Exodus 18

Now Shuaib, the priest of Madyan, Musa’s father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Musa, and for Israel his people, how that Allah had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2Shuaib,Musa’s father-in-law, received Zipporah, Musa’s wife, after he had sent her away, 3and her two sons. The name of one son was Gershom,[1] for Musa said, I have lived as a foreigner in a foreign land4The name of the other was Eliezer,[2] for he said, My father’s God was my help and delivered me from Firaun’s sword. 5Shuaib, Musa’s father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Musa into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the Mountain of God. 6He said to Musa, I, your father-in-law Shuaib, have come to you with your wife, and her two sons with her. 7Musa went out to meet his father-in-law, and bowed and kissed him. They asked each other of their welfare, and they came into the tent. 8Musa told his father-in-law all that Allah had done to Firaun and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardships that had come on them on the way, and how Allah delivered them. 9Shuaib rejoiced for all the goodness which Allah had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10Shuaib said, Praise be to Allah, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Firaun; who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11Now I know that Allah is greater than all gods because of the thing in which they dealt arrogantly against them. 12Shuaib, Musa’s father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God. Harun came with all of the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Musa’s father-in-law before God.

13It happened on the next day, that Musa sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Musa from the morning to the evening. 14When Musa’s father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning to evening?

15Musa said to his father-in-law, Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16When they have a matter, they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbour, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17Musa’s father-in-law said to him, The thing that you do is not good. 18You will surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with you; for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to perform it yourself alone. 19Listen now to my voice. I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You represent the people before God, and bring the causes to God. 20You shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and shall show them the way in which they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God: men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22Let them judge the people at all times. It shall be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they shall judge themselves. So shall it be easier for you, and they shall share the load with you. 23If you will do this thing, and God commands you so, then you will be able to endure, and all of these people also will go to their place in peace.

24So Musa listened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 25Musa chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26They judged the people at all times. They brought the hard causes to Musa, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27Musa let his father-in-law depart, and he went his way into his own land.


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[1]18:3 Gershom sounds like the Hebrew for an alien there.

[2] 18:4 Eliezer means God is my helper.