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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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

Commentary for Exodus 18

Jethro brings to Moses his wife and two sons. (1-6) Moses entertains Jethro. (7-12) Jethro's counsel to Moses. (13-27)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, he might set a good example in family government, #1Ti 3:5|.

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.

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.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Exodus 18

  • CAROL on Exodus 18
    I am understand the story of jethro telling moses to get help from his people, is how we are to do in our church. some churches have well over 400 people. we have suday school superintendants, nursey moitors, sunday school teachers, newlywed classes, aging groups, we have a group for support in every as pect of our life. now if those leaders cannot answer a question they go to the pastor.. infact the bible states to not sue anyone... and if someone sue you give them much more than what they ask for, i think you all got the wrong impression of this story. if the pastor has a problem with a question he goes to some older and much wiser leader, in the same faith. i believe that.
  • Stanley jett on Exodus 18
    I'm glad Jethro was a good man. You never know he may have been my kin. My name is Jett. Some call me Jethro or Jettson of a nick name.
  • Ian Monk on Exodus 18
    this resembles the 70 people Jesus sent out to preach the kingdom of God. And what will happen at His return. Those s that that survive the tribulation will be taught by the saints Gods laws. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths. Is 2.3 Micah 4.2
  • Rev Mike on Exodus 18
    It has always been more important to God that they build an assembly"Body of Christ" than for one man to be judge.:"That the Word Would Know That I am God and That There is no Other" So he gives His direction for a more excellent way. Unlike our own...
  • Michael Charles on Exodus 18
    This is first the physical...God gave no instruction at this time. This is all man's way of dealing with issues. Moses still couldnt handle it and asked for death Numbers 11:15 Second comes the spiritual. God explained to Moses in the book of Numbers how to deal with this exact same problems that Moses faced. Numbers 11:16. In other words bring all of your problems to God first, not man.
  • BSP on Exodus 18
    Verse 5~Jethro put faith in Jehovah God on account of all the things that he had heard and seen. Our good conduct and actions can have a powerful effect on others.
  • A disciple on Exodus 18
    Charlene; That's a very good observation! I think what it also means, is that we are supposed to settle things between ourselves as much as we can, and learn how to love and judge righteously; so we don't have to bring every matter to the "highest Court in the land!" We learn how to work things out RATHER THAN immediately taking a brother or sister to God for judgment, and grow in God's character.
  • Charlene on Exodus 18
    I think what Moses father-in-law ask him to do as far as judging the people is sort of what our court system is today. Start in lower courts and can go all the way to Supreme Court.
  • A disciple on Exodus 18
    "Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them." God brought Israel out from under the oppression and cruelty of the arrogant and perverted Egyptians; and He will also bring us out from under our oppressors. The difference between real superiority, and that which the wicked do; is that they think that by pride and cruelty is power.
  • Grace on Exodus 18
    It is a wonderful illustration that sometimes we can not handle all issues by ourselves. So often, our lack of seeking wisdom can create further issues. It shows the humility of Moses and the wisdom of Jethro. If we are willing to listen, God will provide all we need.


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