Thursday, October 19, 2006

Exodus 17

Exodus 17: Water from a rock; the Amelekites defeated

Synopsis

The Israelites are still wandering around the desert. In fact, you should get used to that, because they will be for the remainder of the book of Exodus.

They are travelling out of the Desert of Sin—I honestly don’t know why it’s named the “Desert of Sin”—and eventually get to a placed called Rephidim, where there is no water. So the people trust in the LORD, knowing that He will provide for them, as He has been all along. Giving them manna from heaven and all of that.

Ha! No, just kidding, of course. They start quarreling with Moses, and demand that he give them water to drink. Moses’ response seems, to me, to be quite understated: “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?” (verse 2) I can almost hear the weariness in Moses’ voice, as he says this.

Moses then cries out to God—“What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.” (verse 4)—and God instructs him to bring the elders with him, and go and strike a particular rock with his staff, which will then produce water. He does, and it does. Moses then gives the place two names: “Massah”, which means “testing”, and “Meribah”, which means “quarreling”, because the people had tested and quarreled with the LORD.

While the Israelites are still camped at Rephidim—now named Massah or Meribah—they are attached by the Amelekites. So Moses sends Joshua to command the Israelites in battle against the Amelekites. As Joshua and the Israelites are fighting the Amelekites, Moses, Aaron, and Hur go up to the top of a hill, overlooking the battle, and Moses holds up his hands; as long as his hands are held up, the Israelies win the battle, but whenever his hands drop, the Amelekites start to win. Eventually, Moses’ hands get tired, and so Aaron and Hur find a stone for him to sit on, and stand on either side holding his hands up for him.

When the battle is over, and the Israelites have defeated the Amelekites, God tells Moses to write down what has happened, “as something to be remembered” (verse 14). (Something to be remembered? You’re telling me. It’s a pretty strange story, to my ears!) God specifically tells Moses to make sure that Joshua hears about it, because He is going to “completely blot out the memory of Amelek from under heaven” (verse 14).

Thoughts

When I started this post, I was wondering if the Desert of Sin was so named because of the Israelites’ sin there, but according to a Wikipedia article, it may be named after a god named Sin. Of course, since this came from Wikipedia, you should take it with a grain of salt.

Remember Joshua’s name, because you’ll be seeing more of him. In fact—spoiler alert!—there will be an upcoming book named after him.
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