The institution of the judges (Ex 18:13-18:27)

“The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until 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, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?’ 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 known to them the statues and instructions of God.’   Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good.  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.  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.  Teach them the statues and instructions.  Make known to them the way they are to go and the things that they are to do.  You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain, set them as officers over thousands, hundred, fifties, and tens.  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.  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.’”

The next day Moses sat as judge for the people from morning until evening.  Then Jethro said to Moses, why are you doing this for all the people.  Moses replied that the people come to me to inquire of God or when they have a dispute.    Jethro said that Moses was going to wear himself out with this heavy load.  Both of these guys were old, if Moses was 80 then his father-in-law was up in the 100s.  Jethro told him to teach others the statues and instructions, instead of having everyone come to him.  Find some able men who fear God and are trustworthy.  Make them officers over thousands, hundred, fifties, and tens.  Let them judge the minor cases so that you only decide the important cases.

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

Moses listened to his father-in-law. Then his father-in-law went back to his own country in Midian.  There is no indication what happened to Moses’ wife and children.  Thus this institution of the judges made life simpler for Moses.

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