Exodus 17 The Arm Wrestling Continues


Moses gets help when his arms get tired.

1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

Ever hear the old saying, “If you fail the test, you get to take it over?” Here we are in the next town; there is no water for the people. Sound familiar? Yet, did they say, “The Lord provided water last time, He will provide for us again.”? Nope.  They failed the test again.

Rephidim means “support and refreshment”.  Faith would have told them they would be refreshed there.

2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide you with me? wherefore do yoü tempt the LORD?

Chide means to grapple or wrestle. The people chide Moses again, “Give us water!”

3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

Again, “Have you brought us out of Egypt to kill us in the wilderness?”  The people were murmuring, speaking words of fear rather than words of faith.

“Is God with us or not?”

The Lord had provided water at Marah and Elim; why wouldn’t He continue to do so?

4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

“Lord, what should I do? They are ready to stone me!” I really feel for Moses here; after all he has done for these people, they are ready to sell him out at a moment’s notice. Didn’t the Lord just provide water at the last place they were?!

5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with you of the elders of Israel; and your rod, wherewith you smote the river, take in your hand, and go.

The Lord tells Moses to take the elders of Israel as witnesses, and take the rod—the same rod that he used to strike the river—and go ahead of the people.

6 Behold, I will stand before you there upon the rock in Horeb; and you shall smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

The Lord tells Moses to smite the rock in Horeb, and water shall come out of it so the people may drink. The Elders witnessed this. Going forward, the Elders should then help the people to believe God will provide, but we’ll see later what happens.

7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?

Massah means testing, temptation, trial.

Meribah means quarrel, provocation, strife. Yes, still wrestling.

The children of Israel still tempted the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord with us, or not?”

Matthew Henry wrote: You tempt the Lord, that is; “By distrusting his power, you try his patience, and so provoke his wrath.”

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

Amalek was a descendant of Esau. Remember him? He sold his birthright to Jacob (Israel) for a bowl of stew.

9 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.

Moses tells Joshua to choose men who will fight. Moses has a plan to stand on the hill with the rod of God in his hand. Moses shows his faith in God’s power. If God’s rod parted the sea and brought water from a rock, it can certainly defeat the Amalekites.

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.

When Moses held up his hand holding the rod of God, Israel was winning. When his arm got tired, and he put down his arm, Amalek prevailed. Imagine trying to hold up God’s rod all day; it would be tiring on the arm muscles.

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.

Aaron and Hur understood that Moses needed help holding the rod. They gave him a stone to sit on, and they held up his hands, one man on each side of Moses. They kept his hands steady for the rest of the day so that Israel would prevail.

According to Mr. Strong, the Hebrew word for stone here (H68) is eh’-ben, has to do with building, like a cornerstone.

13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Discomfited?!  There’s a ten cent word. Joshua and his army overthrew them, killing them with 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.

It’s important to write these things down, to repeat them to others, so that our faith is built by hearing and hearing the word of God.  

15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi:

A memorial altar was built, and called “The Lord my Banner.”

16 For he said, Because the LORD has sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

They will always win against the Amalekites. This reminds me of that Seinfeld scene, “I’ll always be a winner, and you’ll always be a loser.”



When I looked at the outline of the men, it looks like the Hebew Letter Shin:



Also check out this explanation including the Leonard Nimoy “live long and prosper” origins : Click 



Comments, questions, concerns, queries, quips?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s