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Bible Commentaries

Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Exodus 17

Verses 1-16

CHAPTER 17 At Rephidim

1. The water from the rock (Exodus 17:1-2.17.7 )

2. The conflict with Amalek (Exodus 17:8-2.17.16 )

From Sin they went to Dophkah and Alush before they came to Rephidim (Numbers 33:12-4.33.13 ). Again there was no water and Moses feared they might stone him. Without following the historical record we point out some of the most interesting lessons of the two events at Rephidim. The Rock is a type of Christ. Jehovah stood upon the rock to be smitten, even as “God was in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19 ). The smiting by the rod, used in judgment upon the river of Egypt , is the type of the death of Christ. There could be no water till the rock was smitten. There could be no water till Christ had died. The water from the cleft rock is the type of the Holy Spirit, who was given as the result of the finished work of Christ. Exodus 16:0 and 17 go together and John 6:0 and 7 go together likewise. In Exodus 16:0 we find the manna and in John 6:0 the bread of life. In Exodus 17:0 the water out of the rock, the type of the Holy Spirit; in John 7:0 the Lord Jesus announces the coming gift of the Holy Spirit. “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this He spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-43.7.39 ). “They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4 ).

The first conflict followed. There was no conflict at the Red Sea , but immediately after the water had been given in such wonderful abundance, Amalek appeared. Amalek is the type of the flesh. The conflict illustrates Galatians 5:17 . “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary, the one to the other, so that ye should not do the things ye would.” The flesh and its lusts, which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11 ), are represented by Amalek. And Amalek attacked Israel , and Israel , Amalek. The attack was made when Israel in unbelief had asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Even so, when God’s people do not reckon in faith with the presence and the power of the Lord the flesh rises up; but if we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Joshua is here mentioned for the first time. He was twenty-seven years younger than Moses, that is fifty-three years. He is the type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation. Moses, on top of the hill, represents Christ risen from the dead and at God’s right hand, to appear in the presence of God for us as our advocate. Aaron and Hur at Moses’ side typify His priesthood of loving sympathy and His righteousness. (“Hur” means “white,” the color used for righteousness.) But the hands of Christ never hang down. He ever liveth and intercedes for US.

Amalek is not destroyed and the flesh is not. Amalek’s end comes when Christ comes (see Numbers 24:17-4.24.20 ). The conflict with Amalek, the flesh, continues as long as we are in the body.

In Exodus 17:14 we have the first command to Moses to write. Not so long ago critics claimed that writing at Moses’ time was unknown. The tablets of Lachish and Tel-el-Amarna have silenced this foolish assertion. The memorial altar, “Jehovah Nissi,” the Lord is my banner, tells us of victory. “The assurance of victory should be as complete as the sense of forgiveness, seeing both alike are founded upon the great fact that Jesus died and rose again. It is in the power of this that the believer enjoys a purged conscience and subdues indwelling sin. The death of Christ having answered all the claims of God in reference to our sins, His resurrection becomes the spring of power in all the details of conflict afterwards. He died for us, and now He lives in us. The former gives us peace, the latter gives us power.”

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Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Exodus 17". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/exodus-17.html. 1913-1922.