But the chapter starts with a completely different theme. First, we have a family reunion as Moses's father-in-law Jethro (Yitro) joins the traveling Israelites, learns of their miraculous exploits, and makes an offering to G*d in gratitude for their redemption.
Soon, however, Yitro observes the extent to which Moses burdens himself with all the troubles of the people:
13 Next day, Moses sat as magistrate among the people, while the people stood about Moses from morning until evening. 14 But when Moses' father-in-law saw how much he had to do for the people, he said, "What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you act alone, while all the people stand about you from morning until evening?" 15 Moses replied to his father-in-law, "It is because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a dispute, it comes before me, and I decide between one person and another, and I make known the laws and teachings of God."
From the vantage point of his experience as High Priest of Midian, Yitro offers the following advice:
17 But Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing you are doing is not right; 18 you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 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, 20 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. 21 You shall also seek out from among all the people capable men who fear God, trustworthy men who spurn ill-gotten gain. Set these over them as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and 22 let them judge the people at all times. Have them bring every major dispute to you, but let them decide every minor dispute themselves. Make it easier for yourself by letting them share the burden with you. 23 If you do this — and God so commands you — you will be able to bear up; and all these people too will go home unwearied."What a parallel to modern parenting, especially in the case of adoption and/or special needs. The parents, especially moms, have a tendency to take on everything on themselves. Clean up after everybody, do all the feeding, laundry, driving, homework help etc. It is so hard to delegate! To say, "No, you can do this yourself." Or, "Please, can you help me with this chore." Or, "Please help your little brother with this." It is even hard to accept help from relatives and friends.
Moses takes Yitro's advice to heart:
24 Moses heeded his father-in-law and did just as he had said. 25 Moses chose capable men out of all Israel, and appointed them heads over the people — chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens; 26 and they judged the people at all times: the difficult matters they would bring to Moses, and all the minor matters they would decide themselves. 27 Then Moses bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went his way to his own land.
Thus, Moses was "able to bear up; and all these people too will go home unwearied." How much more are we able to accomplish when we delegate to others the tasks that they can -- and should -- do? Is it a coincidence that the revelation at Sinai occurs directly after this?