And she bore him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Gershom.—Almost certainly from ger, “a stranger,” and shâm, “there.” So Jerome, who translates it advena ibi. (Comp. Josephus and the LXX., who write the name Gersam.)Exodus 2:22. Gershom — That is, A stranger there. Now this settlement of Moses in Midian was designed by Providence to shelter him for the present; God will find hiding-places for his people in the day of their distress. It was also designed to prepare him for the services he was to be called to. His manner of life in Midian, where he kept the flock of his father-in-law, would inure him to hardship and fatigue, and to contemplation and devotion. Egypt accomplished him for a scholar, a gentleman, a statesman, a soldier; all which accomplishments would be afterward of use to him; but yet lacked he one thing, in which the court of Egypt could not befriend him. He who was to do all by divine revelation, must know what it was to live a life of communion with God, and in this he would be greatly furthered by the retirement of a shepherd’s life in Midian. By the former he was prepared to rule in Jeshurun, but by the latter he was prepared to converse with God in mount Horeb. Those that know what it is to be alone with God, are acquainted with better delights than ever Moses tasted in the court of Pharaoh.
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].
for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land; so Midian was to him, who was born in Egypt, and being an Hebrew, was entitled to the land of Canaan; this looks as if he had been at this time some years in Midian.And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. Gershom] The name might conceivably be derived from גרש, and mean expulsion. The writer, however, thinking, as in v. 10, of an assonance, rather than of an etymology, explains it as though it were equivalent to gêr shâm, ‘a sojourner there.’ It was through a descendant of this Gershom that the priests of Dan claimed in later days descent from Moses (Jdg 18:30).
in a foreign land] This was the meaning of ‘strange’ (from Lat. extraneus), when the AV. was made in 1611; and the old rendering has been often retained in RV. But ‘strange’ has changed its meaning now, and is no longer a sufficiently clear and unambiguous rendering of the Heb. For other cases of ‘strange’ in the same now obsolete sense of ‘foreign,’ see Exodus 21:8 ‘a strange people’; 1 Kings 11:1; 1 Kings 11:8, Ezra 10:2; Ezra 10:10 al. ‘strange women or wives’; Genesis 35:2; Genesis 35:4, Psalm 81:9 b al. ‘strange gods’; Psalm 137:4 ‘a strange land,’ as here. Cf. the passage in the Homilies (cited by Aldis Wright), which speaks of ‘a certain strange philosopher,’ meaning, not an eccentric one, but a foreign one. ‘Stranger’ also often occurs in EVV. in the same sense (see on ch. Exodus 12:43). Comp. the writer’s note on Malachi 2:11 in the Century Bible; and see also DB. s.v.Verse 22. - Gershom. An Egyptian etymology has been assigned to this name ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1, p. 488); but Moses in the text clearly indicates that his own intention was to give his child a name significant in Hebrew. "He called his name Gershom, for he said, a stranger (ger) have I been," etc. The only question is, what the second element of the name, shom, means. This appears to be correctly explained by Kalisch and others as equivalent to sham "there " - so that the entire word would mean "(I was) a stranger there" - i.e. in the country where this son was born to me.
CHAPTER 2:23-25 Genesis 29:10), viz., helping his daughters to water their father's sheep, and protecting them against the other shepherds. - On the form יושׁען for יושׁען vid., Genesis 19:19; and for the masculine suffixes to יגרשׁוּם and צאנם, Genesis 31:9. תּדלנה for תּדלינה, as in Job 5:12, cf. Ewald, 198a. - The flock of this priest consisted of nothing but צאן, i.e., sheep and goats (vid., Exodus 3:1). Even now there are no oxen reared upon the peninsula of Sinai, as there is not sufficient pasturage or water to be found. For the same reason there are no horses kept there, but only camels and asses (cf. Seetzen, R. iii. 100; Wellsted, R. in Arab. ii. p. 66). In Exodus 2:18 the priest is called Reguel, in Exodus 3:1 Jethro. This title, "the priest of Midian," shows that he was the spiritual head of the branch of the Midianites located there, but hardly that he was the prince or temporal head as well, like Melchizedek, as the Targumists have indicated by רבא, and as Artapanus and the poet Ezekiel distinctly affirm. The other shepherds would hardly have treated the daughters of the Emir in the manner described in Exodus 2:17. The name רעוּאל (Reguel, friend of God) indicates that this priest served the old Semitic God El (אל). This Reguel, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses, was unquestionably the same person as Jethro (יתרו) the חתן of Moses and priest of Midian (Exodus 3:1). Now, as Reguel's son Chobab is called Moses' חתן in Numbers 10:29 (cf. Judges 4:11), the Targumists and others supposed Reguel to be the grandfather of Zipporah, in which case אב would mean the grandfather in Exodus 2:18, and בּת the granddaughter in Exodus 2:21. This hypothesis would undoubtedly be admissible, if it were probable on other grounds. But as a comparison of Numbers 10:29 with Exodus 18 does not necessarily prove that Chobab and Jethro were the same persons, whilst Exodus 18:27 seems to lead to the very opposite conclusion, and התן, like the Greek γαμβρός, may be used for both father-in-law and brother-in-law, it would probably be more correct to regard Chobab as Moses' brother-in-law, Reguel as the proper name of his father-in-law, and Jethro, for which Jether (praestantia) is substituted in Exodus 4:18, as either a title, or the surname which showed the rank of Reguel in his tribe, like the Arabic Imam, i.e., praepositus, spec. sacrorum antistes. Ranke's opinion, that Jethro and Chobab were both of them sons of Reguel and brothers-in-law of Moses, is obviously untenable, if only on the ground that according to the analogy of Numbers 10:29 the epithet "son of Reguel" would not be omitted in Exodus 3:1.
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