Exodus 18:13-27

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.
16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
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.
19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.
20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.
21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials 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 to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share 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 of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.

Exodus 18:13-27 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 18

This chapter gives an account of Jethro, Moses's father-in-law, with Zipporah his daughter, the wife of Moses, and her two sons, meeting him in the wilderness, who was kindly received by him, Ex 18:1-7 and on Moses' relating the great things God had done for Israel, Jethro expressed his joy on that account, gave praise to God, offered sacrifice, and kept a feast with the elders of Israel, Ex 18:8-12, and observing the constant and fatiguing business Moses had on his hands from morning to evening in judging the people, Ex 18:13-18, he gave him advice to appoint persons under him to receive laws and ordinances from him, he should have from God, and, according to them, judge and govern the people under them, some being rulers of thousands, others of hundreds, others of fifties, and some of tens, Ex 18:19-23, which counsel was acceptable to Moses, and he took it, Ex 18:24-26 and the chapter is concluded with their friendly parting, Ex 18:27.

Exodus 18:13-27 In-Context

11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”
12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence 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.
16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
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.
19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.
20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.
21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials 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 to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share 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 of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.

Cross References 21

  • 1. S ver 19; S Genesis 25:22; Numbers 9:6,8; Deuteronomy 17:8-13
  • 2. Exodus 24:14
  • 3. ver 15; Leviticus 24:12; Numbers 15:34; Deuteronomy 1:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Proverbs 24:23; Malachi 2:9
  • 4. Nu 11:11,14,17; Deuteronomy 1:9,12
  • 5. Exodus 3:12
  • 6. ver 15; Numbers 27:5
  • 7. Deuteronomy 4:1,5; Deuteronomy 5:1; Ps 119:12,26,68
  • 8. Psalms 143:8
  • 9. S Genesis 39:11; Deuteronomy 1:18
  • 10. S Genesis 47:6; Acts 6:3
  • 11. S Genesis 22:12
  • 12. Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; 1 Samuel 12:3; Psalms 15:5; Proverbs 17:23; Proverbs 28:8; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Ezekiel 18:8; Ezekiel 22:12
  • 13. Numbers 1:16; Numbers 7:2; Numbers 10:4; Deuteronomy 16:18; Ezr Numbers 7:25; Deuteronomy 1:13,15; 2 Chronicles 19:5-10
  • 14. Leviticus 24:11; Deuteronomy 1:17-18
  • 15. Numbers 11:17; Deuteronomy 1:9
  • 16. Numbers 1:16; Numbers 7:2; Numbers 11:16; Deuteronomy 16:18
  • 17. Deuteronomy 1:13-15
  • 18. Deuteronomy 16:18; 2 Chronicles 19:5; Ezra 7:25
  • 19. Deuteronomy 1:17
  • 20. ver 22
  • 21. Numbers 10:29-30