Journey in Review: Leaving Mount Sinai

Jul 14, 2015

אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן בַּמִּדְבָּר בָּעֲרָבָה מוֹל סוּף בֵּין־פָּארָן וּבֵין־תֹּפֶל וְלָבָן וַחֲצֵרֹת וְדִי זָהָב׃

These are the words that Moshe addressed to all Yisrael on the other side of the Yarden.—Through the wilderness, in the Arabah near Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab,

AY-leh ha-d'-va-REEM a-SHER di-BER mo-SHEH el kol yis-ra-AYL b'-AY-ver ha-yar-DAYN ba-mid-BAR ba-a-ra-VAH MOL SUF bayn pa-RAN u-vayn TO-fel v'-la-VAN va-kha-tzay-ROT v'-DEE za-HAV

Deuteronomy 1:1

וָאֲצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם בָּעֵת הַהִוא אֵת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשׂוּן׃

Thus I instructed you, at that time, about the various things that you should do.

Deuteronomy 1:18

Moses speaks to the people of Israel in the final weeks of their sojourn in the desert. He reminds them of God’s promise to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give the land to their descendants.


He then begins with a review of the leadership structure put in place during his father-in-law Jethro’s visit, although Jethro’s name is not mentioned. Instead, Moses explains that the nation had become too numerous for him to deal with individual’s problems. He tells of how he had turned to the nation to propose a multi-tiered system of courts, where leaders of the communities would sit in judgement over tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. According to Moses, the people accepted his proposal and he instructed the newly-appointed judges to serve righteously, showing no favoritism, and coming to Moses himself when a matter was too complex or unclear.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think Jethro’s name is not mentioned in this retelling of events? In Exodus 18, where the story is first recounted, Jethro plays a significant role in this proposal and it is Moses who needs to be convinced of its benefits!

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