Summary of passage: Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, visits Moses, bringing him his wife and two sons with him. Moses meets him and Moses explains all that the Lord has been doing for the Israelites. Jethro acknowledges God above all other gods and offers a burnt sacrifice.
The next day Moses sits in judgement of his people. Immediately, Jethro sees how Moses spent his whole day listening to disputes and suggests that Moses appoint others to listen to the easy disputes so as not to wear himself out. Then Moses can settle only the difficult disputes, and have time to rest and attend to other matters. Moses followed his father-in-law’s advice and then Jethro returned to his country.
10a) Probably right after the crossing of the Red Sea because it would be difficult terrain. Maybe during the plagues as well so they wouldn’t suffer while they were still in Egypt. The fact is that the Bible does not say so no one knows. Why this is a challenge question is beyond me. Nothing in the Bible tells us.
b) To protect them from something or someone (diseases, plagues, a dictator, hardships, etc). Or even to better focus on his job (in this case leading the people out of Israel) without distractions.
11a) Jethro was “delighted”. He praised the Lord, acknowledged his greatness above all other gods and offered up a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God in praise.
b) Personal Question. My answer: I tend to think my life is not that noteworthy and I haven’t had any great God event occur–certainly not like parting the Red Sea. So that leaves me with little things: how God provided during hard times, God protected me when I was young and stupid, God protected us all from things we don’t even know, and God’s faithfulness day-in and day-out.
12a) Moses was wearing himself out with the heavy workload. People were standing around all day, waiting for their turn, becoming impatient and angry. His time was better spent concentrating on leading the people to the Promised Land, not on disputes.
b) He told Moses to delegate the simple tasks so he would have more time to hear from God. To train up Godly men to help him. To teach God’s laws and decrees to the people so that they are better able to govern themselves.
c) Capable men–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.
e) Personal Question. My answer: Help me to be a better teacher of his decrees and laws to my kids and others around me. Help me to ask for help when I need it. Recently, we started a chore chart with the kids so they could help me keep up with the housecleaning duties. This was something I desperately needed. Help me to focus on God’s work and delegate the rest. Help me to pray more and pray before decisions.
Conclusions: Leaders must delegate if they are to lead properly. Here we see the first Biblical example of doing so. We also see God using others to promote His will and ease some of our burdens. We see concern and compassion for others and the will to speak Godly advice into others’ lives. Great stuff!
End Notes: We assume Jethro worshipped the One, True God as scholars say a priest of Midian may be descended from Abraham (Genesis 25:1-2).
This is the only time Moses’ second son is mentioned. Eliezer means “God is my helper.” What a consrast with his first son’s name, meaning “alien there.”
Scholars believe this event is out of order, using Numbers and Deuteronomy as evidence. They believe this scene happened much later, closer to coming near the Promised Land.
Moses took the advice; a great character trait in leaders. Moses also prayed about advice from Jethro to make sure it was God’s will as well.
Note the importance of praying and teaching. Pray for others and teach them God’s laws so that they may settle disputes as well. You are better when you develop those around you as well. This also blessed those chosen, giving them the opportunity to serve God as well.