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Torah Portion Yitro (Ex 18:1-20:23)

 Yitro is Hebrew for the name Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law.  Here’s the context, Exodus 18:1: And Jethro, priest of Midian, father-in-law of Moses, heard all that Elohim did for Moses and for Israel His people, for YHVH brought out Israel from Egypt .

Summary: Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, along with Moses’ wife Zipporah and their two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, come to visit Moses in the wilderness.  Moses tells Jethro all that YHVH did for their liberation from Egypt, and Jethro, a Midianite priest declares that YHVH is greater than all gods.  When Jethro learns that Moses alone hears all the law cases, by thus causing a backlog, Jethro  establishes a hierarchy of lower and upper courts, with only the most difficult cases to be brought to Moses’ attention.  Jethro returns home.  Three months after our departure from Egypt, our ancestors arrived at Sinai. YHVH tells Moses that He will appear in a dark cloud in three days and that the people will hear what He says to Moses so that they will always believe Moses.  YHVH tells Moses to instruct the people to clean their garments, refrain from intimacy for three days, and not to stand on Mt. Sinai (except for Moses and Aaron).  On the third day, amid smoke, fire, and loud sounds, God descends on Mt. Sinai and pronounces what we now call the 10 Commandments (the “10 matters” in Hebrew).  YHVH then instructs the people to make altars of earth and stone for animal sacrifice, and that those making sacrifices be modestly attired.