18:2 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah after he had sent her back, 18:3 and her two sons, one of whom was named Gershom (for Moses 1 had said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land”), 18:4 and the other Eliezer (for Moses had said, 2 “The God of my father has been my help 3 and delivered 4 me from the sword of Pharaoh”).
18:5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ 5 sons and his wife, came to Moses in the desert where he was camping by 6 the mountain of God. 7 18:6 He said 8 to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, along with your wife and her two sons with her.”
1 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity (also in the following verse).
2 tn The referent (Moses) and the verb have been specified in the translation for clarity.
3 tn Now is given the etymological explanation of the name of Moses’ other son, Eliezer (אֱלִיעֶזֶר, ’eli’ezer), which means “my God is a help.” The sentiment that explains this name is אֱלֹהֵי אָבִי בְּעֶזְרִי (’elohe ’avi bÿ’ezri, “the God of my father is my help”). The preposition in the sentiment is the bet (ב) essentiae (giving the essence – see GKC 379 §119.i). Not mentioned earlier, the name has become even more appropriate now that God has delivered Moses from Pharaoh again. The word for “help” is a common word in the Bible, first introduced as a description of the woman in the Garden. It means to do for someone what he or she cannot do for himself or herself. Samuel raised the “stone of help” (Ebenezer) when Yahweh helped Israel win the battle (1 Sam 7:12).
5 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
6 tn This is an adverbial accusative that defines the place (see GKC 373-74 §118.g).
7 sn The mountain of God is Horeb, and so the desert here must be the Sinai desert by it. But chap. 19 suggests that they left Rephidim to go the 24 miles to Sinai. It may be that this chapter fits in chronologically after the move to Sinai, but was placed here thematically. W. C. Kaiser defends the present location of the story by responding to other reasons for the change given by Lightfoot, but does not deal with the travel locations (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:411).
8 sn This verse may seem out of place, since the report has already been given that they came to the desert. It begins to provide details of the event that the previous verse summarizes. The announcement in verse 6 may have come in advance by means of a messenger or at the time of arrival, either of which would fit with the attention to formal greetings in verse 7. This would suit a meeting between two important men; the status of Moses has changed. The LXX solves the problem by taking the pronoun “I” as the particle “behold” and reads it this way: “one said to Moses, ‘Behold, your father-in-law has come….’”