Exodus 18

Jethro brings Moses' family, gives counsel, and leaves
 1 ¶ When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt;
.2 Then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back,
 3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land: 
 4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh: 
 5 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:
 6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. 
  1 - Jethro See on ex0216.
  2 - Zipporah See on ex0221, ex0425.
  2 - Sent her back The coming confrontation in Egypt would have been unsafe for Moses' family, and apparently the Lord did not need her there.
  6 - And he said This explanation would have been unnecessary. Moses certainly had not forgotten his family. The text may also be translated, "And someone said." Jethro may have sent a messenger ahead to announce his arrival.

Remember to read more than one verse of the texts pointed to by the links.
 7 ¶ And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 
 8 And Moses told his father in law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them.
  7 - Moses ... did obeisance "Before Moses had left Egypt, he sent back his wife and children to his father-in-law. And after Jethro heard of the wonderful deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, he visited Moses in the wilderness, and brought his wife and children to him. 'And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 
  8 - Moses told "And Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh, and to the Egyptians, for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them." (1SP 230).
 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
.11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
.12 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God.
  9 - Jethro rejoiced Acts of praise didn't begin with David and the psalms.
  11 - Now I know .. greater ... the gods He obviously already knew this. See the explanation of his other name ex0218.
  12 - Burnt offering God established the sacrifical system as soon as man sinned ge0321. Those who rebelled against the Creator god imitated it. Jethro understood as did Melchizedek ge1418.
  12 - All the elders ... to eat bread Burnt offerings were to be consumed by fire but, from the other "sacrifices," some parts were eaten. We assume that they ate more than bread. Thus we consider eating bread to mean eating or eating together.
.13 ¶ And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
 14 And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
 15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
.16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
  13 - Moses sat to judge At that time, all leadership was centered in a nation's monarch. This included judgment. For several centuries the leader of the Hebrews was called a judge. Thus the book of Judges.
  14 - Why sittest ... alone? Some have argued that Jethro objected to Moses' method of judgment. There is no hint of that in the text.
  16 - Make them know the statutes Those who believe that there were no laws and statutes before Sinai would place Jethro's visit after that time. This, however, is unreasonable. First it is important to explain the law that had been broken whether it had been given at Sinai or not. This helped the offender understand the justice of the decision and so that he would be less apt to commit the same error. Second, the divine requirements were known. See on ge2605. Also,  according to the flow of the story, the children of Israel are still at Rephidim ex1708. Sinai was later chapter 20. This is clear from ex1901.
 17 And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 
.19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:
  17,18 - Not good Health is a gift of God for which we are held accountable.
  19 - Be for the people Or "You shall represent the people before God" (RSV).


.20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
.21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
  20 - Teach ... laws ... walk Some commentators argue that this shows the time to be before Sinai perhaps not understanding that God had laws before then. The first rule was given in the Garden ge0217. Also see ex17.
  22 - At all seasons The additional levels of courts and the large number of judges meant that all cases could be heard fairly and would not have to wait until Moses had time.
 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.
 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.
 27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.
  24 - Moses harkened The word "harken" means more than listen. It indicates listening with an attitude of readiness to do what was asked. Such listening is always appropriate for leaders as well as others. Only God has perfect understanding.
Previous chapter
Exodus home
Commentary home