Exodus 17:16


King James Version (KJV)

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

American King James Version (AKJV)

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

American Standard Version (ASV)

And he said, Jehovah hath sworn: Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

Basic English Translation (BBE)

For he said, The Lord has taken his oath that there will be war with Amalek from generation to generation.

Webster's Revision

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

World English Bible

He said, "Yah has sworn: 'Yahweh will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'"

English Revised Version (ERV)

and he said, The LORD hath sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

Clarke's Exodus 17:16 Bible Commentary

The Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek, etc. - This is no translation of the words כי יד על כס יה מלחמה ki yad al kes yah milckamah, which have been variously rendered by different translators and critics; the most rational version of which is the following: Because the hand of Amalek is against the throne of God, therefore will I have war with Amalek from generation to generation. This gives a tolerably consistent sense, yet still there is considerable obscurity in the passage. Houbigant, a most judicious though bold critic, supposes that, as יהוה נסי Jehovah-nissi, Jehovah my ensign, was spoken of immediately before, כס kes, a throne, in this verse, is an error of some transcriber for נס nes, an ensign, which might be readily occasioned by the great similarity between the כ caph and the נ nun. He thinks farther that the two letters יה yah, which are supposed to be here a contraction of the word יהוה Yehovah, are separated, the י yod from the נס nes, which should be written נשי nissi, and the ה he, from מלחמה milchamah, which should be written המלחמה hammilchamah, and then the whole verse will run thus: For the hand shall be upon the ensigns of war unto the Lord, against Amalek for ever, i.e., God makes now a declaration of war against the Amalekites, which shall continue till their final destruction. The conjecture of Mr. Julius Bate, in his Literal Translation of the Pentateuch, deserves attention. He supposes that, as כס cos signifies a cup, and a cup is emblematically used for wrath, on one of the stones of the altar, mentioned in the preceding verse, a hand holding a cup was sculptured, this being a memorial, according to the custom of hieroglyphical writing, that the Lord would continue the cup of wrath, portending continual war, against Amalek for ever. I prefer Houbigant's exposition.

1. This first victory of Israel must have inspired them with a considerable measure of confidence in God, and in his servant Moses. Though God alone could give them the victory, yet it was necessary to show them that it was by the influence of Moses they got it. Moses could not deliver Amalek into their hands; yet if Moses did not continue to hold up his hands, i.e., to pray, Amalek must prevail. God, therefore, wrought this work in such a way as to instruct the people, promote his own glory, and secure the true honor of his servant. The Divine Being always performs the greatest number possible of ends, by the fewest and simplest means. In every work of God there is as much of wisdom and economy, as there is of sovereign uncontrolled power.

2. It is not probable that the people whom Joshua chose out to lead against Amalek were unarmed; and we have already seen that it is not at all likely that they came armed out of Egypt. And as the whole circumstances of this case show that those who fought against the Amalekites were properly equipped for the fight, we may then safely presume that they got their arms from the Egyptians, whose bodies were thrown on the shore after having been overwhelmed in the Red Sea. Thus, what was a judgment in the one case, was a most gracious providence in the other. Judgment on God's foes is mercy to his friends.

3. Of the efficacy of prayer we have already had the most striking examples. He who has the spirit of prayer, has the highest interest in the court of heaven; and the only way to retain it, is to keep it in constant employment. Apostasy begins in the closet: no man ever backslid from the life and power of Christianity who continued constant and fervent, especially in private prayer. He who prays without ceasing is likely to rejoice evermore.

Barnes's Exodus 17:16 Bible Commentary

Because the Lord hath sworn - This rendering is incorrect. Our translators regard the expression as a solemn asseveration by the throne of God. However, to this the objections are insuperable; it has no parallel in Scriptural usage: God swears by Himself, not by His Throne. As the Hebrew text now stands the meaning is more satisfactorily given in the margin.

An alteration, slight in form, but considerable in meaning, has been proposed with much confidence, namely, נס nês, "standard" for כסא kı̂ssê', "throne"; thus connecting the name of the altar with the sentence. Conjectural emendations are not to be adopted without necessity, and the obvious a priori probability of such a reading makes it improbable that one so far more difficult should have been substituted for it. One of the surest canons of criticism militates against its reception. As it stands, the text was undoubtedly that which was alone known to the Targumists, the Samaritan, the Syriac, the Latin and the Arabic translators. The Septuagint appears to have had a different reading: ἐν χειρὶ κρυφαίᾳ πολεμεῖ en cheiri kruphē polemeō.

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