1 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.
2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, "Give us water, that we may drink." So Moses said to them, "Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?"
3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, "Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?"
4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!"
5 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go.
6 "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"Massah - Testing
Meribah - QuarrelOnce again Israel doubted God and complained to Moses for water (even though God had provided everything they needed every time they needed anything, but in God's timing not theirs). God had Moses use the same rod he used in Egypt to perform miracles to strike a rock and water gushed out, enough for all the people.
We need to remember that God will test us at times to see what is in our hearts. We test drive cars before we buy them, to prove what they can do. We smelt metals and subject them to tremendous heat to burn out impurities that would corrode or weaken the metal, and to get a pure product; people exercise which at the time is painful and strenuous, but results in better health, endurance and strength.
Even so will God test our spirits, to "burn out" sin and unbelief, to strengthen us and give us
better spiritual health. Satan will often ask God for permission to test us, to see if he can
make us sin. If we do, that shows us an area that we need to have tested more often until we
strengthen it, much as a muscle becomes stronger and harder after being tested through
Note that God says He will stand before Moses on the rock in Horeb. This area was in the vicinity of Mount Sinai, for Mount Sinai and Mount Horeb are the same mountain. Reason would indicate that since Israel was traveling roughly north-east from the lower part of the Saudi Arabian peninsula that this area would be on the south-west flank of the mountain.
Remember, Moses would have been familiar with the area, having been a shepherd there for 40 years.
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he
led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
For sheep to have grazed around Mount Sinai, the area at one time must have been well-watered and fairly fertile. I suspect that Moses was at a side of the mountain where there were no springs flowing from the mountain, and it would probably take several days' journey to reach an area where there was water. I suspect that the "backside of the desert" would have been on the north-eastern side of Mount Sinai as the whole area eastward of Mount Sinai is desert. The further east you go from the mountain the worse it gets, until you reach the border of the area known as the Rub' Al Khali (Arabic, "Empty Quarter"), one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, where there is nothing but empty hostile desert that even few bedouin dare to cross.
For God to produce water from the mountain would not have been a hard thing for Him, for apparently He had created springs elsewhere on the mountain, or there would be no forage for sheep to feed on. He could very well have had a underground stream rise close to the surface of the formation, and Moses striking the rock could have cracked the formation enough to create an opening for the water to be released. Remember, there is nothing that is impossible for God to do!Exodus 17:8-13
8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said to Joshua, "Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand."
10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 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.
13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
The Amalekites were a fierce, ruthless people who lived in the middle of the Saudi Arabian peninsula, north of what was then Midian and north of Israel's position at the time. They apparently viewed Israel as an invading force and were determined to protect their territory. For Israel to reach Canaan they would need to travel through this area.
I find it interesting that God allowed Israel to fight the Amalekites, but didn't allow them to fight the Philistines when they came out of Egypt. I suspect the reason was that wars with the small desert tribes would act as training for Israel for the larger wars they would face in Canaan. The Philistines also knew how to smelt and use iron, something the rest of the Middle East didn't know how to use at the time, making their weaponry far more advanced than that of Israel.
This was Israel's first war since leaving Egypt, and it shows God's hand in the matter as these former slaves defeated a well-armed well-trained enemy in battle. Note also that Moses told Joshua to "choose out some men" to go and fight Amalek. Apparently only select men were to fight.
There is an area to the south-west of Mount Sinai near it's base where the ground is hard, flat and about the size of a dozen football fields laid end to end. To the east of this area sits a low hill or rock overlooking the area.
This could very well be the place where Moses sat and watched the battle as Israel fought Amalek. We need to remember that back then many battles were fought in small areas as virtually any ancient battle at the time required hand-to-hand combat between the warring armies.Exodus 17:14-16
14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven."
15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner;
16 for he said, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."Jehovah Nissi - "God is my banner" God promises Moses that He will destroy Amalek to the point of where people would no longer remember the name. It is interesting that when looking at Biblical maps one can easily find the ancient lands of the Midianites, Amorites, Ammonites, etc., but few even list the territories of the Amalekites, or even mention them.
Ancient scribes when making copies of the Law would test new pens by writing the name of Amalek then would draw lines through the name to "blot it out". If they were satisfied with the writing, the pen could be used to copy the text of the Law.