18 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt. Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), and the name of the other, Eliezer (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 with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God. And when he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her,” Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and 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 come upon them in the way, and how the LORD had delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the LORD had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.
Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” 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 before God.
The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 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, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”
So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country.
Exodus 18 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Jethro was not an Israelite. Making a sudden reappearance in the story, the timing was everything. As he was not of the Jewish race, he had been part of a pagan culture and upbringing. He worshiped other gods. God would use his religious background to draw him. Upon reuniting with Moses, hearing all that God had done, seeing with his own eyes something happened. He worshiped the true God of all.
This was not an instantaneous thing. He had watched Moses for 40 years. He had a front row seat observing God mold this would be leader. As the relationship must have been close, upon seeing now with his own eyes of the work of God, seeing a change even in Moses the relationship provided a path for Jethro to come to belief. He also was wise in counsel as from his observation he gave directives for Moses in delegation, something that was much needed and accepted. Because of Moses, Jethro met God. Because of Jethro, Moses embraced outside wisdom and insight.
There is something so great in being part of the process of drawing people and introducing them to God. Sometimes yes, it comes through direct conversations. Other times, and I wonder more often than not, it comes through their silent observance of our lives. People are watching us even now. They are seeing how we respond to stress; what our reactions are; where our trust lies. As often the case, we never see our own growth spiritually, or rarely do. But others have that front row seat to the changes being manifested in us by the living God.
What is your story telling to others?
Exodus 18 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The advice Jethro gave to Moses has been used in countless illustrations regarding delegation and leadership. The practicality of his advice is a step toward the ultimate goal – individual accountability. Teaching people the law would naturally lead toward discernment and responsibility to handle matters the way God had envisioned. It seems as if Moses waited to implement this advice until the law came forth in Deuteronomy 1.
Sharing burdens is a goal that God has desired for us since the beginning. However, it is not always easy to allow others to do that. Pride keeps us from sharing burdens and accepting advice. It would have been easy for Moses to quickly disregard this opinion from Jethro. Who was he to give Moses advice?
Jethro had a background as a pagan priest, and surely didn’t know the will of God. Moses was a great leader for God who had just been part of one of the greatest miracles in history. Take into consideration the humility that would have been necessary to accept this advice from Jethro.
Not only did Moses accept it, he implemented it. But first, we can assume he went to the Lord. When the commandments came down from God, the timing was right to begin delegating and allowing the people to be taught the ways of God.
Consider yourself. Do you accept advice from others? What if they have a sketchy background or bad reputation? Do you still hear them out and then seek the Lord? Moses showed great leadership and humility by both accepting the advice, but also considering it enough to apply it.