Exodus 18:23
If you shall do this thing, and God command you so, then you shall be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
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(23) If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so.—A reference of the entire matter to God, before any final decision was made, is plainly indicated. Moses must have already had some mode of consulting God on any point which required to be settled, and obtaining an answer. Was it by the “Urim and Thummim”?

Thou shalt be able to endure.—Comp. Exodus 18:18, where the inability of Moses to endure, unless he made some change, was strongly asserted.

And all this people shall also go to their place in peace.—The people, i.e., will go on their way to Canaan peacefully and contentedly, without suffering the inconvenience to which they are now subject.

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.To their place - i. e. to Canaan, which is thus recognized by Jethro as the appointed and true home of Israel. Compare Numbers 10:29-30. 23. If thou shalt do this thing, &c.—Jethro's counsel was given merely in the form of a suggestion; it was not to be adopted without the express sanction and approval of a better and higher Counsellor; and although we are not informed of it, there can be no doubt that Moses, before appointing subordinate magistrates, would ask the mind of God, as it is the duty and privilege of every Christian in like manner to supplicate the divine direction in all his ways. If God approve of the course which I suggest, to whose wisdom I submit my opinion. For Jethro might well think that Moses neither would nor might make so great an alteration in the government without consulting God about it, and expecting his answer. Others render the place thus, both God will give thee his commands, i.e. thou wilt have leisure to ask and take his counsel in all emergencies, which now thou hast not,

and thou wilt be able to endure.

To their place; to their several habitations, which are called men’s places, Judges 7:7 9:55 19:28,29; where their calling and business lies, from which they are now diverted and detained by fruitless and wearisome attendances.

In peace, orderly and quietly, having their minds much eased by this course, and their contentions soon ended. If thou shall do this thing,.... Hearken to the advice given, and put it in execution, by choosing out of the people, and placing over them, judges qualified, as directed: and God command thee so; for he did not desire him to follow his advice any further than it appeared to be according to the will of God, which he doubted not he would inquire about; and if he found it was agreeable to it, and should pursue it:

then thou shall be able to endure; to continue in his office and post, and hold on for years to come, God granting him life and health; whereas otherwise, in all human probability, he must waste and wear away apace:

and all this people shall also go to their place in peace; having had their cases heard and tried, and their differences adjusted to satisfaction; and quick dispatch being made, they would return to their tents or places of abode in much peace of mind, and sit down contented with the determination made, and pleased that the lawsuit was not protracted to any unreasonable length of time. Jarchi interprets all this people, of Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and the seventy elders that came with him, as if they by this means would be eased, and so pleased with it.

If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
23. this thing] Their position in the Heb. shews that these words are emphatic.

command thee so] i.e. approve and sanction thy doing this.

go to their place in peace] return quickly to their houses satisfied, without having to stand all the day before Moses (v. 14).Verse 23. - And God command thee so. Jethro does not suppose that Moses will take his advice without further consultation. He assumes that the matter will be laid by Moses before God, and God's will learnt concerning it. The entire narrative supposes that there was some established means by which the Israelite leader could refer a matter to Jehovah and obtain a decision upon it. This can scarcely have been as yet the Urim and Thummim. Probably Moses held frequent communication with Jehovah by means of waking visions. Thou shalt be able to endure - i.e., "the work will not be too much for thee - thou wilt be able to bear it." This people shall also go to their place in peace. The "place" intended would seem to be Palestine. Keil supposes that the word "peace" is to be taken literally, and concludes from it that breaches of the peace had previously been frequent, the people having "often taken the law into their own hands on account of the delay in the judicial decision;" but this is to extract from the words more than they naturally signify. "In peace" means "cheerfully, contentedly." If the changes which he recommends are carried out, Jethro thinks that the people will make the rest of the journey to Canaan quietly and contentedly, without complaint or dissatisfaction. The next day Jethro saw how Moses was occupied from morning till evening in judging the people, who brought all their disputes to him, that he might settle them according to the statutes of God. על עמד: as in Genesis 18:8. The people came to Moses "to seek or inquire of God" (Genesis 18:15), i.e., to ask for a decision from God: in most cases, this means to inquire through an oracle; here it signifies to desire a divine decision as to questions in dispute. By judging or deciding the cases brought before him, Moses made known to the people the ordinances and laws of God. For every decision was based upon some law, which, like all true justice here on earth, emanated first of all from God. This is the meaning of Genesis 18:16, and not, as Knobel supposes, that Moses made use of the questions in dispute, at the time they were decided, as good opportunities for giving laws to the people. Jethro condemned this plan (Genesis 18:18.) as exhausting, wearing out (נבל lit., to fade away, Psalm 37:2), both for Moses and the people: for the latter, inasmuch as they not only got wearied out through long waiting, but, judging from Genesis 18:23, very often began to take the law into their own hands on account of the delay in the judicial decision, and so undermined the well-being of the community at large; and for Moses, inasmuch as the work was necessarily too great for him, and he could not continue for any length of time to sustain such a burden alone (Genesis 18:18). The obsolete form of the inf. const. עשׂהוּ for עשׂתו is only used here, but is not without analogies in the Pentateuch. Jethro advised him (Genesis 18:19.) to appoint judged from the people for all the smaller matters in dispute, so that in future only the more difficult cases, which really needed a superior or divine decision, would be brought to him that he might lay them before God. "I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee (i.e., help thee to carry out this advice): Be thou to the people האלהים מוּל, towards God," i.e., lay their affairs before God, take the place of God in matters of judgment, or, as Luther expresses it, "take charge of the people before God." To this end, in the first place, he was to instruct the people in the commandments of God, and their own walk and conduct (הזהיר with a double accusative, to enlighten, instruct; שדרך the walk, the whole behaviour; מעשׂה particular actions); secondly, he was to select able men (חיל אנשׁי men of moral strength, 1 Kings 1:52) as judges, men who were God-fearing, sincere, and unselfish (gain-hating), and appoint them to administer justice to the people, by deciding the simpler matters themselves, and only referring the more difficult questions to him, and so to lighten his own duties by sharing the burden with these judges. מעליך הקל (Genesis 18:22) "make light of (that which lies) upon thee." If he would do this, and God would command him, he would be able to stand, and the people would come to their place, i.e., to Canaan, in good condition (בּשׁלום). The apodosis cannot begin with וצוּך, "then God will establish thee," for צוּה never has this meaning; but the idea is this, "if God should preside over the execution of the plan proposed."
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