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Exodus - Chapter 17

Bible Study Notes

Exodus 17:1-3 A little group at a time, the children of Israel moved from the Wilderness of Sin to Rephidim. When no water was found, the children of Israel again grumbled to Moses. Moses reminded them they were testing the Lord. Again, they blamed Moses for bringing them out to the Wilderness to die along with their livestock.

Notes: The nation had come to Rephidim with divine guidance portrayed by the column of fire and cloud. The people, in the midst of their emotional response, simply could not see that right before their eyes was the evidence of God’s leading.

Notes: The people of Israel show a hardness of heart like Pharaoh and the Egyptians, which is precisely how Ps. 95:7–11 describes these events.

Today, if you hear his voice,

8     do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

   as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

9 when your fathers put me to the test

   and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

10 For forty years I loathed that generation

   and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,

   and they have not known my ways.”

11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,

   “They shall not enter my rest.”

Exodus 17:4-7 Moses cries out to God that the people were going to stone him to death. The Lord instructed Moses to take his staff along with some of the elders of the people. The Lord will stand before Moses at the rock of Horeb where Moses will strike the rock and the Lord will cause water to gush forth. They called the place Massah and Meribah.

Notes: Massah means testing and Meribah means quarreling. Moses’ petition was not an isolated incident. His life was characterized by and by turning to God for solutions to problems and crises. So should we turn to God in prayer.

Exodus 17:8-13 Amalek fought against Israel at Rephidim. Moses had Joshua (His later successor) to choose some good men and fight. Moses went to the top of the hill to overlook the battle and had Aaron and Hur hold up his arm that held his staff. As long as his arm was raised, the Israelites would gain the victory. Joshua won the battle. The purpose of raising the staff was to show the Israelites that the Lord was ultimately responsible for their victory as they looked on.

Notes: Amalek inhabited the northern Sinai peninsula. The Amalekites took their name from Amalek, the grandson of Esau.


Exodus 17:14-16 For the first time, it is recorded that the Lord instructed Moses to write down something.  As a memorial that is to be recited to Joshua, the Lord will blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Moses then built an altar and called it “The Lord is my Banner” indicating that the Lord will war against Amalek from generation to generation.

Notes: The Amalekites still posed a threat to Israel in the days of Saul and David. The final descendants of  the Amalekite King were destroyed in Persia (Haman) at the time of Esther and Mordecai. King Agag was the Amalekite king that King Saul was supposed to kill and lost his Kingdom over because of his disobedience. The ongoing problem with Amalek was not merely one nation hostile toward another, it was a war between God and Amalek.


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