Exodus 18:21
Parallel Verses
New International Version
But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

King James Bible
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

Darby Bible Translation
But do thou provide among all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place [them] over them, chiefs of thousands, chiefs of hundreds, chiefs of fifties, and chiefs of tens,

World English Bible
Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God: men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

Young's Literal Translation
And thou -- thou dost provide out of all the people men of ability, fearing God, men of truth, hating dishonest gain, and hast placed these over them, heads of thousands, heads of hundreds, heads of fifties, and heads of tens,

Exodus 18:21 Parallel
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Able men - Persons of wisdom, discernment, judgment, prudence, and fortitude; for who can be a ruler without these qualifications? Such as fear God - Who are truly religious, without which they will feel little concerned either for the bodies or souls of the people.

Men of truth - Honest and true in their own hearts and lives; speaking the truth, and judging according to the truth.

Hating covetousness - Doing all for God's sake, and love to man; laboring to promote the general good; never perverting judgment, or suppressing the testimonies of God, for the love of money or through a base, man-pleasing spirit, but expecting their reward from the mercy of God in the resurrection of the just.

Rulers of thousands, etc. - Millenaries, centurions, quinquagenaries, and decurions; each of these, in all probability, dependent on that officer immediately above himself. So the decurion, or ruler over ten, if he found a matter too hard for him, brought it to the quinquagenary, or ruler of fifty; if, in the course of the exercise of his functions, he found a cause too complicated for him to decide on, he brought it to the centurion, or ruler over a hundred. In like manner the centurion brought his difficult case to the millenary, or ruler over a thousand; the case that was too hard for him to judge, he brought to Moses; and the case that was too hard for Moses, he brought immediately to God. It is likely that each of these classes had a court composed of its own members, in which causes were heard and tried. Some of the rabbins have supposed that there were 600 rulers of thousands, 6000 rulers of hundreds, 12,000 rulers of fifties and 60,000 rulers of tens; making in the whole 78,600 officers. But Josephus says (Antiq., lib. iii., chap. 4) that Moses, by the advice of Jethro, appointed rulers over myriads, and then over thousands; these he divided into five hundreds, and again into hundreds, and into fifties; and appointed rulers over each of these, who divided them into thirties, and at last into twenties and tens; that each of these companies had a chief, who took his name from the number of persons who were under his direction and government. Allowing what Josephus states to be correct, some have supposed that there could not have been less than 129,860 officers in the Israelitish camp. But such computations are either fanciful or absurd. That the people were divided into thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, we know, for the text states it, but we cannot tell precisely how many of such divisions there were, nor, consequently, the number of officers.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Deuteronomy 1:13-17 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you...

Acts 6:3 Why, brothers, look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom...

able men

Exodus 18:25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds...

Deuteronomy 16:18 Judges and officers shall you make you in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, throughout your tribes...

1 Kings 3:9-12 Give therefore your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad...

Proverbs 28:2 For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof...

such as

Exodus 23:2-9 You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shall you speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment...

Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God...

Genesis 42:18 And Joseph said to them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:

2 Samuel 23:3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me, He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

1 Kings 18:3,12 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly...

2 Chronicles 19:5-10 And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city...

Nehemiah 5:9 Also I said, It is not good that you do...

Nehemiah 7:2 That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man...

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Luke 18:2,4 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man...


Job 29:16 I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.

Job 31:13 If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me;

Isaiah 16:5 And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit on it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment...

Isaiah 59:4,14,15 None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief...

Jeremiah 5:1 Run you to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if you can find a man...

Ezekiel 18:8 He that has not given forth on usury, neither has taken any increase, that has withdrawn his hand from iniquity...

Zechariah 7:9 Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother:

Zechariah 8:16 These are the things that you shall do; Speak you every man the truth to his neighbor...


Exodus 23:8 And you shall take no gift: for the gift blinds the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous.

Deuteronomy 16:18,19 Judges and officers shall you make you in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, throughout your tribes...

1 Samuel 8:3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

1 Samuel 12:3,4 Behold, here I am: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose donkey have I taken...

Psalm 26:9,10 Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men...

Isaiah 33:15 He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he that despises the gain of oppressions, that shakes his hands from holding of bribes...

Ezekiel 22:12 In you have they taken gifts to shed blood; you have taken usury and increase...

Acts 20:33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.

1 Timothy 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

1 Timothy 6:9-11 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts...

2 Peter 2:14,15 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls...

rulers of thousands. Whatever matter the decarch, or ruler over ten, could not decide, went to the pentecontarch, or ruler of fifty, and thence by degrees to the hecatontarch, or ruler over a hundred, to the chiliarch, or ruler over a thousand to Moses and at length to God himself. Each magistrate had the care or inspection of only ten men; the decarch superintended ten private characters; the hecatontarch ten decarchs; and the chiliarch, ten hecatontarchs.

Numbers 10:4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves to you.

Deuteronomy 1:15 So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands...

Joshua 22:14 And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel...

1 Samuel 8:12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground...

The Ideal Statesman [Footnote: Preached on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone's Death. ]
'Thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them.'--EXODUS xviii. 21. You will have anticipated my purpose in selecting this text. I should be doing violence to your feelings and mine if I made no reference to the event which has united the Empire and the world in one sentiment. The great tree has fallen, and the crash has for the moment silenced all the sounds of the forest. Wars abroad and controversies at home are
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Development of the Earlier Old Testament Laws
[Sidenote: First the principle, and then the detailed laws] If the canon of the New Testament had remained open as long as did that of the Old, there is little doubt that it also would have contained many laws, legal precedents, and ecclesiastical histories. From the writings of the Church Fathers and the records of the Catholic Church it is possible to conjecture what these in general would have been. The early history of Christianity illustrates the universal fact that the broad principles are
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

Cross References
Acts 6:3
Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them

Genesis 42:18
On the third day, Joseph said to them, "Do this and you will live, for I fear God:

Genesis 47:6
and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock."

Exodus 18:25
He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

Numbers 1:4
One man from each tribe, each of them the head of his family, is to help you.

Numbers 1:16
These were the men appointed from the community, the leaders of their ancestral tribes. They were the heads of the clans of Israel.

Numbers 10:4
If only one is sounded, the leaders--the heads of the clans of Israel--are to assemble before you.

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