Exodus 18

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English: World English Bible         

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1 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 that Yahweh had brought Israel out of Egypt.

2 Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, received Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her away,

3 and her two sons. The name of one son was Gershom, for Moses said, "I have lived as a foreigner in a foreign land".

4 The name of the other was Eliezer, for he said, "My father's God was my help and delivered me from Pharaoh's sword."

5 Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the Mountain of God.

6 He said to Moses, "I, your father-in-law Jethro, have come to you with your wife, and her two sons with her."

7 Moses 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.

8 Moses told his father-in-law all that Yahweh had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the hardships that had come on them on the way, and how Yahweh delivered them.

9 Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which Yahweh had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.

10 Jethro said, "Blessed be Yahweh, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.

11 Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all gods because of the thing in which they dealt arrogantly against them."

12 Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God. Aaron came with all of the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God.

13 It happened on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from the morning to the evening.

14 When Moses' 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?"

15 Moses said to his father-in-law, "Because the people come to me to inquire of God.

16 When they have a matter, they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws."

17 Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing that you do is not good.

18 You 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.

19 Listen 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.

20 You 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.

21 Moreover 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.

22 Let 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.

23 If 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."

24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.

25 Moses 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.

26 They judged the people at all times. They brought the hard causes to Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.

27 Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went his way into his own land.

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Word/Phrase Explanations

Jethro
Jethro,' the father-in-law of Moses, in Exodus 18:1, represents divine good, from which proceeds ordering. Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses,' signifies the good of the...

Midian
'Midian' signifies people who are in falsity.

moses
Moses's name appears 814 times in the Bible (KJV), third-most of any one character (Jesus at 961 actually trails David at 991). He himself wrote...

Father-in-law
Father-in-law denotes good, from which comes good conjoined to truth.

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

Israel
'Israel,' in Jeremiah 23:8, signifies the spiritual natural church. The children of Israel dispersed all the literal sense of the Word by falsities. 'The children...

people
The Bible generally uses two different terms for large groups: “people” and “nation.” When it uses the term “nation,” it is talking about a group...

Yahweh
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

Egypt
In the Bible, Egypt means knowledge and the love of knowledge. In a good sense that means knowledge of truth from the Lord through the...

Zipporah
Zipporah, Moses's first wife, signifies different things in the three places that she appears. The relationships of Zipporah, her father Jethro (also known as Reuel)...

wife
It is because of a celestial and angelic proprium, or selfhood, that the church is called 'a woman,' 'a wife,' 'a bride,' 'a virgin,' and...

Sent
'Being sent' everywhere signifies, in an internal sense, going forth, as in John 17:8. In similar manner, it is said of the holy of the...

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

Sons
'Sons of Canaan,' as in Genesis 10, are people who kept external worship separate from internal.

Son
'A son,' as in Genesis 5:28, signifies the rise of a new church. 'Son,' as in Genesis 24:3, signifies the Lord’s rationality regarding good. 'A...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

Gershom
Gershom, as in Exodus 18:3, denotes the quality of the good of truth among those who are without the church.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

lived as a foreigner
There is a long history of using travel to round out an education, from the 19th-century “world tours” taken by Oxford and Cambridge graduates to...

Foreigner
A foreigner, as in Exodus 12:45, signifies one who does good from his own natural disposition alone.

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

Eliezer
Eliezer (Exod. 18:4) signifies the quality of the good of truths among those who are within the church.

father
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

Pharaoh
'Pharaoh' signifies scientific ideas, or the natural principle in general. 'Pharaoh' signifies false ideas infesting the truth of the church. Pharaoh,' in Genesis 40, represents...

Sword
A 'sword,' in the Word, signifies the truth of faith combating and the vastation of truth. In an opposite sense, it signifies falsity combating and...

Wilderness
'Wilderness' signifies something with little life in it, as described in the internal sense in Luke 1:80 'Wilderness' signifies somewhere there is no good because...

mountain
The Writings tell us that the Lord's love is the sun of heaven, and it is natural for us to look above ourselves to the...

come
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

meet
In natural language, to "meet" someone can be positive or negative: it can be a welcoming and greeting, or it can be "meeting" them in...

bowed
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

asked
The words "ask" and "question" are used a number of different in natural language, and a number of different ways in the Bible. The spiritual...

Tent
'Tent' is used in the Word to signify the celestial and holy aspects of love, because in ancient time they performed holy worship in their...

Egyptians
Egyptians represent those who are in natural science, thus the natural, but the Hebrews, those who are of the church, thus respectively the spiritual. The...

rejoiced
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

know
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

gods
The Lord is called "Jehovah" in the Bible when the text is referring to his essence, which is love itself. He is called "God" when...

aaron
Aaron was the brother of Moses. He symbolizes two things, one during the first part of the exodus, when he was Moses' spokesperson, and another...

Elders
Elders are mentioned in the Bible mainly in two ways: First the elders of Israel: and second the 24 elders seated about the throne of...

Elders of Israel
The elders of Israel (Deut. 1:13, 15) represent celestial men.

eat
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

bread
The word “bread” is used two ways in the Bible. In some cases it means actual bread; in others it stands for food in general....

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

happened
The phrase “it came to pass,” often also translated as “it happened,” generally indicates the end of one spiritual state and the beginning of a...

sat
If you think about sitting, it seems fair to say that where you're sitting is more important than that you're sitting. Sitting in a movie...

morning
Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

evening
Since the light and warmth of the sun represent the Lord’s wisdom and love, it makes sense that evening, a time when the light and...

saw
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

Sit
'To sit before Jehovah' is to be with Him, and so, it also means willing and acting from Him. 'To stand before Him,' is to...

alone
To be alone in the Bible represents being free of evil and false influences. That's why the Lord seeks solitude to pray, and why the...

Stand
'To stand,' and 'come forth' as in Daniel 7:10, refers to truth. In Genesis 24:13, it signifies a state of conjunction of divine truth with...

Neighbor
'The neighbor' is not only an individual person, but also people collectively, as a less or greater society, our country, the church, the Lord’s kingdom,...

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

Laws
All laws, even civil and judicial laws, which are in the Word, correspond to the laws of good and truth, which are in heaven.

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

voice
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

show
'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

walk
To walk in the Bible represents living, and usually means living according to the true things taught to us by the Lord -- to "walk...

over
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

men
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

Fear
Fear has various significations according to the thing which causes it. Fear signifies love. Fear, as in Gen 28:17, signifies a holy change.

truth
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

hating
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

gain
'Lucre or gain' signifies every thing false derived from evil which perverts the judgment.

place
'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

rulers
"Rulers" or "governors" in the Bible represent the most basic, most essential true ideas that guide us in life, ideas that spring directly from the...

fifties
God rested on the seventh day of creation. That represents a state of holiness and tranquility that was preserved in the form of the sabbath....

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

peace
In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

judged
It’s easy to see the connection between judging and truth. In a court of law, the judge’s whole purpose is to find the truth. In...

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

Resources for parents and teachers

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 Balancing Work and Leisure
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
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