Exodus 18

Jethro visits Moses

1 The father of Moses' wife was called Jethro. He was the priest for the Midian people. He heard about all the things that God had done for Moses and for the Israelites. He also heard how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

2 Moses had sent his wife, Zipporah, back to her home. He also sent his two sons with her. Jethro took care of them. 3 Moses' older son was called Gershom. Moses said about him, ‘I have become a stranger in a foreign country.’ 4 The other son was called Eliezer. Moses said about him, ‘My ancestors' God gave me help. He saved me from Pharaoh, when Pharaoh wanted to kill me.’

18:3The name Gershom means ‘a foreign person’.
18:4The name Eliezer means ‘My God gives me help’.

5 Jethro came to visit Moses in the wilderness. He brought with him Moses' wife and two sons. The Israelites had put up their tents near the mountain of God. 6 Jethro had already sent a message to Moses. He said, ‘I am coming with your wife and her two sons to see you.’

7 So Moses went out to meet his wife's father. He bent down and he kissed Jethro. They said ‘hello’ and they spoke together. Then they went into Moses' tent. 8 Moses told Jethro about all the things that the Lord had done to help the Israelites. He told him what the Lord had done against Pharaoh and against the Egyptians. He told Jethro about the troubles that had happened to the Israelites during their journey. And Moses told him how the Lord had saved his people.

9 When Jethro heard what Moses said, he was very happy. He realized that the Lord had saved the Israelites from the power of the Egyptians.

10 Jethro said, ‘Praise the Lord! He has saved you from the power of the Egyptians and their king, Pharaoh. Yes! He has saved the Israelites from the powerful Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods. He destroyed the proud Egyptians when they were cruel to his people.’

12 Then Jethro brought an animal to burn as a sacrifice to God. He also brought other sacrifices. Aaron came, with all the leaders of the Israelites. They ate a special meal together with Jethro, to worship God.

Moses chooses some judges

13 The next day, Moses sat down to judge people who had quarrels against each other. From morning until evening, people were coming to him with their quarrels.

14 Jethro saw all these things that Moses did to help the people. So he said, ‘You are trying to do too much! Why do you sit there alone to judge all these people during the whole day?’

15 Moses answered Jethro, ‘The people come to me to discover what God says. 16 When they quarrel, they come to me to decide who is right. I tell them what God's laws and commands teach.’

17 Jethro replied, ‘The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 You will become too tired. The people who come to you will also become tired. You cannot do all this work alone. 19 Now listen to me! I will tell you what I think will help you. God will take care of you. When people have quarrels, you must continue to speak to God on their behalf. 20 You are the person who must teach them God's laws and commands. You must show them how they should live and what they must do.

21 But you must also choose some other clever men to help you. They must be honest men who respect God. They must not want to take money from people. Choose these men to be officers with authority over groups of the people. They will be leaders of 1,000 people, or 100 people, or 50 people, or 10 people. 22 They will be able to work as judges for the people, every day. They can decide the small quarrels. But if there is a difficult problem, they must bring it to you. That will make your work easier, because they will help you with the work. 23 If you agree with my idea, and if God commands you to do it, it will help you. The work will not be too hard for you. And all these people will go home happily.’

24 Moses listened to Jethro and he did everything that Jethro had said.

25 Moses chose wise men from all the Israelites. He made them officers to lead 1,000 people, or 100 people, or 50 people, or 10 people. 26 They worked as judges for the people at all times. If there was a difficult problem, they took it to Moses for him to decide. But they themselves decided the small problems.

27 Then Moses said ‘goodbye’ to his wife's father, Jethro. Jethro returned to his own country.