Exodus 17

Water Out of the Rock

The whole community of Israel started out from the Desert of Sin. They traveled from place to place, just as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim. But there wasn’t any water for the people to drink. So they argued with Moses. They said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why are you arguing with me? Why are you testing the Lord?”

But the people were thirsty for water there. So they told Moses they weren’t happy with him. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt? Did you want us, our children and our livestock to die of thirst?”

Then Moses cried out to the Lord. He said, “What am I going to do with these people? They are almost ready to kill me by throwing stones at me.”

The Lord answered Moses. “Go out in front of the people. Take some of the elders of Israel along with you. Take in your hand the walking stick you used when you struck the Nile River. Go. I will stand there in front of you by the rock at Mount Horeb. Hit the rock. Then water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses hit the rock while the elders of Israel watched. Moses called the place Massah and Meribah. That’s because the people of Israel argued with him there. They also tested the Lord. They asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Joshua Wins the Battle Over the Amalekites

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men. Then go out and fight against the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill. I’ll stand there holding the walking stick God gave me.”

So Joshua fought against the Amalekites, just as Moses had ordered. Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hand, the Israelites were winning. But every time he lowered his hands, the Amalekites began to win. When Moses’ arms got tired, Aaron and Hur got a stone and put it under him. Then he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands. Aaron was on one side, and Hur was on the other. Moses’ hands remained steady until sunset. So Joshua destroyed the Amalekite army with swords.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is something to be remembered. So write it on a scroll. Make sure Joshua knows you have done it. I will completely erase the memory of the Amalekites from the earth.”

Then Moses built an altar. He called it The Lord Is My Banner. He said, “The Amalekites opposed the authority of the Lord. So the Lord will fight against the Amalekites for all time to come.”

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Exodus 18

Jethro Visits Moses

Moses’ father-in-law Jethro was the priest of Midian. He heard about everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel. Jethro heard how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

Moses had sent his wife Zipporah to his father-in-law. So Jethro welcomed her and her two sons. One son was named Gershom. That’s because Moses had said, “I’m an outsider in a strange land.” The other was named Eliezer. That’s because Moses had said, “My father’s God helped me. He saved me from Pharaoh’s sword.”

Moses’ father-in-law Jethro came to Moses in the desert. Moses’ sons and wife came with Jethro. Moses was camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent a message to him. It said, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you. I’m bringing your wife and her two sons.”

So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. Moses bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other. Then they went into the tent. Moses told Jethro everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The Lord did all of this because of how much he loved Israel. Moses told Jethro about all their hard times along the way. He told him about how the Lord had saved them.

Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel. He heard about how God had saved them from the power of the Egyptians. He said, “I praise the Lord. He saved you and your people from the power of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods. See what he did to those who looked down on Israel.” Then Moses’ father-in-law Jethro brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God. Aaron came with all the elders of Israel. They ate a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the sight of God.

The next day Moses took his seat to serve the people as their judge. They stood around him from morning until evening. His father-in-law saw everything Moses was doing for the people. So he said, “Aren’t you trying to do too much for the people? You are the only judge. And all these people are standing around you from morning until evening.”

Moses answered, “The people come to me to find out what God wants them to do. Anytime they don’t agree with one another, they come to me. I decide between them. I tell them about God’s rules and instructions.”

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing isn’t good. You will just get worn out. And so will these people who come to you. There’s too much work for you. You can’t possibly handle it by yourself. Listen to me. I’ll give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must speak to God for the people. Take their problems to him. Teach them his rules and instructions. Show them how to live and what to do. But choose men of ability from all the people. They must have respect for God. You must be able to trust them. They must not try to get money by cheating others. Appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Let them serve the people as judges. But have them bring every hard case to you. They can decide the easy ones themselves. That will make your load lighter. They will share it with you. If this is what God wants and if you do it, then you will be able to carry the load. And all these people will go home satisfied.”

Moses listened to his father-in-law. He did everything Jethro said. He chose men of ability from the whole community of Israel. He made them leaders of the people. They became officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They judged the people at all times. They brought the hard cases to Moses. But they decided the easy ones themselves.

Moses sent his father-in-law on his way. So Jethro returned to his own country.

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