This Week’s Torah Portion: Yitro

the ten commandments

Name: Yitro (Jethro)

Reading: Exodus 18:1 – 20:23

Haftarah: Isiah 6:1 – 7:6; 9:5-6

Parsha Summary – Yitro

Moses is Reunited with his Family

Jethro hears of everything God has done for the Israelites and that they have been freed from Egypt. He takes his daughter (Moses’s wife) Zipporah and her two sons and travels to the Israelites’ encampment. He finds Moses and the family enjoys an emotional reunion. Moses tells Jethro about the miracles in Egypt, and Jethro makes sacrifices to God.

Jethro Suggests a Court System

Jethro sees that Moses spends all day listening to the people’s disputes and answering them. Jethro says that it’s not good as it will exhaust both Moses and the people and suggests establishing a court system whereby Moses will teach the laws to different people, who will rule over groups of people and settle issues between them. That way, only the major disputes need be brought to Moses. Moses does this, and Jethro leaves.

Camping at the Mountain

Three months after the Israelites leave Egypt, God tells Moses to tell the people that He will take them for Himself as a nation if they’ll accept His covenant. He says that He will speak to the people from within a thick cloud of smoke, gives them three days to prepare and wash their clothes, and warns them to stay away from the mountain. Moses tells the people.

The 10 Commandments

God speaks the 10 Commandments:

  • I am God; you shall have no others
  • Do not make graven images and do not worship them
  • Do not take God’s name in vain
  • Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy
  • Honour your parents
  • Do not murder
  • Do not commit adultery
  • Do not steal
  • Do not bear false witness against your neighbour
  • Do not covet your neighbour’s property

The people see the thunder and lightning and the smoking mountain and are scared that they will die. Moses reassures them that God is with them. God tells Moses to command the people regarding the building of alters and bringing sacrifices.

Other Commandments:

God embellishes the 10 Commandments and gives new laws to Moses to pass on to the people. They include the freeing of slaves after seven years unless they choose to stay of their own volition; the lawful death penalty for murderers; and the treatment of servants.