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Water in the Rock

17 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel moved on from the Wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water so we may [have something to] drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you tempt the Lord and try His patience?” But the people were thirsty for water; and the people murmured against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at [a]Horeb; there you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may [have something to] drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.(A) He named the place [where this miracle occurred] Massah (test) and [b]Meribah (contention) because of the quarreling of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the [patience of the] Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”

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Footnotes

  1. Exodus 17:6 Horeb may refer to the mountain range of which Sinai is an individual mountain.
  2. Exodus 17:7 A similar incident occurred when the Israelites were in the Wilderness of Zin at Meribah-kadesh (Num 20:8-13; Deut 32:50-52). On that occasion Moses disobeyed God’s specific instruction and paid a terrible price for his action.

Death of Miriam

20 Then the Israelites, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month [in the fortieth year after leaving Egypt]. And the people lived in Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there.

Now there was no water for the congregation, and they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. The people contended with Moses, and said, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished [in the plague] before the Lord!(A) Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness to die here, we and our livestock? Why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or of figs or of vines or of pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle) and fell on their faces [before the Lord in prayer]. Then the glory and brilliance of the Lord appeared to them; and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

The Water of Meribah

“Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock [a]in front of them, so that it will pour out its water. In this way you shall bring water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their livestock drink [fresh water].”

So Moses took the rod from before the Lord, just as He had commanded him; 10 and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. Moses said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand [in anger] and with his rod he struck the rock twice [instead of speaking to the rock as the Lord had commanded]. And the water poured out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank [fresh water]. 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed (trusted) Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, you therefore [b]shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”(B) 13 These are the waters of Meribah (contention, strife), where the sons of Israel contended with the Lord, and He showed Himself holy among them.

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Footnotes

  1. Numbers 20:8 Lit before their eyes.
  2. Numbers 20:12 Moses apparently allowed his anger and frustration with the Israelites to blind him to the significance of what God had instructed. Although thoroughly exasperated by the Israelites, Moses was still held accountable for his behavior.

16 “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.(A)

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