King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 18

Jethro brings to Moses his wife and two sons. (1-6) Moses entertains Jethro. (7-12) Jethro’s counsel to Moses. (13-27)

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Jethro brings to Moses his wife and two sons

1 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt;

2 Then Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back,

3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land:

4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh:

5 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:

6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.

Moses entertains Jethro

7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent.

8 And Moses told his father in law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them.

9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.

10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.

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

12 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God.

Jethro’s counsel to Moses

13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.

14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?

15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:

16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.

17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.

18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:

20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.

21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.

23 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.

24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.

25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.

27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Jethro. See C. ii. 18. — Priest. Hebrew Cohen means also a prince. Both offices were performed by the heads of families, in the law of nature. W. — It is supposed that this interview took place later, and should be placed. Num. x. 10. C.

Ver. 2. Back, with her consent, when he was going to the court of Pharao. M. — Since he had the vision of God, S. Epiphanius says, he lived in continence with her. Hœr. 78.

Ver. 5. Mountain. Horeb, (C. iii. 1,) or Sinai. M.

Ver. 6. Word. Heb. “And he said unto Moses, I, &c. 7. And Moses went out to meet,” &c. which seems very strange, after he had been just talking with him. The authors of the Sept. and Syr. read behold, instead of I. “It was told Moses. Behold thy,” &c. Kennicott observes, that five Samaritan copies retain ene, “behold,” instead of ani, “I,” and thus obviate the nonsense which disturbs the reader of the present Hebrew.

Ver. 7. Worshipped, bending to the ground, according to the custom of the country. H. — Tent of the Lord, if it were then erected, and afterwards into that of Moses. C.

Ver. 9. Rejoiced. Sept. “was in an ecstacy,” of admiration, mixed with joy. M.

Ver. 11. I know. I am now more convinced of this truth. Jethro instructed his family in these principles. The Rechabites were his descendants. 1 Par. ii. 55. Jer. xxxv. M. — Proudly. Heb. “because in the thing in which they did proudly, he was against, or above them.” Something must be supplied. God turned the wisdom and arms of the Egyptians to their own confusion. C.

Ver. 12. Sacrifices. Peace-offerings, of which he might partake with the ancients. H. — Jethro being a stranger, and a servant of the true God, might perform this duty in person, even though we allow that the priesthood was restrained to the family of Aaron before this time with regard to the Hebrews. C. — Before God. S. Aug. who supposes that the tabernacle was not yet erected, explains this in honour of God: but others, who believe this happened at the close of the year, say that the feast was made before the tabernacle, the house of God. M.

Ver. 17. Good, or convenient, either for yourself, or for the people. H.

Ver. 18. Foolish. Sept. “intolerable.” — Labour. Heb. “thou wilt surely sink, or be wasted away.”

Ver. 20. To do. Be a mediator between God and the people: explain their wants, and bring back his decision: but let inferior officers see them executed. H.

Ver. 21. Avarice. That they may not be bribed against their better knowledge. The wise, rich, and disinterested, must be appointed magistrates; such as may not be under any undue influence. Aristotle blames the Lacedemonians for entrusting such offices to people who had nothing. See Isai. iii. 7.

Ver. 23. Thou shalt. Heb. “and God shall order thee.” Jethro does not wish his advice should be followed, till God had been consulted. C. — By his plan, he thought Moses would have time to confer more with God, and promote his own welfare, and the convenient dispatch of business. M.

Ver. 25. Tens. The Samaritan copy here inserts, from Deut. i. 9. to 19, where this is related at greater length. The Sept. also add to the other officers, the Grammatoeisagogeis, or Shoterim, mentioned in the same place, as lectors or scribes, whose business it perhaps was to present written requests.

Ver. 26. To him. Whether they regarded religious or civil matters. No appeal was made from an inferior or any other tribunal, but that of the supreme magistrate. C.

Ver. 27. Depart, upon his consenting to leave his son Hobab, for a guide, (Bonfrere on Num. x. 29,) or perhaps he departed for a time, and returned again. C. — Moses shews by his example, that superiors ought not to disdain receiving prudent admonitions from any one. S. Chrys. W.