|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:13-27 Here is the great zeal and the toil of Moses as a magistrate. Having been employed to redeem Israel out of the house of bondage, he is a further type of Christ, that he is employed as a lawgiver and a judge among them. If the people were as quarrelsome one with another as they were with God, no doubt Moses had many causes brought before him. This business Moses was called to; it appears that he did it with great care and kindness. The meanest Israelite was welcome to bring his cause before him. Moses kept to his business from morning to night. Jethro thought it was too much for him to undertake alone; also it would make the administration of justice tiresome to the people. There may be over-doing even in well-doing. Wisdom is profitable to direct, that we may neither content ourselves with less than our duty, nor task ourselves beyond our strength. Jethro advised Moses to a better plan. Great men should not only study to be useful themselves, but contrive to make others useful. Care must be taken in the choice of the persons admitted into such a trust. They should be men of good sense, that understood business, and that would not be daunted by frowns or clamours, but abhorred the thought of a bribe. Men of piety and religion; such as fear God, who dare not to do a base thing, though they could do it secretly and securely. The fear of God will best fortify a man against temptations to injustice. Moses did not despise this advice. Those are not wise, who think themselves too wise to be counselled.
Verse 18. - The thing... is not good - i.e., not expedient, and so not the right thing to do. It is a man's duty to have regard to his health, and not unnecessarily overtask his strength. Verse 18. - Thou wilt surely wear away. Literally, "Wasting thou wilt waste away," Thy strength, i.e., will not long hold out, if thou continuest this practice. Both thou, and this people. The people's strength and patience will also fail, if, owing to the number of the complaints, they have - some of them - to wait all day at the tribunal before they can obtain a decision.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou wilt surely wear away,.... His natural strength and animal spirits, and so his flesh; he feared his constant application and attendance to business would impair his health, break his constitution, and bring him into a consumption. Moses was naturally of a strong and vigorous constitution; for, forty years after this, even to the time of his death, his natural force was not abated; or "fading thou wilt fade", or, "falling thou wilt fall" (r); in allusion to the leaves of trees in autumn, which fade, and wither, and fall:
both thou and this people that is with thee; it was tiresome to the people, as well as fatiguing to Moses, who, because of the multitude of cases, were obliged to wait a long time, some of them from morning to night, and yet could not get their suit to come and so were obliged to attend next day, and perhaps day after day. The Targum of Jonathan is,"even thou also, Aaron and his sons, and the elders that are with them;''and so Jarchi; but these do not seem to have been assisting to him at all, as appears by what follows:
for this thing is too heavy for thee: it was too great a burden upon his shoulders, what his strength was not equal to; for though his internal abilities were exceeding great, and he had a good will to the work, to serve God and his people, yet it was more, humanly speaking, than his bodily strength would admit of, or any mortal man could go through:
thou art not able to perform it thyself alone; and this Moses was sensible of himself afterwards, and says the same thing, Deuteronomy 1:9.
(r) "marcescendo marcesses", Montanus; so Ainsworth; "cadendo cades", Pagninus.
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