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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Exodus 2:16

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.


Adam Clarke Commentary

The priest of Midian - Or prince, or both; for the original כהן cohen has both meanings. See it explained at large at Genesis 15:18; (note). The transaction here very nearly resembles that mentioned Genesis 29 (note) concerning Jacob and Rachel.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/exodus-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The Priest of Midian - Reuel Exodus 2:18. His name, and the detailed notices in Exodus 2:17 may indicate that his person and office were lightly regarded by the idolatrous tribes in his immediate neighborhood.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/exodus-2.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

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 ArtapanusF18Ut supra, (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27.) p. 434. , 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; See Gill on Genesis 29:9.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/exodus-2.html. 1999.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

It is probable that this Reuel was a priest of the true God among the Midianites, as Melchizedec was among the Canaanites. See Genesis 14:18. But how afterwards his name is changed to Hobab we know not. See Numbers 10:29.


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Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/exodus-2.html. 1828.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

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.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/exodus-2.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 16. Now the priest.] Or, Prince. The old Egyptians chose their kings from among the priests. Samuel was both a priest and a judge in Israel. The Emperor of Rome had for one of his titles Pontifex Maximus, the high priest. Among the Turks, the judges at this day are ever ecclesiastical persons, whereby both orders joined give reputation to one another, and maintenance. (a)

And they came and drew water.] They were not so delicately bred as our dainty dames are now-a-days, but did earn before they eat.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/exodus-2.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Exodus 2:16. Now the priest of Midian Or, now a prince of Midian. See Genesis 41:45. The original word signifies either priest or prince. Jethro, probably, was both, as was usual in those days. He appears to have been a priest of the true GOD, from ch. Exodus 18:11-12. The event here recorded respecting his daughters, is very similar to that mentioned, Genesis 29 to which, and to the notes upon it, we refer. This is a fresh instance of the pastoral simplicity of ancient times, when the care of flocks was not thought beneath the dignity of princes or their daughters.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/exodus-2.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The Priest of Midian; not of idols, for then Moses would not have married into his family; but of the true God; for some such were in those ancient times here and there, as appears by Melchisedek, though his manner of worshipping God might be superstitious and corrupt: or the Hebrew cohen may here signify a prince, or a potentate, as Genesis 41:45. Nor doth the employment of his daughters contradict that translation, both because principalities were then many of them very small and mean, and because this employment then was esteemed noble, and worthy of great men’s daughters, as appears from Genesis 24:15 29:6, &c.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/exodus-2.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Priest. Hebrew cohen, (or cen,) means also a prince, as the Chaldean has it. When put in this manner, with the name of a place, it is generally taken in this sense. But formerly kings were also priests. Jethro served the true God, like Job, in the midst of a perverse generation, and offered sacrifice to him, when he joined the camp of the Israelites, Exodus xviii. 11. (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/exodus-2.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

priest: or chieftain exercising priestly functions, as Job and Melchizedec. Jethro (Exodus 3:1) is called Reuel (Exodus 2:18).


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/exodus-2.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) The priest of Midian.—Reuel may have been both “priest” and “prince,” like Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18); but there is no reason to doubt that he is here called “priest.” In Exodus 18:12, Jethro is represented as exercising priestly functions. The Midianites, descendants of Abraham by Keturah, worshipped the true God, and seem to have been at this time a religious people. The name Reuel, or Raguel, means “friend of God.” Jethro’s sacrifices were “for God,” and Aaron and the elders eat bread with him “before God.”

They came and drew water.—Comp. Genesis 29:9. According to Oriental ideas, there is nothing derogatory in the daughters of a chief so acting.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/exodus-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
the priest
or, prince.
3:1; Genesis 14:18; 41:45; *marg:
they came
Genesis 24:11,14-20; 29:6-10; 1 Samuel 9:11

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Exodus 2:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/exodus-2.html.

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