Romans 15:4 reads in the New International Version, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." Sometimes what is written of the past in the Bible is very concise and vague, but we can be sure that if God chose to have something recorded and put in His Book, it must be there for a reason.
We will consider a man in the Old Testament—Hur, the compatriot of Moses and Aaron—that the Scriptures say very little about, but who set us a great example by his faithful conduct, even when he was given little instruction on what he should do. Our Christian lives call on us to make moral choices every day, and sometimes the direction we should go is unclear. Remembering the example of Hur may help us understand what we need to do.
The Essential Study Bible sums up nicely what we can find about Hur: "Not much is known about Hur, but this leader from the tribe of Judah must have been important to be standing on the hilltop with Moses and Aaron." The book of I Chronicles records that he was a Jew, the son of Caleb, the son of Hezron and his second wife, Ephrath. Some Jewish commentaries, and even Josephus, say that Ephrath is Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, but the Bible fails to confirm this connection. To further complicate things, there is some confusion, depending on the translation, as to whether Hur was Miriam's husband or her son. Finally, Hur had a son named Uri and a grandson named Bezalel. That is all that the Bible records about him.
Despite the shortage of information about the life of Hur, we can still learn a great deal from his story, the bulk of which is found in Exodus 17:8-13:
Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
As long as Moses kept his arms raised—probably in prayer to God—the Israelites prevailed, but when he let them down to rest, the Amalekites began to win. Because of Moses' dedicated intercession, Joshua defeated the Amalekites in the battle. But Moses was not alone. With him were Aaron and Hur, one at his right hand and the other at his left.
We know a great deal about Moses, Joshua, and Aaron, but what about Hur? Alan Carr, a Baptist minister, shares his reflections about Hur on his website, TheSermonNotebook.org, saying Hur "steps out of nowhere, does a great work and then disappears into the same shadows from which he came."
Moses' leadership was vital. It was his communication with God that is the most important element in the outcome of the conflict. If he did not continue with his arms raised in prayer to God, the battle turned in favor of the Amalekites. But Moses did not accomplish this work alone; Aaron and Hur were invaluable in aiding him. Their help allowed Moses to maintain his intercession with God until Joshua was victorious. If they had not assisted Moses, the battle would have been lost.
We would have expected no less from Aaron, but what about Hur? Carr writes, "Hur wasn't a great leader like Moses. He wasn't a great General like Joshua. He wasn't a great High Priest like Aaron. He wasn't a warrior like those in the army. He was just Hur." When called on, Hur did the simple job that God gave him to do, a job that proved instrumental in saving Israel from defeat!
After Israel's victory, we would expect to see Joshua receiving fist bumps and congratulatory slaps on the back as he led his victorious army back to the camp. Imagine the gratitude people would have shown for their leader, Moses. Aaron would have stepped forward to lead the congregation of Israel in prayerful thanks to God.
But how many people showered Hur with shouts of praise and gratitude? The Bible gives no indication that any came his way. Perhaps he quietly made his way back to his tent and humbly thanked God for Israel's victory. Men may not have given him his deserved acclaim, but God surely must have been pleased, saying something like, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
We can look at his example and emulate it. In the church, there are few leaders of the caliber of Moses, Joshua, and Aaron, but we can all be like Hur! I Corinthians 12:14 says that the body of Christ is not one member, but many. Few are out front, but every single person is needed!
People like Hur are the ones who work behind the scenes to do their own parts in God's work. They may not yet receive the credit for what they do, but God will not forget their works, and He will reward their service. Hebrews 6:10 says, "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name."
We will study what little more is known about Hur in Part Two.
- John Reiss
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