Exodus 17:8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.

10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah nissi:

16 For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

MEMORY VERSE: But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —I Corinthians 15:57

CENTRAL THOUGHT: Both Moses, his hand holding up the rod of God, and Joshua, leading the children of Israel to battle, typify Jesus Christ, who is our ensign, or banner—our VICTORY—over all of our soul’s enemies, who are typified in this account by the Amalekites.


Exodus 17:8 “Amalek”: a descendant of Esau; also his posterity and their country. “Rephidim”: a place in the desert, near to where God had caused water to come out of the rock at Mount Horeb, one of the Sinaitic mountains where God had first spoken to Moses out of the burning bush and where the law was given.

Exodus 17:9 “Joshua”: the original name was “Hoshea,” which means salvation or savior, which Moses later changed to “Jehoshua” or Jehovah is Salvation (Numbers 13:16), and became, by contraction, “Joshua”; an Ephraimite, tenth in descent from Joseph; the son of a man named Nun. He was about 45 years old and was probably known to possess military capabilities. This is the first mention of Joshua in the scriptures. “Top of the hill”: “It is implied that there was a conspicuous hill (gibeah), not a rock (tsur), in the near vicinity of Rephidim, whence Moses could see the fight, and be seen by those engaged in it” (Pulpit Commentary). Because they were near to Horeb, the “Mount of God,” also known as Mount Sinai, others have supposed it to be the particular hill mentioned. “Rod of God”: the rod which God had used in the issuing of the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea

Exodus 17:10 “Hur”: some Jewish traditions hold that he was Miriam’s son; Josephus says he was Miriam’s husband. He was a descendant of Judah and was the grandfather of the wise and skillful craftsman, Bezaleel, who worked on the tabernacle (I Chronicles 2:20). Hur was also the one left in charge alongside Aaron later in the incident of the golden calf (Exodus 24:14).

Exodus 17:14 “Book”: document; writing; letter; book or scroll, in which something is written for future use. This is the second mention of writing something down as a memorial: the statute or proverb that he gave at Marah and now the memorial concerning Amalalek. It strongly indicates a scroll predating the Pentateuch, in which were written God’s dealings with His people from time to time.

Exodus 17:15 “Jehovah-nissi”: Jehovah is my banner. Nissi comes from the Hebrew root nes (pronounced nace), which means standard, ensign, signal, or sign. Nes is used in Numbers 21:8 as the word pole, on which the brazen serpent was erected for an emblem of salvation to the dying Israelites. Jesus later applied this symbol to Himself, as the one lifted up on the cross as our salvation (John 3:14). It is written “ensign” in Isaiah 11:10 as a direct prophecy of Jesus Christ. The only other place nissi is used is as “standard” in Isaiah 49:22, which also points directly to Jesus Christ. Nissi can also be translated as “miracle,” as “miracle” comes from the word for “sign.” Jehovah is my miracle!


Journeying from Marah, the children of Israel camped in a lush oasis called Elim; then came again into the wilderness where the third murmuring took place. Now they were dying of starvation. God sent quail for supper and the next morning manna—angels’ food; bread from heaven—appeared on the ground, a miraculous multivitamin power food that fell to the ground every day, excluding Sabbath days, for forty years, until they came to the borders of Canaan.

Coming to Rephidim, a desert wasteland, a fourth murmuring against Moses arose, again because of thirst. This time God told Moses to strike the rock at Horeb, and floods of water, enough for over a million people and their flocks and herds, gushed out of the rock. (The apostle Paul in I Corinthians 10:4 emphatically stated, “that Rock was Christ.”)

While they were faint and weary, most likely from their thirst at Rephidim, the Amalekites ambushed them from behind, attacking the feeblest—probably the sick, the very young and the very old—of the company (Deuteronomy 25:17-18). Thus Moses, in defense not only of the people of God but of the cause of God—the Amalekites “feared not God” (Deuteronomy 25:18)—initiated a fight against Amalek.

Who were the Amalekites? Genesis 14:7 relates that “all the country of the Amalekites,” along with other kingdoms, were attacked by Chedorlaomer and other confederate kings went on the warpath. This was obviously in Abraham’s time, so either these were descendants of an earlier Amalek, or the writer was describing a part of the country which was afterward occupied by the Amalekites who later descended from Esau’s grandson, Amalek (Genesis 36:12). They were thorns in the sides of God’s people for generations, beginning with the attack at Rephidim. They joined the Canaanites in attacking the rebel Israelites who attempted forced entry into Canaan after God pronounced judgment on their unbelief (Numbers 14:45); they sided with the Ammonites and Moabites during the period of the judges (Judges 3:13); and were confederates with the Midianites against Gideon (Judges 6:3, 33). Saul was commanded to destroy them utterly, but disobeyed God, sparing King Agag (I Samuel 15:8; II Samuel 1:8). David dealt with them severely after they raided his home in Ziklag (I Samuel 30:18), and in Hezekiah’s reign an Amalekite remnant was destroyed by the Simeonites (I Chronicles 4:43). God’s declaration of judgment upon them in Deuteronomy 25:19 and Balaam’s prophecy, “Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish forever” (Numbers 24:20), was fulfilled at last when Haman, thought to be a descendant of King Agag, went to the gallows (Esther 7:10), and many enemies of the Jews were destroyed.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. History: Briefly discuss the progress of the Israelites up to this point.
  2. Amalekites: Relate their ongoing conflicts with the Israelites.
  3. The Rod of God: Explain its significance.
  4. The Banner: Of whom is it a type?


What depths of meaning are in the details of this battle! Consider the analogy of the Amalekites and how they attacked Israel from behind. Isn’t this just like the enemy of our souls—and I’m not just referring to the adversary, the devil, but our own FLESH and its desires—to catch us weary and tired or weak and sick, and try to attack us, deceive us, and carry us away captive? There’s a temptation to give in to some weakness of the flesh, to pamper self, to pity self, to be distracted by the world, to be offended, to get lifted up—and the list goes on.

Various commentators have speculated about who modern-day Amalek may be: Hitler and the Nazis, Stalin and the Communists, Iran, or the Palestinians. I believe the Amalekites, descendants of Esau, who represents all things fleshly (remember how he gave up his birthright for food?), are definitely symbolic of what we might use several terms to describe: self, self-interest, personal ambition, ego, carnality, the flesh. “…Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11; see also 4:1-2; I Corinthians 9:27; Romans 8:1-18; II Corinthians 4:10-11; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:13-24).

How did the Israelites triumph? Was it their power or might? Was there some special power in the rod? Was it the presence of Moses, Aaron, or Hur? Was it because Moses held up his hands? The Israelites weren’t skilled in battle; Moses, Aaron and Hur were just human, and there was nothing about holding up hands except for what it pointed toward: Moses held the rod in both hands and pointed it toward heaven! To remind them WHOSE battle it was, WHOSE people they were, and WHOSE Word they were to obey. And deeper still is the meaning of the uplifted rod: the Savior lifted up upon the tree. Jehovah my banner! Jehovah my miracle! Jehovah my victory! So today it is only through the Savior, only through Christ and Him crucified, can we have victory over our flesh. We triumph through His cross. Only as we suffer with Him, as we are crucified with Him, can we reign with Him.

There is a lesson also in the support and aid given by Aaron and Hur to help Moses keep his rod lifted up toward heaven. As through earnest prayer and trust in Christ our Savior we prevail, sometimes our strength gives out and we need encouragement and support.

Brothers and sisters, let us help each other keep the banner held up high! Let us encourage each other to look alone to Jesus, follow Him, deny self for His sake, suffer with Him. Let us hold up the hands of earnest prayer, self-denial, supplication and intercession.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


Unity of the Spirit was illustrated so perfectly in this lesson. The fleshly weakness of Moses could have lead to the Israelites’ demise if it had not been for the assistance of Aaron and Hur. Ecclesiastes chapter 4, verses 10 and 12 state, “For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. . . And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

This reminds me of the Golden Gate Bridge located in San Francisco, California. It is a large suspension bridge with the strength to accommodate the daily traffic of 110,000 vehicles. At first glance, the support cables look like fragile ropes. But, upon closer examination, you will find that this large cable consists of many small wires: 27,572 of them! One single wire would not be sufficient to support the weight of the bridge.

Similarly, we as saints cannot afford to be independent; strength is in number. We truly do need each other. Our weaknesses can be bolstered by our brethren. Unity of the Spirit brings perfection to the saints of God, growth to the Church, and victory over the enemy.

—Sis. LaDawna Adams