Advice From Moses’ Father-in-Law
1 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was a priest in Midian. He heard about the many ways that God helped Moses and the Israelites. He heard about the LORD leading the Israelites out of Egypt. 2 So Jethro went to Moses while Moses was camped near the mountain of God.* mountain of God That is, Mount Horeb (Sinai). Jethro brought Moses’ wife, Zipporah, with him. (Zipporah was not with Moses, because Moses had sent her home.) 3 Jethro also brought Moses’ two sons with him. The first son was named Gershom,† Gershom This name is like the Hebrew words meaning “a stranger there.” because when he was born, Moses said, “I am a stranger in a foreign country.” 4 The other son was named Eliezer,‡ Eliezer This name means “My God helps.” because when he was born, Moses said, “The God of my father helped me and saved me from the king of Egypt.” 5 So Jethro went to Moses while Moses was camped in the desert near the mountain of God. Moses’ wife and his two sons were with Jethro.
6 Jethro sent a message to Moses that said, “This is your father-in-law Jethro. I am bringing your wife and her two sons to you.”
7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. Moses bowed down before him and kissed him. The two men asked about each other’s health. Then they went into Moses’ tent to talk more. 8 Moses told Jethro everything the LORD had done for the Israelites. He told what the Lord did to Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. He told about all the problems they had along the way. And he told his father-in-law how the LORD saved the Israelites every time there was trouble.
9 Jethro was happy when he heard all the good things the LORD had done for Israel. He was glad that the Lord had freed the Israelites from the Egyptians. 10 He said,
“Praise the LORD!
He freed you from the power of Egypt.
He saved you from Pharaoh.
11 Now I know the LORD is greater than all the gods.
They thought they were in control, but look what God did!”
12 Jethro got some sacrifices and offerings to honor God. Then Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat with Moses’ father-in-law Jethro. They all ate together there with God.
13 The next day, Moses had the special job of judging the people. There were so many people that they had to stand before him all day.
14 Jethro saw Moses judging the people. He asked, “Why are you doing this? Why are you the only judge? And why do people come to you all day?”
15 Then Moses said to his father-in-law, “The people come to me and ask me to ask for God’s decision for their problem. 16 If people have an argument, they come to me, and I decide which person is right. In this way I teach the people God’s laws and teachings.”
17 But Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “This isn’t the right way to do this. 18 It is too much work for you to do alone. You cannot do this job by yourself. It wears you out. And it makes the people tired too. 19 Now, listen to me. Let me give you some advice. And I pray God will be with you. You should continue listening to the problems of the people. And you should continue to speak to God about these things. 20 You should explain God’s laws and teachings to the people. Warn them not to break the laws. Tell them the right way to live and what they should do. 21 But you should also choose some of the people to be judges and leaders.
“Choose good men you can trust—men who respect God. Choose men who will not change their decisions for money. Make these men rulers over the people. There should be rulers over 1000 people, 100 people, 50 people, and even over ten people. 22 Let these rulers judge the people. If there is a very important case, then they can come to you and let you decide what to do. But they can decide the other cases themselves. In this way these men will share your work with you, and it will be easier for you to lead the people. 23 If you do this as God directs you, then you will be able to do your job without tiring yourself out. And the people can still have all their problems solved before they return home.”
24 So Moses did what Jethro told him. 25 Moses chose good men from among the Israelites. He made them leaders over the people. There were rulers over 1000 people, 100 people, 50 people, and ten people. 26 These rulers were judges for the people. The people could always bring their arguments to these rulers, and Moses had to decide only the most important cases.
27 After a short time Moses said goodbye to his father-in-law Jethro, and Jethro went back to his own home.
*18:2 mountain of God That is, Mount Horeb (Sinai).
†18:3 Gershom This name is like the Hebrew words meaning “a stranger there.”
‡18:4 Eliezer This name means “My God helps.”