1And when Jethro, the priest of Midian, the ally, either (the) father of the wife of Moses, had heard all things which God had done to Moses, and to Israel his people, for the Lord had led Israel out of the land of Egypt, (And when Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, had heard of all the things which God had done for Moses, and for his people Israel, yea, that the Lord had led Israel out of the land of Egypt,) 2Jethro took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, whom Moses had sent again (whom Moses had sent back to him), 3and his two sons, of which one was called Gershom, for the father at his birth (had) said, I was a comeling in an alien land (I was a newcomer in a foreign land), 4forsooth the tother was called Eliezer, for Moses at his birth (had) said, (For the) God of my father is mine helper, and he delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.
5Therefore Jethro, ally of Moses, came, and the sons of Moses and his wife came to Moses, into desert, where Jethro set tents beside the hill of God; (And so Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with Moses’ wife and their sons, into the wilderness, where Moses had pitched the tents beside God’s mountain;) 6and he sent to Moses, and said, I Jethro, thine ally, come to thee, and thy wife, and thy two sons with her. (and he sent word to Moses, and said, I Jethro, thy father-in-law, have come to thee, with thy wife, and thy two sons with her.) 7And Moses went out into the coming of his ally, and worshipped, and kissed him, and they greeted themselves together with peaceable words. And when Jethro had entered into the tabernacle, (And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and bowed before him, and kissed him, and they greeted each other with friendly words. And when Jethro had gone into the tent,) 8Moses told to him all (the) things which God had done to Pharaoh, and to the Egyptians, for Israel, and he told to him all the travail that befell to them in the way, of which the Lord had delivered them (and he told him of all the tribulation that had befallen them on the way, and how the Lord had saved them). 9And Jethro was glad on all the goods which the Lord had done to Israel, for he [had] delivered Israel from the hand of [the] Egyptians. (And Jethro was glad for all the good things that the Lord had done for Israel, for he had saved Israel from the power of the Egyptians.) 10And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, that delivered you from the hand(s) of the Egyptians, and from the hand of Pharaoh, the which Lord delivered his people from (being under) the hand, (or the power,) of Egypt; 11now I know that the Lord is great above all gods, for they did proudly against them. (now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods, for what he hath done to those who did so proudly against thee.) 12Therefore Jethro, ally of Moses (And so Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law), offered burnt sacrifices and offerings to God; and Aaron, and all the elder men of Israel, came to eat bread with Jethro before God.
13Forsooth in the tother day, Moses sat that he should deem the people, which stood nigh to Moses, from the morrowtide till to the eventide. (And the next day, Moses sat down to judge the people, who stood about him, from the morning until the evening.) 14And when his ally had seen this, that is, all things which he did in the people, he said, What is this that thou doest in the people? why sittest thou alone, and all the people abideth thee from the morrowtide till to eventide? (And when his father-in-law had seen this, that is, all the things which he did for the people, Jethro said, What is this that thou doest for the people? why sittest thou alone, and all the people waiteth for thee from the morning until the evening?) 15To whom Moses answered, The people cometh to me, and asketh the sentence of God; 16and when any strife befalleth to them, they come to me, that I deem betwixt them (so that I can judge between them), and show (them) the commandments of God, and his laws.
17And Jethro said, Thou doest a thing that is not good, 18thou art wasted with a fond travail, both thou, and this people that is with thee; the work is above thy strengths, thou alone mayest not suffer it (thou cannot do it all alone). 19But hear thou my words, and my counsels, and the Lord shall be with thee; be thou to the people in these things that pertain to God, that thou tell (them) the things that be said to the people; (But hear thou my words, and my counsel, and the Lord shall be with thee; it is right to represent the people before God, and to bring their causes to him;) 20and show to the people the ceremonies, and [the] custom(s) of worshipping, and the way by which they ought to go, and the work which they ought to do. 21Forsooth purvey thou of all the people wise men, and dreading God, in which is truth, and which hate avarice; and ordain thou of them tribunes, and centurions, and quinquagenaries, and deans [and ordain of them rulers upon thousands, and rulers upon hundreds, and rulers upon fifty, and rulers upon ten], (But find thou out of the people some men who be wise, and who fear God, in whom is truth, and who hate greed; and make thou them leaders of a thousand, and of a hundred, and of fifty, and of ten,) 22which shall deem the people in all time; soothly whatever thing is greater, tell they to thee, and deem they only [the] less(er) things, and be it easier to thee, when the burden is parted into other men. (and they shall judge their people at all times; but whatever case is hard, or too difficult, let them tell that to thee, and judge they only the simple cases, and so it shall be easier for thee, when the burden is shared with these other men.) 23If thou shalt do this, thou shalt fulfill the commandment of God, and thou shalt be able to bear his commandments; and all this people shall turn again with peace to their places (and all these people shall return to their places in peace).
24And when these things were heard, Moses did all things which Jethro counselled. 25And when noble men of all Israel were chosen, Moses ordained them princes of the people (And when some noble men were chosen out of all Israel, Moses ordained them the people’s leaders), tribunes, and centurions, and quinquagenaries, and deans [rulers upon thousands, and rulers upon hundreds, and rulers upon fifties, and rulers upon ten], 26which deemed the people in all time; forsooth, whatever thing was harder, they told to Moses, and they deemed [the] easier things only. (who judged the people at all times; but whatever case was hard, or too difficult, they told it to Moses, and they judged only the easy, or the simple, cases.) 27And Moses let go his ally, which turned again, and went into his land. (And then Moses let his father-in-law go, and he returned to his own land.)
Wycliffe’s Old Testament
Wycliffe’s New Testament
and JOHN PURVEY
A modern-spelling edition of their
14TH century Middle English translation,
the first complete English vernacular version,
with an Introduction by
TERENCE P. NOBLE
Used by Permission