Exodus – Chapter 18

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 18


Now Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel: how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.


So his father-in-law Jethro took along Zipporah, Moses’ wife, whom Moses had sent back to him,


and her two sons. One of these was called Gershom; for he said, «I am a stranger in a foreign land.»


The other was called Eliezer; for he said, «My father’s God is my helper; he has rescued me from Pharaoh’s sword.»


Together with Moses’ wife and sons, then, his father-in-law Jethro came to him in the desert where he was encamped near the mountain of God,


and he sent word to Moses, «I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to you, along with your wife and her two sons.»


Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, bowed down before him, and kissed him. Having greeted each other, they went into the tent.


Moses then told his father-in-law of all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for the sake of Israel, and of all the hardships they had had to endure on their journey, and how the LORD had come to their rescue.


Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness that the LORD had shown Israel in rescuing them from the hands of the Egyptians.


«Blessed be the LORD,» he said, «who has rescued his people from the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians.


Now I know that the LORD is a deity great beyond any other; for he took occasion of their being dealt with insolently to deliver the people from the power of the Egyptians.»


Then Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, brought a holocaust and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to participate with Moses’ father-in-law in the meal before God.


The next day Moses sat in judgment for the people, who waited about him from morning until evening.


When his father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he inquired, «What sort of thing is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone while all the people have to stand about you from morning till evening?»


Moses answered his father-in-law, «The people come to me to consult God.


Whenever they have a disagreement, they come to me to have me settle the matter between them and make known to them God’s decisions and regulations.»


«You are not acting wisely,» his father-in-law replied.


«You will surely wear yourself out, and not only yourself but also these people with you. The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.


Now, listen to me, and I will give you some advice, that God may be with you. Act as the people’s representative before God, bringing to him whatever they have to say.


Enlighten them in regard to the decisions and regulations, showing them how they are to live and what they are to do.


But you should also look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and set them as officers over groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.


Let these men render decisions for the people in all ordinary cases. More important cases they should refer to you, but all the lesser cases they can settle themselves. Thus, your burden will be lightened, since they will bear it with you.


If you do this, when God gives you orders you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.»


Moses followed the advice of his father-in-law and did all that he had suggested.


He picked out able men from all Israel and put them in charge of the people as officers over groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.


They rendered decisions for the people in all ordinary cases. The more difficult cases they referred to Moses, but all the lesser cases they settled themselves.


Then Moses bade farewell to his father-in-law, who went off to his own country.