his time. Those that know what it is to be alone with God in holy exercises are acquainted with better delights than ever Moses tasted in the court of Pharaoh.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/exodus-2.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12