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Exodus Chapter 17
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Water from the Rock
17:1 The entire Israelite community moved on from the Sin desert, traveling according to God's instructions until they camped in Rephidim. There was no water for the people to drink.
17:2 The people began to quarrel with Moses. 'Give us water to drink!' they exclaimed.

'Why are you quarreling with me?' asked Moses. 'Are you trying to test God?'

17:3 The people began to suffer thirst because [of the lack] of water, and they began demonstrating against Moses. 'Why did you bring us out of Egypt?' demanded [the leader]. 'Do you want to make me, my children and my livestock die of thirst?'
17:4 Moses cried out to God. 'What shall I do for this people?' he said. 'Before long they will stone me!'
17:5 God said to Moses, 'March in front of the people along with the elders of Israel. Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
17:6 I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.' Moses did this in the presence of the elders of Israel.
17:7 [Moses] named the place Testing-and-Argument because the people had argued and had tested God. They had asked, 'Is God with us or not?'

Amalek
17:8 Amalek arrived and attacked Israel there in Rephidim.
17:9 Moses said to Joshua, 'Choose men for us, and prepare for battle against Amalek. Tomorrow, I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.'
17:10 Joshua did as Moses had told him, engaging Amalek in battle. Moses, Aaron and Chur went up to the top of the hill.
17:11 As long as Moses held his hands up, Israel would be winning, but as soon as he let his hands down, the battle would go in Amalek's favor.
17:12 When Moses' hands became weary, they took a stone and placed it under him, so that he would be able to sit on it. Aaron and Chur then held his hands, one on each side, and his hands remained steady until sunset.
17:13 Joshua was thus able to break the ranks of Amalek and his allies with the sword.

Divine Vengeance
17:14 God said to Moses, 'Write this as a reminder in the Book and repeat it carefully to Joshua. I will totally obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.'
17:15 Moses built an altar, and he named it God-is-my-Banner.
17:16 He said, 'The Hand is on God's Throne. God shall be at war with Amalek for all generations.'



Commentary:

traveling...
  Some say that this alludes to the stops in Dophkah and Alush, mentioned in Numbers 33:12,13 (Ibn Ezra; cf. Ramban).

Rephidim
  This is usually thought to be Wadi Refayad, some 10 miles west of Mount Sinai (Jebal Musa) (cf. Ramban on Exodus 17:5). It is a day's journey from Sinai, and 2 days from Elim (Masa'oth Rabbi Binyamin 24). Others say that it is the upper part of the oasis of Feiran, the broad long oasis that is the most fertile part of Sinai, or alternatively, the narrow defile, el-Watiya, 27 miles beyond Feiran.

March in front...
  (Rashi; Sforno). Or, 'go ahead of the people' (Ramban; see Genesis 18:5, 32:17, 33:3).

Horeb
  See Exodus 3:1. Apparently, Horeb was in the Horeb section. This was apparently a large boulder sitting in the desert, that was known in later times (cf. Josephus 3:1:7).

Testing-and-Argument
  Massa U'Merivah in Hebrew. See Deuteronomy 6:16, 9:22, 33:8, Psalms 95:8.

Amalek
  A tribe descended from Esau, see Genesis 36:12. Amalek came from around Gobolitis and Petra, to the north of Sinai (Josephus 3:2:1). See Numbers 24:20.

Joshua
  Joshua was a grandson of Elishama son of Amihud, the prince of the tribe of Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:27; Numbers 1:10). Since the Ephraimites were direct descendants of Joseph, they were never enslaved (Sifethey Cohen on Exodus 14:3). The Ephraimites retained a strong militaristic tradition (1 Chronicles 7:21; Targum Yonathan on Exodus 3:17; Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 48), and Joshua's father Nun or Non was an important general (Yalkut Shimoni on Chronicles 1177). Joshua was Moses' assistant even in Egypt (cf. Sh'moth Rabbah 19:5), and it was at that time that Moses changed his name from Hoshea to Joshua (Numbers 13:16, Rashbam ad loc.; Ramban here).

Chur
  Or Hur. He was an important leader with Aaron (Exodus 24:14) of the tribe of Judah (Exodus 31:2). His genealogy was Judah, Peretz, Chetzron, Caleb, Chur (1 Chronicles 2:18,19; cf. Genesis 46:12). According to tradition, the Ephrath in 1 Chronicles 2:19 who was Caleb's wife was Miriam, and therefore, Chur was Miriam's son (Rashi; Sh'moth Rabbah 40:4; Targum on 1 Chronicles 2:19). Others say that Chur was Miriam's husband (Josephus 3:2:4). Talmudic tradition states that Chur was killed when he tried to prevent the worship of the Golden Calf (Sanhedrin 7a; Targum Yonathan, Rashi, on Exodus 32:5).

break the ranks
  (Targum Yonathan; Ibn Janach). Or, literally, 'weaken.'

allies
  Amalek had allied with other nations to attack the Israelites (Mekhilta; Josephus 3:2:1).

Book
  The Torah. See Exodus 24:4,7, 34:27.

carefully
  Literally, 'in his ears.' See note on Genesis 20:8.

I will totally obliterate...
  See Deuteronomy 25:19.

God-is-my-Banner
  (Rashbam). (Adonoy Nissi in Hebrew. Or, 'God is my Miracle' (Targum; Rashi); or 'God has raised me up' (Saadia Gaon).

The Hand is on God's Throne
  This denotes a divine oath (Targum; Mekhilta; Rashi). Or, 'When the divine throne [of Israel] is established, then God shall be at war...' (Mekhilta; Rashbam; Ramban). Or, 'With a secret hand, God wages war....' (Septuagint).





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