Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Exodus 18:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Jethro - took a burnt-offering - עלה olah . Though it be true that in the patriarchal times we read of a burnt-offering, (see Genesis 22:2, etc)., yet we only read of one in the case of Isaac, and therefore, though this offering made by Jethro is not a decisive proof that the law relative to burnt-offerings, etc., had already been given, yet, taken with other circumstances in this account, it is a presumptive evidence that the meeting between Moses and Jethro took place after the erection of tabernacle. See Clarke's note on Exodus 18:5.

Sacrifices for God - זבחים zebachim, slain beasts, as the word generally signifies. We have already seen that sacrifices were instituted by God himself as soon as sin entered into our world; and we see that they were continued and regularly practiced among all the people who had the knowledge of the only true God, from that time until they became a legal establishment. Jethro, who was a priest, ( Exodus 2:16;), had a right to offer these sacrifices; nor can there be a doubt of his being a worshipper of the true God, for those Kenites, from whom the Rechabites came, were descended from him; 1 Chronicles 2:55. See also Jeremiah 35.

And Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel to eat bread - The burnt-offering was wholly consumed; every part was considered as the Lord's portion, and therefore it was entirely burnt up. The other sacrifices mentioned here were such that, after the blood had been poured out before God, the officers and assistants might feed on the flesh. Thus, in ancient times, contracts were made and covenants sealed; See Clarke's note on Genesis 15:13, etc. It is very likely, therefore, that the sacrifices offered on this occasion, were those on the flesh of which Aaron and the elders of Israel feasted with Jethro.

Before God - Before the tabernacle, where God dwelt; for it is supposed that the tabernacle was now erected. See Clarke's note on Exodus 18:5; and see Deuteronomy 12:5-7, and 1 Chronicles 29:21, 1 Chronicles 29:22, where the same form of speech, before the Lord, is used, and plainly refers to his manifested presence in the tabernacle.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

A burnt offering and sacrifices - This verse clearly shows that Jethro was recognized as a priest of the true God, and is of great importance in its bearings upon the relation between the Israelites and their congeners, and upon the state of religion among the descendants of Abraham.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Conversation concerning God's wondrous works is good, and edifies. Jethro not only rejoiced in the honour done to his son-in-law, but in all the goodness done to Israel. Standers-by were more affected with the favours God had showed to Israel, than many were who received them. Jethro gave the glory to Israel's God. Whatever we have the joy of, God must have the praise. They joined in a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Mutual friendship is sanctified by joint worship. It is very good for relations and friends to join in the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, as those that meet in Christ. This was a temperate feast; they did eat bread, manna. Jethro must see and taste that bread from heaven, and though a gentile, is welcome: the gentiles are welcomed to Christ the Bread of life.