5 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
2 that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
3 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.
Interestingly enough the first characteristic of the forbidden woman is the way she communicates. This happens in each section where she is brought up: 2:16 she is the adulteress with her smooth words; 6:24 the smooth tongue of the adulteress; 7:5 the adulteress with her smooth words. We can see then the contrast being set up. It is between vying ways of life that offered by wisdom and the other offered by sensuality, or rather, folly. What seems to be a choice between stoicism and sensual pleasure is really between deeper, lasting pleasure and bitter delusion. The forbidden woman’s speech seems sweet and smooth, and for awhile she may seem to deliver on her promises; but in the end her taste is bitter and even deadly. Why? Because she herself is a fool, and as Proverbs 10:10 notes, a babbling fool will come to ruin. Unlike the wise and the righteous, she does not ponder the path of life. She does not contemplate what truth is and what does bring real life. Indeed, she is oblivious to where her life choices are taking her. And as Proverbs 13:20 warns, the companion of fools will suffer harm. Join up with the forbidden woman, and you will join in with her destruction.
Who is the forbidden woman? She may well be a woman tempting you to adultery. She is also the sex industry trying to draw you in so your money will be taken. She is the secular society trying to lure you into her world. She lures both men and women. And she is effective because of her smooth words.
Do not underestimate her persuasiveness; nor overestimate your willpower to resist. Seek the wisdom of Scripture; appeal to the Holy Spirit for understanding and strength to obey God’s commands. Follow your Lord Jesus Christ.
17 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, travelling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’
Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?’
3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’
4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.’
5 The Lord answered Moses, ‘Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.’ So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarrelled and because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’
The Amalekites defeated
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.’
15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, ‘Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.’
Jethro visits Moses
18 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.
2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3 and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, ‘I have become a foreigner in a foreign land’; 4 and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, ‘My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.’
5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6 Jethro had sent word to him, ‘I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.’
7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.
9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, ‘Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.’ 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood round him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand round you from morning till evening?’
15 Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.’
17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 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. 22 Let them serve as judges for the people at all times, but let them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.’
24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.