Water from the rock (Ex 17:1-17:7)

“From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as Yahweh commanded.  They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  The people quarreled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’  Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you test Yahweh?’  But the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?  So Moses cried out to Yahweh, ‘What shall I do with this people?  They are almost ready to stone me.’  Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you.  Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.  I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb.  Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’  Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.   He called the place Massah and Meribah, because of the Israelites quarreled and tested Yahweh, ‘Is Yahweh among us or not?’”

They went to Rephidim, a little further southwest, but there was no water there.  Once again they complained. This certainly was a complaining group, and Moses asked them why they were quarreling with him and testing Yahweh.  They complained some more when they said that they would be better off if they stayed in Egypt.  So Moses asked Yahweh, ‘What shall I do with these people?’  Then Yahweh told him to take his staff and go to a rock at Horeb and strike the rock, and water will come out of it. So he decided to call this place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites tested Yahweh here.  The place seems to have two names.  This worked because water was beneath the limestone in the Sinai area.  It is difficult to tell who is doing the complaining and how widespread it is.  With 600,000 men, it would be easy to find some people who would be complaining all the time.


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