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Exodus 18 Good News Translation (GNT)

Jethro Visits Moses

18 Moses' father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything that God had done for Moses and the people of Israel when he led them out of Egypt. So he came to Moses, bringing with him Moses' wife Zipporah, who had been left behind, and Gershom and Eliezer, her two sons. (Moses had said, “I have been a foreigner in a strange land”; so he had named one son Gershom.[a] He had also said, “The God of my father helped me and saved me from being killed by the king of Egypt”; so he had named the other son Eliezer.[b]) Jethro came with Moses' wife and her two sons into the desert where Moses was camped at the holy mountain. He had sent word to Moses that they were coming, so Moses went out to meet him, bowed before him, and kissed him. They asked about each other's health and then went into Moses' tent. Moses told Jethro everything that the Lord had done to the king and the people of Egypt in order to rescue the Israelites. He also told him about the hardships the people had faced on the way and how the Lord had saved them. When Jethro heard all this, he was happy 10 and said, “Praise the Lord, who saved you from the king and the people of Egypt! Praise the Lord, who saved his people from slavery! 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods, because he did this when the Egyptians treated the Israelites with such contempt.” 12 Then Jethro brought an offering to be burned whole and other sacrifices to be offered to God; and Aaron and all the leaders of Israel went with him to eat the sacred meal as an act of worship.

The Appointment of Judges

13 The next day Moses was settling disputes among the people, and he was kept busy from morning till night. 14 When Jethro saw everything that Moses had to do, he asked, “What is all this that you are doing for the people? Why are you doing this all alone, with people standing here from morning till night to consult you?”

15 Moses answered, “I must do this because the people come to me to learn God's will. 16 When two people have a dispute, they come to me, and I decide which one of them is right, and I tell them God's commands and laws.”

17 Then Jethro said, “You are not doing this right. 18 You will wear yourself out and these people as well. This is too much for you to do alone. 19 Now let me give you some good advice, and God will be with you. It is right for you to represent the people before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 You should teach them God's commands and explain to them how they should live and what they should do. 21 But in addition, you should choose some capable men and appoint them as leaders of the people: leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They must be God-fearing men who can be trusted and who cannot be bribed. 22 Let them serve as judges for the people on a permanent basis. They can bring all the difficult cases to you, but they themselves can decide all the smaller disputes. That will make it easier for you, as they share your burden. 23 If you do this, as God commands, you will not wear yourself out, and all these people can go home with their disputes settled.”

24 Moses took Jethro's advice 25 and chose capable men from among all the Israelites. He appointed them as leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people on a permanent basis, bringing the difficult cases to Moses but deciding the smaller disputes themselves.

27 Then Moses said good-bye to Jethro, and Jethro went back home.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 18:3 This name sounds like the Hebrew for “foreigner.”
  2. Exodus 18:4 This name sounds like the Hebrew for “God helps me.”
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Exodus 18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jethro’s Advice

18 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro took her back, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been an alien[a] in a foreign land”), and the name of the other, Eliezer[b] (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came into the wilderness where Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, bringing Moses’ sons and wife to him. He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons.” Moses went out to meet his father-in-law; he bowed down and kissed him; each asked after the other’s welfare, and they went into the tent. Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had beset them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the Egyptians.

10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he delivered the people from the Egyptians,[c] when they dealt arrogantly with them.” 12 And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

13 The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?” 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases before God; 20 teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do. 21 You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 22 Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will go to their home in peace.”

24 So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men from all Israel and appointed them as heads over the people, as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26 And they judged the people at all times; hard cases they brought to Moses, but any minor case they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went off to his own country.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 18:3 Heb ger
  2. Exodus 18:4 Heb Eli, my God; ezer, help
  3. Exodus 18:11 The clause because . . . Egyptians has been transposed from verse 10
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Exodus 18 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Parashah 17: Yitro (Jethro) 18:1–20:23(26)

18 Now Yitro the priest of Midyan, Moshe’s father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moshe and for Isra’el his people, how Adonai had brought Isra’el out of Egypt. After Moshe had sent away his wife Tzipporah and her two sons, Yitro Moshe’s father-in-law had taken them back. The name of the one son was Gershom, for Moshe had said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” The name of the other was Eli‘ezer [my God helps], “because the God of my father helped me by rescuing me from Pharaoh’s sword.” Yitro Moshe’s father-in-law brought Moshe’s sons and wife to him in the desert where he was encamped, at the mountain of God. He sent word to Moshe, “I, your father-in-law Yitro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”

Moshe went out to meet his father-in-law, prostrated himself and kissed him. Then, after inquiring of each other’s welfare, they entered the tent. Moshe told his father-in-law all that Adonai had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Isra’el’s sake, all the hardships they had suffered while traveling and how Adonai had rescued them. Yitro rejoiced over all the good that Adonai had done for Isra’el by rescuing them from the Egyptians. 10 Yitro said, “Blessed be Adonai, who has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, who has rescued the people from the harsh hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that Adonai is greater than all other gods, because he rescued those who were treated so arrogantly.” 12 Yitro Moshe’s father-in-law brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God, and Aharon came with all the leaders of Isra’el to share the meal before God with Moshe’s father-in-law.

(ii) 13 The following day Moshe sat to settle disputes for the people, while the people stood around Moshe from morning till evening. 14 When Moshe’s father-in-law saw all that he was doing to the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing to the people? Why do you sit there alone, with all the people standing around you from morning till evening?” 15 Moshe answered his father-in-law, “It’s because the people come to me seeking God’s guidance. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me; I judge between one person and another, and I explain to them God’s laws and teachings.”

17 Moshe’s father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing isn’t good. 18 You will certainly wear yourself out — and not only yourself, but these people here with you as well. It’s too much for you — you can’t do it alone, by yourself. 19 So listen now to what I have to say. I will give you some advice, and God will be with you. You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases to God. 20 You should also teach them the laws and the teachings, and show them how to live their lives and what work they should do. 21 But you should choose from among all the people competent men who are God-fearing, honest and incorruptible to be their leaders, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Normally, they will settle the people’s disputes. They should bring you the difficult cases; but ordinary matters they should decide themselves. In this way, they will make it easier for you and share the load with you. 23 If you do this — and God is directing you to do it — you will be able to endure; and all these people too will arrive at their destination peacefully.”

(iii) 24 Moshe paid attention to his father-in-law’s counsel and did everything he said. 25 Moshe chose competent men from all Isra’el and made them heads over the people, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 As a general rule, they settled the people’s disputes — the difficult cases they brought to Moshe, but every simple matter they decided themselves.

27 Then Moshe let his father-in-law leave, and he went off to his own country.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Exodus 18 The Message (MSG)

18 1-4 Jethro, priest of Midian and father-in-law to Moses, heard the report of all that God had done for Moses and Israel his people, the news that God had delivered Israel from Egypt. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken in Zipporah, Moses’ wife who had been sent back home, and her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (Sojourner) for he had said, “I’m a sojourner in a foreign land”; the name of the other was Eliezer (God’s-Help) because “The God of my father is my help and saved me from death by Pharaoh.”

5-6 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought Moses his sons and his wife there in the wilderness where he was camped at the mountain of God. He had sent a message ahead to Moses: “I, your father-in-law, am coming to you with your wife and two sons.”

7-8 Moses went out to welcome his father-in-law. He bowed to him and kissed him. Each asked the other how things had been with him. Then they went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law the story of all that God had done to Pharaoh and Egypt in helping Israel, all the trouble they had experienced on the journey, and how God had delivered them.

9-11 Jethro was delighted in all the good that God had done for Israel in delivering them from Egyptian oppression. Jethro said, “Blessed be God who has delivered you from the power of Egypt and Pharaoh, who has delivered his people from the oppression of Egypt. Now I know that God is greater than all gods because he’s done this to all those who treated Israel arrogantly.”

12 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a Whole-Burnt-Offering and sacrifices to God. And Aaron, along with all the elders of Israel, came and ate the meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

13-14 The next day Moses took his place to judge the people. People were standing before him all day long, from morning to night. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What’s going on here? Why are you doing all this, and all by yourself, letting everybody line up before you from morning to night?”

15-16 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me with questions about God. When something comes up, they come to me. I judge between a man and his neighbor and teach them God’s laws and instructions.”

17-23 Moses’ father-in-law said, “This is no way to go about it. You’ll burn out, and the people right along with you. This is way too much for you—you can’t do this alone. Now listen to me. Let me tell you how to do this so that God will be in this with you. Be there for the people before God, but let the matters of concern be presented to God. Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do. And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They’ll be responsible for the everyday work of judging among the people. They’ll bring the hard cases to you, but in the routine cases they’ll be the judges. They will share your load and that will make it easier for you. If you handle the work this way, you’ll have the strength to carry out whatever God commands you, and the people in their settings will flourish also.”

24-27 Moses listened to the counsel of his father-in-law and did everything he said. Moses picked competent men from all Israel and set them as leaders over the people who were organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They took over the everyday work of judging among the people. They brought the hard cases to Moses, but in the routine cases they were the judges. Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law who went home to his own country.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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