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Exodus 18:19-20

Context
18:19 Now listen to me, 1  I will give you advice, and may God be with you: You be a representative for the people to God, 2  and you bring 3  their disputes 4  to God; 18:20 warn 5  them of the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they must walk 6  and the work they must do. 7 

Exodus 18:23

Context
18:23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, 8  then you will be able 9  to endure, 10  and all these people 11  will be able to go 12  home 13  satisfied.” 14 

1 tn Heb “hear my voice.”

2 tn The line reads “Be you to the people before God.” He is to be their representative before God. This is introducing the aspect of the work that only Moses could do, what he has been doing. He is to be before God for the people, to pray for them, to appeal on their behalf. Jethro is essentially saying, I understand that you cannot delegate this to anyone else, so continue doing it (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 219-20).

3 tn The form is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive; following the imperative it will be instruction as well. Since the imperative preceding this had the idea of “continue to be” as you are, this too has that force.

4 tn Heb “words”; KJV, ASV “the causes”; NRSV “cases”; NLT “questions.”

5 tn The perfect tense with the vav (ו) continues the sequence of instruction for Moses. He alone was to be the mediator, to guide them in the religious and moral instruction.

6 tn The verb and its following prepositional phrase form a relative clause, modifying “the way.” The imperfect tense should be given the nuance of obligatory imperfect – it is the way they must walk.

7 tn This last part is parallel to the preceding: “work” is also a direct object of the verb “make known,” and the relative clause that qualifies it also uses an obligatory imperfect.

8 tn The form is a Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive; it carries the same nuance as the preceding imperfect in the conditional clause.

9 tn The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive now appears in the apodosis of the conditional sentence – “if you do this…then you will be able.”

10 tn Heb “to stand.” B. Jacob (Exodus, 501) suggests that there might be a humorous side to this: “you could even do this standing up.”

11 tn Literally “this people.”

12 tn The verb is the simple imperfect, “will go,” but given the sense of the passage a potential nuance seems in order.

13 tn Heb “his place.”

14 tn Heb “in peace.”

sn See further T. D. Weinshall, “The Organizational Structure Proposed by Jethro to Moses (Ex. 18:17),” Public Administration in Israel and Abroad 12 (1972): 9-13; and H. Reviv, “The Traditions Concerning the Inception of the Legal System in Israel: Significance and Dating,” ZAW 94 (1982): 566-75.



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