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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
Table of Contents




WHEN Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, who, you will remember, lived in the neighborhood of Mount Sinai, heard of the deeds of Moses and the Israelites, and how they had defeated the Amalekites in a great battle, he was very glad. He came to visit Moses, and Moses welcomed him and made a great feast for him, near the place where he had seen the vision of the burning bush, and all the multitude of the Israelites partook of the feast. Then they sang hymns of thankfulness, and Jethro made a speech in which he praised the Israelites, and especially their leader, Moses.

Next day Jethro saw Moses in the midst of a great crowd of men, settling their disputes. For whenever they differed about anything they came to Moses, believing that he would do justice between them, and they always accepted his decision. But because of the great number of men that were under him Moses was kept very busy. When the day’s work was over Jethro took him aside, and said to him that he ought to leave the trouble of lesser disputes to others and himself take care only of the greater ones and of the safety of the Israelites; for many others might be found who were fit to decide disputes, but only Moses could take care of the safety of so many thousands of men.

"Make use of this method," said Jethro. "Take a review of the army, and appoint chosen rulers over tens of thousands, and then over thousands; then divide the thousands into five [66] hundreds; and again into hundreds, and into fifties; and set rulers over each of them, who may distinguish them into thirties, and keep them in order; and at last number them by twenties and by tens. And let there be one commander over each number, to be chosen from the number of those over whom they are rulers, but such as the whole multitude have tried, and do approve of, being good and righteous men; and let these rulers decide the controversies the people under them may have one with another. But if any great cause arise, let them refer it to the rulers of a higher dignity; and if any arise that is too hard for even their determination, let them send it to thee. By these means two advantages will be gained,—that the Hebrews will have justice done them; and thou wilt be able to attend constantly on God, and procure Him to be more favorable to the people."

This was the advice of Jethro; and Moses received it very kindly, and acted according to his suggestion. Nor did he conceal the invention of this method, or pretend to it himself, but informed the multitude who it was that invented it. Nay, he has named Jethro in the books he wrote as the person who invented this ordering of the people, thinking it right to give a true testimony to worthy persons, although he might have got reputation by ascribing to himself the inventions of other men. Whence we may learn the virtuous disposition of Moses.

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