Ex 17:8-16 – Israel Defeats Amalek

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Ex 17:8

  1. The Amalekites were a people of the Negev and the Sinai desert, descended from Amalek, grandson of Esau (Gen 36:12).
    1. Possibly the Amalekites are worried that the people of Israel are about to take over their territory and therefore attack as a preventive measure. Since Israel was descended from Jacob, Esau’s brother, the Amalekites should therefore have been well aware that God had promised Jacob that his descendants would receive the land of Canaan (Gen 28:13), and should therefore not have been concerned that Israel would also take the Negev and Sinai.
  2. For no real reason, the Amalekites attack the people of Israel. Israel had lived as slaves for 400 years in Egypt and had of course not been trained in war by the Egyptians. The Amalekites probably also know that the Israelites are battle-weary and thus should be an easy match.
    1. Moreover, the Amalekites used a particularly cowardly method of fighting when, instead of facing Israel face to face in an honorable battle, they attacked the rear guard from behind, i.e. those who had fallen last in the crowd and were weak, tired and exhausted (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) and thus included children, women, the old and the sick.

Ex 17:9

  1. When God had led Israel out of Egypt, He had fought for Israel against the Egyptians, but this time God would let Israel fight.
  2. There are times when it is right for us to be passive and let God take the fight to our enemies, but there are also times when God calls us to fight in different ways.

Ex 17:10

  1. This is the first time Joshua is mentioned in the Bible.
    1. Joshua’s name means “YHWH the Savior” or “God the Savior”.
      1. The Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua is “Jesus”. In many ways, Joshua is a model of the Messiah.
  2. Moses, his brother and his (possible) relative go up the mountain to get a view of the battle.

Ex 17:11

  1. Standing with uplifted hands was the common prayer form in biblical times (2 Chron 6:12-13, Ps 63:5, 1 Tim 2:8).
  2. Moses does not go up the mountain to avoid the battle, but to back up God’s people through prayer. As long as Moses held up his hands and prayed, Israel had the upper hand in the battle, but when he couldn’t, Amalek got the upper hand.
    1. In the same way, you and I can support someone who serves God in public by praying in the background. The task of the pray-er is at least as important as that of the evangelist.
  3. The welfare of God’s people at this time depended on the prayers of Moses. Today, too, we should remember that the success and health of the Church depends on the prayers of God’s people.
  4. When Moses was young, he wanted to free Israel by fighting himself (Exodus 2:11-15). Now that he is led by God, he has understood that it is more important and significant to pray to God and let God lead the battle.
  5. Moses is a model of Jesus on the cross as he defeats the enemy by stretching out his hands and suffering for God’s people.

Ex 17:12

  1. The prayer task Moses had was not as easy as one might think. The task was heavy and Moses could not do it alone. Aaron and Hur cannot take over Moses’ task, but they can support Moses so that he completes the task.
    1. When we see someone who is struggling against the wind and is having difficulty completing his or her God-given task, we should first try to support the person so that he or she can complete the task.
    2. Although we are to bear one another’s burdens, at the same time we have some burdens that only we can bear (Gal 6:2-5).

Ex 17:13

  1. Joshua defeated Amalek because Moses prayed for Israel in the background. If it had not been for Moses’ prayer, Israel would have been defeated, not entered the land of Canaan, and history would have been very different. The importance of prayer in this case is hard to overestimate.
    1. God’s people are easily defeated if they are not ready to pray at the same time. A church’s prayer meetings may often be seen as boring and something to be skipped, but without them and the church’s faithful home ministers, the church will soon lose the battle against the devil and slowly but surely be relegated to a position of insignificance.
  2. But even though the battle was won by prayer, Joshua still had to fight.
    1. A congregation cannot just engage in prayer and introverted fellowship, but must go out among the people, evangelize and help people with diaconal needs.

Ex 17:14

  1. Not only is God angry with the Amalekites, He is VERY angry! God is so angry that he tells Moses to write this down in the book so that Israel really won’t forget what the Amalekites did.
    1. God is angry with the Amalekites because they were the first nation to go to war against Israel, and they did it in such a cowardly way.
    2. The Amalekites continued to be a nuisance to Israel until King David defeated them (1 Sam 30) and the Simeonites finally killed the last of the Amalekites (1 Chron 4:42-43).
  2. The Amalekites have become the archetype of the enemies of God’s people as they try to prevent God’s people from entering the Promised Land by unprovoked attacks on the weakest.
    1. The Amalekites can also be seen as representatives of the “flesh” who are constantly at war with the “spirit” and who must be fought until they are finally defeated (Gal 5:17).

Ex 17:15

  1. Even though Moses understood that Israel won the battle because of his prayers, he still gave the glory to God.
    1. When we have the opportunity to serve God successfully, it is important that we always remember that the success was not due to our own brilliance, but to God.
      1. It was Moses who struck the rock, but it was God who made the water flow. It was Joshua who fought the Amalekites and Moses who prayed, but it was God who gave the victory.
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