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Jethro Visits Moses

18 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was the priest of Midian. He heard about everything that God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites. Jethro heard how the Lord had led the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses had sent his wife Zipporah to Jethro, his father-in-law. Moses had also sent his two sons. The first son was named Gershom.[a] When he was born, Moses said, “I am a stranger in a foreign country.” The other son was named Eliezer.[b] When he was born, Moses said, “The God of my father is my help. He saved me from the king of Egypt.”

So Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, went to Moses. Moses was camped in the desert near Sinai, the mountain of God. Moses’ wife and his two sons came with Jethro. Jethro had sent a message ahead to Moses. He said, “I am Jethro, your father-in-law. I am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”

So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. Moses bowed down and then kissed him. The two men asked about each other’s health. Then they went into Moses’ tent. Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to the king and the Egyptians. The Lord had done these things to help Israel. Moses told about all the problems they had faced along the way. And Moses told him how the Lord had saved them.

Jethro was very happy when he heard all the good things the Lord had done for Israel. He was happy because the Lord had saved them from the Egyptians. 10 Jethro said, “Praise the Lord. He has saved all of you from the Egyptians and their king. He has saved the people from the power of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know the Lord is greater than all gods. He did this to those who looked down on Israel.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, gave a whole burnt offering and other sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to Moses’ father-in-law. They ate the holy meal together before God.

13 The next day Moses solved disagreements among the people. So the people stood around Moses from morning until night. 14 Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people. He asked, “What is all this you are doing for the people? Why are you the only one to solve disagreements? All the people are standing around you from morning until night!”

15 Then Moses said to his father-in-law, “It is because the people come to me for God’s help in solving their disagreements. 16 When people have a disagreement, they come to me. I decide who is right. And I tell them God’s laws and teachings.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “You are not doing this right. 18 You and the people who come to you will get too tired. This is too much work for you. You can’t do it by yourself. 19 Now listen to me. I will give you some advice. I want God to be with you. You must talk to God for the people. You must tell him about their disagreements. 20 You should tell them the laws and teachings. Tell them the right way to live and what they should do. 21 But choose some capable men from among the people. Choose men who respect God and who can be trusted. They will not change their decisions for money. Make these men officers over groups of 1,000, 100, 50 and 10 people. 22 Let these officers solve the disagreements among the people all the time. They can bring the hard cases to you. But they can decide the simple cases themselves. That will make it easier for you. These men will share the work with you. 23 Do this if it is what God commands. Then you will be able to do your job. And all the people will go home with their disagreements solved.”

24 So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all the Israelites. He made them leaders over the people. They were officers over groups of 1,000, 100, 50 and 10 people. 26 These officers solved disagreements among the people all the time. They brought the hard cases to Moses. But they decided the simple cases themselves.

27 Then Moses let his father-in-law leave. And Jethro went back to his own home.

Footnotes

  1. 18:3 Gershom This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “a stranger there.”
  2. 18:4 Eliezer This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “my help.”

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