The Staff of G-d, the Sword of Joshua

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’s hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

—Exodus 17:8-13

It makes sense that Moses should stand upon a hill, above the battle, with upheld arms. The symbolism seems clear. Moses raising his arms, yielding to the will of G-d, his own strength wanes. Aaron and Hur support Moses, allowing him to continue to hold high the staff of G-d. The staff symbolizes authority. It is upon G-d’s authority that Moses sends Josua and the people of G-d into battle. Somewhere I read that the names Aaron and Hur meant Praise and Word. This, too, makes sense. For holding up the arms of Moses, supporting the waning strength is:

Praise of G-d
Word of G-d

But let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that all it takes to gain victory over an enemy is to stand upon the authority of G-d, holding up the Word of G-d as our justification, lifting our hands, our arms in praise. For there, below Moses, boots hit the ground, weapons found their mark. The people of G-d fought for liberty from their enemy, an enemy that would enslave them.

PTL4And some 3,000 years later—two-hundred and forty years ago—farmers on what is now American soil stood together against another form of enslavement: British imperial tyranny. They stood together for Liberty. They stood together for Justice. And so it began in Lexington, not far from Boston, that well-trained British soldiers were ordered to move against the colonial people, against farmers and craftsmen. They were ordered to subdue men and women, untrained in the art of war. But the colonist stood bravely against the “red coats.’ Ordered to give up their arms, they refused. Shots were fired. Shooting continued into their backs as they ran. Men died, including their commander. This was the battle, really a massacre, of Lexington. But. . .

. . .came Concord. On April 19th, 1775, things would be different. It began a mile out of Concord, at Meriam’s Corner, as the red coats crossed a bridge, still exuberant from their victory and sacking of Lexington. They marched toward Boston. They met more untrained farmers and craftsmen. But this time, the red coats faced a different tactic, one we call guerrilla warfare.

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Even now, the significance of Lexington and Concord awakens a response in Americans that goes far beyond the details of the day or the identity of the foe. An unmilitary people, at first overrun by trained might, had eventually risen in their wrath and won a hard but splendid triumph.” —Author Willard Wallace


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