The battle with Amalek (Ex 17:8-17:16)

“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.   Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some men for us, and go out, fight with Amalek.  Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’  So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed.  Whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands grew weary.  So they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it.  Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and other on the other side.  So his hands were steady until the sun set.  Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword.”

The Amalekites were a desert tribe that controlled some of the wilderness.  Amalek was the grandson of Esau, according to Genesis, chapter 36, the son of Esau’s son Eliphaz with his concubine, Timna, thus one of the bad folks. Whether it was him or not, clearly the allusion to a grandson of Esau as opposed to great-grandson of Jacob is clearly indicated.   Moses called Joshua to lead a select team of warriors to fight Amalek.  This is the first mention of Joshua.  Moses stands on the top of a hill with the staff of God in his hand.  Aaron and Hur went with Moses to the top of the hill.  This mysterious Hur was somehow related to Miriam or died in some battle according to some rabbinical sources.  However, Exodus has only one other mention of him and that is on a mountain with Aaron in chapter 24.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.  Moses got tired so he sat on a stone while Aaron and Hur helped him hold up his hands.  Finally Joshua defeated Amalek.

“Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Write this as a reminder in a book and recite it in the hearing of Joshua.  I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’ Moses built an altar and called it, Yahweh is my banner.  He said, ‘A hand upon the banner of Yahweh.  Yahweh will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’”

To commemorate
this event, Yahweh told Moses to write it in a book as a reminder of Joshua’s battle.  This is the first mention of a book to be written by Moses.  Yahweh wanted to blot out the memory of Amalek.  They really did not like this guy.  Moses built an altar here called Yahweh is my banner.  There probably will be more wars with these guys.

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