Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Exodus 17

Verses 1-7

The Water from the Rock - Exodus 17:1-7 records the story of God providing the children of Israel water from the rock. During Israel's encampment at Rephidim, which means "support," Moses struck the rock and water poured forth to refresh the children of Israel. The striking of the rock represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and it symbolized the fact that God used men to crucify Jesus on the Cross ( 1 Corinthians 10:4). God, through Prayer of Manasseh, brought about this act. God struck Jesus once for all that we might have living water. In Numbers 20:8 God told Moses to speak to the rock. When Moses struck the rock the second time out of anger ( Numbers 20:11), it was a type of crucifying the Son of God a second time ( Hebrews 6:6).

The water represents the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues that is available for every believer who desires more of God's presence in his/her life. It also represents the daily infilling of the Holy Spirit that every child of God can experience by praying in tongues and worshipping the Lord ( Ephesians 5:18-19). God sends His children the gift of speaking in tongues to support and strengthen the believer.

1 Corinthians 10:4, "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."

Numbers 20:11, "And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."

Hebrews 6:6, "If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

Now man can speak to Jesus, call upon his name, so that we may have living water (eternal life).

Illustration- Over the Christmas and New Year's holidays of 1986, work was slow. Therefore, I spent extra time praying. One morning the Lord as I awoke, the Lord said to me, "You will never walk in victory in your life unless you spend two hours a day praying in tongues." During this time, I had become concerned and was asking Him why my life lacked so much victory, peace and joy. So the Saturday after New Year's day, while praying in tongues at the church altar, I was led to turn to Ephesians 6:10-18. Immediately the Lord showed me that I'd never have the total, abiding victory as a Christina unless I spend time daily, constantly praying in the spirit. I began doing this two hours a day then. And a heaviness lifted and peace and joy came from within, all day long.

Exodus 17:1Word Study on "Sin" - Gesenius says the name "Sin" ( סִין) (H 5512) means, "clay." PTW says it means, "bush."

Exodus 17:1Word Study on "Rephidim" - Gesenius says the word "Rephidim" ( רְפִידִים) (H 7508) means, "props, supports." Strong says it means, "ballusters." PTW says it means, "beds." John Durham says it possibly means, "places of spreading out." 76]

76] John I. Durham, Exodus, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 3, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), translation of Exodus 17:1.

Exodus 17:6"Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb" - Word Study on "Horeb" - Gesenius says the word "Horeb" ( חֹרֵב) (H 2722) means, "dry, desert." Strong says it means, "desolate." PTW says it means, "desert."

Exodus 17:6Comments- The rod of Moses was not only used to bring ten plagues upon Egypt and part the Red Sea, but it was used by God through Moses to strike the Rock.

Exodus 17:6Comments- Note that the same rock that was used to write the Ten Commandments was also used to produce the Living Water ( 1 Corinthians 10:4).

1 Corinthians 10:4, "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."

Exodus 17:7Word Study on "Massah" - PTW says the name, "Massah" means "temptation." See Deuteronomy 6:16, "Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah."

Exodus 17:7Word Study on "Meribah" - Gesenius says the name "Meribah" ( מְרִיבָה) (H 4809) means, "strife, contention." Strong and PTW says it means, "quarrel."

Exodus 17:7 — "and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not" - Comments- God had brought the ten plagues upon the land of Egypt while protecting the Israelites in the land of Goshen. He had brought them out with riches and gold. When the faced the Red Sea, the Lord has parted it and destroyed their enemies with the same waters. He had made the bitter waters sweet at Marah. In the wilderness of Sin God has given them quail and manna to eat. Now they ask if God is with them. This is evidence of a hardened heart towards God.

Verses 8-16

The Battle with the Amalekites - Exodus 17:8-16 records the story of Israel's first battle, which took place at their encampment of Rephidim with the Amalekites. The Lord allowed the children of Israel to be refreshed with a continual source of fresh water from the rock that Moses struck ( Exodus 17:1-7) prior to their attack. The water of Marah was symbolic of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. The water from the rock struck by Moses is symbolic of the continual filling of the Holy Spirit through a lifestyle of praying in the Spirit ( Ephesians 5:18).

Ephesians 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;"

The Amalekites could symbolize the flesh or the demonic realm that comes against the children of God on their spiritual journey. The lifting up of the rod of God in the hands of Moses could represent a believer's declaration of the name of Jesus in taking dominion over the powers of darkness. As Moses held up the rod of God, which symbolizes the authority of the name of Jesus, the enemy was defeated. God's children must learn to use the name of Jesus when Satan attacks the body of Christ. Had Israel remained in Egyptian bondage, the Amalekites would not have attacked them. Neither would Satan attack God's children if they would return back into the world. The Lord once spoke to a friend of mine, saying, "A king does not fight against a city he has already conquered."

Illustration - The Lord gave me a three-part dream, which opened my eyes and taught me how to exercise the authority of the name of Jesus in every area of my life. I had learned how to pray and make my requests to the Lord known using Jesus" name. Now, I was going to learn to use His name to take authority over Satan. The first part of the dream was a vision of a pastor friend of mine sitting in his house peacefully reading his Bible in a chair. I still remember how peaceful and tranquil the scene appeared. Then, the Lord spoke these words to me, "There is peace in a home when there is dominion in that home." Finally, the Lord brought the words " Luke 11:21" to my mind. I had no idea how that verse read nor if it applied to the dream. I woke up and read this passage, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace." I knew immediately that this dream was from God. Through the next few months, I began to study the Bible and learn how to use the name of Jesus to set my household at peace. (4July 1988)

Exodus 17:8Word Study on "Amalek" - PTW says the name, "Amalek" ( עֲמָלֵק) (H 6002) means "warlike, dweller in the vale." John Durham says it possibly means, "trouble-maker." 77]

77] John I. Durham, Exodus, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 3, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), translation of Exodus 17:8.

Genesis 36:12, "And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau"s son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau"s wife."

Comments- The Amalekites are first mentioned in Genesis as a tribe dwelling in the land of Canaan ( Genesis 14:7). In addition, the name Amalek refers to the son of Eliphaz, the son of Esau ( Genesis 36:12). Since Balaam called Amalek the "first of the nations" ( Numbers 24:20), it is likely that the Amalekites is a reference to the more ancient tribe. However, scholars are divided as to their exact identity.

Genesis 14:7, "And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar."

Numbers 24:20, "And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever."

Moses later reminds the next generation of Israelites of this unprovoked attack by the Amalekites recorded in Exodus 17:8-16 and promises the children of Israel that God will utterly wipe them out ( Deuteronomy 25:17-19).

Deuteronomy 25:17-19, "Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it."

Exodus 17:9 — "to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand" - Comments - The rod of God that Moses used to implement the Ten Plagues and part the Red Sea represents divine authority and symbolizes the fact that God gives the name of Jesus to the New Testament Church, which they use to take authority over the enemy. When Jesus sent forth the Twelve and the seventy to preach the Gospel and to heal the sick and cast out demons, He gave them His name. When the disciples spoke His name, they exercised all of the authority in His name ( Luke 10:17).

Luke 10:17, "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."

Exodus 17:11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

Exodus 17:11Comments- The lifting up of Moses" hands signified that he was putting his faith in God through worship and prayer, and God is with him ( James 5:16). In contrast, when we do not pray, we are putting our trust in ourselves and God is not with us. This was signified by Moses lowering his hands. Moses" praise stilled the enemy ( Psalm 8:2). Joshua will follow this style of leadership during battle by holding up his sword in Israel's battle with Ai ( Joshua 8:26).

James 5:16, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Psalm 8:2, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."

Joshua 8:26, "For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai."

In the epistle of Barnabas, an early Christian document that Clement of Alexandria ascribes to the apostle Barnabas, who would have written it in the first century (A.D 70 to 100), the author states that the lifting of Moses' hands signified that the children of Israel could not be saved unless they put their trust in Him. The author also states that Moses held his hands out as a symbol of the Cross of Christ Jesus.

"Yet again He speaks of this in Moses, when Israel was attacked by strangers. And that He might remind them, when assailed, that it was on account of their sins they were delivered to death, the Spirit speaks to the heart of Moses, that he should make a figure of the cross, and of Him about to suffer thereon; for unless they put their trust in Him, they shall be overcome for ever. Moses therefore placed one weapon above another in the midst of the hill, and standing upon it, so as to be higher than all the people, he stretched forth his hands, and thus again Israel acquired the mastery. But when again he let down his hands, they were again destroyed. For what reason? That they might know that they could not be saved unless they put their trust in Him." (Epistle of Barnabas, 12) 78]

78] Epistle of Barnabas, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 1, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, c 1885, 1913), 144-5.

Exodus 17:13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Exodus 17:14 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.

Exodus 17:14Scripture References - Note:

Deuteronomy 25:17, "Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it."

1 Samuel 15:1-3, "Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." This was a time of unrest for Israel. Note 1 Samuel 14:52, "And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong Prayer of Manasseh, or any valiant Prayer of Manasseh, he took him unto him."

The Amalekites were not entirely destroyed until the days of Hezekiah.

1 Chronicles 4:43, "And they smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day."

Exodus 17:15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:

Exodus 17:15Word Study on "Jehovah nissi" - Strong says the Hebrew word "nissi" ( נִסִּי) (H 5251) means, "a flag, a sail." It refers to something lifted up, such as a banner, a flag, or a sign by which one is warned. This same word used in Numbers 21:8-9 and is translated "a pole." It is used in Psalm 60:4 as the word "banner."

Numbers 21:8-9, "And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any Prayer of Manasseh, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."

Psalm 60:4, "Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah."

Exodus 17:16 For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

Exodus 17:16Comments- As long as we journey in this life, we also will have to fight the enemy.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Exodus 17". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/exodus-17.html. 2013.