Exodus 17:8-16



Note: When good things happen to us, we often take it for granted and immediately forget it.  We sometimes think we only learn from bad things.  God intends good things to teach us.

Compare 17:13 to Num. 13:29.  They defeated the Amalekites once by the power of God, but didn’t believe they could defeat them the second time by the same power.


Verse 8, Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

I.   Who are the Amalekites?

A.     A tribe that dwelt in Arabia Petraea, between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea.

1.       They were not the descendants of Amalek, the son of Eliphaz, for they existed in the days of Abraham.  Genesis 14:7.

2.       They were probably a tribe that migrated from the shores of the Persian Gulf and settled in Arabia. “They dwelt in the land of the south from Havilah until thou comest to Shur”.  Numbers 13:29, I Samuel 15:7.  They were a pastoral, and hence a nomadic race. Their kings bore the hereditary name of Agag, Numbers 24:7, I Samuel 15:8. They attempted to stop the Israelites when they marched through their territory.  Deuteronomy 25:18 attacking them at Rephidim, Exodus 17:8-13 compare to Deuteronomy 25:17, and I Samuel 15:2.  They afterwards attacked the Israelites at Hormah.  Numbers 14:45.  We read of them subsequently as in league with the Moabites, Judges 3:13 and the Midianites, Judges 6:3.  Saul finally desolated their territory and destroyed their power I Samuel 14:48, 15:3, and David recovered booty from them.  I Samuel 30:18-20 In the Babylonian inscriptions they are called Sute, in those of Egypt Sittiu, and the Amarna tablets include them under the general name of Khabbati, or “plunderers.”  [1]

II.   The battle started.

A.     By the Amalekites - the descendants of Esau.  (Some people are always against the people of God and others are against everybody.)

1.       Deuteronomy 25:17,18 – When Israel came out of Egypt, Amalek attacked the rear of the camp, smiting those folks that were least able to defend themselves.

a.       There is no record of this happening, only this record that it did happen.

b.       Even though there is no record of what happened in the Bible, God saw and God will requite the crime.

c.       If there are bad things happening to you that nobody else sees or understands, do not worry or complain about it.  God sees and God will intervene when the time is right.

2.       In a church, people wanting to start trouble (division) will very seldom bring their complaint to the proper person.

a.       Instead, they will start putting doubt in anybody that will listen, (those “weak ones”), then they will gather a following, like Absalom.

b.       When they think they have enough following, they will cause a division.

c.       The problem they present usually isn’t enough to think twice about.

d.       The way to handle offenses is recorded in Matthew 18:15-20.

e.       Any method that varies from this scripture is wrong.

3.       This attack is the first recorded attack of any nation against Israel.  Note the results in the notes on verse 14 (IV, C.) the total destruction of the Amalekites.

4.       I wonder - Did Satan provoke Amalek to renew the battle (between Esau and Jacob) when he saw how close Israel was to realizing the promises of God.  We know that Satan redoubles his attack on us when we start trying to follow God.

B.     To confirm Moses (again) as the spiritual leader of Israel.

1.       Exodus 17:4 – Israel had chided, murmured against, and thought of stoning Moses.

2.       God now forces them to look upon his spiritual leadership as invaluable.

3.       Moses never forced himself upon the people, but continually admonished them to look to God, who is the real spiritual leader.


Verse 9-12, And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. {10} So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. {11} And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. {12} But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

III.   The battle plan.

A.     Ecclesiastes 3:8 – There is a time to fight and a time to make peace.

1.       It was not a time for Israel to make war against Amalek when they first attacked them.

2.       Israel was tired and weary from coming out of Egypt, and was unprepared to fight.

3.       Now, Israel is more prepared to fight, but they did not fight until Amalek came against them.

B.     Everybody has his own job.  (This is also true in the Lord’s local churches.)

1.       Joshua leads the assault, Moses prays, the people fight.

2.       All are necessary to the well being of the others.

a.       No good to fight if there is no praying.

b.       No need to pray if we don’t put feet on our prayers.

3.       If somebody doesn’t do what you think they ought to do, don’t gripe, they are necessary.

C.     Joshua will lead the battle - obeying Moses (Verse 10).

1.       God is training Joshua for battles in Canaan before he or anybody else knows he is God’s chosen leader after Moses.

2.       God prepares us today for tomorrow’s battles.  This should cause us to have great confidence (faith) in our God.

3.       Prepare to fight with Amalek.

a.       Always before, God fought the battles of Israel for them.

1)      The plagues of Egypt.

2)      At the Red Sea.

b.       Now God expects Israel to put forth an effort.

c.       We shouldn’t expect God to always do things the same way, or to do it for us.

d.       We need to be flexible enough to obey Him regardless of what He asks us to do.

e.       A church needs to remain flexible, but also remain scriptural.

D.     Moses will call upon God in the sight of the people.

1.       Moses takes the rod of God in his hand.

a.       Ex. 3:2 - God has changed Moses’ rod into his rod.

b.       Not to trust the raised rod, but to trust the God of the rod.

2.       Aaron and Hur go with Moses.

a.       It’s always good to have folks help us in prayer.

b.       Don’t ever think we don’t need other people, or that we can do without them.

E.      The victory is in the praying.

1.       Verse 11 - The battle must be fought, but the victory is in the prayer closet.

2.       Proverbs 21:31 – “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.” 

3.       Victorious singing, preaching, and church work is because of victorious praying.

F.      Verse 12 - Praying is hard work.

1.       Does Joshua get tired of fighting?

a.       We know Moses gets tired in praying.

b.       It’s more work to hold up holy hands to God (praying) than it is to fight in a battle.

c.       Maybe that’s why so many chose to fight and why so many won’t pray.

2.       Church members need to pray like they expect their pastor to.  Then they’ll know how hard a job it is.

3.       Verse 11 - If you feel like your life or church is failing, you need to pray.

4.       Moses sat on a stone - a type of Christ who is our every present help in time of need.

5.       Men helped.

a.       We need God’s help, but men are present with us.

b.       Men were necessary to hold up Moses’ hands, so they could have God’s help.

c.       God has placed us together in a church that we might help one another find the strength only God can give.

d.       Matt. 10:42 - The men and women that help the men of God will always be remembered by God and justly rewarded.


Verse 13-16, And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. {14} And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. {15} And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: {16} For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

IV.   The defeat of Amalek.

A.     Joshua given credit, because of his work by the power of God.

1.       Joshua is a type of Christ and Amalek is a type of Satan.

2.       Joshua leads Israel to victory in the promised land, and the Amalekites (like Satan) are finally totally destroyed.  (See comments on part IV, C.)

B.     Israel were not trained fighters.

1.       They had been in submission to Egypt all their lives.

2.       They were not trained to fight.

3.       Amalek was trained in the ways of war.

4.       By all human standards, Amalek should have won, but God gave the victory.

5.       Many times God can use untrained people more than trained.

a.       The trained will tend to depend on their training, education. etc.;.

b.       The untrained must trust God.


V.   Results of the victory.

A.     Write in a book.

1.       Numbers 21:14 - Israel had a “Book of Wars” that this 1st battle was probably written in.

2.       This is the first time the Bible mentions to write anything.

3.       It’s good to remember the victories God has given us in the past.

B.     Rehearse before Joshua.

1.       For his approval of accuracy.

2.       As an additional blessing to him and his generations to come.

C.     Destroying Amalek.

1.       Why would God destroy the Amalekites?

a.       Verse 8 - They fought with God’s people.

b.       Nobody fights God’s people and escapes God’s punishment.

2.       The process of destruction.  (It should be noted that some people always fight against the people of God, and then some people just fight against everybody!)

a.       Exodus 17:13 - Joshua discomfited (to waste away or weaken) Amalek.

b.       I Samuel 15 - Saul told to completely destroy Amalek, but refused.  Thus removed from being king.

c.       I Samuel 30:17 - David destroyed all but 400 young Amalekites, who escaped on camels.

d.       I Chronicles 4:39-43 - The sons of Simeon killed the rest of the Amalekites during the reign of Hezekiah. 

1)      The story starts in verse 24 when the genealogy of Simeon is given.

2)      Verse 42-43 records that 500 sons of Simeon destroyed the rest of the Amalekites.

3.       God will do what He said.

a.       He may not do it in our lifetime.

b.       He may not do it “our” way.

c.       He will be faithful to what He said.

D.     Verse 15,16 - Jehovah-Nissi - “the Lord is our banner”.  The symbolic name of the altar in the desert.

1.       Building the altar reveals a trust that God will do as He said.

2.       A holding forth the promises of God as the cause of the final complete victory.

3.       Probably indicates the offering of a sacrifice.

[1] Copied from Easton’s Revised Bible Dictionary – On-Line Bible.  Article Amalekites.