In this week’s parsha, Yitro, Moses’ father-in-law bring Zipporah their children to join Moses and the Hebrews in the wilderness. They “ask after the other’s welfare”, and then Moses recounts the story of the exodus from Egypt. The next day, Moses sits as magistrate from morning until evening, resolving disputes.
Jethro asks him what he’s doing, why he acts alone. Moses says, “It’s because the people cme to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, it comes before me, and I decide between one party and another, and I make known the laws and teachings of God.”
But Jethro replies, “The thing you are doing is not right; you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You represent the people before God: you bring the disputes before God, 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. You shall also seek out, from among all the people, capable individuals who fear God—trustworthy ones who spurn ill-gotten gain. Set these over them as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and let them judge the people at all times. Have them bring every major dispute to you, but let them decide every minor dispute themselves.”