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Jethro Helps Moses

18 Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the religious leader of Midian, heard about all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people. He heard about how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, had taken Moses’ wife, Zipporah, after Moses had sent her away. And he had taken her two sons. One was given the name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a stranger in a strange land.” The other was given the name Eliezer, for he said, “The God of my father was my help. And He saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

Then Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came to Moses with his sons and his wife to the desert by the mountain of God where he was staying. He sent the news to Moses, “I, your father-in-law, Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her.” Then Moses went to meet his father-in-law. He bowed down and kissed him. They asked each other if all was well, and went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law all the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians because of Israel. He told him about how they had suffered on the way, and how the Lord had saved them. Jethro was glad because of all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in saving them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 So Jethro said, “Honor and thanks be to the Lord, Who saved you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and Who made you free from the power of Egypt. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods. It was proven when they acted in their pride against the people.” 12 Then Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, gave a burnt gift in worship to God. And Aaron came with all the leaders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.

Men Who Judge

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people. And the people stood around Moses from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone and judge and all the people stand around you from morning until evening?” 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to learn God’s will. 16 When they argue, they come to me. And I judge between a man and his neighbor. I teach them the Laws of God.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will become tired and weak. For the work is too much for you. You cannot do it alone. 19 Now listen to me. I will tell you what you should do, and God be with you. You speak for the people before God. Bring the troubles to God. 20 Then teach them the Laws. Make them know the way they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Also, you should choose from the people able men who fear God, men of truth who hate to get things by doing wrong. Have these men rule over the people, as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 22 Let them judge the people at all times. Have all the big troubles brought to you. But have them judge the small troubles. So it will be easier for you. They will share the work with you. 23 If you do this and God tells you to do it, then you will be able to keep your strength. And all these people will go to their place in peace.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel. And he made them leaders over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 26 They judged the people at all times. They would bring the big troubles to Moses. But they would judge every small trouble themselves. 27 Then Moses let his father-in-law return to his own land.

Jethro Visits Moses

18 Now Jethro,(A) the priest of Midian(B) and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.(C)

After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah,(D) his father-in-law Jethro received her and her two sons.(E) One son was named Gershom,[a] for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”;(F) and the other was named Eliezer,[b](G) for he said, “My father’s God was my helper;(H) he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain(I) of God. Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”

So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down(J) and kissed(K) him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships(L) they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved(M) them.

Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things(N) the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the Lord,(O) who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods,(P) for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”(Q) 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law,(R) brought a burnt offering(S) and other sacrifices(T) to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal(U) with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence(V) of God.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.(W) 16 Whenever they have a dispute,(X) it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”(Y)

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.(Z) 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.(AA) You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes(AB) to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions,(AC) and show them the way they are to live(AD) and how they are to behave.(AE) 21 But select capable men(AF) from all the people—men who fear(AG) God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain(AH)—and appoint them as officials(AI) over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case(AJ) to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share(AK) it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders(AL) of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.(AM) 26 They served as judges(AN) for the people at all times. The difficult cases(AO) they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.(AP)

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.(AQ)

Footnotes

  1. Exodus 18:3 Gershom sounds like the Hebrew for a foreigner there.
  2. Exodus 18:4 Eliezer means my God is helper.

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