And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that you are come so soon to day?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Exodus 2:18. Reuel — Or Raguel (see Numbers 10:29) is thought by some to have been their grandfather, and father of Hobab or Jethro, their immediate father.Numbers 10:29, "Raguel." The name means "friend of God." It appears to have been not uncommon among Hebrews and Edomites; e. g. Genesis 36:4, Genesis 36:10. If Reuel be identified with Jethro, a point open to grave objection (see Exodus 3:1), then Reuel was his proper name, and Jether or Jethro, which means "excellency," was his official designation.
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].Their father; either,
1. Strictly, and then he is the same who elsewhere is called Jethro, Exodus 3:1 Exo 18 oft times; and, as some think, Hobab, Judges 4:11. Or,
2. Largely, i.e. their grandfather, for such are oft called fathers, as Genesis 31:43 2 Kings 14:3 16:2 18:3; so he was the father of Jethro, or Hobab, Numbers 10:29. Numbers 10:29, but it does not follow from thence: he said:
how is it that you are come so soon today? it being not only sooner than they were wont to come, but perhaps their business was done in so short a time; that it was marvellous to him that it could be done in it, so quick a dispatch had Moses made, and they through his assistance; and especially it might be more strange, if it was usual, as it seems it was, to be molested by the shepherds.And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. Reuel] Heb. רעואל, the ‘friend’ or ‘companion of God’ (Sayce, EHH. p. 163 ‘Shepherd of God’: but why should the name be Assyrian?). (AV. Raguel, where the g comes from the LXX., and is one of the many instances of ע being expressed in that version by g, as Gaza, Gomorrah, Gotholiah, &c.: see the writer’s Notes on Samuel, on 1 Samuel 16:20.) The name occurs also in Edom (Genesis 36:4; Genesis 36:10) and Israel (1 Chronicles 9:8). Here it occasions a difficulty. In Exodus 3:1, Exodus 4:18, and ch. 18, Moses’ father-in-law is called Jethro1; in Numbers 10:29, Jdg 4:11 (RVm.) he is called Hobab (RV. ‘brother-in-law,’ cf. Exodus 1:16, is a doubtful rend., adopted entirely from harmonistic motives): here, if Reuel is correct, he would have had a third name. Perhaps, however, the word here is a gloss, due to a misconception of Numbers 10:29 (so Ryssel in Di. al.): had the name been original, it would naturally have been given in v. 16 (where the ‘priest of Midian’ is first mentioned). Still, it is strange, if a name had to be found, that it was taken from the remote Numbers 10:29, rather than from Exodus 3:1. ‘Tradition,’ says Prof. Sayce (EHH. p. 163), ‘has handed down more than one name for the high-priest of Midian’; perhaps indeed, as Nielsen (Die altarab. Mondreligion u. die Mos. Ueberlief., 1904, p. 131) has suggested, the variation is due to the fact that, like many of the Sabaean kings, and some of the Sabaean priests (Mordtmann, Beiträge zur Z. für Assyr. 1897, p. 75 f.), he had actually two names. There seem also to have been different traditions about his nationality; for Hobab,—whether he were really the same as Jethro, or Jethro’s son,—though he is a Midianite in Num Exo 10:29, is a Kenite in Jdg 4:11 (cf. Exodus 1:16).
 Or, in Exodus 4:18, Jether. The ô, or, as it might be vocalized, u, is doubtless the mark of the Arab. nomin., as in the numerous Arab. names (Zaidu, Sa‘du, etc.) of the Sinaitic inscriptions (p. 179) of 2–3d. cent. a.d.: cf. the Arabian Gashmu, Nehemiah 6:6 (called Geshem in Exodus 6:1-2). The name Yether (meaning apparently excellence) recurs as that of several Israelites. The corresponding Arab. form Watr (or Witr) occurs also several times in the Sabaean inscriptions of S. Arabia, both as a principal name (CIS. iv. Nos. 10, 70, 83), and as a cognomen (Nos. 1, 37; cf. pp. 22, 77); and Witru in CIS. 11. ii. 3156 (from Sinai), and RES. No. 53 (from Ḥauran); οὔιθρος, Waddington, Inscr. Grecques de la Syrie, 2537 h.
drew] actually drew: the Heb. idiom, by accentuating the fact, ‘expresses the surprise which they had felt at the kindness of his action’ (McNeile).Verse 18. - Reuel their father. Reuel is called "Raguel" in Numbers 10:29, but the Hebrew spelling is the same in both places. The word means "friend of God," and implies monotheisim. Compare Exodus 18:9-12. Exodus 2:11, Exodus 2:12), and in the attempt to reconcile two Hebrew men who were quarrelling (Exodus 2:13, Exodus 2:14). Both of these occurred "in those days," i.e., in the time of the Egyptian oppression, when Moses had become great (יגדּל as in Genesis 21:20), i.e., had grown to be a man. According to tradition he was then forty years old (Acts 7:23). What impelled him to this was not "a carnal ambition and longing for action," or a desire to attract the attention of his brethren, but fiery love to his brethren or fellow-countrymen, as is shown in the expression, "One of his brethren" (Exodus 2:11), and deep sympathy with them in their oppression and sufferings; whilst, at the same time, they undoubtedly displayed the fire of his impetuous nature, and the ground-work for his future calling. It was from this point of view that Stephen cited these facts (Acts 7:25-26), for the purpose of proving to the Jews of his own age, that they had been from time immemorial "stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears" (Acts 7:51). And this view is the correct one. Not only did Moses intend to help his brethren when he thus appeared among them, but this forcible interference on behalf of his brethren could and should have aroused the thought in their minds, that God would send them salvation through him. "But they understood not" (Acts 7:25). At the same time Moses thereby declared that he would no longer "be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; and chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt" (Hebrews 11:24-26; see Delitzsch in loc.). And this had its roots in faith (πίστει). But his conduct presents another aspect also, which equally demands consideration. His zeal for the welfare of his brethren urged him forward to present himself as the umpire and judge of his brethren before God had called him to this, and drove him to the crime of murder, which cannot be excused as resulting from a sudden ebullition of wrath.
(Note: The judgment of Augustine is really the true one. Thus, in his c. Faustum Manich. l. 22, c. 70, he says, "I affirm, that the man, though criminal and really the offender, ought not to have been put to death by one who had no legal authority to do so. But minds that are capable of virtues often produce vices also, and show thereby for what virtue they would have been best adapted, if they had but been properly trained. For just as farmers, when they see large herbs, however useless, at once conclude that the land is good for growing corn, so that very impulse of the mind which led Moses to avenge his brother when suffering wrong from a native, without regard to legal forms, was not unfitted to produce the fruits of virtue, but, though hitherto uncultivated, was at least a sign of great fertility." Augustine then compares this deed to that of Peter, when attempting to defend his Lord with a sword (Matthew 26:51), and adds, "Both of them broke through the rules of justice, not through any base inhumanity, but through animosity that needed correction: both sinned through their hatred of another's wickedness, and their love, though carnal, in the one case towards a brother, in the other to the Lord. This fault needed pruning or rooting up; but yet so great a heart could be as readily cultivated for bearing virtues, as land for bearing fruit.")
For he acted with evident deliberation. "He looked this way and that way; and when he saw no one, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand" (Exodus 2:12). Through his life at the Egyptian court his own natural inclinations had been formed to rule, and they manifested themselves on this occasion in an ungodly way. This was thrown in his teeth by the man "in the wrong" (הרשׁע, Exodus 2:13), who was striving with his brother and doing him an injury: "Who made thee a ruler and judge over us" (Exodus 2:14)? and so far he was right. The murder of the Egyptian had also become known; and as soon as Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses, who fled into the land of Midian in fear for his life (Exodus 2:15). Thus dread of Pharaoh's wrath drove Moses from Egypt into the desert. For all that, it is stated in Hebrews 11:27, that "by faith (πίστει) Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." This faith, however, he manifested not by fleeing - his flight was rather a sign of timidity - but by leaving Egypt; in other words, by renouncing his position in Egypt, where he might possibly have softened down the kings' wrath, and perhaps even have brought help and deliverance to his brethren the Hebrews. By the fact that he did not allow such human hopes to lead him to remain in Egypt, and was not afraid to increase the king's anger by his flight, he manifested faith in the invisible One as though he saw Him, commending not only himself, but his oppressed nation, to the care and protection of God (vid., Delitzsch on Hebrews 11:27).
The situation of the land of Midian, to which Moses fled, cannot be determined with certainty. The Midianites, who were descended from Abraham through Keturah (Genesis 25:2, Genesis 25:4), had their principal settlements on the eastern side of the Elanitic Gulf, from which they spread northwards into the fields of Moab (Genesis 36:35; Numbers 22:4, Numbers 22:7; Numbers 25:6, Numbers 25:17; Numbers 31:1.; Judges 6:1.), and carried on a caravan trade through Canaan to Egypt (Genesis 37:28, Genesis 37:36; Isaiah 60:6). On the eastern side of the Elanitic Gulf, and five days' journey from Aela, there stood the town of Madian, the ruins of which are mentioned by Edrisi and Abulfeda, who also speak of a well there, from which Moses watered the flocks of his father-in-law Shoeib (i.e., Jethro). But we are precluded from fixing upon this as the home of Jethro by Exodus 3:1, where Moses is said to have come to Horeb, when he drove Jethro's sheep behind the desert. The Midianites on the eastern side of the Elanitic Gulf could not possibly have led their flocks as far as Horeb for pasturage. We must assume, therefore, that one branch of the Midianites, to whom Jethro was priest, had crossed the Elanitic Gulf, and settled in the southern half of the peninsula of Sinai (cf. Exodus 3:1). There is nothing improbable in such a supposition. There are several branches of the Towara Arabs occupying the southern portion of Arabia, that have sprung from Hedjas in this way; and even in the most modern times considerable intercourse was carried on between the eastern side of the gulf and the peninsula, whilst there was formerly a ferry between Szytta, Madian, and Nekba. - The words "and he sat down (ויּשׁב, i.e., settled) in the land of Midian, and sat down by the well," are hardly to be understood as simply meaning that "when he was dwelling in Midian, he sat down one day by a well" (Baumg.), but that immediately upon his arrival in Midian, where he intended to dwell or stay, he sat down by the well. The definite article before בּאר points to the well as the only one, or the principal well in that district. Knobel refers to "the well at Sherm;" but at Sherm el Moye (i.e., water-bay) or Sherm el Bir (well-bay) there are "several deep wells finished off with stones," which are "evidently the work of an early age, and have cost great labour" (Burckhardt, Syr. p. 854); so that the expression "the well" would be quite unsuitable. Moreover there is but a very weak support for Knobel's attempt to determine the site of Midian, in the identification of the Μαρανῖται or Μαρανεῖς (of Strabo and Artemidorus) with Madyan.
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