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Exodus 18 Living Bible (TLB)

18 Word soon reached Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, the priest of Midian, about all the wonderful things God had done for his people and for Moses, and how the Lord had brought them out of Egypt.

Then Jethro took Moses’ wife, Zipporah, to him (for he had sent her home), along with Moses’ two sons, Gershom (meaning “foreigner,” for Moses said when he was born, “I have been wandering in a foreign land”) and Eliezer (meaning “God is my help,” for Moses said at his birth, “The God of my fathers was my helper and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). 5-6 They arrived while Moses and the people were camped at Mount Sinai.[a]

“Jethro, your father-in-law, has come to visit you,” Moses was told, “and he has brought your wife and your two sons.”

Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and greeted him warmly; they asked about each other’s health and then went into Moses’ tent to talk further. Moses related to his father-in-law all that had been happening and what the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians in order to deliver Israel, and all the problems there had been along the way, and how the Lord had delivered his people from all of them. Jethro was very happy about everything the Lord had done for Israel, and about his bringing them out of Egypt.

10 “Bless the Lord,” Jethro said, “for he has saved you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, and has rescued Israel. 11 I know now that the Lord is greater than any other god because he delivered his people from the proud and cruel Egyptians.”

12 Jethro offered sacrifices to God,[b] and afterwards Aaron and the leaders of Israel came to meet Jethro, and they all ate the sacrificial meal together before the Lord.

13 The next day Moses sat as usual to hear the people’s complaints against each other, from morning to evening.

14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw how much time this was taking, he said, “Why are you trying to do all this alone, with people standing here all day long to get your help?”

15-16 “Well, because the people come to me with their disputes, to ask for God’s decisions,” Moses told him. “I am their judge, deciding who is right and who is wrong, and instructing them in God’s ways. I apply the laws of God to their particular disputes.”

17 “It’s not right!” his father-in-law exclaimed. 18 “You’re going to wear yourself out—and if you do, what will happen to the people? Moses, this job is too heavy a burden for you to try to handle all by yourself. 19-20 Now listen, and let me give you a word of advice, and God will bless you: Be these people’s lawyer—their representative before God—bringing him their questions to decide; you will tell them his decisions, teaching them God’s laws, and showing them the principles of godly living.

21 “Find some capable, godly, honest men who hate bribes, and appoint them as judges, one judge for each 1000 people; he in turn will have ten judges under him, each in charge of a hundred; and under each of them will be two judges, each responsible for the affairs of fifty people; and each of these will have five judges beneath him, each counseling ten persons. 22 Let these men be responsible to serve the people with justice at all times. Anything that is too important or complicated can be brought to you. But the smaller matters they can take care of themselves. That way it will be easier for you because you will share the burden with them. 23 If you follow this advice, and if the Lord agrees, you will be able to endure the pressures, and there will be peace and harmony in the camp.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed this suggestion. 25 He chose able men from all over Israel and made them judges over the people—thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26 They were constantly available to administer justice. They brought the hard cases to Moses but judged the smaller matters themselves.

27 Soon afterwards Moses let his father-in-law return to his own land.


  1. Exodus 18:5 Mount Sinai, or “Mount Horeb”; literally, “the mountain of God.”
  2. Exodus 18:12 sacrifices to God, literally, “a burnt offering and sacrifices for God.”
Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Exodus 18 New International Version (NIV)

Jethro Visits Moses

18 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.

After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her and her two sons. One son was named Gershom,[a] for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; and the other was named Eliezer,[b] for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

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

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. 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.

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

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

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

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 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. 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. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 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. 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. 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.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 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.

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


  1. Exodus 18:3 Gershom sounds like the Hebrew for a foreigner there.
  2. Exodus 18:4 Eliezer means my God is helper.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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