Exodus 18

1 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, and how the Lord had led the Israelites out of Egypt.
2 Now Moses had sent his wife Zipporah to Jethro, his father-in-law,
3 along with his two sons. The first son was named Gershom, because when he was born, Moses said, "I am a stranger in a foreign country."
4 The other son was named Eliezer, because when he was born, Moses said, "The God of my father is my help. He saved me from the king of Egypt."
5 So Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Moses' wife and his two sons and went to Moses. He was camped in the desert near the mountain of God.
6 Jethro had sent a message ahead to Moses that said, "I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons."
7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. After the two men asked about each other's health, they went into Moses' tent.
8 Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to the king and the Egyptians to help Israel. He told about all the problems they had faced along the way and how the Lord had saved them.
9 Jethro was very happy to hear all the good things the Lord had done for Israel when he had saved them from the Egyptians.
10 He said, "Praise the Lord. He has saved you from the Egyptians and their king, and he has saved the people from the power of the Egyptians.
11 Now I know the Lord is greater than all gods, because 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 older leaders of Israel came to Moses' father-in-law to eat the holy meal together before God.
13 The next day Moses solved disagreements among the people, and the people stood around him from morning until night.
14 When 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, and I decide who is right. 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, and I will give you some advice. I want God to be with you. You must speak to God for the people and tell him about their disagreements.
20 Warn them about the laws and teachings, and teach them the right way to live and what they should do.
21 But choose some capable men from among the people -- men who respect God, who can be trusted, and who will not change their decisions for money. Make these men officers over the people, to rule over groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.
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, because they will share the work with you.
23 If you do this as God commands you, 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 and made them leaders over the people; they were officers over groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.
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 So Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro went back to his own home.

Exodus 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

Jethro brings to Moses his wife and two sons. (1-6) Moses entertains Jethro. (7-12) Jethro's counsel to Moses. (13-27)

Verses 1-6 Jethro came to rejoice with Moses in the happiness of Israel, and to bring his wife and children to him. Moses must have his family with him, that while he ruled the church of God, ( 1 Timothy. 3:5 )

Verses 7-12 Conversation concerning God's wondrous works is good, and edifies. Jethro not only rejoiced in the honour done to his son-in-law, but in all the goodness done to Israel. Standers-by were more affected with the favours God had showed to Israel, than many were who received them. Jethro gave the glory to Israel's God. Whatever we have the joy of, God must have the praise. They joined in a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Mutual friendship is sanctified by joint worship. It is very good for relations and friends to join in the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, as those that meet in Christ. This was a temperate feast; they did eat bread, manna. Jethro must see and taste that bread from heaven, and though a gentile, is welcome: the gentiles are welcomed to Christ the Bread of life.

Verses 13-27 Here is the great zeal and the toil of Moses as a magistrate. Having been employed to redeem Israel out of the house of bondage, he is a further type of Christ, that he is employed as a lawgiver and a judge among them. If the people were as quarrelsome one with another as they were with God, no doubt Moses had many causes brought before him. This business Moses was called to; it appears that he did it with great care and kindness. The meanest Israelite was welcome to bring his cause before him. Moses kept to his business from morning to night. Jethro thought it was too much for him to undertake alone; also it would make the administration of justice tiresome to the people. There may be over-doing even in well-doing. Wisdom is profitable to direct, that we may neither content ourselves with less than our duty, nor task ourselves beyond our strength. Jethro advised Moses to a better plan. Great men should not only study to be useful themselves, but contrive to make others useful. Care must be taken in the choice of the persons admitted into such a trust. They should be men of good sense, that understood business, and that would not be daunted by frowns or clamours, but abhorred the thought of a bribe. Men of piety and religion; such as fear God, who dare not to do a base thing, though they could do it secretly and securely. The fear of God will best fortify a man against temptations to injustice. Moses did not despise this advice. Those are not wise, who think themselves too wise to be counselled.

Chapter Summary

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 Commentaries