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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 show] the LORD delivered them. Jethro had
heard something of this before, v. I. but Moses gave him a more 9 particular account.* And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness
which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered 10 out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro expressed his
joy in a very pious manner, and said, Blessed [be] the Lord, who hath delivered you Moses and Aaron, who were in such imminent danger, out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out
of the hand of Pharaoh, and who hath delivered the people 11 from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know more
clearly than ever that the LORD [is] greater than all the heathen gods : for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly, carried themselves with such scorn and insolence, as if they thought
it impossible that God should deliver them out of their hands, 12 [he was) above them. And Jethro, Moses' father in law, ex
pressed his gratitude as the ancient patriarchs used to do, and took a burnt offering and sacrifices, peace offerings for thanksgiving, for to offer to God : and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread, to feast on the sacrifices, with Moses' father in law before God, before the cloud, and the
altar on which the sacrifices were offered. 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge
the people, to hear and determine causes : and the people 14 stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. 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 15 thee from morning unto even ? And Moses said unto his fa
ther in law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of
God, to inquire what the will of God is in any doubtful case: and 16 also When they have a matter between themselves, they come
unto me ; and I judge between one and another, and I do 17 make (them) know the statutes of God, and his laws. And
Moses' father in law remonstrated against this, and said unto
him, The thing that thou doest [is] not good, is not conven18 ient, neither for thyself, nor the people. Thou wilt surely wear
away, destroy thy health, both thou, and this people that [is] with thee, they will be weary of waiting till their turn comes :
for this thing [is] too heavy for thee ; thou art not able to 19 perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will
give thee counsel,t and God shall be with thee, to assist and bless thee, and show that my counsel is good, by the success that
• This shows that the fame of those miracles was spread through the neighbouring nations : and how inexcusable they were in opposing Israel, and affronting Jehovah.
+ Some think this was after the delivery of the law, because in Deut. i. it is mentioned after that important event. But the advice might be given now, though not
put in practice till after the giving of the law.
attends it : Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thom mayest bring tlie causes unto God, that is, extraordinary or
difficult cases, and tell the people the divine determination ; re20 serve this privilege and honour to thyself: And thou shalt teach
them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do,
how to behave to God and to one another. 21 Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able
men, who can bear fatigue, nien of good sense and sagacity, of activity and good spirit, of courage and resolution, and such as fear God, who act upon religious principles, and stand in awe of God, the universal governor ; men of truth, upright, honest men, who will judge without partiality ; hating covetousness, who will not take a bribe to fiervert justice, but will act a generous, disinterested part ; and place (such) over them, (to be] rulers of thousands, [and] rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties,
and rulers of tens ; thus forming greater and lesser courts of 22 justice : And let them judge the people at all seasons, some
or other of thein sit continually : and it shall be, [that] every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small mat
ter they shall judge : so sha}l it be easier for thyself, and they 23 shall bear (the burden) with thee. If thou shalt do this thing,
and God command thee (so,] if he shall approve of this course which I suggest, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace; they shall have
their controversies ended, and their minds quieted. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and 25 did all that he had said. And Moses, upon the people's recom
mendation, chose able men out of all Israel, and made them
heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, 26 rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 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, dismissed him hon
ourably : (see Num. X. 29.) and he went his way into his own lan:), much affected with what he had seen, and informed his neighbours of God's wonderful works."
• It is thought the Kenites came from this country, to whom God showed kindness, for their kindness 10 Israel; and the Rh.cabites also came from hence, whose virtue Jeremiata celebrades.
God's people. Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord hath done to Israel, and blessed God on their account. All who love God, should rejoice to see his interest flourishing, his arm made bare for the prosperity of his servants. They should talk of and celebrate his wondrous works ; and give him the glory due to his name. Unthankful Israel overlooked them, while Jethro rejoiced in them. This makes his conduct more remarkable, and worthy to be imitated by us.
2. Let us observe God's providential dealings with others, to increase our acquaintance with him ; so Jethro did. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods ; for, in the thing wherein they dealt proudly, he was above them. Let us observe what he is doing for his church, and for particular souls, that we may understand more of his nature, and the design of his proceedings, and learn those lessons he would have us to learn. Let us especially observe his providence in abasing those who deal in pride; that we may learn humility, and fear the Lord continually. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, the dispensations of Providence, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord. Psulm cvii. 43.
3. Let us be careful that the presence of our friends does not break in on the proper duties of life. Moses' father in law was a great and good man; brought him his wife and children, whom he had not seen for a long time : and for this reason Moses might have made some excuse for putting off attendance on public business ; but he would not neglect it. After a day spent in feasting and rejoicing, he returned to his work. This gives us a good hint how to behave. Pleasure, or converse with friends, should not be our whole, nor even our main business ; we should fill up our stations with proper services ; live to important and useful purposes ; and neither neglect our shops, our fields, nor our studies, for the company of our friends. Above all, let us not neglect devotion ; but keep as near as may be to the stated times for it. A good man used to say to his friends, when time for secret worship was come, “Excuse me for a while, I have a friend above, that is waiting for me.' Business, much less devotion, should never give way to the conversation of friends, especially not to visits of form and ceremony. “It is,'as one observes, too great a compliment to our friends, to neglect our duty.'
4. We should guard against extremes, even in a good work. Jethro's advice was good, and in consequence of it Moses lived forty years longer, and died at the age of one hundred and twenty in the vigour of nature. We should consider what our strength will bear ; too great application in younger days may perhaps shorten a man's life ; and make him less serviceable to the
world, than otherwise he might have been. In this, Wisdom is profitable to direct. Friends are too ready to say to us, as Christ's disciples did, “ Master spare thyself.' There is very little need to enforce this advice in the present day, since it is generally found that more men rust away than wear away ; but much need to quicken and stir them up to zeal and diligence.
5. Let us be willing to take advice of those, who in many respects are our inferiors, if they have truth and prudence on their side. Moses was nearly as old as Jethro ; though as a friend of God, and a king of Israel, he was much his superior. But Moses was a meek man, glad of advice, and took it ; he did not think himself above being advised. Those who do so are very proud, or very ignorant, or both. Others can often better judge what is fit for us than we can ourselves ; they are not so much blinded by affection and interest. Let us be ever ready to learn from any one ; and show that we are wise, by being willing to hear, and increase in learning and prudence.
6. Let us earnestly pray that our magistrates and governors may be such as Jethro directs Moses to choose ; men of clear heads, and honest, generous hearts ; men of piety and sagacity; of unwearied zeal, and undaunted resolution. How happy for our Israel, if all its magistrates were such as do not undertake the work for its honour and profit, but out of regard to God's honour, and the benefit of the community. Let us therefore pray for kings, and all that are in authority, that they may be such ; then, as Jethro suggests, it will be likely that the people will lead quiet and peaceable lives.
We have here the people's approach to Sinai, and God's covenant
with them there ; the directions given to Moses and the people about preparing themselves ; and the solemn appearance of God upon mount Sinai, when he delivered the law. 1 N the third month,* when the children of Israel were
gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came 2 they [into] the wilderness of Sinai.t For they were de
parted from Rephidim, and were come [to] the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel
camped before the mount. 3 And Moses went up unto God, to the presence of God
where the cloud rested, (v. 9.) and the Lord called unto him
* Or the third new inoon, called Sivan, including the latter end of May and the former part of June.
+ It is generally thought to be fifty days after they came out of Egypt: and accordingly the feast of Politecost, which signißes fifty, is observed in reinembrance of this cvent.
out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel ; ( God had a right to
give them what law he pleased, but he treats them as rational 4 creaiures, and tells them what he had done :) Ye have seen
what I did unto the Egyptians, and show] I bare you on eagles' wings,* carried you above all difficulties and dan
gers, and brought you unto myself, to serve me on this mount, 5 (ch. iii. 12.) and to be my peculiar people. Now therefore,
if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people : for,
or though, all the earth [is] mine, and I am not confined to this 6 or the other nation : And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of
priests, a people near to the Lord, separated from the rest of the
world, and to be an holy nation. These [are] the words 7 which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And
Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord command
ed him, that they might tell them to the people. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that
the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord, uttered them before the
Lord, to confirm the obligation on the people's part, and to re9ceive his answer.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee, as the mediator between me and them, and the interpreter of my mind to them, in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever,
no longer doubt thy mission. And Moses told the words of the 10 people unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go
unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, abstain from all pollution, and abound in prayer and sacrifices, and
holy meditations, and let them wash their clothes, in token of 11 that inward purity which I require from them ; And be
ready against the third day ; for the third day the Lord will
come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. 12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, say
ing, Take heed to yourselves, [that ye) go (hot) up into the
mount,t or even so much as touch the border of it: whosoever 13 toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death : There
shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through ; whether [it be] beast or man, it shall not live : 1 when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the
mount, to the boundary that is fixed, that they may hear what 14 is spoken, but no further. And Moses went down from the
Eagles carry their young ones on their backs, and spread out their feathers to keep them from falling.
+ Had any attempted to do so, they would certainly have been struck dead with the lightning.
This was designed to restrain their curiosity, to give them an awe of God, and train them up to obedience.