Bible Commentaries

Exodus 17

Verses 1-16

Another trial of their faith came to the people in the lack of water. In view of the fact that they had been provided with bread and flesh, it would seem as if they would have learned enough to be able to wait patiently for God. Yet it was not so. It is an arresting and important fact that a present darkness will make men forget the clear light of the past and imminent danger render us unconscious of previous deliverance. Here again the divine patience appears, for Jehovah uttered no word of reproach, but in spite of their impatient unbelief provided water out of the rock for them. Again, in impossible circumstances all things are seen to be possible where God is.

The forward march of the people brought down on them the army of Amalek. To the Israelites this was a new experience. In their first movement God led them in such a way as to avoid the possibility of war (Exodus 13:17). Now they were involved in war. A perfect victory was gained over Amalek and in this first battle the principles of their conflict were revealed. Joshua led men to an actual conflict, while Moses, assisted by Aaron and Hur, prayed. It was a combination of fighting and faith, the manifestation of loyalty to duty combined with dependence on God. Thus came to them a new revelation of God which Moses signified by raising an altar which he named Jehouah-Nissi meaning "Jehovah, our Banner."