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Exodus 17

Moses the Civil Engineer

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 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 the LORD?" 3 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?" 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me." 5 The LORD 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. 6 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. 7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

The First Tap Water

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Musings

Names of places are often a clue to what has or will happen there. Rephidim means refresh or support and in this story it leads to refreshment and later support in war. Massah and Meribah mean trial and quarrel respectively and is also fitting. The type of quarrel they bring to Moses is more like a law suit challenging Moses (or God) to prove that God is with them. To this point God is testing the Israelites, but this is a bit of a push-back. So, God shows that God is with them by being present at the rock (a rock is symbolic of strength or might and permanence) and providing the water they have requested as proof. God probably regrets the whole free will thing here as in many other places in the Bible.


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Exodus - Egypt - Wandering - 10 Commandments

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