(Exo 18:1 NASB) Now 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.
Exo 18:1: In Exodus 2:18, we see that the name of Moses’ father-in-law is Reuben also. It is not known for certain whether he had two names or if one of the names is a title. A variation of “Jethro” is often a prefix meaning “his excellence.” Also the term for “priest” is kohen, which also means “prince.”
It makes much more sense that Moses’ father-in-law is a prince in Midian rather than a pagan priest of some kind.
This story presumes upon an untold account that Moses’ family was taken back to Midian (for their own safety?) sometime after the events of Exodus 4 when Elohim came to kill Moses for not circumcising his son. We do not know when they went back to Midian, but this is the account of their reuniting.
(Exo 18:2 NASB) And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah, after he had sent her away,
(Exo 18:3 NASB) and her two sons, of whom one was named Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”
(Exo 18:4 NASB) And the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”
Exo 18:4: The name Gershom means “a stranger there..” Eliezer means “Elohim is my help.”
(Exo 18:5 NASB) Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was camped, at the mount of God.
(Exo 18:6 NASB) And he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her.”
Exo 18:6: This event apparently takes place after the events of chapter 19, when Israel sets up camp at the base of Mt. Sinai.
(Exo 18:7 NASB) Then Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed down and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare, and went into the tent.
(Exo 18:8 NASB) And 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 befallen them on the journey, and how the LORD had delivered them.
Exo 18:8: Apparently Jethro took his daughter and grandsons to Midian before Elohim inflicted the plagues upon Egypt. Moses filled him in on these wondrous events.
(Exo 18:9 NASB) And Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians.
(Exo 18:10 NASB) So Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
(Exo 18:11 NASB) “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people.”
Exo 18:11: When Moses described the events that took place, Jethro recognized them as an attack on the gods of Egypt. He recognizes Elohim as greater than any other god.
(Exo 18:12 NASB) Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law before God.
Exo 18:12: This event did not necessarily have to take place after chapter 20 as some commentaries have stated. Chapter 20 was when Elohim told them to erect an altar (Ex. 20:24-26). But, altars have been erected many times up to now and one was already in place in the previous chapter (Ex. 17:15-16).
(Exo 18:13 NASB) And it came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening.
(Exo 18:14 NASB) Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?”
Exo 18:14: The timing of Jethro’s visit is providential. He was witnessing Moses ruling over every small decision and quarrel in the land.
(Exo 18:15 NASB) And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.
(Exo 18:16 NASB) “When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and make known the statutes of God and His laws.”
Exo 18:16: This is possibly the “seat of Moses” spoken of by Yeshua in Matt. 23:1-3. This is a position that settles disputes between citizens and pronounces judgment upon the guilty according to the law of Elohim. According to Torah, the judges were to be listened to and obeyed by the people (Lev. 17:12-13)
(Exo 18:17 NASB) And Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good.
(Exo 18:18 NASB) “You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.
Exo 18:18: There were probably more than two million people in the camp. The disputes from all these people were far too much of a burden for one man to bear.
(Exo 18:19 NASB) “Now listen to me: I shall give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God,
(Exo 18:20 NASB) then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk, and the work they are to do.
Exo 18:20: Jethro knows that Moses is still to be the mediator between the people and Elohim (which is another way he is a type of Messiah).
(Exo 18:21 NASB) “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them, as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.
(Exo 18:22 NASB) “And let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.
(Exo 18:23 NASB) “If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.”
Exo 18:23: In Acts 6:1-6, the Apostles have issues in the assembly (ekklesia) that needed attention, but the Apostles did not have the time to deal with them. So they used the model described here in Torah as a solution. They appointed men to handle the smaller matters so the Apostles could deal with their duties to Elohim.
(Exo 18:24 NASB) So Moses listened to his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.
(Exo 18:25 NASB) And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.
Exo 18:25: This is one verse in Torah used by the founding fathers of the United States for the basis of the local, state, and federal government that we have today. They thought they could model the federal, state, and local governments after the leaders of the thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. The men who founded our country were well versed in Scripture and many saw the Truth in the Tanakh, even though they were apparently blind to Torah..
(Exo 18:26 NASB) And they judged the people at all times; the difficult dispute they would bring to Moses, but every minor dispute they themselves would judge.
(Exo 18:27 NASB) Then Moses bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went his way into his own land.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas