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.
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18:13-27 Here is the great zeal and the toil of Moses as a magistrate. Having been employed to redeem Israel out of the house of bondage, he is a further type of Christ, that he is employed as a lawgiver and a judge among them. If the people were as quarrelsome one with another as they were with God, no doubt Moses had many causes brought before him. This business Moses was called to; it appears that he did it with great care and kindness. The meanest Israelite was welcome to bring his cause before him. Moses kept to his business from morning to night. Jethro thought it was too much for him to undertake alone; also it would make the administration of justice tiresome to the people. There may be over-doing even in well-doing. Wisdom is profitable to direct, that we may neither content ourselves with less than our duty, nor task ourselves beyond our strength. Jethro advised Moses to a better plan. Great men should not only study to be useful themselves, but contrive to make others useful. Care must be taken in the choice of the persons admitted into such a trust. They should be men of good sense, that understood business, and that would not be daunted by frowns or clamours, but abhorred the thought of a bribe. Men of piety and religion; such as fear God, who dare not to do a base thing, though they could do it secretly and securely. The fear of God will best fortify a man against temptations to injustice. Moses did not despise this advice. Those are not wise, who think themselves too wise to be counselled.Hearkened - Nothing can be more characteristic of Moses, who combines on all occasions distrust of himself and singular openness to impressions, with the wisdom and sound judgment which chooses the best course when pointed out. 23. If thou shalt do this thing, &c.—Jethro's counsel was given merely in the form of a suggestion; it was not to be adopted without the express sanction and approval of a better and higher Counsellor; and although we are not informed of it, there can be no doubt that Moses, before appointing subordinate magistrates, would ask the mind of God, as it is the duty and privilege of every Christian in like manner to supplicate the divine direction in all his ways. Moses chose them not solely, but together with the people, as appears from Deu 1:13. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel,.... He looked among them, and selected the best of them, such as most answered to the qualifications it was requisite they should have; and though only one of them is here mentioned, which is the first Jethro gave, yet no doubt they were all attended to, though not expressed:

and made them heads over the people; rulers, governors, judges, and officers; this is a general word, comprehending their several particular offices they sustained; which seem to be chiefly distinguished by the different numbers of people, or families, under them, otherwise their work and office were much the same:

rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens; just as Jethro advised, Exodus 18:21. According to the Targum of Jonathan, the rulers of thousands were six hundred, rulers of hundreds 6000, rulers of fifties 12,000, and the rulers of tens 60,000; and so Jarchi; and the like account is given in both the Talmuds (x), where the whole is summed up, amounting to 78,600; which account Aben Ezra disapproves of, and thinks not credible: it is built upon the number of Israel at this time, when they came out of Egypt, being 600,000 men; and so if there was a ruler to every thousand men, there must be six hundred of them, and so on; but these thousands may intend not individual persons, but families, that these were appointed over, as the families of Israel and Judah are called their thousands, Micah 5:2 and this will serve greatly to reduce the number of these judges and officers.

(x) T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 19. 3. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 18. 1.

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.
Verse 25. - Moses chose able men. It appears from Deuteronomy 1:13, that instead of selecting the men himself, which would have been an invidious task, Moses directed their nomination by the people, and only reserved to himself the investing them wit h their authority. Heads over the people. From the time of their appointment, the "rulers" were not merely judges, but "heads" of their respective companies, with authority over them on the march, and command in the battle-field (Numbers 31:14). Thus the organisation was at once civil and military. The next day Jethro saw how Moses was occupied from morning till evening in judging the people, who brought all their disputes to him, that he might settle them according to the statutes of God. על עמד: as in Genesis 18:8. The people came to Moses "to seek or inquire of God" (Genesis 18:15), i.e., to ask for a decision from God: in most cases, this means to inquire through an oracle; here it signifies to desire a divine decision as to questions in dispute. By judging or deciding the cases brought before him, Moses made known to the people the ordinances and laws of God. For every decision was based upon some law, which, like all true justice here on earth, emanated first of all from God. This is the meaning of Genesis 18:16, and not, as Knobel supposes, that Moses made use of the questions in dispute, at the time they were decided, as good opportunities for giving laws to the people. Jethro condemned this plan (Genesis 18:18.) as exhausting, wearing out (נבל lit., to fade away, Psalm 37:2), both for Moses and the people: for the latter, inasmuch as they not only got wearied out through long waiting, but, judging from Genesis 18:23, very often began to take the law into their own hands on account of the delay in the judicial decision, and so undermined the well-being of the community at large; and for Moses, inasmuch as the work was necessarily too great for him, and he could not continue for any length of time to sustain such a burden alone (Genesis 18:18). The obsolete form of the inf. const. עשׂהוּ for עשׂתו is only used here, but is not without analogies in the Pentateuch. Jethro advised him (Genesis 18:19.) to appoint judged from the people for all the smaller matters in dispute, so that in future only the more difficult cases, which really needed a superior or divine decision, would be brought to him that he might lay them before God. "I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee (i.e., help thee to carry out this advice): Be thou to the people האלהים מוּל, towards God," i.e., lay their affairs before God, take the place of God in matters of judgment, or, as Luther expresses it, "take charge of the people before God." To this end, in the first place, he was to instruct the people in the commandments of God, and their own walk and conduct (הזהיר with a double accusative, to enlighten, instruct; שדרך the walk, the whole behaviour; מעשׂה particular actions); secondly, he was to select able men (חיל אנשׁי men of moral strength, 1 Kings 1:52) as judges, men who were God-fearing, sincere, and unselfish (gain-hating), and appoint them to administer justice to the people, by deciding the simpler matters themselves, and only referring the more difficult questions to him, and so to lighten his own duties by sharing the burden with these judges. מעליך הקל (Genesis 18:22) "make light of (that which lies) upon thee." If he would do this, and God would command him, he would be able to stand, and the people would come to their place, i.e., to Canaan, in good condition (בּשׁלום). The apodosis cannot begin with וצוּך, "then God will establish thee," for צוּה never has this meaning; but the idea is this, "if God should preside over the execution of the plan proposed."
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