(Exo 17:1 NASB) Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.
Exo 17:1: We do not know the specific locale of this incident. The reason being is that we probably have been looking in the wrong place for Mt. Sinai altogether, thus we cannot locate those things along that route mentioned in Scripture.
But what happens here is catastrophic as well as historic by nature. Here was have the incident of the people putting Elohim to the test at Massah-Meribah. This is going to be the third time the people grumble and complain against Moses.
(Exo 17:2 NASB) Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”
Exo 17:2: The word for quarrel in the Hebrew is riyb (reeb). According to Hebrew scholars, the word has judicial overtones. The people were professing to be an aggrieved party and were leveling charges against Moses and Elohim.
Notice that this is not a request. The people are demanding to be provided for in a very direct way.
(Exo 17:3 NASB) But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
Exo 17:3: The Hebrew term for grumbled here is luwn (loon). It has a tense referring to murmuring and tarrying all night long. This was not just a suggestion from the people that Elohim provide them with water. They were accusing Moses and Elohim of plotting to kill them when, in fact, they were being delivered.
(Exo 17:4 NASB) So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.”
Exo 17:4: The situation is serious. The people are on the verge of riot and total revolt.
(Exo 17:5 NASB) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
(Exo 17:6 NASB) “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you 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.
Exo 17:6: Horeb is thought to be another name for Sinai. Yahweh will stand on the rock at Horeb and Moses is to strike it. The amount of water needed for over two million people plus herds and livestock must have been tremendous.
(Exo 17:7 NASB) And he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us, or not?”
Exo 17:7: Here we are told the definition of “tempting (or testing) Yahweh.” To put Elohim to the test is to question His presence. The term “Massah” means “trial” or “testing.” “Meribah” means “strife” or “contention.”
To do this is strictly forbidden in Torah. The command to not tempt Elohim is often mentioned alongside with keeping His commandments (Deut. 6:16-17, Psalm 78:56).
(Exo 17:8 NASB) Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.
Exo 17:8: The Amalekites attacked Israel from the rear when they were weak from thirst and from traveling. They were attacking the weakest and most defenseless of the people of Israel (Deut 25:17-19). This occurred not long after after their escape from Egypt.
(Exo 17:9 NASB) So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us, and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”
(Exo 17:10 NASB) And Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
(Exo 17:11 NASB) So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.
Exo 17:11: The Amalekites were severe enemies of Israel. When Israel fought them, Moses stood holding his hands up to give Israel strength. Apparently Elohim strengthened Israel through the hands of Moses.
(Exo 17:12 NASB) But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.
Exo 17:12: Some commentators say that there was not a supernatural element here. They claim that Moses was merely pointing toward the heavens and when the people kept their minds of Elohim, they were victorious. When they didn’t they were losing.
I don’t care much for that explanation.
(Exo 17:13 NASB) So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
(Exo 17:14 NASB) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial, and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
Exo 17:14: The Amalekites are descendants of Esau or the Edomites. Their land was located in Northern Arabia from Egypt to the Euphrates. They are now Muslim and will eventually be blotted out.
(Exo 17:15 NASB) And Moses built an altar, and named it The LORD is My Banner;
(Exo 17:16 NASB) and he said, “The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.”
Exo 17:16: This prophecy has indeed come true. Who are the Amalekites today? While it is virtually impossible to be certain, it is apparent that they are part of the Arabs. Some Arab scholars such as Gwad Aly in his book “History of the Arabs Before Islam,” maintained that the Amalekites specifically, were the first of the Arab strata and that they settled in central and southern Palestine and Mount Sinai before the influx of Hebrews in Palestine.
This is a prophecy that still holds true today and will hold true until the return of Messiah.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas