Before digging in, Part I offers the context for this post.
“Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”” Ex. 17:8-9 (NASB)
Have you ever noticed that the battle with Amalek is the first time that the Torah introduces the reader to Joshua (Yehoshua)? This is not a coincidence, for he is a type of Messiah Yeshua.
We meet Yehoshua as a commander of men, a mighty warrior, and a servant of Moses. Once Amalek is defeated in Exodus 17, Adonai has Moses forever memorialize the victory. Carefully consider the literal wording of the text:
Ex. 17:14 (LITV) And Jehovah said to Moses, write this, a memorial in a book, and set it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly wipe away the remembrance of Amalek under the heavens.
Adonai promises to utterly blot out the memory of Amalek. This mandate and promise is placed in the EARS of Yehoshua. Ears figure hearing and obeying (Shema –Dt. 4:6), but also those willing to forever become a bond-slave (servant) of YHWH. (Ex. 21:5-6) In the natural, we know that Joshua didn’t complete this mission. But, there is another Yehoshua that will.
Moses tells Joshua to choose men to go and lacham (לָחַם- fight) Amalek. Does that Hebrew word look familiar? It is the verbal root of lechem (לֶחֶם– bread). Moses basically told Joshua to go “eat” or feed on Amalek, and he did!
In fact, the text says, “And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people by the mouth of the sword.” (Ex. 17:13 LITV) Joshua’s sword has a mouth that devours or “eats” the enemy. Does this remind you of someone else? Someone with not only a sword with a mouth, but that has a mouth like sword?
Is. 49:1-6 (TLV) 1 Listen, to Me, islands! Pay attention, peoples far away. Adonai called Me from the womb, from My mother’s belly He named Me. 2 He made My mouth like a sharp sword…“You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified…” 6 …So I will give You as a light for the nations, that You should be My salvation (Yeshua) to the end of the earth.”
Adonai’s servant, Yeshua, not only has a mouth like a sword, but a staff or rod like Moses to rule:
Rev. 19:15 (TLV) From His mouth comes a sharp sword—so that with it He may strike down the nations—and He shall rule them with an iron rod, and He treads the winepress of the furious wrath of Elohei-Tzva’ot.
He will strike down and devour the disobedient nations. This process, though terrifying, will also result in salvation and restoration. The Amalekites of the world must be blotted from memory. We will explore more examples of how Yeshua does this later.
Num. 13:16 (NASB) These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
At the end of the list of the twelve men chosen to search out the Land, Moses reveals that Yehoshua’s name is actually Hoshea, but Moses called him Yehoshua or YHWH saves.Why does Moses (and Adonai) feel it is necessary for the reader to understand this slight change in name at this point in the narrative? Perhaps, it is because it was in the “ears” of Yehoshua that YHWH proclaimed that He would utterly wipe out the memory of Amalek. It was imperative that Joshua not forget this, as he and the eleven others were about to have their faith tested. Amalek was in the Land.
Num. 13:29 (NASB) “Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.”
Though Caleb tried to encourage the people by saying, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it,” the majority lacked faith in the promise of Elohim.
Num. 13:32 (NASB) So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.
The word “devours” above is akal. It means to eat or devour. Have you ever felt like your enemy was going to swallow you whole? I have. In times of stress, worry, or battle weariness, my husband often reminds me, “The good news is that they can’t eat us.” How true that is, but sometimes it sure does seem as if “they” can do just that. Do you recall what Moses told Joshua to do to Amalek?
He told him to lacham or fight Amalek. Let Amalek become your lechem or bread. Joshua remembers this. In a last attempt to encourage the people, Joshua and Caleb tell them:
Num. 14:9 (NASB) “Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.”
The word for “prey” above is lechem, bread. What does one do with bread? They eat it, of course! It is a reversal of the fear instilled by the evil report of the ten other spies. Are you afraid that a great enemy is going to consume you? Remember the promises of Adonai. Trust in Him to be your Deliverer (Yehoshua), and the very thing you fear will become your sustenance, your bread. Your victory will become part of your testimony, words (bread) of life that will encourage and sustain others.
This is the key to dealing with the Amalek (Esau – flesh ruled nature) in other people. Who is it that promises to war with Amalek from generation to generation? YHWH! Our job is to keep trusting in Adonai, and reverse the evil reports of others. We must look beyond what our natural eyes see. We need spiritual vision and faith, like that of Caleb and Joshua.
The account with the spies is vital to our understanding. This error cost the children of Israel more than any of their other past mistakes. A whole generation lost the opportunity to enter the Land! This is huge. And why did this happen? The people chose to believe the discouraging words of men, rather than the promises of God. Consider the people’s response to the evil report of the spies:
Num. 14:1-4 (NASB) Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 “Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”
The people are panicked. But, fear of anything other than Adonai is always a dangerous place. It leads one to the kingdom of Valley Dwellers, where doubt, despair, and unbelief are chief, like Amalek. Once the Children of Israel sink into this low place, their garments reek of the field of Esau. They are prepared to sell their birthright, and even usurp Moses.
Consider what they “lift up” in these verses. It is not the staff of Moses or the serpent on the pole. Instead, they lift their voices in complaint, cries, and fear. Like Esau, they mention death and desire to return Egypt, the house of bondage. This infuriates Adonai so much that He’s ready to smite them all and start over with Moses. Moses and Aaron intercede for the people, and Moses appeals to Adonai’s loving-kindness. Though YHWH pardons the people, they will suffer a grave consequence. They will eat their own words and actually die in the wilderness.
Numbers 14 is a difficult read. It is the proverbial straw that broke the camels’ back as it was the tenth time the Children of Israel tested Adonai’s goodness. When they heard His judgment for their complete lack of faith and trust, they mourned greatly. (Just like Esau did.) The next morning, they set out to obey Adonai’s original edict, but He had already passed the promise to the next generation.
Num. 14:39-40 (NASB) When Moses spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people mourned greatly. 40 In the morning, however, they rose up early and went up to the ridge of the hill country, saying, “Here we are; we have indeed sinned, but we will go up to the place which the LORD has promised.”
Though the people had climbed out of the proverbial valley to the ridge of the hill, they were too late. Amalek must be blotted out. Moses warns them that the Amalekites and Canaanites will overcome them if they make a move without YHWH.
Num. 14:44-45 (NASB) But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses left the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah.
The people didn’t regard Moses’ warning. The text says, “they went up heedlessly” to the ridge of the hill country without the Ark of the Covenant or Moses. The Hebrew word is aphal (עפל). It means to swell or lift up. It is to be proud or to be presumptuous.Once again, the people have lifted up something other than Adonai. The only other occurrence of this word is in Habakkuk.
Hab. 2:4 (LITV) Behold, the soul of him is puffed up and is not upright; but the just shall live by his faith.
Sadly, a whole generation lost their position, and received a smack down from the descendants of Esau. Like the battle at Rephidim and the account of the fiery serpents, the people were judged by the thing that ruled their hearts – Esau – the red, hot flesh. This is precisely what was happening in Habakkuk’s day, except the instrument of judgment was Chaldea (Babylon).
The apostle Paul found the words in Habakkuk to be most informative as he quotes this verse three times in his epistles. The context of Habakkuk was not lost on Paul. Habakkuk first questioned God’s allowance of evil and violence among His people, and then shock at God’s choice of punishment – Babylon. YHWH assures Habakkuk that Babylon (Chaldea) will indeed receive a greater judgment in the end, much like Amalek. Even though Habakkuk doesn’t completely understand the wisdom of God, he chooses to trust him anyway. He lives by his faith by trusting in the goodness and salvation of God.
Rom. 1:16-17 (NASB) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Gal. 3:11 (NASB) Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Heb. 10:35-39 (NASB) Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. 38 BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
Don’t throw away your confidence in YHWH when Esau, Amalek, or Babylon attacks. They are sent for the destruction of one thing:
Rom. 1:18 (NASB) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…
Yeshua, much like Yehoshua, will swallow, eat up, devour, and consume the Amalek in you, me, and our neighbor. Consider His words to the third assembly (church) in the Book of Revelation, Pergamum. Pergamum comes from a word that means height or elevation, like a tower or stronghold. This is a fortified high place, something lifted up. Questions should be forming in your mind. Is this referring to Adonai, as He is a Strong Tower of Refuge? Is this referring to Yeshua, the one lifted up as an elevation offering on our behalf? Or, is this the elevated pride of man’s heart, the fuel of the enemy? The answer to all three is, yes!
Rev. 2:12-17 (TLV) 12 To the angel of Messiah’s community in Pergamum write: “Thus says the One who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 I know where you live—where satan’s throne is. Yet you continue to hold firm to My name, and you did not deny your faith in Me even in the days of Antipas, My faithful witness, who was killed among you, where satan resides. 14 “But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who was teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before Bnei-Yisrael, to eat food sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent then! If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach is saying to Messiah’s communities. To the one who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone—and written on the stone a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
Yeshua introduces Himself as the One with the sharp two-edged sword, which is the Word of God. Only it can cut between spirit and flesh, joints and marrow, to know the heart of man. (Heb. 4:12) If only we would submit and the let the Word reveal what is in our hearts. Then, we could look at that thing like the serpent on the pole and be healed! (From stinking thinking –flesh ruled thoughts from the Valley of Sheol.)
The assembly of Pergamum lived right where satan’s throne was. Beloved, so do you and I. The faithful manage to hold firm to His Name despite persecution. But, some cling to the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Ultimately, these enemies appeal to one’s fleshly desires, the Esau of old. They are often more subtle and cunning, things we justify in order to gratify our desires. Just ask King Saul in Part III.
H3898 לָחַםlâcham law-kham’ A primitive root; to feed on; figuratively to consume; by implication to battle (as destruction): – devour, eat, X ever, fight (-ing), overcome, prevail, (make) war (-ring). Total KJV occurrences: 177
הושׁע= Hoshea = salvation, deliverer
יְהוֹשֻׁעַ or יְהוֹשׁוּעַ= Yehoshua = YHWH saves or delivers
Both come from the root yasha:
H3467 ישׁעyâsha‛ BDB Definition: 1) to save, be saved, be delivered. 1a) (Niphal). 1a1) to be liberated, be saved, be delivered. 1a2) to be saved (in battle), be victorious. 1b) (Hiphil). 1b1) to save, deliver. 1b2) to save from moral troubles. 1b3) to give victory to. Part of Speech: verb. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root
Though the change in name is slight, the emphasis of who it is that does the delivering and saving is obvious. Joshua is simply a vessel. It is Adonai YHWH that is the true Deliverer and Savior. (Is. 43:11) But, the life of Yehoshua still teaches about Him, and that is the point. Even his surname is telling. Yehoshua is the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim. (Num. 13:8) Nun means fish or posterity. (Does Yeshua have any associations with “fish” in the Apostolic Scriptures – N.T.?) Nun comes from a root that means to re-sprout or propagate by shoots; which, gives the sense of something continual or perpetual. (H5126)
H6075 עָפַל‛āp̱al: A verb meaning to be proud, to presume. It describes carrying on an act of presumption, arrogance, against the best advice (Num 14:44). It refers to a person who has become too audacious, proud (Hab 2:4).