Some Notes:

The English language has no gender-neutral pronouns. So when the words man, he, him, etc are used, they mean "Generic human being" unless the context specifically says otherwise. Only women get words devoted just to them.

Thou, Thee, and Thine are singular pronouns. You and Your are plural in the 16th Century English the King James Bible was translated into. This actually makes the message clearer than our habit of using "you" as both a singular and a plural.

In many scriptures I have changed the King James (English) spelling to American spelling (labour=labor, for example. I understand those in England still spell it with a u). Also, in some scriptures I have changed the "-eth" to a simple "s." Spelling standards weren't set in English until the mid 1800's, well after the translating of the KJV. So I see no problem with making these simple changes that don't affect the meaning of the scripture but make it easier for our modern mouths and ears to deal with.

Exodus 18- A Court System


1 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the I AM had brought Israel out of Egypt;

2 Then Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, since he had sent her back,

Moses sent her back to her daddy after the circumcision incident.

3 And her two sons, (of which the name of the one was Gershom, for Moses said, “I have been an alien in a strange land:”

4 And the name of the other was Eliezer, “for the God of my father,” said he, “was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”)

5 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness, where he camped at the mount of God:

6 And he said to Moses, “I thy father-in-law Jethro am come to thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.”

This was probably a message sent to Moses just before Jethro arrived.

7 And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and bowed down, and kissed him, and they asked each other of their welfare, and they came into the tent.

Moses was happy to see his dad-in-law. They missed each other.

8 And Moses told his father-in-law all that the I AM had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the problems that had happened to them on the way, and how the I AM delivered them.

That must have been some story time!

9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the I AM had done to Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.

The Bible calls Jethro the “priest of Midian.” It is entirely possible he was a priest to the true God for the Midianites. He was one of several non-Israelites mentioned in the Bible who evidently worshiped the true God. Salvation was not just for the Jews, but to any who feared God.

10 And Jethro said, “Blessed be the I AM, 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 the I AM is greater than all gods, because when the Egyptians were so arrogant, He proved Himself more powerful.”

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

They had a party.

13 And it came to pass in the morning, that Moses sat to judge the people. And the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.

At this point when anyone had a problem they brought it to Moses. Remember, there were 600,000 men, plus women and children. If just 1% of the people had a problem per day, that’s 6000 people needing personal attention!

14 And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, “What is this thing that thou do to the people? Why do thou sit alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?”

“Goodness! Why are you doing this?”

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

16 “When they have a matter, they come unto me, and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and His laws.”

Moses knew he was the one God spoke to, so he figured he was the only one who could help the people.

17 And Moses' father-in-law said to him, “What thou are doing is not good.

18 “Thou will surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee, for this is too heavy for thee. Thou are not able to perform it thyself alone.

“It’s all well and good to love the people enough to do this for them, but you are going to kill yourself trying.”

19 “Listen to me now and I will give thee counsel, and God will be with thee. Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou may bring the causes to God.

20 “And thou shall teach them ordinances and laws, and shall teach them the way they must walk, and the work that they must do.

“First of all, form some basic principles to teach the people so they can take care of their own problems if possible.”

Preventative medicine. If the people already know right from wrong because you’ve explained it to them, they won’t need as much help.

21 “Also thou should provide out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, who hate bribes,  and place them over the people, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

Jethro tells Moses to set up a judicial system.

22 “And let them judge the people all the time, but they will bring to thee the more serious cases, but every small matter they shall judge. This will be easier for thyself, and they will bear the burden with thee.

This is very similar to how our courts are set up; lower courts handle the little issues, progressively higher courts handle the progressively bigger issues, all the way up to the Supreme Court. Moses was Israel’s “Men in Black” robes.

Our Founding Fathers were extremely well founded in the Bible. They used it in several ways as the blueprint for our government.

23 “If thou will do this, then God can direct thee, and thou won't wear out, and all this people will also go home satisfied.

“This will make everyone happier! The people will get their issues heard quicker and you won’t be so exhausted.”

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

And this is where the books Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy come from. Moses, who you will remember was raised in Pharaoh’s court, prepared to rule Egypt, wrote down the Laws God wanted the people to live by, and they could just refer to this anytime they needed to.

For a long time people have kind of scoffed at this incident because it is generally believed that Hammurabi of Mesopotamia was the first king to write down laws for his people, and many of his laws are similar to what Moses wrote down. So it is said that this was no new idea.

Well, the Bible never says Moses was the first to write down laws. In fact, as heir-apparent to the Egyptian throne, he would have been quite familiar with all the laws of surrounding countries. He just might not of thought of copying the practice until Jethro suggested it. Moses could very well have used what he remembered from his time in the Egyptian courts as his basis to start with. That would be why God had him spend forty years there in the first place. And justice is justice no matter what nation you are in. Right and wrong don't change.

On the other hand, the revision to the timeline of history that is going on is beginning to suggest that Moses may very well have pre-dated Hammurabi by as much as 400 years! I have even read some speculation that Hammurabi was in fact, Solomon. They did rule the same territory and have similar accomplishments, and each timeline revision puts them closer together in time. This would mean the similarities between Moses Laws and Hammurabi’s were because Hammurabi/Solomon was copying Moses! We don’t really know for sure yet.

You know, it wouldn’t have done Moses any good to write these laws down if Israel couldn’t read them. These ex-Egyptian slaves were obviously literate!

25 And 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 And they judged the people all the time, but the hard cases they brought to Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.

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

Jethro went home.