Verses 1 – 4 reintroduces Jethro, a Midianite priest and Moses’ father-in-law. It recalls the fact that Moses sent his wife and children back home to Jethro. It also provides added information about Moses’ two sons.
Verses 5 – 12 describe the time when Jethro came to visit Moses in the wilderness near Mount Sinai. He was accompanied by Moses’ wife Zipporah and Moses’ two son, Gershom and Eliezer. After joyfully greeting Jethro, Moses described all of the events from the deliverance to the Red Sea onward. Jethro responded by praising the LORD and offering sacrifices to the God of Israel.
The day after Jethro, Moses, Aaron, and the elders celebrated a sacrificial to honor the LORD, Moses went about his usual duties in managing the affairs of the people. On this day, his job was to mediate disputes and dispense justice when there was an issue between Israelites. This was an extremely burdensome task to Moses because it lasted all day. Jethro saw what it was doing to Moses and spoke to him about the wisdom of training others to share the responsibility of governing.
Having heard his father-in-law’s advice, Moses implemented it. He appointed men at the various levels to do the judging of the less difficult matters, leaving only the most difficult ones to be brought to Moses. Once this was done, Jethro left to go back to his home in Midian.
The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of Genesis concerning the migration of the family of Jacob (the Israelites) to Egypt (Genesis 50). It describes the commissioning of Moses and Aaron as God’s representatives on earth to accomplish God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land (the land of Canaan). It also relates the miraculous deliverance from Egypt beginning with the plagues on Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. It then describes the journey to Mount Sinai and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant with the Israelites. The last part of the book involves the specifications and building of the tabernacle – the place where the Lord Himself dwelt amongst His people.
In the book of Exodus, the focus shifts to the deliverance of God’s people.
Exodus 18 can be outlined as follows: