Exodus 17

Water in the Rock

1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of 1Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at 2Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.
2 Therefore the people 3quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water that we may drink." And Moses said to them, "4Why do you quarrel with me? 5Why do you test the LORD?"
3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they 6grumbled against Moses and said, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and 7our livestock with thirst?"
4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "What shall I do to this people? A 8little more and they will stone me."
5 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pass before the people and take with you some of 9the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which 10you struck the Nile, and go.
6 "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at 11Horeb; and 12you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 He named * the place 13Massah and 14Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they 15tested the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us, or not?"

Amalek Fought

8 Then 16Amalek came and fought against Israel at 17Rephidim.
9 So Moses said to 18Joshua, "Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with 19the staff of God in my hand."
10 Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and 20Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur 21supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.
13 So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "22Write this in a book as a memorial and recite * it to Joshua, that 23I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."
15 Moses built an 24altar and named * it 25The LORD is My Banner;
16 and he said, "26The LORD has sworn * *; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation."

Exodus 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

The Israelites murmur for water at Rephidim, God sendeth it out of the rock. (1-7) Amalek overcome, The prayers of Moses. (8-16)

Verses 1-7 The children of Israel journeyed according to the commandment of the Lord, led by the pillar of cloud and fire, yet they came to a place where there was no water for them to drink. We may be in the way of duty, yet may meet with troubles, which Providence brings us into, for the trial of our faith, and that God may be glorified in our relief. They began to question whether God was with them or not. This is called their "tempting God," which signifies distrust of him after they had received such proofs of his power and goodness. Moses mildly answered them. It is folly to answer passion with passion; that makes bad worse. God graciously appeared to help them. How wonderful the patience and forbearance of God toward provoking sinners! That he might show his power as well as his pity, and make it a miracle of mercy, he gave them water out of a rock. God can open fountains for us where we least expect them. Those who, in this wilderness, keep to God's way, may trust him to provide for them. Also, let this direct us to depend on Christ's grace. The ( 1 Corinthians. 10:4 ) him. While the curse of God might justly have been executed upon our guilty souls, behold the Son of God is smitten for us. Let us ask and receive. There was a constant, abundant supply of this water. Numerous as believers are, the supply of the Spirit of Christ is enough for all. The water flowed from the rock in streams to refresh the wilderness, and attended them on their way towards Canaan; and this water flows from Christ, through the ordinances, in the barren wilderness of this world, to refresh our souls, until we come to glory. A new name was given to the place, in remembrance, not of the mercy of their supply, but of the sin of their murmuring: "Massah," Temptation, because they tempted God; "Meribah," Strife, because they chid with Moses. Sin leaves a blot upon the name.

Verses 8-16 Israel engaged with Amalek in their own necessary defence. God makes his people able, and calls them to various services for the good of his church. Joshua fights, Moses prays, both minister to Israel. The rod was held up, as the banner to encourage the soldiers. Also to God, by way of appeal to him. Moses was tired. The strongest arm will fail with being long held out; it is God only whose hand is stretched out still. We do not find that Joshua's hands were heavy in fighting, but Moses' hands were heavy in praying; the more spiritual any service is, the more apt we are to fail and flag in it. To convince Israel that the hand of Moses, whom they had been chiding, did more for their safety than their own hands, his rod than their sword, the success rises and falls as Moses lifts up or lets down his hands. The church's cause is more or less successful, as her friends are more or less strong in faith, and fervent in prayer. Moses, the man of God, is glad of help. We should not be shy, either of asking help from others, or of giving help to others. The hands of Moses being thus stayed, were steady till the going down of the sun. It was great encouragement to the people to see Joshua before them in the field of battle, and Moses above them on the hill. Christ is both to us; our Joshua, the Captain of our salvation, who fights our battles, and our Moses, who ever lives, making intercession above, that our faith fail not. Weapons formed against God's Israel cannot prosper long, and shall be broken at last. Moses must write what had been done, what Amalek had done against Israel; write their bitter hatred; write their cruel attempts; let them never be forgotten, nor what God had done for Israel in saving them from Amalek. Write what should be done; that in process of time Amalek should be totally ruined and rooted out. Amalek's destruction was typical of the destruction of all the enemies of Christ and his kingdom.

Cross References 26

  • 1. Exodus 16:1; Numbers 33:12
  • 2. Exodus 19:2; Numbers 33:14
  • 3. Exodus 14:11; Num 20:2, 3, 13
  • 4. Exodus 16:8
  • 5. Deuteronomy 6:16; Psalms 78:18, 41; Matthew 4:7; 1 Corinthians 10:9
  • 6. Exodus 16:2, 3
  • 7. Exodus 12:38
  • 8. Numbers 14:10; 1 Samuel 30:6
  • 9. Exodus 3:16, 18
  • 10. Exodus 7:20
  • 11. Exodus 3:1
  • 12. Numbers 20:10, 11; Deuteronomy 8:15; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalms 78:15; Psalms 105:41; Psalms 114:8; 1 Corinthians 10:4
  • 13. Deuteronomy 6:16; Deuteronomy 9:22; Psalms 95:8
  • 14. Numbers 20:13, 24; Numbers 27:14; Psalms 81:7
  • 15. Numbers 14:22; Deuteronomy 33:8
  • 16. Genesis 36:12; Numbers 24:20; Deuteronomy 25:17-19; 1 Samuel 15:2
  • 17. Exodus 17:1
  • 18. Exodus 24:13
  • 19. Exodus 4:20
  • 20. Exodus 24:14; Exodus 31:2
  • 21. Isaiah 35:3
  • 22. Exodus 24:4; Exodus 34:27; Numbers 33:2
  • 23. Deuteronomy 25:19; 1 Samuel 15:3
  • 24. Exodus 24:4
  • 25. Genesis 22:14; Judges 6:24
  • 26. Genesis 22:16

Footnotes 16

Chapter Summary


The children of Israel coming to Rephidim, want water, and chide with Moses about it, who, crying to the Lord, is bid to smite the rock, from whence came water for them, and he named the place from their contention with him, Ex 17:1-7 at this place Amalek came and fought with Israel, who, through the prayer of Moses, signified by the holding up of his hands, and by the sword of Joshua, was vanquished, Ex 17:8-13, for the remembrance of which it was ordered to be recorded in a book, and an altar was built with this inscription on it, "Jehovahnissi": it being the will of God that Amalek should be fought with in every generation until utterly destroyed, Ex 17:14-16.

Exodus 17 Commentaries

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