The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Exodus
And now news reached Jethro, priest of Madian, Moses’ father-in-law, of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had rescued Israel from Egypt.
So he brought Moses his wife Sephora (for Moses had sent her back home),
and his two sons. The elder of these was called Gersam, because his father said, I have been a stranger, Ger, in an alien land,
and the younger Eliezer, Help from God, because, said Moses, the God of my father has helped me to escape from the power of Pharao.
So, here in the desert, where he lay encamped close to God’s mountain, Moses was visited by his father-in-law Jethro, and his sons, and his wife.
Jethro had sent word on to tell Moses who it was that came, and that he had Sephora and her two sons with him;
so Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, bowing low and greeting him with a kiss, and words of peaceful welcome passed between them. Then, within the shelter of his tent,
Moses told his father-in-law how the Lord had avenged Israel on Pharao and the Egyptians; what hardships they had met on the journey, and how the Lord had sent them relief.
The story of the Lord’s mercies to an oppressed people in delivering them from the power of Egypt rejoiced Jethro’s heart;
Blessed be the Lord, he said, who has brought you deliverance when you lay in the power of Pharao and of the Egyptians! Blessed be the Lord, who has put an end to your slavery in Egypt!
Now I know for certain that the Lord is greater than all other gods! An ill day for the Egyptians when they wronged you!✻
So Moses’ father-in-law Jethro brought offerings and sacrificed to God; and Aaron, with all the elders of Israel, came to sit at meat with him, there in God’s presence.
Next day, Moses was in his place deciding disputes among the people, who must stand there from morning till evening waiting for an audience with him;
and when Jethro saw how he busied himself over the people’s needs, he asked, What makest thou here among the people? Why dost thou sit there alone, with all the people waiting upon thee from morning till evening?
They come to me, answered Moses, to find out what God’s decision is.
Some dispute arises among them, and they come to me so that I may make a just award between them, telling them of the decrees which God issues, and of his law.
It is ill conceived, said Jethro, this practice of thine.
Thou wilt wear out thy own strength, and the patience of this people that goes with thee, and to no purpose; it is beyond thy powers to sustain this office all alone.
Here is a word of advice for thee; do but listen, and God will speed thee. Thy part is to be the representative of this people with God, referring all their affairs to him,
prescribing to them rite and observance, custom to be kept and duty to be done.
Meanwhile, choose out here and there among the people able men, God-fearing, lovers of truth and haters of gain ill won; put each of these in charge of a tribe, or of a hundred families, or fifty families, or ten.✻
These will administer justice to the people from day to day, referring graver matters to thee, but deciding for themselves all that is of less moment. Share thy burden with others, and find relief;
so thou wilt be able to carry out God’s commands, and endure the weight of all his claims upon thee, and yet all these folk will go home satisfied.
Moses listened to all that he proposed, and carried it into effect.
He chose out here and there among the Israelites active men, and made them rulers of the people, with the charge of a tribe, or a hundred families, or fifty families, or ten;
and these administered justice to the people day after day, referring graver matters to him, and deciding for themselves all that was of less moment.
And so he took leave of his father-in-law, who now went back to his own country.
The Holy Bible