Chapter 18

"Events at Rephidim."
"Moses Reunited with his Family."

This Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's transcription/ location
is provided by

Notice that this entire chapter is an insert. This chapter is a parenthesis, introduced here because Jethro, though he lived amongst the Amalekites, yet was not under their curse. The events that occurred in Numbers 10:10, 11 took place during this visit to the Israel camp. However given at this time, it was put in place when the children of Israel had departed from Sinai, as recorded in Deuteronomy 1:7 - 14.

The name "Jethro", is not his given name, but a title [his Excellency], for Moses' father in law's name is given in Numbers 10:29: "And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father in law..." So Moses' father in law's given name was Raguel, a Midianite priest with his title of Jethro, living in the land of the Kenites. Jethro was a descendant of Abraham by Keturah, and not therefore, an idolater of heathen gods. Most preachers today have a tough time understanding the relationship of Moses' father in law to the Kenites, and to the other family blood lines. Both Moses and his wife were of the lineage of Abraham, and not some heathen lineage. Raguel had to be of the full blooded lineage of Midian, or he would not have been a priest of Midian.

Genesis 25:1, 2 "Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah." [1] "And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah." [2]

After Sarah had died, Abraham, took a second wife named Keturah, and had twelve sons by her. Midian was the forth born to Keturah, so this is still all in the family of Abraham; not Cain and his offspring, the Kenites.

So the place where this chapter fits in the overall Scriptures should be between verses ten and eleven of Numbers 10.

Exodus 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;"

Jethro, "his excellency" the priest of Midian had heard of all the things that God did down there in Egypt. How God brought the plagues on Egypt, and the parting of the Red sea. How God protected His people from all sorts of troubles, starvation, and even brought water out of the rock. That information just could not be kept quiet, and of course spread like wildfire.

Exodus 18:2 "Then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses wife, after he had sent her back,"

When God called Moses, he answered the call. But on Moses way to Egypt, God almost killed Moses because he had forgotten the simple act of circumcision of his children. The thing for that day was that you could not be a covenant keeper unless you and all the males in your entire family practiced circumcision. These same tow sons that are given here in verses three and four, had not been circumcised; and for that oversight, God almost killed Moses.

Sure God loved Moses and Moses loved God, but Moses got lazy and just overlooked God's law of circumcision. However we are living under a different set of laws, for circumcision was a blood sacrifice to God, and when our Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross, all blood sacrifices were done away with under the blood of Christ on the cross. It is still practiced today, but not as a blood ritual, but rather for the sake of health. The circumcision today is of the heart, and it applies to both male and female.

So this is why Moses sent Zipporah his wife, and their two small children back to her father Raguel. Remember that she had called Moses a "bloody man indeed". Being of Midian, and not of Isaac descent, the practice of circumcision was not practiced because they were not of the covenant people of Jacob, known as Israel. Looking back that the events up to this point, she was better off there with her father.

Exodus 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:"

Moses fled from Pharaoh, and ended up in the land of the Kenites, at the well with Raguel's daughters, feeding their sheep. Moses was in a strange land when he met and married Zipporah.

Exodus 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:" 

The name "Eliezer" means "my help". Aaron's third son would also be named Eliezer, and become a vital part of the priesthood. Eliezer the son of Aaron was the first offspring that was allow to become a high priest.

Exodus 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:"

Of course, the Israelites at the time of this meeting were camped at the base of Mount Sinai.

Exodus 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."

Exodus 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."

When Moses met his father in law, Moses gave all the due respect that was deserving of a Midian high priest, and also a love member of the family. This was a family reunion that took place out there in the desert.

Exodus 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."

If you are among your family, then share those things that God has done for you. If God has given you an understanding of His Word, and you think that your like minded loved one would understand what you had to say, then tell him or her what has become so precious to you.

Exodus 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."

God sent them into Egypt, and then He brought the out far richer than when they went into the land of Egypt.

Exodus 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."

God will take care of you, but don't tempt God by doing foolish things to get yourself into trouble. God expects you to use good common sense, and stay clear of those things and places that would draw you under the hand of the Pharaoh of our day. You don't get careless for the sake of showing off to others, but when it is unavoidable to stay clear of trouble, God will lead you out of that bondage that this world would place you under. Use common sense and God will take care of those things that you can not.

Jethro loved the Lord, the same God of Abraham, but he was a descendant of the son of Abraham.

Exodus 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." 

Jethro knew that the God of Abraham was greater than all the gods of Egypt, their gods of stone, of animals, and of the river. For the God of Abraham was the creator of all things.

Exodus 18:12 "And Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a brunt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God."

Aaron and the elders of Israel consisted of the Levitical priesthood at this time, and they had the authority to take those offerings and make the offerings before Jethro's eyes. This documents the fact that Jethro loved God, and had a good heart or mind before the Lord. Jethro was the one that was making the burnt offerings and sacrifices for God. It becomes obvious that our Heavenly father was Jethro's Father also.

Exodus 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."

This demonstrates that Moses was the judge of the People, and the court was in session from morning to night. There was only one level to this court system, and Moses was it. Whether the case or conflict was over who owned the goat, or more serious matters, it was up to Moses to decide. Jethro sat and watched the first day's court session, and he knew something had to be done or this would get out of hand. We are talking about a group amongst the children of Israel of over two million people and only one judge over the entire group.

Exodus 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?" 

Jethro can see the people standing by waiting for their turn to appear before judge Moses, and it is hot, and tiresome. Remember they are in the desert at the base of mount Sinai, and this had to be physically hard on everyone. That's why he said, "to the people". Jethro is Moses' father in law, and this is his step son that is undergoing this huge task of judging all the people. Of course he is concerned for the well being of Moses, and he is drawing attention to this fact.

Exodus 18:15 "And Moses said unto his father in law, "Because the People come unto me to enquire of God:"

In Moses' mind, he was the gate to understanding the things of God for all the people.

Exodus 18:16 "When they have 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." 

Take a close notice here that there is a difference between God's laws and His statutes, and also the ordinances. It is important for each of us to understand the difference between these three. In the case of ordinances, the blood ordinances are a thing of the past, done away with and put under the blood of Christ on the cross. Blood ordinances are important to learn from as a type as applied to our lives. Jesus shed His blood for one and all times, and nailed the blood ordinances to the cross with Him.

The statutes talked about here are those statutes that were in affect before God gave the law on Mount Sinai, for that had not occurred at this moment in time.

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

Old Jethro spoke his mind and told Moses; that this acting as the only judge is not a good thing; not for you or the people. Moses was the head many in the community, the law and the judge all rolled into one; and it took Jethro, an outsider to speak up and point out that what Moses was doing was heading for trouble. So we have seen that Jethro serves the same God of Abraham as Moses, and he is truly a man of wisdom, and here God is using Jethro to call attention that changes had to be made before they entered into the promise land. Sure it is important to listen to other people at times, but always check that advice out with God's Word. God has His ways of making things easier for us, and He will use people to open our eyes and carry out that task.

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

Jethro told Moses outright, you are going to kill yourself with stress if you keep this workload up by yourself alone. It's going to not only break you, but break the people as they stand in that hot sun from morning to night.

Exodus 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:"

Jethro is telling Moses to "listen to what I say, I will counsel you, and God will be with you when you follow my advice." Jethro is telling Moses to go and talk this problem over with God concerning the People, and He will help you decide what you should do. Jethro was going to give Moses advice, and now you go and check it out with God. This is what we talked about earlier: it doesn't hurt to listen to someone give advice to you, only take that advice to God and check it out with His Word. The answers to all your problems are within God's Word, but you have to do the study work first.

Exodus 18:20 "And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do."

There is a way to follow from God's Word, and there is work that is required of you when you claim to be a believer and follower of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Exodus 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:"

So God is going to give us the qualification to be a judge and ruler over His people. First and most important, that person must revere God, and a respecter of truth. He must also hate covetousness, that is not be greedy. The children of Israel haven't been out on the road for a year yet, and now with all these people in the new nation called the children of Israel, they are going to set up their municipal government, only the city hall will be on the move with the people. This will be how the new government will be run from now on. In this new government, even though it states "men of truth", there is no gender within the manuscripts on this matter.

The Hebrew word is "ish" or "enosh", and it relates to either sex, man or woman. This simple fact is hard for many Christians to accept, for their tradition have set up a border that women can't cross, and it isn't in the manuscripts. It wouldn't be too long from this moment in time that the judge that ruled all of Israel was Judge Deborah. In Judges 4:4 through 5:31 we have the story of a true woman of God that truly lead all Israel, and when it was time to go to battle, even general Barak and his ten thousand soldiers were afraid to face the army of Sisera, so Deborah took the general by the hand and led him into the battle, walking before the troops, to give Israel the victory. God not only used Deborah, but the lady Jael to end the life of Sisera by driving the nail through his skull. God uses faithful women just as He uses faithful men to get the job done.

Judge Debora and little Jael could get the job done when they saw that Israel needed them. God put them in the right place at the right time, and they knew how to do the work.

Exodus 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."

This position of Judge will not just be a part time thing, but will be a daily job all year around. Let them handle the little things, and those big things that affect the entire nation they can bring to you directly, and you handle only the important matters. This advice that Jethro Raguel is giving his son in law, is good advice.

Exodus 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." 

Don't overlook this verse, for Raguel is telling Moses before you do this thing, check it out with God and have Him give the go-ahead before you do it. This is good sound advice to even us in these end times. In everyday meaning; "If you do this thing, and God enjoins or charges you to do so, then do it, and it will endure and last." You will have peace in the camp and amongst the people. First you take it to God, and only with His permission do you do it. Raguel is telling Moses not to do this thing on his word alone. Very good advise. However if you do this, it will be so much easier for everybody.

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

Of course Moses to it to God first before he set this new government in motion.

Exodus 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."

These rulers were judges, and that is the same way that it is in our nation today. We have city courts, district courts, a state court system with a state supreme court, and of course there is the Federal court system also, with the Supreme Court at the top. This should be nothing new to us living in America, and the Christian nations of the earth. Even the other religious systems have their form of judicial government, based on their religious beliefs. This is why Deborah was chosen as the judge over all Israel, for she ran the government in that day.

Exodus 18:26 "And they judged the People at all seasons: the hard cases they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves."

This is the way that the court system is set up, you bring your complaint to court when there is an action for damages done to you. Then the court sets the amount of damages, or sets the fine.

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

Raguel, Moses' father in law was a man of means, and when he had delivered Moses' wife and two sons, and had a short visit, he went back home to tend to chores. His home was right in the middle of the land of the Kenites. Sure Jethro, or Raguel lived in a very bad area, in the cursed land of the Kenites and the Amalekites. Yet even though God cursed that area, God still blessed this man of God, Jethro, the Midianite high priest. So in this parenthetical chapter we should take comfort in the fact that no matter where you are, when you are in the will and work of God, He will bless you. The curses that were placed on the people of that area, just did not apply to Jethro and his family. God can protect His people no matter where they are.

Jethro walked into a situation with his eyes wide opened. All this high priest of the Midianites was doing was delivering his daughter and two grandsons back home to Moses, his son in law. While there he witnessed something that just was not right, so he brought to Moses attention what the problem was, and how that problem should be fixed. However instead of taking the credit for his idea, he told Moses to take it to God, and be lead by what God would instruct him to do. Friend, as a student of God's Word, that is exactly as we should do it ourselves; always trying to please God and do what is right in the sight of God. When we set out to do something, we also should try to please God in all that we do.


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