|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 27. - DEPARTURE OF JETHRO. The time of Jethro's departure, and indeed of his entire visit, has been matter of controversy. Kurtz is of opinion that Jethro waited till the news of Israel's victory over Amalek reached him, before setting out from his own country. Hence he concludes, that "a whole month or more may easily have intervened between the victory over Amalek and the arrival of Jethro," whose arrival in that case "would not even fall into the very earliest period of the sojourn at Sinai, but after the promulgation of the first Sinaitic law." Those who identify Hobab with Jethro find in Numbers 10:29-32 a proof that at any rate Jethro prolonged his visit until after the law was given, and did not "depart to his own land" before the removal of the people from the wilderness of Sinai to that of Paran, "in the 20th day of the second month of the second year" (ib, ver. 11). The position, however, of ch. 18, together with its contents - beth what it says and what it omits - are conclusive against this view. Jethro started on his journey when he heard "that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt" (ver. 1), not when he heard that Israel had been victorious over Amalek. His conversation with Moses (vers. 7-11) ranged over the entire series of deliverances from the night of the departure out of Egypt to the Amalekite defeat, but contained no allusion to the giving of the law. The occupation of Moses on the day after his arrival (ver. 13) is suitable to the quiet period which followed the Amalekite defeat, but not to the exciting time of the Sinaitic manifestations. It may be added that the practice of inculcating general principles on occasion of his particular judgments, of which Moses speaks (ver. 16), is suitable to the period anterior to the promulgation of the law, but not to that following it. The argument from Numbers 10:29-32 fails altogether, so soon as it is seen that Jethro and Hobab are distinct persons, probably brothers, sons of Reuel (or Raguel), and brothers- in-law of Moses. Verse 27. - Moses let his father-in-law depart. Literally, "dismissed him," "sent him away." This single expression is quite enough to prove that the Hobab, whom Moses made strenuous efforts to keep with him after Sinai was left, is not the Jethro whom he was quite content to let go. He went his way into his own land. He returned to Midian, probably crossing the Elanitic gulf, which divided Midian from the Sinaitic region. The exact time of the departure is uncertain; but it was probably before the main events related in ch. 19.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Moses let his father in law depart,.... After he had been with him some time, and desired leave to go into his own country, which was granted; or he "dismissed" (y) him in an honourable way: and as he went out to meet him when he came, if he did not attend him, when he went, some way in person, yet sent a guard along with him, both for honour and for safety:
and he went his way into his own land; the land of Midian: the Targum of Jonathan,"he went to proselyte all the children of his own country;''or, as Jarchi expresses it, the children of his family; and it is plain that the Kenites and Rechabites descended from him, who in later times lived among the Jews, and were proselytes to their religion, Judges 1:16.
(y) "et dimisit", V. L. Tigurine version, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius, Piscator.
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