Exodus 18:11
Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) For in the thing . . . —Heb., even in the matter in which they dealt proudly against them. Jehovah’s superior power had been shown especially in the matter in which the Egyptians had dealt most proudly—viz., in pursuing the Israelites with an army when they had given them leave to depart, and attempting to re-capture or destroy them.

Exodus 18:11. Now know I that JEHOVAH is greater than all gods — That the God of Israel is greater than all pretenders — All deities, that usurp divine honours: he silences and subdues them all, and is himself the only living and true God. He is also higher than all princes and potentates, who also are called gods, and has both an incontestible authority over them, and an irresistible power to control them; he manageth them all as he pleaseth, and gets honour upon them, how great soever they are. Now know I — He knew it before, but now he knew it better; his faith grew up to a full assurance, upon this fresh evidence; for wherein they dealt proudly — The magicians or idols of Egypt, or Pharaoh and his grandees, opposing God, and setting themselves up in competition with him; he was above them — The magicians were baffled, Pharaoh humbled, his powers broken, and Israel rescued out of their hands.18:7-12 Conversation concerning God's wondrous works is good, and edifies. Jethro not only rejoiced in the honour done to his son-in-law, but in all the goodness done to Israel. Standers-by were more affected with the favours God had showed to Israel, than many were who received them. Jethro gave the glory to Israel's God. Whatever we have the joy of, God must have the praise. They joined in a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Mutual friendship is sanctified by joint worship. It is very good for relations and friends to join in the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, as those that meet in Christ. This was a temperate feast; they did eat bread, manna. Jethro must see and taste that bread from heaven, and though a gentile, is welcome: the gentiles are welcomed to Christ the Bread of life.Greater than all gods - See Exodus 15:11. The words simply indicate a conviction of the incomparable might and majesty of Yahweh.

For in ... above them - i. e. the greatness of Yahweh was shown in those transactions wherein the Egyptians had thought to deal haughtily and cruelly against the Israelites. Jethro refers especially to the destruction of the Egyptian host in the Red Sea.

7. Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, &c.—Their salutations would be marked by all the warm and social greetings of Oriental friends (see on [20]Ex 4:27)—the one going out to "meet" the other, the "obeisance," the "kiss" on each side of the head, the silent entrance into the tent for consultation; and their conversation ran in the strain that might have been expected of two pious men, rehearsing and listening to a narrative of the wonderful works and providence of God. Now I know, viz. more clearly and by certain experience; as that phrase signifies, Genesis 22:12 1 Kings 17:18,24. For otherwise it is more than probable that Jethro had the knowledge of the true God before this time, not only because he was the great-grandchild of Abraham, but also because of his long conversation with a person of so great knowledge, and wisdom, and piety, as Moses was.

Wherein they dealt proudly; either,

1. Their false gods, who wrought strange things in and by their servants the magicians, who contended with Moses, and proudly boasted of their skill as not a whit inferior to that of Moses, but at last were forced to yield up the cause, Exodus 8:19; or rather,

2. The Egyptians, spoken of Exodus 18:10, who dealt proudly, and scornfully, and tyrannically with the Israelites, but God showed himself to be above them, and above their king; though Pharaoh would not own him for his superior, Exodus 5:2, but lift up his horn against God, and against his people: but the Lord brought that proud prince upon his knees, and forced him oft to confess his faults, and to become suppliant to Moses for deliverance from the plagues; and at last, when he continued incorrigible, he drowned him in the sea. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods,.... He knew the Lord before, and that he was the only true God, and greater than all that were so called; but now he had a fresh instance of it, a clear proof and demonstration of it, and so more plainly and fully knew it, and was assured of it, that he was greater than all the idols of the Gentiles, and particularly than the gods of the Egyptians; since he had saved his people Israel out of their hands, and when they could not protect and defend the Egyptians neither from plagues nor from destruction; nay, could not secure themselves, being all destroyed by the mighty Jehovah, see Exodus 12:12, as also that he is greater than all that are called gods, kings, princes, and civil magistrates, than Pharaoh and all his nobles, generals, and captains, who were destroyed by him: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly, he was above them; the idol gods, the gods of the Egyptians, the evil demons, Satan and his principalities, who influenced them, presuming and boasting by their magicians what they could do; but in those things Jehovah in the wonders he wrought appeared to be above them; they were overcome by him, and obliged to acknowledge the finger of God; and this sense stands best connected with the preceding clause: or else in those things, in which the Egyptians dealt proudly with the Israelites, pursuing after them in the pride and vanity of their minds, and giving out that they should overtake them and divide the spoil, and satisfy their lust upon them, when God blew with his wind upon them, the sea covered them, and they sunk as lead in the mighty waters, see Exodus 15:9, and to the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red sea, the Jews commonly apply this: thus the Targum of Jonathan,"wherein the Egyptians dealt wickedly in judging Israel, by the waters, judgment returned upon them that they might be judged by the waters;''and to the same sense Jarchi: they suppose here was a just retaliation, that as the Egyptians drowned the Hebrew infants in the waters of the Nile, they were in righteous judgment drowned in the Red sea; this is the very thing, or is the same way they in their pride and malice dealt with the people of Israel; God dealt with them, and showed himself to be both "against them" (o), as it may be rendered, and above them.

(o) "contra eos", Pagninus, Montanus; "contra illos", V. L. Tigurine version; so Reinbech "de accent". Heb. p. 314.

Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly {e} he was above them.

(e) For they that drowned the children of the Israelites, perished themselves by water.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. greater than all gods] cf. Exodus 15:11.

for in (or by) the thing wherein they dealt proudly against them …] The end of the sentence has accidentally dropped out; and something like he hath destroyed them must be supplied. Jehovah’s superiority to other gods was shewn by His overthrow of the Egyptians; and this was a consequence of their proud pursuit of the Israelites.

dealt proudly against them] cf. the reminiscence in Nehemiah 9:10.Verse 11. - Now know I that the Lord is greater than all gods. It would seem that Jethro, like the generality of the heathen, believed in a plurality of gods, and had hitherto regarded the God of the Israelites as merely one among many equals. Now, he renounces this creed, and emphatically declares his belief that Jehovah is above all other gods, greater, higher, more powerful. Compare the confessions of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:47; Daniel 3:26, 27) and Darius the Mede (Daniel 6:26). For in the thing wherein they dealt wickedly he was above them. There is no "he was above them" in the original, nor is the clause a distinct sentence from the preceding one. It is merely a prolongation of that clause, without any new verb; and should be translated, "Even in the very matter that they (the Egyptians) dealt proudly against them "(the Israelites). The superiority of Jehovah to other gods was shown forth even in the very matter of the proud dealing of the Egyptians, which was brought to shame and triumphed over by the might of Jehovah. The allusion is especially to the passage of the Red Sea. The Amalekites had met Israel with hostility, as the prototype of the heathen who would strive against the people and kingdom of God. But Jethro, the Midianitish priest, appeared immediately after in the camp of Israel, not only as Moses' father-in-law, to bring back his wife and children, but also with a joyful acknowledgement of all that Jehovah had done to the Israelites in delivering them from Egypt, to offer burnt-offerings to the God of Israel, and to celebrate a sacrificial meal with Moses, Aaron, and all the elders of Israel; so that in the person of Jethro the first-fruits of the heathen, who would hereafter seek the living God, entered into religious fellowship with the people of God. As both the Amalekites and Midianites were descended from Abraham, and stood in blood-relationship to Israel, the different attitudes which they assumed towards the Israelites foreshadowed and typified the twofold attitude which the heathen world would assume towards the kingdom of God. (On Jethro, see Exodus 2:18; on Moses' wife and sons, see Exodus 2:21-22; and on the expression in Exodus 18:2, "after he had sent her back," Exodus 4:26.) - Jethro came to Moses "into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God." The mount of God is Horeb (Exodus 3:1); and the place of encampment is Rephidim, at Horeb, i.e., at the spot where the Sheikh valley opens into the plain of er Rahah (Exodus 17:1). This part is designated as a wilderness; and according to Robinson (1, pp. 130, 131) the district round this valley and plain is "naked desert," and "wild and desolate." The occasion for Jethro the priest to bring back to his son-in-law his wife and children was furnished by the intelligence which had reached him, that Jehovah had brought Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 18:1), and, as we may obviously supply, had led them to Horeb. When Moses sent his wife and sons back to Jethro, he probably stipulated that they were to return to him on the arrival of the Israelites at Horeb. For when God first called Moses at Horeb, He foretold to him that Israel would be brought to this mountain on its deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 3:12).

(Note: Kurtz (Hist. of O. C. iii. 46, 53) supposes that it was chiefly the report of the glorious result of the battle with Amalek which led Jethro to resolve to bring Moses' family back to him. There is no statement, however, to this effect in the biblical text, but rather the opposite, namely, that what Jethro had heard of all that God had done to Moses and Israel consisted of the fact that Jehovah had brought Israel out of Egypt. Again, there are not sufficient grounds for placing the arrival of Jethro at the camp of Israel, in the desert of Sinai and after the giving of the law, as Ranke has done. For the fact that the mount of God is mentioned as the place of encampment at the time, is an argument in favour of Rephidim, rather than against it, as we have already shown. And we can see no force in the assertion that the circumstances, in which we find the people, point rather to the longer stay at Sinai, than to the passing halt at Rephidim. For how do we know that the stay at Rephidim was such a passing one, that it would not afford time enough for Jethro's visit? It is true that, according to the ordinary assumption, only half a month intervened between the arrival of the Israelites in the desert of Sin and their arrival in the desert of Sinai; but within this space of time everything might have taken place that is said to have occurred on the march from the former to the latter place of encampment. It is not stated in the biblical text that seven days were absorbed in the desert of Sin alone, but only that the Israelites spent a Sabbath there, and had received manna a few days before, so that three or four days (say from Thursday to Saturday inclusive) would amply suffice for all that took place. If the Israelites, therefore, encamped there in the evening of the 15th, they might have moved farther on the morning of the 19th or 20th, and after a two days' journey by Dofkah and Alush have reached Rephidim on the 21st or 22nd. They could then have fought the battle with the Amalekites the following day, so that Jethro might have come to the camp on the 24th or 25th, and held the sacrificial meal with the Israelites the next day. In that case there would still be four or five days left for him to see Moses sitting in judgment a whole day long (Exodus 18:13), and for the introduction of the judicial arrangements proposed by Jethro; - amply sufficient time, inasmuch as one whole day would suffice for the sight of the judicial sitting, which is said to have taken place the day after the sacrificial meal (Exodus 18:13). And the election of judges on the part of the people, for which Moses gave directions in accordance with Jethro's advice, might easily have been carried out in two days. For, on the one hand, it is most probable that after Jethro had watched this severe and exhausting occupation of Moses for a whole day, he spoke to Moses on the subject the very same evening, and laid his plan before him; and on the other hand, the execution of this plan did not require a very long time, as the people were not scattered over a whole country, but were collected together in one camp. Moreover, Moses carried on all his negotiations with the people through the elders as their representatives; and the judges were not elected in modern fashion by universal suffrage, but were nominated by the people, i.e., by the natural representatives of the nation, from the body of elders, according to their tribes, and then appointed by Moses himself. - Again, it is by no means certain that Israel arrived at the desert of Sinai on the first day of the third month, and that only half a month (15 or 16 days) elapsed between their arrival in the desert of sin and their encamping at Sinai (cf. Exodus 19:1). And lastly, though Kurtz still affirms that Jethro lived on the other side of the Elanitic Gulf, and did not set out till he heard of the defeat of the Amalekites, in which case a whole month might easily intervene between the victory of Israel and the arrival of Jethro, the two premises upon which this conclusion is based, are assumptions without foundation, as we have already shown at Exodus 3:1 in relation to the former, and have just shown in relation to the latter.)

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