Exodus 17

1 Therefore all the multitude of the sons of Israel went forth from the desert of Sin, by their dwellings, by the word of the Lord, and setted tents in Rephidim, where was no water to the people to drink. (And so all the Israelites went forth from the wilderness of Sin, in stages, by the word of the Lord, and pitched their tents in Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink.)
2 Which people chided against Moses, and said, Give water to us, that we drink. To whom Moses answered, What chide ye against me, and why tempt ye the Lord? (And the people complained to Moses, and said, Give us some water to drink. To whom Moses answered, Why do ye complain to me, and why do ye tempt the Lord?)
3 Therefore the people thirsted there for the scarceness of water, and they grouched against Moses, and said, Why madest thou us to go out of Egypt, (for) to slay us, and our free children, and our beasts, for thirst? (And so the people thirsted there for the scarceness of water, and they grumbled against Moses, and said, Why hast thou made us to go out of Egypt, in order to kill us, and our children, and our beasts, with thirst?)
4 Forsooth Moses cried to the Lord, and said, What shall I do to this people? yet a little, and it shall stone me (What shall I do with these people? very soon they shall all stone me!).
5 The Lord said to Moses, Go thou before the people, and take with thee of the elder men of Israel, and take in thine hand the rod, with the which thou hast smitten the flood, and go; (The Lord said to Moses, Go thou before the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with thee, and take in thy hand the staff with which thou struck the River, and go;)
6 lo! I shall stand there before thee, above the stone of Horeb, and thou shalt smite the stone, and water shall go out thereof, that the people drink. Moses did so before the elder men of Israel; (lo! I shall stand there before thee, by the rock at Mount Sinai, and thou shalt strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and then the people shall have something to drink. Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel;)
7 and he called the name of that place Temptation, for the chiding of the sons of Israel, and for they tempted the Lord, and said, Whether the Lord is in us, or nay? (and he called the name of that place Massah and Meribah, because of the complaining of the Israelites, and because they tempted the Lord and said, Is the Lord with us, or not?)
8 Forsooth Amalek came (And the Amalekites came), and fought against Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said to Joshua, Choose thou men, and go out, and fight tomorrow against the men of Amalek; lo! I shall stand in the top of the hill, and I shall have the rod of God in mine hand. (And Moses said to Joshua, Choose thou some men, and tomorrow go out, and fight against the Amalekites; lo! I shall stand on the hill-top, and I shall have God's staff in my hand.)
10 Joshua did as Moses spake, and he fought against Amalek. Forsooth Moses, and Aaron, and Hur went up on(to) the top of the hill;
11 and when Moses raised [up] his hands, Israel overcame; forsooth if he let them down a little, Amalek overcame.
12 Soothly Moses? hands were (made) heavy, therefore they took a stone, and put (it) under him, on which stone he sat. Forsooth Aaron and Hur sustained his hands, on ever either side; and (so) it was done, that his hands were not made weary, till to the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua drove away Amalek and his people, in the mouth of [the] sword, that is, by the sharpness of the sword, Joshua killed the strong men of Amalek.
14 Forsooth the Lord said to Moses, Write thou this in a book, for mind, and take (it) in(to) the ears of Joshua; for I shall do away the mind of Amalek from under heaven. (And the Lord said to Moses, Write thou about this in a book to remember it, and tell it to Joshua; for I shall do away all memory of the Amalekites from under heaven.)
15 And Moses builded an altar, and called the name thereof, The Lord is mine enhancer, (And Moses built an altar there, and called it Jehovahnissi,)
16 and he said, For (it is) the hand of the Lord alone, and the battle of God shall be against Amalek (and God shall fight against the Amalekites), from generation into 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.

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

Copyright © 2001 by Terence P. Noble. For personal use only.