3:1 Now Moses 1 was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert 2 and came to the mountain of God, to Horeb. 3
18:1 4 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, that 5 the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 6
1 sn The vav (ו) disjunctive with the name “Moses” introduces a new and important starting point. The
2 tn Or “west of the desert,” taking אַחַר (’akhar, “behind”) as the opposite of עַל־פְּנֵי (’al-pÿne, “on the face of, east of”; cf. Gen 16:12; 25:18).
3 sn “Horeb” is another name for Mount Sinai. There is a good deal of foreshadowing in this verse, for later Moses would shepherd the people of Israel and lead them to Mount Sinai to receive the Law. See D. Skinner, “Some Major Themes of Exodus,” Mid-America Theological Journal 1 (1977): 31-42.
4 sn This chapter forms the transition to the Law. There has been the deliverance, the testing passages, the provision in the wilderness, and the warfare. Any God who can do all this for his people deserves their allegiance. In chap. 18 the Lawgiver is giving advice, using laws and rulings, but then he is given advice to organize the elders to assist. Thus, when the Law is fully revealed, a system will be in place to administer it. The point of the passage is that a great leader humbly accepts advice from other godly believers to delegate responsibility. He does not try to do it all himself; God does not want one individual to do it all. The chapter has three parts: vv. 1-12 tell how Jethro heard and came and worshiped and blessed; vv. 13-23 have the advice of Jethro, and then vv. 24-27 tell how Moses implemented the plan and Jethro went home. See further E. J. Runions, “Exodus Motifs in 1 Samuel 7 and 8,” EvQ 52 (1980): 130-31; and also see for another idea T. C. Butler, “An Anti-Moses Tradition,” JSOT 12 (1979): 9-15.
5 tn This clause beginning with כִּי (ki) answers the question of what Jethro had heard; it provides a second, explanatory noun clause that is the object of the verb – “he heard (1) all that God had done… (2) that he had brought….” See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 81, §490.
6 sn This is an important report that Jethro has heard, for the claim of God that he brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt will be the foundation of the covenant stipulations (Exod 20).