Bible Study Notes on Exodus 18 – 20190121

WritingIIIExodus 18:1  “…Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law…”
Ran into this in chapters 2 and 3.  The question was the actual familial relationship between Moses and Jethro.  The words used could mean father-in-law or brother-in-law.  And the ancient cultures sometimes referred to grandchildren as children, so the actual generations are sometimes blurred.  Here we have the name Jethro as well as the title of priest of Midian.  Due to the way it’s presented as well as considering the ages of those involved, I feel comfortable with Jethro being the actual father of Zipporah.

2  “…after he had sent her back…”
This fact isn’t presented when it happened.  Most commentaries suggest it occurred when God attacked Moses for failing to circumcise his sons on the way to Egypt.  In chapter 4, we’re only aware of the first son.  But here in verse 4 we learn of another.  Given the second one’s name, it appears he was born after Moses heard of the death of the Pharaoh who sought his life.  As it doesn’t say the first son was circumcised when he was born, we may assume neither was when the event occurred and Zipporah circumcised them.  It only mentions one, but she may have done both.  Several reasons for her return are suggested.  I feel it was probably the combination.  After the circumcisions, the children would have been difficult to transport without delays.  Moses could have realized how dangerous the trip was going to be and decided it was safer for his wife and children to wait with her father.  He also may have realized his family could be used as leverage by the new Pharaoh and thought it better for them to be out of the picture.  At any rate, Zipporah and her sons returned to her father’s house to wait until Moses brought the people out.  It also occurs to me that Zipporah could have been pregnant with the youngest when she left.  Moses could have named him after she rejoined him.  Total speculation there.

5  “…to Moses in the wilderness, where he was encamped at the mountain of God”
Some commentators think this incident is recorded sooner than it happened as the people hadn’t reached Sinai yet.  It’s possible.  The account is a narrative, not a documentary.  But that doesn’t open the door to questions of authenticity.

6  “…he had said to Moses…”
Had probably sent word to him.  I would think he may have sent word to see if all was safe to bring them.

7  “…they asked each other about their well-being…”
Just a normal reunion of family.  Gotta love these extra tidbits of information.

11  “…in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them”
I think Jethro understood God’s reasoning and the way He chose to act against the Egyptians.  God attacked everything they worshipped as gods.  He showed Himself greater than anything they could come up with.  Everything in which they behaved proudly.  The significance of how God acted toward the Egyptians was not lost on the people of that time.

17  “…The thing that you do is not good”
He wasn’t talking about teaching the people of God and His statutes, but of trying to do it all himself.  He ends up giving Moses some of the best advice for dealing with a large group of people that anyone’s ever gotten.  Delegate.  Cover the most difficult things yourself, but let other God-fearing men handle the small stuff.  Probably was saying others could handle carrying out and applying the laws while Moses could focus on teaching it to them.

20  “And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.”
Exactly what the apostles decided to do when they had problems and chose men as deacons.  They would study and teach the Word and the others could handle the applications.

21  “…such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness…”
Men who wouldn’t be doing it for personal gain.  They would be receiving an amount of authority and power.  They had to be men of good character and integrity so as to not abuse the position.

23  “If you do this thing, and God so commands you…”
Was good advice, but he made sure to give God the final say on the matter.  Always check with God.  He may approve of the idea, but He might have an adjustment or even better idea.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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