The Amalekites came and attacked Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick out men for yourself, and tomorrow morning march out to engage Amalek. I, meanwhile, will stand on the hilltop, the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him and marched out to engage Amalek, while Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek. But Moses’ arms grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him and on this he sat, Aaron and Hur supporting his arms, one on one side, one on the other; and his arms remained firm till sunset. With the edge of the sword Joshua cut down Amalek and his people.
The reading we hear as the first reading today, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, finds its place in the Bible as part of the unfolding story of God’s faithful care of his holy people. It accounts for those times when the human spirit might suggest it is best to give in.
The story of war and slaughter is a part of the history of salvation, but it is maybe best seen as a metaphor for the gradual revelation of God’s self, and of what it means to be chosen, faithful. Christians do not find their assurance in a land and a people defined against other peoples. We are called to live light to those world, cherishing it, caring it, giving thanks for it, but not clutching it as ‘ours’; and we are to be a people for other people.
- From our selfishness and self-interest, Lord, save us.
- Your will be done…
Moses. Door panel of Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Mostar, Bosnia Herzogovina.
(c) 2014, Allen Morris