God’s staff and Moses’ hand(s): The battle against the Amalekites as a turning point in the role of the divine warrior
Talbot School of Theology
The account of the battle against the Amalekites in Exodus 17.8-16 contains several contested portions, including the interpretation of the raising of Moses’ hands, the significance of the staff of God, and the number of hands Moses holds up. This article will argue that the ambiguity surrounding the presence/absence of the staff and the number of upraised hands functions to portray the episode as a transition in the narrative (a high-level Janus parallelism) in relation to the role of the divine warrior in Israelite combat. The presence of the staff of God in the one hand raised by Moses recalls the great works of God in the exodus and emphasizes divine initiative in battle, while the raising of two hands signifies prayer (as supported by parallels in the Zakkur stela and Egyptian reliefs) and looks forward to Israel fighting at its own initiative in future battles.
Amalekites; Janus parallelism; Moses
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
DOI of Published Version
Trimm, Charlie, "God’s staff and Moses’ hand(s): The battle against the Amalekites as a turning point in the role of the divine warrior" (2019). Faculty Articles & Research. 461.