Monday, April 2, 2012

Exodus 17:8-16 Amalekite Attack

"The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.
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.'

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered,
and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning,
but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

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.
So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

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 memory of Amalek from under heaven.'

Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.
He said, 'For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD.
The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.' "

Exodus 17:8-16 (NIV)

Some things to think about:  
  • The Amalekites were the first nation to attack Israel after they left Egypt. 
  • Another account of this incident found in Deuteronomy reveals that the Amalekites did not wage a fair fight against Israel's army, but instead attacked the weak and weary stragglers among the people at the rear of Israel's group.  (Deuteronomy 25:18)
  • Joshua is soon to become Moses' aide.  Later, he will be his successor.  He is a faithful man and his experiences in the desert will help equip him for his later duties as he leads Israel into the Promised Land (Canaan).
  • Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill to intercede for the Israelites.  The fact that the Israelites won while the staff was raised and did worse when the staff was lowered did not mean that the staff in itself was some type of magic charm.  Moses actions indicated that he was appealing to God for help in the battle.  The whole incident was an actual appeal to God for help, but it also became a very visual picture which showed the Israelites that victory was only from the LORD, and not from their own strength.  Aaron and Hur were a great help to Moses, keeping his hands steady till sunset.
  • Hur was Miriam's husband according to the historian Josephus and other sources, although the Bible is silent on this.  Hur may also be the same man who is the son of Caleb (one of twelve men who later spied out the land of Canaan before Israel returned to it) and grandfather to Bezalel (one of the workers/craftsmen on the tabernacle).  We'll talk more about them later when they come up in the text.
  • Joshua overcame the Amalekites, and the LORD ordered that a scroll was to be written to remember this incident, and to record that the LORD had promised to completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.
  • Moses builds an altar and called it 'The LORD is my Banner'.  He also continues and notes that '...hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD'.  I believe it has sort of a double meaning, both that the LORD had answered Moses prayer when he lifted his hands to the LORD, and also that the LORD had proved victorious when the Amalekites' hands were stretched out against the people of the LORD (and thus, 'lifted up' against the throne (rule/authority) of the LORD Himself.
  • Moses also notes that the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.  This seems strange, doesn't it?  Why were they so particularly singled out for destruction?  I think that this will require another post to look at the Amalekites more closely.

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