Surely it goes without saying that the miracles of the plagues and the splitting of the sea were "above nature" (Being manifest through יהוה).

Question: was the victory which the Jews had over Amalek after the crossing of the sea, was this victory also "above nature"?

Or was it enclothed within nature, similar to the story of Purim.

All answers are welcome, please cite any sources - direct links are preferred.

3 Answers 3


Rashi explains that there was actually quite a big miracle that took place at this war;

עד בא השמש. שֶׁהָיוּ עֲמָלֵקִים מְחַשְּׁבִין אֶת הַשָּׁעוֹת בָּאִיצְטְרוּלוֹגִיאָה, בְּאֵיזוֹ שָׁעָה הֵם נוֹצְחִים, וְהֶעֱמִיד לָהֶם מֹשֶׁה חַמָּה וְעִרְבֵּב אֶת הַשָּׁעוֹת (תנחומא):

Additionaly, Rashi mentions that there was plenty of kishuf going around and they had to be able to counteract that;

בחר לנו אנשים. גִּבּוֹרִים וְיִרְאֵי חֵטְא שֶׁתְּהֵא זְכוּתָן מְסַיַּעְתָּן. דָּבָר אַחֵר – בְּחַר לָנוּ אֲנָשִׁים שֶׁיּוֹדְעִין לְבַטֵּל כְּשָׁפִים, לְפִי שֶׁבְּנֵי עֲמָלֵק מְכַשְּׁפִין הָיוּ:

However it is possible that these above natural occurences were not related to actual literal fighting of the war, rather they were the background that was used to help the fighters win against their kishuf. So the actual victory looked natural but it required some behind the scenes miracles.


The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (29a) elaborates the posuk in which it says that when Moshe's hands were lifted up, they prevailed, when they were down, they "failed":

Did the hands of Moses make war when he raised them or break war when he lowered them? Rather, the verse comes to tell you that as long as the Jewish people turned their eyes upward and subjected their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they prevailed, but if not, they fell.

The Rashbam on the posuk in Shemos (17:11) explains that it had a physological effect:

וגבר ישראל, it is a psychological axiom that when the warriors see their flag being held aloft they are inspired with additional courage. When they cannot see their flag being held aloft they interpret this negatively and are liable to flee from the battlefield.

See the commentary of the Tur HaAroch (ad loc.):

Rabbi Joseph Kimchi explains that the words וכאשר יניח ידו do not describe something that Moses actually did, but these words describe that Moses knew that he could not afford to allow his hands to rest, else Amalek would prove victor, and that in order to forestall such an eventuality, he took Aaron and Chur with him from the start to help him support his hands. Some commentators understand Moses’ raising his hands as referring to the hands with which he was holding his staff as a sign of encouragement to the people. Moses’ staff meant for the people what the flag means to gentile troops. Generally, the purpose of the flag is to serve as a point around which the troops position themselves, to prevent being scattered by opposing forces. The description of Moses being placed in an elevated position even while seated, is to signify that Moses performed the function that a flag normally performs in a battle. This explains why Moses called the altar he built after the battle ה' ניסי. He did not want the people to think that their victory had been due to the visibility of Moses’ staff during the battle, but that it was exclusively due to the help of Hashem, without which the staff would not have proven effective at all. Israel’s “flag” is its faith in Hashem.

In this case, it would seem that it was not as "above natural" as the splitting of the reed see. It had to do with the fact that there was trust in G-d. As the Seder Ma'amadot writes:

“And so it was, when Moshe raised his hand, Israel prevailed…” (Exodus 17:11). And is it Moshe’s hands that make [success in] war or break [success in] war? Rather, [this comes to] tell you, [that] whenever Israel would look upward and subjugate their hearts to their Father in heaven, they would prevail; and if not, they would fall. Similar to this matter, you [can] say concerning the verse; “Make a [graven] snake and place it on a pole, and everyone bitten who sees it will live” (Numbers 21:8): And is it the snake that kills or [is it] the snake that [revives]? Rather, whenever Israel would look upward and subjugate their hearts to their Father in heaven, they would be healed; and if not, they would be harmed.

The Akeidas Yitzchok explains that G-d turned His face away when the people displayed lack of faith in Him. When they displayed faith, G-d would help them (42:1:7).

In my recent question about Moshe stretching out his hand during the makkos, the Sforno is quoted by @Shalom. The Sforno explains that there are different kinds of miracles in the Torah. One of the miracles is called an "open-miracle":

Something that could not be produced by nature without a special assist by G-d, although it could conceivably be become a natural phenomenon over a long period of time.

One of the examples the Sforno connects with this kind of miracle is G-d commanding Moses to raise his staff (Exodus 14:16). It would seem to me that this is the same kind of miracle that happened during the battle with Amalek. Moshe holding his staff upwards etc...

The Sforno then goes on to explain what the impact was when the people saw Moshe Rabbeinu performing these kind of miracles (through G-d, obviously):

Observing Moses in action in this fashion, they would get an inkling of the Power of the G-d Who had employed him as His emissary.

To be honest. My opinion is that the same principle(s) and explanation(s) apply to the story of the battle of Amalek. Moshe holding his staff upwards was an physical act, turning to prayer. But it also was an miracle, performed by G-d, through Moshe Rabbeinu.

See: Why didn't Moses fight Amalek himself? See: Be'er Yosef, mentioned here

  • Thank you Reb @shmuel . You provide such wonderful answeres! For this question i am looking for something along the lines of what Reb Levik is writing here: sefaria.org/…
    – The Targum
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 18:09
  • 1
    The Kedushas Levi says: It was therefore ‎appropriate that Joshua should conduct this battle as Moses had ‎been instrumental in performing supernatural miracles, whereas ‎Joshua would prove that G’d is able to deal with sinners without ‎having to resort to supernatural means. - is this not in line with what Tur HaAroch writes? That they won because exclusively due to the help of G-d?
    – Shmuel
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 18:14
  • thank you. Going on what the Kedushas Levi is saying (to my understanding) that similar to the miracle of purim the battle with amalek was also clothed within nature. which is why Yehoshua was the representative for that. Of course nothing happens without hashem helping, but more specifically, was hashems help kept within the realm of nature or was he helping above nature, like the sea splitting?
    – The Targum
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 18:23
  • Specifically the sentence from the Kedushas Levi: פני משה כפני חמה פני יהושע כפני לבנה לרמז על כל הנ"ל שהנס אשר היה עם עמלק היה בטבע
    – The Targum
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 18:26

After much digging around i came up with two sources that seem to say that indeed the war with Amalek (after the spliting of the sea) was a battle that was done "within nature"

Netziv Sefer Haamek Devarim (Netziv)

Here he writes: רצה משה רבינו להראות לישראל כח השגחת ה׳ עליהם גם בלי נס נגלה ע״כ סידר מלחמה זו בדרך הטבע

the Kedushas Levi writes (Kedushas Levi)

he writes: פני משה כפני חמה פני יהושע כפני לבנה לרמז על כל הנ"ל שהנס אשר היה עם עמלק היה בטבע.

If anyone finds additional sources pointing in this direction PLEASE SHARE THEM.

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