|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:8-16 Israel engaged with Amalek in their own necessary defence. God makes his people able, and calls them to various services for the good of his church. Joshua fights, Moses prays, both minister to Israel. The rod was held up, as the banner to encourage the soldiers. Also to God, by way of appeal to him. Moses was tired. The strongest arm will fail with being long held out; it is God only whose hand is stretched out still. We do not find that Joshua's hands were heavy in fighting, but Moses' hands were heavy in praying; the more spiritual any service is, the more apt we are to fail and flag in it. To convince Israel that the hand of Moses, whom they had been chiding, did more for their safety than their own hands, his rod than their sword, the success rises and falls as Moses lifts up or lets down his hands. The church's cause is more or less successful, as her friends are more or less strong in faith, and fervent in prayer. Moses, the man of God, is glad of help. We should not be shy, either of asking help from others, or of giving help to others. The hands of Moses being thus stayed, were steady till the going down of the sun. It was great encouragement to the people to see Joshua before them in the field of battle, and Moses above them on the hill. Christ is both to us; our Joshua, the Captain of our salvation, who fights our battles, and our Moses, who ever lives, making intercession above, that our faith fail not. Weapons formed against God's Israel cannot prosper long, and shall be broken at last. Moses must write what had been done, what Amalek had done against Israel; write their bitter hatred; write their cruel attempts; let them never be forgotten, nor what God had done for Israel in saving them from Amalek. Write what should be done; that in process of time Amalek should be totally ruined and rooted out. Amalek's destruction was typical of the destruction of all the enemies of Christ and his kingdom.
Verse 16. - Because the Lord hath sworn. Rather, as in the margin, "Because the hand of Amalek was against the throne of the Lord" - "because," i.e., "in attacking Israel, Amalek had as it were lifted up his hand against God on his throne," therefore should there be war against Amalek from generation to generation.
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For he said, because the Lord hath sworn,.... So some Jewish writers (b) take it for an oath, as we do; or "because the hand is on the throne of the Lord" (c); which the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, and Aben Ezra, interpret of the hand of the Lord being lifted up, of his swearing by the throne of his glory; but, as Drusius observes, it is not credible that God should swear by that which is prohibited by Christ, Matthew 5:24 rather the words are to be rendered, "because the hand", that is, the hand of Amalek, "is against the throne of the Lord" (d); against his people, among whom his throne was, and over whom he ruled, so against himself, and the glory of his majesty; because he was the first that made war upon Israel, when the Lord brought them out of Egypt, and unprovoked fell upon their rear, and smote the hindmost, faint and weary among them: therefore
the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation; until they are utterly destroyed; and so in fact he had, and thus it was. The Targum of Jonathan is,"he by his word will make war against those that are of the house of Amalek, and destroy them to three generations, from the generation of this world, from the generation of the Messiah, and from the generation of the world to come;''and Baal Hatturim on the place observes, that this phrase, "from generation to generation", by gematry, signifies the days of the Messiah. Amalek may be considered as a type of antichrist, whose hand is against the throne of God, his tabernacle, and his saints; who, with all the antichristian states which make war with the Lamb, will be overcome and destroyed by him.
(b) R. Sol. Urbin. fol. 95. 1.((c) "quia manus super thronum Domini", Pagninus, Montanus; "sublata manu super solium Dei (juro)", Tigurine version. (d) "Quia manus (Hamaleki) fuit contra solium Jah", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth.
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