Exodus 18
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1  Jethro priest of Midian, Moshe’ father-in-law, heard all that Hashem had done for Moshe and for Yisrael His people, how Hashem had brought Yisrael out from Egypt.

א  וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ כֹהֵן מִדְיָן חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֱלֹהִים לְמֹשֶׁה וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַמּוֹ כִּי־הוֹצִיא יְהוָה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם׃

2  So Jethro, Moshe’ father-in-law, took Tzipora, Moshe’ wife, after she had been sent home,

ב  וַיִּקַּח יִתְרוֹ חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה אֶת־צִפֹּרָה אֵשֶׁת מֹשֶׁה אַחַר שִׁלּוּחֶיהָ׃

3  and her two sons—of whom one was named Gershom, that is to say, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land”;

ג  וְאֵת שְׁנֵי בָנֶיהָ אֲשֶׁר שֵׁם הָאֶחָד גֵּרְשֹׁם כִּי אָמַר גֵּר הָיִיתִי בְּאֶרֶץ נָכְרִיָּה׃

4  and the other was named Eliezer, meaning, “The God of my father was my help, and He delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

ד  וְשֵׁם הָאֶחָד אֱלִיעֶזֶר כִּי־אֱלֹהֵי אָבִי בְּעֶזְרִי וַיַּצִּלֵנִי מֵחֶרֶב פַּרְעֹה׃

5  Jethro, Moshe’ father-in-law, brought Moshe’ sons and wife to him in the wilderness, where he was encamped at the mountain of Hashem.

ה  וַיָּבֹא יִתְרוֹ חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ אֶל־מֹשֶׁה אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּר אֲשֶׁר־הוּא חֹנֶה שָׁם הַר הָאֱלֹהִים׃

6  He sent word to Moshe, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons.”

ו  וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־מֹשֶׁה אֲנִי חֹתֶנְךָ יִתְרוֹ בָּא אֵלֶיךָ וְאִשְׁתְּךָ וּשְׁנֵי בָנֶיהָ עִמָּהּ׃

7  Moshe went out to meet his father-in-law; he bowed low and kissed him; each asked after the other’s welfare, and they went into the tent.

ז  וַיֵּצֵא מֹשֶׁה לִקְרַאת חֹתְנוֹ וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ וַיִּשַּׁק־לוֹ וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ־לְרֵעֵהוּ לְשָׁלוֹם וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאֹהֱלָה׃

8  Moshe then recounted to his father-in-law everything that Hashem had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Yisrael’s sake, all the hardships that had befallen them on the way, and how Hashem had delivered them.

ח  וַיְסַפֵּר מֹשֶׁה לְחֹתְנוֹ אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְהוָה לְפַרְעֹה וּלְמִצְרַיִם עַל אוֹדֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵת כָּל־הַתְּלָאָה אֲשֶׁר מְצָאָתַם בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַיַּצִּלֵם יְהוָה׃

9  And Jethro rejoiced over all the kindness that Hashem had shown Yisrael when He delivered them from the Egyptians.

ט  וַיִּחַדְּ יִתְרוֹ עַל כָּל־הַטּוֹבָה אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה יְהוָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר הִצִּילוֹ מִיַּד מִצְרָיִם׃

10  “Blessed be Hashem,” Jethro said, “who delivered you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.

י  וַיֹּאמֶר יִתְרוֹ בָּרוּךְ יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר הִצִּיל אֶתְכֶם מִיַּד מִצְרַיִם וּמִיַּד פַּרְעֹה אֲשֶׁר הִצִּיל אֶת־הָעָם מִתַּחַת יַד־מִצְרָיִם׃

11  Now I know that Hashem is greater than all gods, yes, by the result of their very schemes against [the people].”

יא  עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּי־גָדוֹל יְהוָה מִכָּל־הָאֱלֹהִים כִּי בַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר זָדוּ עֲלֵיהֶם׃

12  And Jethro, Moshe’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices for Hashem; and Aharon came with all the elders of Yisrael to partake of the meal before Hashem with Moshe’ father-in-law.

יב  וַיִּקַּח יִתְרוֹ חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה עֹלָה וּזְבָחִים לֵאלֹהִים וַיָּבֹא אַהֲרֹן וְכֹל זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֶאֱכָל־לֶחֶם עִם־חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים׃

13  Next day, Moshe sat as magistrate among the people, while the people stood about Moshe from morning until evening.

יג  וַיְהִי מִמָּחֳרָת וַיֵּשֶׁב מֹשֶׁה לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת־הָעָם וַיַּעֲמֹד הָעָם עַל־מֹשֶׁה מִן־הַבֹּקֶר עַד־הָעָרֶב׃

14  But when Moshe’ father-in-law saw how much he had to do for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you act alone, while all the people stand about you from morning until evening?”

יד  וַיַּרְא חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־הוּא עֹשֶׂה לָעָם וַיֹּאמֶר מָה־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה לָעָם מַדּוּעַ אַתָּה יוֹשֵׁב לְבַדֶּךָ וְכָל־הָעָם נִצָּב עָלֶיךָ מִן־בֹּקֶר עַד־עָרֶב׃

15  Moshe replied to his father-in-law, “It is because the people come to me to inquire of Hashem.

טו  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לְחֹתְנוֹ כִּי־יָבֹא אֵלַי הָעָם לִדְרֹשׁ אֱלֹהִים׃

16  When they have a dispute, it comes before me, and I decide between one person and another, and I make known the laws and teachings of Hashem.”

טז  כִּי־יִהְיֶה לָהֶם דָּבָר בָּא אֵלַי וְשָׁפַטְתִּי בֵּין אִישׁ וּבֵין רֵעֵהוּ וְהוֹדַעְתִּי אֶת־חֻקֵּי הָאֱלֹהִים וְאֶת־תּוֹרֹתָיו׃

17  But Moshe’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing you are doing is not right;

יז  וַיֹּאמֶר חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה אֵלָיו לֹא־טוֹב הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה׃

18  you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.

יח  נָבֹל תִּבֹּל גַּם־אַתָּה גַּם־הָעָם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר עִמָּךְ כִּי־כָבֵד מִמְּךָ הַדָּבָר לֹא־תוּכַל עֲשֹׂהוּ לְבַדֶּךָ׃

19  Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and Hashem be with you! You represent the people before Hashem: you bring the disputes before Hashem,

יט  עַתָּה שְׁמַע בְּקֹלִי אִיעָצְךָ וִיהִי אֱלֹהִים עִמָּךְ הֱיֵה אַתָּה לָעָם מוּל הָאֱלֹהִים וְהֵבֵאתָ אַתָּה אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִים׃

20  and enjoin upon them the laws and the teachings, and make known to them the way they are to go and the practices they are to follow.

כ  וְהִזְהַרְתָּה אֶתְהֶם אֶת־הַחֻקִּים וְאֶת־הַתּוֹרֹת וְהוֹדַעְתָּ לָהֶם אֶת־הַדֶּרֶךְ יֵלְכוּ בָהּ וְאֶת־הַמַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשׂוּן׃

21  You shall also seek out from among all the people capable men who fear Hashem, trustworthy men who spurn ill-gotten gain. Set these over them as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and

כא  וְאַתָּה תֶחֱזֶה מִכָּל־הָעָם אַנְשֵׁי־חַיִל יִרְאֵי אֱלֹהִים אַנְשֵׁי אֱמֶת שֹׂנְאֵי בָצַע וְשַׂמְתָּ עֲלֵהֶם שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים שָׂרֵי מֵאוֹת שָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים וְשָׂרֵי עֲשָׂרֹת׃

22  let them judge the people at all times. Have them bring every major dispute to you, but let them decide every minor dispute themselves. Make it easier for yourself by letting them share the burden with you.

כב  וְשָׁפְטוּ אֶת־הָעָם בְּכָל־עֵת וְהָיָה כָּל־הַדָּבָר הַגָּדֹל יָבִיאוּ אֵלֶיךָ וְכָל־הַדָּבָר הַקָּטֹן יִשְׁפְּטוּ־הֵם וְהָקֵל מֵעָלֶיךָ וְנָשְׂאוּ אִתָּךְ׃

23  If you do this—and Hashem so commands you—you will be able to bear up; and all these people too will go home unwearied.”

IM et ha-da-VAR ha-ZEH ta-a-SEH v’-tzi-v’-KHA e-lo-HEEM v’-ya-khol-TA a-MOD v’-GAM kol ha-AM ha-ZEH al m’-ko-MO ya-VO v’-sha-LOM

כג  אִם אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה תַּעֲשֶׂה וְצִוְּךָ אֱלֹהִים וְיָכָלְתָּ עֲמֹד וְגַם כָּל־הָעָם הַזֶּה עַל־מְקֹמוֹ יָבֹא בְשָׁלוֹם׃

18:23   All these people too will go home unwearied

A simple reading of this verse implies that after the implementation of Jethro’s suggestion for expediting the judicial process, every individual would be able to return to their homes much sooner. Based on a careful reading of the Hebrew words, however, the Kli Yakar explains that the verse does not refer to individuals returning to their private homes, but rather, to the Nation of Israel arriving in their national home, Eretz Yisrael. Improving their system of justice was a vital step towards entering the land. Similarly, a renewed commitment to justice will ultimately lead to the final return of the People of Israel to the Land of Israel, as it says (Isaiah 1:27), “Tzion shall be saved in the judgement.”1 comment

24  Moshe heeded his father-in-law and did just as he had said.

כד  וַיִּשְׁמַע מֹשֶׁה לְקוֹל חֹתְנוֹ וַיַּעַשׂ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר אָמָר׃

25  Moshe chose capable men out of all Yisrael, and appointed them heads over the people—chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens;

כה  וַיִּבְחַר מֹשֶׁה אַנְשֵׁי־חַיִל מִכָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָם רָאשִׁים עַל־הָעָם שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים שָׂרֵי מֵאוֹת שָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים וְשָׂרֵי עֲשָׂרֹת׃

26  and they judged the people at all times: the difficult matters they would bring to Moshe, and all the minor matters they would decide themselves.

כו  וְשָׁפְטוּ אֶת־הָעָם בְּכָל־עֵת אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַקָּשֶׁה יְבִיאוּן אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְכָל־הַדָּבָר הַקָּטֹן יִשְׁפּוּטוּ הֵם׃

27  Then Moshe bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went his way to his own land.

 

כז  וַיְשַׁלַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת־חֹתְנוֹ וַיֵּלֶךְ לוֹ אֶל־אַרְצוֹ׃

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Exodus 18

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