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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Exodus

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FRAMEWORKS: Exodus 18 : Jethro Visits Moses


v.1-7 Jethro comes to visit Moses

v.8-12 Jethro rejoices when he hears what has happened

v.13-16 Jethro watches Moses at work & questions him

v.17-23 Jethro suggests a better approach

v.24-27 Moses applies Jethro's advice & Jethro returns home



v.1-7 Jethro comes to visit Moses


v.1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

v.2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her

v.3 and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, [sounds like the Hebrew for a foreigner there'] for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”;

v.4 and the other was named Eliezer, [means my God is my helper] for he said, “My father's God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

v.5 Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, together with Moses' sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God.

v.6 Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”

v.7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent.


[Notes: History catches up. Moses had been part of Jethro's family for forty years, married to one of his daughters so he also had two grandsons. Although Moses had had them with him when he left Midian, he had obviously sent them back home for protection at some point. The word of the Exodus, we suspect, spread like wild fire around the area and when Jethro hears that Israel are coming in his direction, he gets ready to go out and meet them, taking Moses' family with him, and sends a messenger ahead of him to warn Moses, and eventually meets him near the foot of the Sinai mountain range.]



v.8-12 Jethro rejoices when he hears what has happened


v.8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel's sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.

v.9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.

v.10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD , who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians.

v.11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”

v.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.


[Notes: When Moses tells Jethro all that had happened, he rejoices over it and recognises that there is no other like this God, the “I AM WHO I AM.” Jethro offers sacrifices to the Lord – ahead of the Law!]



v.13-16 Jethro watches Moses at work & questions him


v.13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.

v.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?”

v.15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God's will.

v.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.”


[Notes: Moses is acting as Israel's sole judge and so large numbers of people were coming to him. When Jethro see this, he questions Moses.]



v.17-23 Jethro suggests a better approach


v.17 Moses' father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.

v.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.

v.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.

v.20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.

v.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.

v.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.

v.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.”


[Notes: Jethro suggests that this is not good and will wear Moses out and [implied] make the people fed up with waiting. Yes, he says [v.19b], do pray for them, teaching them His laws and be an example to them [v.20] but above this, delegate! Appoint faithful men as judges [v.21,22] so you only deal with the most difficult of cases [v.22]. If God blesses this, it will be good.]



v.24-27 Moses applies Jethro's advice & Jethro returns home


v.24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.

v.25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

v.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.

v.27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.


[Notes: Moses does exactly what Jethro suggests and a judiciary is established in Israel. Jethro leaves them and returns home.]



Continue to Chapter 19