Water from a Rock

Jan 25, 2015

וַיִּסְעוּ כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּדְבַּר־סִין לְמַסְעֵיהֶם עַל־פִּי יְהֹוָה וַיַּחֲנוּ בִּרְפִידִים וְאֵין מַיִם לִשְׁתֹּת הָעָם׃

From the wilderness of Sin the whole Israelite community continued by stages as Hashem would command. They encamped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.

Exodus 17:1

וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם מַסָּה וּמְרִיבָה עַל־רִיב בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל נַסֹּתָם אֶת־יְהֹוָה לֵאמֹר הֲיֵשׁ יְהֹוָה בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ אִם־אָיִן׃

The place was named Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and because they tried Hashem, saying, “Is Hashem present among us or not?”

va-yik-RA SHAYM ha-ma-KOM ma-SAH um-ree-VAH al REEV b'-NAY yis-ra-AYL v'-AL na-so-TAM et a-do-NAI lay-MOR ha-YAYSH a-do-NAI b'-kir-BAY-nu im A-yin

Exodus 17:7

Once again, the Children of Israel thirst for water and complain to Moses. They demand water from him, but he turns them away, telling them they are testing God. Again the Israelites accuse Moses of trying to kill them in the desert.


Moses turns to God for help, and He instructs him to take some representatives from the elders of Israel and strike a certain rock in Horeb with the staff he used to part the sea. God will cause water to flow from the rock for the people to drink. Moses does so, and he names the place ‘Masa u’Meriva’, meaning contention and strife.


The Israel Bible explains that the Israelites were not questioning God’s presence with their complaints so much as His involvement in their daily lives. In contrast to the Egyptian worldview, which saw nature as static, God showed the Children of Israel that He created and therefore could control nature, providing water in the desert as needed.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

This story reminds us of the earlier story from our portion about thirsting, but it also strongly parallels the account in Numbers 20. In what ways are these stories similar? Different?


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