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Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah after he had sent her back, and her two sons, one of whom was named Gershom[a] (for Moses[b] had said, “I have been a foreigner[c] in a foreign land”) and the other Eliezer (for Moses had said,[d] “The God of my father has been my help[e] and delivered[f] me from the sword of Pharaoh”).

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  1. Exodus 18:3 tn The name Gershom is based on גֵּר (ger) plus שָׁם (sham), meaning “foreign [resident] there.” Another possiblility is to relate the name to the root גָּרַשׁ (garash), perhaps meaning “outcast” (from I גרשׁ) or “churning” (from II גרשׁ).
  2. Exodus 18:3 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity (also in the following verse).
  3. Exodus 18:3 tn The Hebrew word גֵּר (ger), a foreign resident, sounds like and may be the first element of the name Gershom. But the word for “foreign” land (נָכְרִיִּה; nokriyyah) is built on a different root.
  4. Exodus 18:4 tn The referent (Moses) and the verb have been specified in the translation for clarity.
  5. Exodus 18:4 tn Now is given the etymological explanation of the name of Moses’ other son, Eliezer (אֱלִיעֶזֶר, ʾeliʿezer), which means “my God is a help.” The sentiment that explains this name is אֱלֹהֵי אָבִי בְּעֶזְרִי (ʾelohe ʾavi beʿezri, “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).
  6. Exodus 18:4 sn The verb “delivered” is an important motif in this chapter (see its use in vv. 8, 9, and 10 with reference to Pharaoh).

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