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Exodus Chapter 18
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Jethro's Advice
18:1 Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, sheik of Midian, heard about all that God had done for Moses and His people Israel when He brought Israel out of Egypt.
18:2 Jethro brought along Moses' wife, Tzipporah, who had been sent home earlier,
18:3 and her two sons. The name of the [first] one was Gershom, because [Moses] had declared, 'I was a foreigner (ger) in a strange land.'
18:4 The name of the [other] one was Eliezer, because, 'My father's God (El) was my Helper (Ezer), rescuing me from Pharaoh's sword.'
18:5 Jethro came together with [Moses'] wife and sons to the desert, where Moses was staying, near God's mountain.
18:6 He sent word to Moses: 'I, your father-in-law Jethro, am on my way to you, along with your wife. Her two sons are with her.'
18:7 Moses went out to greet his father-in-law, bowing down low and kissing him. They asked about each other's welfare and went into the tent.
18:8 Moses told his father-in-law about all that God had done to Pharaoh and Egypt for the sake of Israel, as well as all the frustrations they had encountered on the way, and [how] God had rescued them.
18:9 Jethro expressed joy because of all the good that God had done for Israel, rescuing them from Egypt's power.
18:10 He said, 'Praised be God, who rescued you from the power of Egypt and Pharaoh - who liberated the people from Egypt's power.
18:11 Now I know that God is the greatest of all deities. Through their very plots, He rose above them.'
18:12 Jethro brought burnt offerings and [other] sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to share the meal with Moses' father-in-law before God.
18:13 The next day, Moses sat to judge the people. They stood around Moses from morning to evening.
18:14 When Moses' father-in-law saw all that [Moses] was doing for the people, he said, 'What are you doing to the people? Why are you sitting by yourself and letting all the people stand around you from morning until evening?'
18:15 'The people come to me to seek God,' replied Moses to his father-in-law.
18:16 'Whenever they have a problem, they come to me. I judge between man and his neighbor, and I teach God's decrees and laws.'
18:17 Moses' father-in-law said to him, 'What you are doing is not good.
18:18 You are going to wear yourself out, along with this nation that is with you. Your responsibility is too great. You cannot do it all alone.
18:19 'Now listen to me. I will give you advice, and God will be with you. You must be God's representative for the people, and bring [their] concerns to God.
18:20 Clarify the decrees and laws for [the people]. Show them the path they must take, and the things they must do.
18:21 'But you must [also] seek out from among all the people capable, God-fearing men - men of truth, who hate injustice. You must then appoint them over [the people] as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens.
18:22 'Let them administer justice for the people on a regular basis. Of course, they will have to bring every major case to you, but they can judge the minor cases by themselves. They will then share the burden, making things easier for you.
18:23 If you agree to this, and God concurs, you will be able to survive. This entire nation will then also be able to attain its goal of peace.'
18:24 Moses took his father-in-law's advice, and did all that he said.
18:25 He chose capable men from all Israel, and he appointed them as administrators over the people, leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens.
18:26 They administered justice on a regular basis, bringing the difficult cases to Moses, and judging the simple cases by themselves.
18:27 Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his homeland.


  See notes on Exodus 2:18, 3:1. According to some authorities, Jethro was Moses' brother-in-law (Ibn Ezra on Numbers 10:29).

There is a question as to whether or not the Torah is in chronological order here. According to some, Jethro came before the giving of the Ten Commandments, while according to others, he came afterward (Zevachim 116a; Ramban).

  Actually, 'Jethro, father-in-law of Moses.' The same is true in Exodus 18:5 and 18:12, but for the sake of simplicity, it is abbreviated.

  See Exodus 2:21.

sent home earlier
  At Aaron's advice (Mekhilta; Rashi), soon after the episode of the circumcision (Exodus 4:25).

  See Exodus 2:22.

  See note on Exodus 4:20; Exodus 2:15.

God's mountain
  See Exodus 3:1. (Ibn Ezra; Abarbanel).

  (Radak, Sherashim). T'la'ah in Hebrew. Or, 'hardships.'

  Literally, 'blessed.'

Through their very plots...
  (Targum; Rashi; Septuagint). Literally, 'Because in the thing that they plotted on them.' Alternatively, 'The very thing they plotted came on them' (Abarbanel); 'Through their very plots, He amused Himself with them' (Rashbam, cf. Exodus 10:2); 'I am aware of how the [Egyptians] plotted against [the Israelites]' (Ramban; Chizzkuni). Or 'He saved the people from Egypt's power despite all their plots against them' (Ralbag).

burnt offerings
  See note on Genesis 8:20.

before God
  Aware of God's presence (Ralbag; Hirsch). Others say that 'before God' denotes that they were in front of the altar Moses had built (Exodus 17:15; Sforno; Abarbanel), the burning bush (Josephus 3:3), Mount Sinai (Ralbag), or Moses' tent (Ibn Ezra, Sekhel Tov). Or, 'of what was offered before God' (Chizzkuni).

The next day
  Simply, the day after Jethro had come (Ibn Ezra; Ramban; Josephus 3:4:1). There is however, a tradition, that this was on the day after Yom Kippur, right after Moses came down with the second set of Tablets (Mekhilta; Targum Yonathan; Rashi; see Exodus 34:29, Deuteronomy 10:5).

to seek God
  (Ibn Ezra). Or, 'to learn God's will' (Targum; Rashi).

  (Hirsch; cf. Saadia Gaon). Or, 'warn' (Ibn Ezra).

  Chayal in Hebrew. See Genesis 47:6, 1 Kings 1:42, Proverbs 12:4, 31:10, Ruth 3:11. Or, 'competent,' or 'resourceful' (Hirsch). Alternatively, 'men with leadership qualities' (Ramban), 'efficient men' (Ramban), 'strong men' (Ibn Janach); 'stronghearted' or 'confident men' (Tanchuma 2; Ralbag); 'men with initiative' (Divrey Sh'lomo; MeAm Lo'ez); 'men of status' (Rashbam), or, 'wealthy men,' (Mekhilta; Rashi; Sekhel Tov; cf. Genesis 34:29, Isaiah 8:4, 30:6, Jeremiah 16:3). Or, 'superior men,' implying self-control, moral superiority and leadership (Yad, Sanhedrin 2:7).

  Betza in Hebrew. Cf. Ezekiel 22:12; Judges 5:19, Micah 4:13. Or, 'robbery' (Ramban; Bachya; MeAm Lo'ez); 'Improper gain' (Rashbam), or 'gain' (Rashi, Ibn Ezra). There is actually a Talmudic dispute regarding the last two explanations (Kethuboth 105b; Mekhilta).

  Cf. Deuteronomy 1:15.

on a regular basis
  Literally, 'at all times.' Or, 'on a permanent basis.'

  (Mekhilta; Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Ralbag). Or, 'when God orders you [to judge them]' (Rashbam); or, 'then God will be able to give you the commandments' (Targum Yonathan; Sekhel Tov; Abarbanel; Div'rey Shalom; Hirsch; Josephus 3:4:1).

its goal of peace
  (Hirsch). Literally, 'will be able to come to its place in peace.' Or, 'all the people will be able to go home in peace' (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Sekhel Tov; Ramban).

he went away...
  See Numbers 10:29-32.

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