Home / Commentary / Exodus / Exodus Chapter 17
After the provision of food (manna and quail) had been established, the Israelites continued their trek toward Mt. Sinai, also called Horeb, moving to a place called Rephedim. Here, they found no water to drink. The people complained to Moses, who in turn cried out to the LORD for guidance. The LORD told him to go to a rock at Horeb and strike it with the same staff that he used to strike the Nile River in Egypt. The people got water, and the location received two names – Massah and Meribah.
Another important event happened while the Israelites were at Rephadim. The Amalekites attacked them (8 – 16). Moses ordered Joshua to take an army to repel the attack. He would stand on a hill overlooking the battle with the staff of God. When he raised the staff into the air, the Israelites prevailed, and if he lowered the staff, the Amalekites got the better of the Israelites. When Moses’ arms got tired, his assistants propped up his arms until sunset, allowing Joshua to win the battle. The LORD then instructed Moses to write the account of the battle as a memorial to the fact that He would eliminate the Amalekites from the earth. Moses in turn built an altar to the LORD and working of His will concerning the Amalekites.
The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of Genesis concerning the migration of the family of Jacob (the Israelites) to Egypt (Genesis 50). It describes the commissioning of Moses and Aaron as God’s representatives on earth to accomplish God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land (the land of Canaan). It also relates the miraculous deliverance from Egypt beginning with the plagues on Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. It then describes the journey to Mount Sinai and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant with the Israelites. The last part of the book involves the specifications and building of the tabernacle – the place where the Lord Himself dwelt amongst His people.
In the book of Exodus, the focus shifts to the deliverance of God’s people.
Exodus 17 has two distinct parts. In verses 1 – 7, contains another complaint from the people about the lack of water. In verses 8 – 16, there is a military confrontation with the Amalekites. Both events occurred at a place called Rephedim, which was probably not far from Mt. Sinai (Horeb).