Exodus 2:16
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
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(16) The priest of Midian.—Reuel may have been both “priest” and “prince,” like Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18); but there is no reason to doubt that he is here called “priest.” In Exodus 18:12, Jethro is represented as exercising priestly functions. The Midianites, descendants of Abraham by Keturah, worshipped the true God, and seem to have been at this time a religious people. The name Reuel, or Raguel, means “friend of God.” Jethro’s sacrifices were “for God,” and Aaron and the elders eat bread with him “before God.”

They came and drew water.—Comp. Genesis 29:9. According to Oriental ideas, there is nothing derogatory in the daughters of a chief so acting.

2:16-22 Moses found shelter in Midian. He was ready to help Reuel's daughters to water their flocks, although bred in learning and at court. Moses loved to be doing justice, and to act in defence of such as he saw injured, which every man ought to do, as far as it is in his power. He loved to be doing good; wherever the providence of God casts us, we should desire and try to be useful; and when we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can. Moses commended himself to the prince of Midian; who married one of his daughters to Moses, by whom he had a son, called Gershom, a stranger there, that he might keep in remembrance the land in which he had been a stranger.The Priest of Midian - Reuel Exodus 2:18. His name, and the detailed notices in Exodus 18, prove that he was a priest of the one true God who was known to the patriarchs especially under the name El. The great bulk of his tribe, certainly those who lived farther north and more closely in contact with the Hamites of Canaan, were already plunged in idolatry. The conduct of the shepherds Exodus 2:17 may indicate that his person and office were lightly regarded by the idolatrous tribes in his immediate neighborhood. 16-22. the priest of Midian—or, "prince of Midian." As the officers were usually conjoined, he was the ruler also of the people called Cushites or Ethiopians, and like many other chiefs of pastoral people in that early age, he still retained the faith and worship of the true God.

seven daughters—were shepherdesses to whom Moses was favorably introduced by an act of courtesy and courage in protecting them from the rude shepherds of some neighboring tribe at a well. He afterwards formed a close and permanent alliance with this family by marrying one of the daughters, Zipporah, "a little bird," called a Cushite or Ethiopian (Nu 12:1), and whom Moses doubtless obtained in the manner of Jacob by service [see Ex 3:1]. He had by her two sons, whose names were, according to common practice, commemorative of incidents in the family history [Ex 18:3, 4].

The Priest of Midian; not of idols, for then Moses would not have married into his family; but of the true God; for some such were in those ancient times here and there, as appears by Melchisedek, though his manner of worshipping God might be superstitious and corrupt: or the Hebrew cohen may here signify a prince, or a potentate, as Genesis 41:45. Nor doth the employment of his daughters contradict that translation, both because principalities were then many of them very small and mean, and because this employment then was esteemed noble, and worthy of great men’s daughters, as appears from Genesis 24:15 29:6, &c. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters,.... Who being a descendant of Abraham might have retained the knowledge of the true God, and might be a priest of his, as Melchizedek was, or otherwise it may be thought improbable that Moses would have married his daughter, as he afterwards did; and so Aben Ezra says, he was a priest of God; though the word is sometimes used of a prince, ruler, and governor; and is so rendered here by the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; and Artapanus (r), an Heathen writer, expressly calls him a "prince" of those places, that is, of Arabia; he might be both prince and priest, as Melchizedek before mentioned was, and as has been the usage of many countries:

and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock; which is no contradiction to their being daughters either of a priest or a prince, which were both high titles and characters; since it was usual in those early times, and in those countries, for the sons and daughters of considerable persons to be employed in such services; See Gill on Genesis 29:9.

(r) Ut supra, (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27.) p. 434.

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
16. the priest of Midian] the chief priest of the tribe, or settlement, and so a person of some importance. On the duties and position of the old Arabian ‘priest,’ see on Exodus 28:1.

drew water] cf. Genesis 29:9 (Rachel). To the present day, among the Bedawin of the Sin. Peninsula, ‘the men consider it beneath them to take the flocks to pasture’; it is ‘the exclusive duty of the unmarried girls,’ and those thus employed spend the whole day with the sheep (Burckhardt, Syria, 1822, p. 531, Bedouins, 1831, i. 351 f., cited by Kn.; cf. Doughty, Arabia Deserta, 1888, i. 306, 322).

the troughs] The word rendered, not very happily, gutters in Genesis 30:38; Genesis 30:41. Such troughs are still found regularly in the East about wells; they are often made of stone.Verses 16-22. - LIFE OF MOSES IN MIDIAN. Fugitives from Egypt generally took the northern route from Pelusium or Migdol to Gaza, and so to Syria, or the regions beyond. But in this quarter they were liable to be arrested and sent back to the Egyptian monarch. Rameses II: put a special clause to this effect into his treaty with the contemporary Hittite king (Brugsch, 'History of Egypt,' vol. 2 p. 73). It was, perhaps, the fear of extradition which made Moses turn his steps southeastward, and proceed along the route, or at any rate in the direction, which he afterwards took with his nation. Though Egypt had possessions in the Sinaitic peninsula, it was not difficult to avoid them; and before Sinai was reached the fugitive would be in complete safety, for the Egyptians seem never to have penetrated to the southern or eastern parts of the great triangle. "The well," by which Moses took up his abode, is placed with some probability in the neighbourhood of Sherm, about ten miles north-east of Ras Mahommed, the southern cape of the peninsula Verse 16. - The priest of Midian. Cohen is certainly "priest" here, and not "prince," since the father-in-law of Moses exercises priestly functions in Exodus 18:12. His seven daughters drew water for his flock, in accordance with Eastern custom. So Rachel "kept the sheep" of her father Laban, and watered them (Genesis 29:9). Such a practice agrees well with the simplicity of primitive times and peoples; nor would it even at the present day be regarded as strange in Arabia. When the child had grown large, i.e., had been weaned (יגדּל as in Genesis 21:8), the mother, who acted as nurse, brought it back to the queen's daughter, who then adopted it as her own son, and called it Moses (משׁה): "for," she said, "out of the water have I drawn him" (משׁיתהוּ). As Pharaoh's daughter gave this name to the child as her adopted son, it must be an Egyptian name. The Greek form of the name, Μωΰσῆς (lxx), also points to this, as Josephus affirms. "Thermuthis," he says, "imposed this name upon him, from what had happened when he was put into the river; for the Egyptians call water Mo, and those who are rescued from the water Uses" (Ant. ii. 9, 6, Whiston's translation). The correctness of this statement is confirmed by the Coptic, which is derived from the old Egyptian.

(Note: Josephus gives a somewhat different explanation in his book against Apion (i. 31), when he says, "His true name was Moses, and signifies a person who is rescued from the water, for the Egyptians call water Mo." Other explanations, though less probable ones, are attempted by Gesenius in his Thes. p. 824, and Knobel in loc.)

Now, though we find the name explained in the text from the Hebrew משׁה, this is not to be regarded as a philological or etymological explanation, but as a theological interpretation, referring to the importance of the person rescued from the water to the Israelitish nation. In the lips of an Israelite, the name Mouje, which was so little suited to the Hebrew organs of speech, might be involuntarily altered into Moseh; "and this transformation became an unintentional prophecy, for the person drawn out did become, in fact, the drawer out" (Kurtz). Consequently Knobel's supposition, that the writer regarded משׁה as a participle Poal with the מ dropped, is to be rejected as inadmissible. - There can be no doubt that, as the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, Moses received a thoroughly Egyptian training, and was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, as Stephen states in Acts 7:22 in accordance with Jewish tradition.

(Note: The tradition, on the other hand, that Moses was a priest of Heliopolis, named Osarsiph (Jos. c. Ap. i. 26, 28), is just as unhistorical as the legend of his expedition against the Ethiopians (Jos. Ant. ii. 10), and many others with which the later, glorifying Saga embellished his life in Egypt.)

Through such an education as this, he received just the training required for the performance of the work to which God had called him. Thus the wisdom of Egypt was employed by the wisdom of God for the establishment of the kingdom of God.

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