|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:16-22 Moses found shelter in Midian. He was ready to help Reuel's daughters to water their flocks, although bred in learning and at court. Moses loved to be doing justice, and to act in defence of such as he saw injured, which every man ought to do, as far as it is in his power. He loved to be doing good; wherever the providence of God casts us, we should desire and try to be useful; and when we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can. Moses commended himself to the prince of Midian; who married one of his daughters to Moses, by whom he had a son, called Gershom, a stranger there, that he might keep in remembrance the land in which he had been a stranger.
Verses 16-22. - LIFE OF MOSES IN MIDIAN. Fugitives from Egypt generally took the northern route from Pelusium or Migdol to Gaza, and so to Syria, or the regions beyond. But in this quarter they were liable to be arrested and sent back to the Egyptian monarch. Rameses II: put a special clause to this effect into his treaty with the contemporary Hittite king (Brugsch, 'History of Egypt,' vol. 2 p. 73). It was, perhaps, the fear of extradition which made Moses turn his steps southeastward, and proceed along the route, or at any rate in the direction, which he afterwards took with his nation. Though Egypt had possessions in the Sinaitic peninsula, it was not difficult to avoid them; and before Sinai was reached the fugitive would be in complete safety, for the Egyptians seem never to have penetrated to the southern or eastern parts of the great triangle. "The well," by which Moses took up his abode, is placed with some probability in the neighbourhood of Sherm, about ten miles north-east of Ras Mahommed, the southern cape of the peninsula Verse 16. - The priest of Midian. Cohen is certainly "priest" here, and not "prince," since the father-in-law of Moses exercises priestly functions in Exodus 18:12. His seven daughters drew water for his flock, in accordance with Eastern custom. So Rachel "kept the sheep" of her father Laban, and watered them (Genesis 29:9). Such a practice agrees well with the simplicity of primitive times and peoples; nor would it even at the present day be regarded as strange in Arabia.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire 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 Artapanus (r), an Heathen writer, expressly calls him 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.
(r) Ut supra, (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27.) p. 434.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16-22. the priest of Midian—or, "prince of Midian." As the officers were usually conjoined, he was the ruler also of the people called Cushites or Ethiopians, and like many other chiefs of pastoral people in that early age, he still retained the faith and worship of the true God.
seven daughters—were shepherdesses to whom Moses was favorably introduced by an act of courtesy and courage in protecting them from the rude shepherds of some neighboring tribe at a well. He afterwards formed a close and permanent alliance with this family by marrying one of the daughters, Zipporah, "a little bird," called a Cushite or Ethiopian (Nu 12:1), and whom Moses doubtless obtained in the manner of Jacob by service [see Ex 3:1]. He had by her two sons, whose names were, according to common practice, commemorative of incidents in the family history [Ex 18:3, 4].
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