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Exodus 18:1-27 The Priest of Midian

Moses declared YeHoVaH Nissi, or YeHoVaH, his Banner after the stunning defeat of the Amalekites in battle. Joshua led the Army of Israel while Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses. 

Shortly after Israel’s victory, Moses receives a visit from his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, accompanied by Moses’ wife Zipporah and his two sons Gershom and Eliezer.

What happens next is a testament to the priesthood of Jethro and the perceived acceptance of his actions and counsel by Moses, Aaron, the elders of Israel, and YeHoVaH. 

From the sacrifice, to the advice given by Jethro to Moses, it all seemed to be acceptable in the sight of YeHoVaH. This sets the course of the delegation of leadership over the Israelites and the accountability of that leadership to Moses.

Ex 18:1 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 LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt; 

A descendant of Abraham through Keturah

Ge 25:1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 

Ge 25:2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

Jethro was introduced in Exodus 2 as Reuel Exodus 2:11-25 

Moses the Murderer

Ex 2:16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. Ex 2:17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 

Ex 2:18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon today?

3 names

Jethro – 03503 יִתְרוֹ Yithrow {yith-ro'} 

Meaning:  Jethro = "his abundance" 1) father-in-law of Moses; also 'Jether' 

Usage:  AV - Jethro 9; 9


Reuel – 07467 רְעוּאֵל Re`uw'el {reh-oo-ale'} 

Meaning:  Reuel or Raguel = "friend of God" 1) a son of Esau by his wife Bashemath, the sister of Ishmael 2) the father-in-law of Moses 2a) also 'Jethro' 3) father of Eliasaph, the leader of the tribe of Gad at the time of the census at Sinai 4) a Benjamite, ancestor of Elah 

Usage:  AV - Reuel 10, Raguel 1; 11

Raguel –

1 son named Hobab whom Moses invited to come with them into the promised land.

Numbers 10:29  ¶ And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.

7 daughters, one of whom was Moses' wife Zipporah, who circumcised their son and saved Moses' life.

Ex 4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Ex 4:25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. Ex 4:26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.  

What order of priest he was, the Scriptures do not tell us.

Moses spent forty years with this family before He was called by YeHoVaH and sent to Egypt to deliver the Israelites. 

  • Ex 18:2 Then Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back, 
  • Ex 18:3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land: 
  • Ex 18:4 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: 
  • Ex 18:5 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God: 
  • Ex 18:6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father-in-law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. 
  • Ex 18:7 And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 


Obeisance – 07812 שָׁחָה shachah {shaw-khaw'} 

Meaning:  1) to bow down 1a) (Qal) to bow down 1b) (Hiphil) to depress (fig) 1c) (Hithpael) 1c1) to bow down, prostrate oneself 1c1a) before superior in homage 1c1b) before God in worship 1c1c) before false gods 1c1d) before angel 

Usage:  AV - worship 99, bow 31, bow down 18, obeisance 9, reverence 5, fall down 3, themselves 2, stoop 1, crouch 1, misc 3; 172

Ex 18:8 And Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them. 

Ex 18:9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. 

Jethro blesses YeHoVaH.

Ex 18:10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Ex 18:11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. 

Ex 18:12 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took 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. 

Jethro took a sacrifice for YeHoVaH. Where did he get the burnt offering and the sacrifices for Elohim? 

The word suggests that he brought them with him.

Ex 18:13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. Ex 18:14 And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? 

Ex 18:15 And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God: 

Ex 18:16 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. 

Priestly counsel

Ex 18:17 And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 

Ex 18:18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 

Ex 18:19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: Ex 18:20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 

Ordinances – 02706 חֹק choq {khoke} 

Meaning:  1) statute, ordinance, limit, something prescribed, due 1a) prescribed task 1b) prescribed portion 1c) action prescribed (for oneself), resolve 1d) prescribed due 1e) prescribed limit, boundary 1f) enactment, decree, ordinance 1f1) specific decree 1f2) law in general 1g) enactments, statutes 1g1) conditions 1g2) enactments 1g3) decrees 1g4) civil enactments prescribed by God 

Usage:  AV - statute 87, ordinance 9, decree 7, due 4, law 4, portion 3, bounds 2, custom 2, appointed 1, commandments 1, misc 7; 127


Laws – 08451 תּוֹרָה towrah {to-raw'} or תֹּרָה torah {to-raw'} Meaning:  1) law, direction, instruction 1a) instruction, direction (human or divine) 1a1) body of prophetic teaching 1a2) instruction in Messianic age 1a3) body of priestly direction or instruction 1a4) body of legal directives 1b) law 1b1) law of the burnt offering 1b2) of special law, codes of law

Usage:  AV - law 219; 219

Qualifications of the Judges

Ex 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 

Able men

02428 חַיִל chayil {khah'-yil} 

Meaning:  1) strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army 1a) strength 1b) ability, efficiency 1c) wealth 1d) force, army 

Usage:  AV - army 56, man of valour 37, host 29, forces 14, valiant 13, strength 12, riches 11, wealth 10, power 9, substance 8, might 6, strong 5, misc 33; 243

Fear God

03373 יָרֵא yare' {yaw-ray'} 

Meaning:  1) fearing, reverent, afraid 

Usage:  AV - fear 59, afraid 3, fearful 2; 64


Men of truth

0571 אֱמֶת 'emeth {eh'-meth} 

Meaning:  n f 1) firmness, faithfulness, truth 1a) sureness, reliability 1b) stability, continuance 1c) faithfulness, reliableness 1d) truth 1d1) as spoken 1d2) of testimony and judgment 1d3) of divine instruction

1d4) truth as a body of ethical or religious knowledge 1d5) true doctrine adv 2) in truth, truly 

Usage:  AV - truth 92, true 18, truly 7, right 3, faithfully 2, assured 1, assuredly 1, establishment 1, faithful 1, sure 1, verity 1; 127

Hate covetousness

01215 בֶּצַע betsa` {beh'-tsah} 

Meaning:  1) profit, unjust gain, gain (profit) acquired by violence 

Usage:  AV - covetousness 10, gain 9, profit 3, lucre 1; 23


Ex 18:22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 


08199 שָׁפַט shaphat {shaw-fat'} Meaning:  1) to judge, govern, vindicate, punish 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to act as law-giver or judge or governor (of God, man) 1a1a) to rule, govern, judge 1a2) to decide controversy (of God, man) 1a3) to execute judgment 1a3a) discriminating (of man) 1a3b) vindicating 1a3c) condemning and punishing 1a3d) at theophanic advent for final judgment

Usage:  AV - judge (v) 119, judge (n) 60, plead 11, avenged 2, condemn 2, execute 2, judgment 2, defend 1, deliver 1, misc 3; 203

Ex 18:23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. 

Ex 18:24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 

Ex 18:25 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. 

Moses’ process explained by Moses

Dt 1:9 And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: 

Dt 1:10 The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. Dt 1:11 (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) Dt 1:12 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? 

Moses involved the people in the process.

Dt 1:13 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. 

Dt 1:14 And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. 

Dt 1:15 So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. Dt 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. 

Dt 1:17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. 

Dt 1:18 And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.

Ex 18:26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 

Ex 18:27 And Moses let his father-in-law depart; and he went his way into his own land.

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