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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.Numbers 10:29-30. 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.
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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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. 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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