|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:9-18 Moses reminds the people of the happy constitution of their government, which might make them all safe and easy, if it was not their own fault. He owns the fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham, and prays for the further accomplishment of it. We are not straitened in the power and goodness of God; why should we be straitened in our own faith and hope? Good laws were given to the Israelites, and good men were to see to the execution of them, which showed God's goodness to them, and the care of Moses.
Verses 9-18. - Moses reminds them that he had done all that was required on his part to conduct the people to the enjoyment of what God had freely given to them. The people had so increased in number that Moses found himself unable to attend to all the matters that concerned them, or to adjudicate in all the differences that arose among them. God had brought to pass that which he had promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:5), that his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude; in this Moses rejoiced, nay, he would even that their numbers were, with the Divine blessing, increased a thousandfold beyond what they were. But he found the burden, the weight of care and trouble, especially in connection with their strifes and suits thereby brought on him, too much for him; and, therefore, whilst they were still at Horeb, he had, following the advice of Jethro, his father-in-law, counseled them to select competent men from among themselves, who should relieve him by attending to those duties which he found it too burdensome for him to have to attend to (cf. Exodus 18:13, etc.). This appointment of captains was quite distinct from that of the elders whom God directed Moses to select that they might assist him in bearing the burden of the people (Numbers 11:10, etc.). The occasion of the appointment was the same in both cases, viz. the complaint of Moses that the task was too onerous for him, but the time, the place, and the manner of the two transactions were different. Verse 9. - I spake unto you at that time. The somewhat indefinite phrase, "at that time" (comp. Genesis 38:1), does not refer to the time after the people departed from Horeb, but to the time generally when they were in that region (see Exodus 18:5, 13). "The imperfect (וָאֹמַד, I spake), with yaw tel. expresses the order of thought and not of time" (Keil). It is not mentioned in Exodus that Moses spake to the people, as here stated, but what Jethro said to him to this effect is recorded; and as Moses proceeded to put in execution what his lather-in-law advised, it is probable that in doing so he told the people what he proposed to do, with his reasons for so doing, and obtained their assent, as here mentioned.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I spake unto you at that time,.... About that time; for it was after the rock in Horeb was smitten, and before they encamped at Mount Sinai, that Jethro gave the advice which Moses took, and proceeded on it, as here related; see Exodus 18:1.
saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone; to rule and govern them, judge and determine matters between them. Jethro suggested this to Moses, and he took the hint, and was conscious to himself that it was too much for him, and so declared it to the people, though it is not before recorded; see Exodus 18:18.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9-18. I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone—a little before their arrival in Horeb. Moses addresses that new generation as the representatives of their fathers, in whose sight and hearing all the transactions he recounts took place. A reference is here made to the suggestion of Jethro (Ex 18:18). In noticing his practical adoption of a plan by which the administration of justice was committed to a select number of subordinate officers, Moses, by a beautiful allusion to the patriarchal blessing, ascribed the necessity of that memorable change in the government to the vast increase of the population.
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