Jethro Counsels Moses

During one of his political campaigns, a delegation called on Theodore Roosevelt at his home in Long Island. The President met them with his coat off and his sleeves rolled up. “Ah, gentlemen,” he said, “come down to the barn and we will talk while I do some work.& … More


The people stood around Moses from morning till evening waiting for him to judge them (v. 13). When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing he questioned why he was doing all the work and letting all the other people stand around and watch (v. 14). Moses answered that he did it because the people come to him to inquire of God when they have a dispute and he has to decide between one person and another, and make them know the statutes of God and his laws (vv. 15-16). Jethro said to him, “What you are doing is not good (v. 17). You and these people will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone (v. 18).

Jethro goes on to give his father-in-law some advice. He says, “It is good that you represent the people and bring their cases to God, and make them know what they must do (vv. 19-20). However, you must look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens (v. 21). Let them judge the people. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you (v. 22). If you do this, God will direct you, and all the people will go to their place in peace (v. 23)."

As a result Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said (vv. 24-25). Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves (v. 26). Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country (v. 27).


It is better to put 10 men to work than to do the work of 10 men. God doesn’t expect me to do everything, only that which He has me to do is important.

Exodus 18:13-27 (English Standard Version)

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