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Jethro’s Visit to Moses at the Mountain of God

18 And Jethro, the priest of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses, heard all that God had done for Moses and for Israel, his people, that Yahweh had brought Israel out from Egypt. And Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, took Zipporah the wife of Moses after her sending away, and her two sons—the one whose name was Gershom, for he had said, “I have been an alien in a foreign land,” and the one whose name was Eliezer, for “the God of my father was my help, and he delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.” And Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, came and his sons and his wife to Moses, to the desert where he was camping there at the mountain of God. And he said to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you and your wife and her two sons with her.” And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed, and he kissed him, and they each asked about the other’s welfare,[a] and they came into the tent.

And Moses told his father-in-law all that Yahweh had done to Pharaoh and to Egypt on account of Israel, all the hardship that had found them on the way, and how Yahweh delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced over all the good that Yahweh had done for Israel when he delivered them from the hand of Egypt. 10 And Jethro said, “Blessed be Yahweh, who has delivered you from the hand of Egypt and from the hand of Pharaoh—who has delivered the people from under the hand of Egypt. 11 Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all the gods, even in the matter where they the Egyptians dealt arrogantly against the Israelites.”[b] 12 And Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, and Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat bread with the father-in-law of Moses before God.

13 And[c] the next day, Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood before Moses from the morning until the evening. 14 And the father-in-law of Moses saw all that he was doing for the people, and he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why are you sitting alone and all the people are standing by you from morning until evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to seek God. 16 When they have an issue,[d] it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make known God’s rule and his instructions.”

17 And the father-in-law of Moses said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 Surely you will wear out, both you and this people who are with you, because the thing is too difficult[e] for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19 Now listen to my voice; I will advise you, and may God be with you. You be for the people before God, and you bring the issues to God. 20 And you warn them of the rules and the instructions, and you make known to them the way in which they must walk and the work that they must do. 21 And you will select from all the people men of ability, fearers of God, trustworthy men, haters of dishonest gain,[f] and you will appoint such men over them as commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, and commanders of tens. 22 And let them judge the people all the time, and[g] every major issue they will bring to you, and every minor issue they will judge themselves. And so lighten it for yourself, and they will bear it with you. 23 If you will do this thing and God will command you, then you will be able to endure, and also each of the people will go to his home[h] in peace.”

24 And Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law, and he did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose men of ability from all Israel, and he appointed them as heads over the people, as commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, and commanders of tens. 26 And they judged the people all the time; the difficult issues[i] they would bring to Moses, and every minor issue they would judge themselves. 27 And Moses let his father-in-law go, and he went to his land.


  1. Exodus 18:7 Literally “they asked a man to his neighbor to welfare”
  2. Exodus 18:11 Literally “because in the thing that they dealt arrogantly over them”
  3. Exodus 18:13 Literally “And it was”
  4. Exodus 18:16 Literally “a thing is to them”
  5. Exodus 18:18 Literally “heavy”
  6. Exodus 18:21 Or “unjust profit”
  7. Exodus 18:22 Literally “and it will be”
  8. Exodus 18:23 Or “his place”
  9. Exodus 18:26 Hebrew “issue”