20141030FBCTH & 20141102FBCPM
In our study of Exodus, we’ve seen the Israelites face the Egyptians, hunger, and thirst. They faced the Egyptians by having the faith that the Lord would fight for them and then doing what he said, namely, walking through the parted Red Sea
Hunger was faced by trusting the Lord to bring manna each day and then going out each morning and gathering it.
Thirst was faced on two occasions by trusting the Lord, but Moses also threw a stick into the water at Marah and struck a rock at Rephidim.
In each case, faith was accompanied by human involvement and action. We’ll find the same balance of faith and works (of Divine and human involvement) in the next account given to us in Exodus.
Exodus 17:8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Amalek (or Amalekites) were nomadic people descended from Esau (they were not the same Amalekites found in Genesis 14:7, who were wiped out):
12 And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau’s son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau’s wife. (Genesis 36:12)
These Amalekites would be trouble to Israel all the way through the time of king David. Being nomads, they wandered over a large territory from southern Canaan to deep into the Sinai Peninsula. They were raiders, dashing in, killing and capturing, and then leaving. We see an example of their work in 1 Samuel 30:1-2 (roughly 400 years later)—
1 …the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag [a Philistine city given to David], and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; 2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. (1 Samuel 30:1–2)
They probably never had more than a few thousand men (if that) in their raiding parties, moving and striking quickly, then leaving. This seems to have been their strategy against the Israelites in the wilderness. We aren’t told much in Exodus, but in Deuteronomy we learn what they did:
17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; 18 How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. (Deuteronomy 25:17–18)
According to Moses, it’s the lowest form of warfare to attack civilians, but they probably did so because they were far fewer in numbers than the Israelites. However, they would have had camels and weapons, so it was easiest to strike from the rear and pick off the Israelites piecemeal.
Moses knew that he had to do something, and at 80 years old, his fighting days were over. That was okay, however, because he knew that, to defeat the enemy, it would require both fighting and praying.