Battle of Refidim
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Battle of Refidim
Battle of Rephidim
John Everett Millais, Victory O Lord! (1871)
DateTime of Moses
Result Israelite victory
Israelite Army Amalekites
Commanders and leaders
Estimated at 6,000 Estimated at 5,000-7,000

The Battle of Refidim (or Rephidim), as described in the Bible, was a battle between the Israelites and Amalek, which occurred in Rephidim while the Israelite people were moving towards the Promised Land. The description of this battle can be found in the Book of Exodus.

Battle according to the Bible

According to Exodus 17:8-13, following the Jews' escape from Egypt they camped in Rephidim.

The battle began with the Amalekites' unprovoked attack against the Jews (Exodus 17:8). Afterwards, Yahweh announced the extermination of the Amalekites and called on Israel to defeat them, stating that Israel would experience peace with their enemies (Exodus 17:14, Deuteronomy 25:19). This was the first of several conflicts over several hundred years between the Amalekites and Jews.[1]

Moses urged the faithful to fight and placed his people under the leadership of Joshua. The words, "that will hold up the rod of God," could be an expression of his beliefs about impending victory in the coming battle, since they fought under the banner of God.

Moses watched from above. When he held his hands up, Israel gained the military advantage. Whenever he put his hands down, according to the Biblical account, they began to lose. The Bible describes how when Moses became tired, his closest relatives, Hur and Aaron, held up his hands for support (Exodus 17:12). The battle lasted until the evening, ending in victory for the Israelites.

The Book of Exodus mentions the curse-punishment thrown at enemies of the chosen people, the Israelites. The Amalekites were to be erased from history. Curses with similar overtones are also recorded in the Book of Jeremiah (Jer 2:3). After the success of the Israeli military, it erected an altar - Yahweh-Nissi (Heb. ) - denoting "The Lord is my banner." The name refers to the sticks held by Moses.


According to some researchers,[who?] Rephidim was the only oasis in the region. It was situated in the mountains where nomads brought cattle to drink. When the Israelites traveled into Canaan, they discovered the Amalekites, who inhabited the northern Sinai Peninsula and the Negev.

According to William Petri, Amalekites tried to prevent the Israelites from reaching the oasis. Petri's conclusions are based on his research on climate, which, since the days of Moses, remained almost unchanged. Therefore, he concluded that the number of nomads living there for millennia remained at a similar level, around five to seven thousand people. Taking into account the biblical description of the battle, and the description that its final outcome was not decided until the evening, the number of combatants on both sides are assumed to have been close. It is understood that the Israelites had around six hundred thousand families. The clash resulted in the intruders accessing the oasis.

Nineteenth-century Bible scholar and commentator Alexander ?opuchin, interpreted Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 25:17-18) to mean that the Amalekites first laid siege, robbing exhausted travelers who lagged behind the oasis, and then attacked an entire tribe of Israelites.

John Van Seters argues that, according to traditional interpretation, a show of hands by Moses was regarded as a sign of prayer; this is significant because the text does not directly mention prayer. Van Seters believed that Moses' gesture, like Joshua's - elevating the javelin (Joshua 8:18-26) - should be understood as the practice of magic, and secondarily as religious. Hans-Christoph Schmitt disputes this view, pointing out that such restrictions would be unlikely. In his opinion, parallels should be sought in 1 Samuel 7:2-13, where Israel is victorious thanks to the constant prayer of Samuel.


  • Fritz V., The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries B.C.E.. Atlanta 2011. ISBN 978-1-58983-262-6.
  • The Oxford Bible Commentary, oprac. J. Barton, J. Muddiman, New York 2001. ISBN 978-0-19-875500-5.
  • Barton, John; Muddiman, John (25 January 2007). The Oxford Bible Commentary. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-927718-6.


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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