Exodus 17:1 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.
Ver. 1. After their journeys,] i.e., After they had first been at Dophkah, and at Alush. [Numbers 33:12-14]
There was no water.] Bread they had from heaven, but wanted water. Our condition here is a condition of singular indigency: we are ever wanting somewhat or other.
Exodus 17:2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?
Ver. 2. The people did chide with Moses.] As they did before for bread. And as thirst is the more eager appetite, so they are more eager and earnest for water than they were for bread.
Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?] viz., Whether he be amongst you and be able by miracle to relieve you.
Exodus 17:3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore [is] this [that] thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
Ver. 3. Murmured against Moses.] Magistrates have many times a weary life with the mutinous multitude. Seneca observeth of Egypt, - it proved true of this people newly come out of Egypt, - that it was loquax et ingeniosa in contumeliam praefectorum provincia: in qua, qui vitaverit culpam, non effugit infamiam; That it was a province apt to prate against their governors, and to cast a slur upon them, though never so well deserving.
Exodus 17:4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.
Ver. 4. Ready to stone me.] Well might he ask with our Saviour, "For which of my good works do ye stone me?" [John 10:32] But the belly hath no ears.
Exodus 17:5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
Ver. 5. Take with thee of the elders.] As witnesses of this great work of God; which the people for their unbelief might not behold. God puts up with their rebellion, and satisfies their thirst: but yet intimates his just displeasure, by denying them this privilege of seeing the rock smitten.
Exodus 17:6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt 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.
Ver. 6. Upon the rock.] If God had not stood upon the rock, in vain had Moses struck it. Means must be used, but God only depended upon for success. It is he alone that sets the rock abroaeh.
Thou shalt smite the rock.] Herein a type of Christ "stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." [Isaiah 53:4 1 Corinthians 10:4]
And there shall come water out of it.] Not fire - that had not been so miraculous - but water. This "cleaving the" hard "rock," [Psalms 78:15] this "turning of the flint into a fountain," [Psalms 114:8] was a work of Onmipoteney, and is therefore much celebrated. [Deuteronomy 8:15 Psalms 105:41 Nehemiah 9:15] Dioseorides tells us of the stone Galactites, quod succum emittat lacteum, that it yields a kind of moisture like milk: which, if it "be true, is very strange.
That the people may drink.] And so be cooled and comforted in their weariness and wanderings. "Ho, every one that thirsteth," &c. [Isaiah 55:1]
Exodus 17:7 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?
Ver. 7. Is the Lord among us?] As if that could not be, and they athirst. But he is most present when he afflicts. "He knows our souls in adversity." [Psalms 31:7]
Exodus 17:8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Ver. 8. Then came Amalek.] Not having the fear of God before his eyes, [Deuteronomy 25:18] but carried on by the ancient enmity: for Amalek was Esau’s grandchild.
Exodus 17:9 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.
Ver. 9. I will stand on the top.] Where the people might see him with that ensign in his hand, and be encouraged. Xerxes used to pitch his tent on high, and stand looking on his army when in fight, for their encouragment.
Exodus 17:10 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.
Ver. 10. Aaron, and Hur.] This Hur, saith Josephus, was husband to Miriam, and Moses’s deputy. [Exodus 24:14]
Went up to the top of a hill.] To pray together. In the congregation where the saints are praying, there the arrow, shield, and spear are broken. [Psalms 76:3] From thence shalt thou help us, said the people to David; [2 Samuel 18:3] that is, thy prayers shall prevail with God for our assistance. Non tam praeliando quam precando. The king of Sweden, as soon as he set foot in Germany, fell down to prayer, and he proved very victorious.
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.
Ver. 11. When Moses held up his hand.] The push of Moses’s prayers did more than the pikes of all Israel besides. Moses orat et vincit, cessat et vincitur, saith one. Great is the power of prayers. Henricus Anceps, the Emperor of Germany, slew and put to flight a huge army of the Hungarians, his soldiers all crying out with a loud voice, Kyrie eleison; Kyrie eleison! - i.e., Lord, have mercy upon us; Lord, have mercy upon us! This was done before the city of Mersburg. (a)
Exodus 17:12 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.
Ver. 12. But Moses’s hands were heavy.] It is a praise proper to God, that "his hand is stretched out still": as for men, even the best, though "the spirit" in them be "willing, yet the flesh is weak," [Matthew 26:41] and will not suffer any long intention.
And Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands.] Neither did they only raise up their hands, but their minds with his. There are that here observe, that upon the fortieth day after their coming out of Egypt, Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up into the mount, where Moses’s hands are thus supported, while Amalek is discomfited; and that Moses the prophet, Hur the prince, and Aaron the priest, all put together, were a type of Christ; who on the fortieth day after his resurrection ascended into the mount of heaven; where, as our prophet, priest, and prince, he holds up the hands of his intercession for his Church militant, while she fights with spiritual Amalelk, sin, Satan, Antichrist, world, flesh, &c.
Exodus 17:13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Ver. 13. And Joshua discomfited.] How should he do otherwise when he fought with such weapons Prayers are the bombardae et instrumenta bellica Christianorum, saith Luther i the great guns and warlike weapons of the saints. The Romans in a great distress were driven to take the weapons out of the temples of their gods, and overcame.
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.
Ver. 14. In a book.] Or, In the book that thou art now in writing, viz., the Pentateuch, the most ancient book that is extant.
I will utterly put out, &c,] The portion of wicked men is to be "forgotten in the city where they had so done." [Ecclesiastes 8:10] Their memory dies with them: or, if it be preserved, it stinks in keeping, and remains as a curse and perpetual disgrace.
Exodus 17:15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
Ver. 15. And Moses built an altar.] As a lasting monument of God’s great mercy in that first victory. The Romans had a custom, that the conqueror in his triumphant chariot rode to the capitol, and offered a white ox to Jupiter. (a)
Exodus 17:16 For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn [that] the LORD [will have] war with Amalek from generation to generation.
Ver. 16. Because the Lord, &c.] Heb., The hand upon the throne of the Lord. God’s hand is laid upon his own throne, as swearing to root out Amalek. Or Amalek’s hand is lifted up against God’s throne - that is, the Church; called God’s throne of glory, [Jeremiah 3:17] and crown of glory; [Isaiah 62:3] therefore he will have perpetual war with him. Tua causa erit mea causa, said the Emperor Charles V to Julius Pflugius, who, being his agent, had received wrong by the Duke of Saxony. So saith God to all that belong to him.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Exodus 17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany