1. Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin, in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
1. Pervenerunt autem filii Israel universa congregatio, in desertum Sin, mense primo, et mansit populus in Cades: ubi mortua est Maria, et sepulta illic fuit:
2. And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.
2. Quumque non esset aqua congregationi, convenerunt adversus Mosen et Aharon.
3. And the people chode with Moses, and spoke, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!
3. Et jurgatus est populus cum Mose, ac dixerunt in hunc modum, Et utinam obiissemus quando obierunt fratres nostri coram Jehova.
4. And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?
4. Et quare venire fecistis congregationem Jehovae in desertum istud: ut moriamur hic nos et jumenta nostra.
5. And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there ally water to drink.
5. Et quare ascendere fecistis nos ex AEgypto, ut venire faceretis nos ad locum malum istum, non locum sementis, ficuum, et vinearum, et malogranatorum, et in quo aqua nulla est ad bibendum?
6. And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.
6. Abierunt ergo Moses et Aharon a conspectu congregationis ad ostium tabernaculi conventionis, et projecerunt se super faciem suam: apparuitque gloria Jehovae super eos.
7. And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying,
7. Et loquutus est Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo:
8. Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
8. Accipe virgam, et congrega coetum tu et Aharon frater tuus, et loquimini petrae in oculis eorum, et dabit aquam suam, educesque illis aquam e petra, et potum dabis coetui ac jumentis eorum.
9. And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.
9. Tulit ergo Moses virgam a conspectu Jehovae, quemadmodum praeceperat ei:
10. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
10. Et congregaverunt Moses et Aharon congregationem ante petram, dixitque illis, Audite nunc o rebelles, Nunquid de petra hac educemus vobis aquam?
11. And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice; and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
11. Et elevavit Moses manum suam, percussitque petram virga sua duabus vicibus: tunc egressae sunt aquae multae, et bibit congregatio ac jumenta eorum.
12. And the Lord spoke unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
12. Et dixit Jehova ad Mosen et Aharon, Propterea quod non credidistis mihi, ut sanctificaretis me in oculis filiorum Israel, idcirco non introducetis congregationem istam in terram quam dedi illis.
13. This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.
13. Istae sunt aquae jurgii, pro quibus jurgati sunt filii Israel cum Jehova, et sanctificavit se in illis.
This example shows us how earnestly God should be entreated constantly to support us with new supplies of His grace, since otherwise the boldest of us all would fail at every moment. The invincible resolution of Moses had so often overcome every obstacle, that there seemed to be no fear of his being in danger of falling; yet the conqueror in so many struggles at length stumbles in a single act. Hence we should more carefully bear in mind the exhortation of Paul: Because
"it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure," we should "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12, 13.)
By the sight of "the rod," God would recall both to Moses and the people so many miracles, which were well fitted to awaken confidence for the future; just as if He were uplifting the standard of His power. The command to speak to the rock is not unattended with a severe reproach, as if He had said, that in the lifeless elements there was more reason and intelligence than in men themselves. And assuredly it was a thing much to be ashamed of, that the rock, as if it could hear and was endued with sense, should obey God's voice, whilst the people, to whom the Law had been given, remained in deafness and stupidity.
If it be asked in what respect Moses transgressed, the origin of his transgression was unbelief; for it is not allowable, when this species of sin is expressly referred to in the answer of God, to imagine that it was anything else. But it is doubtful in what point he was incredulous; unless it be, that in asking whether he could fetch water out of the rock, he seems to reject as if it were impossible and absurd what God had promised to do. And, in fact, he was so entirely taken up by considerations of their contumacy, that he did not acknowledge the grace of God. He inquires whether he shall fetch water out of the rock? whereas he ought to have recollected that this had already been permitted to him by God. It became him, then, confidently to assert that God had again promised the same thing, rather than to speak with hesitation.
Others think that he sinned, because he was not contented with a single blow, but smote the rock twice. And this perhaps did arise from distrust. But the origin of the fault was that he did not simply embrace God's promise, and strenuously discharge the duty assigned to him as an evidence of his faith. Although, therefore, his smiting the rock twice might have been a token of his want of confidence, still it was only an aggravation of the evil, and not its origin or cause. Thus, then, we must always come back to this, that Moses did not give God the glory, because he rather considered what the people had deserved, than estimated the power of God according to His word. And this, too, has previous reprimand denotes, when, in accusing the Israelites of rebellion, he shows, indeed, that he was inflamed with holy zeal; yet, at the same time, he does not bestir himself with suitable confidence in order to their conviction; nay, in a manner he confesses that the power of God fails beneath their wickedness. Thus it is said in Psalm 106:32, 33,
"That it went in with Moses for their sakes, because they provoked his spirit, so that he spoke with his mouth:" 3
for the Prophet does not there excuse Moses; but shows that in consequence of the wickedness of the people, he was carried away by inconsiderate fervor, so as to deny that what God had promised should take place. Hence let us learn that, when we are angered by the sins of others, we should beware lest a temptation of an opposite kind should take possession of our minds.
When Moses not only ingenuously confesses his guilt, but also relates how he was condemned by God, and, in order that his disgrace may be more complete, introduces Him speaking as from His judgment-seat, this does not a little tend to establish the truth of his doctrine. For what human being, unless he had renounced all carnal affections, would voluntarily endure to declare himself guilty before all the world? His angelic virtues were sufficient to exempt him from all suspicion. Having erred in one particular only, he proclaims the disgrace which he might have concealed, and does not hesitate to disparage himself, in order to magnify the goodness of God. And surely it is obvious from the passage that, whenever God had before pardoned the people at the request of Moses, the pardon was no less gratuitous than as if he had not interceded for them. For the intercession of Moses ceases on this occasion, yet God does nod; fail to deal kindly with them in their unworthiness, according to His wont.
"That the generation to come might know them, -- that they might not forget the works of God, -- and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God."
(Psalm 78:6, 7, 8.)
And elsewhere both the name of Meribah and that of Massah are employed, in order that the Israelites might learn not to imitate their fathers, (Psalm 95:8; 5 )although Moses here uses the plural number, whereas he has the singular in Exodus 17.
The expression at the end of the verse, that God "was sanctified" among the children of Israel, is not used in approval, but rather in reproof, of their conduct. Israel is called elsewhere God's "holiness," 6 (Psalm 114:2,) because God magnificently displayed tits glory in their deliverance; but He is here said to have sanctified Himself in a different sense, because, by the overthrow of their iniquity and frowardness, He rescued his holy name from contempt. In fine, it was a proof of his inestimable mercy, that the water, which might have justly been destructive to them, was not only given to be the sustenance of their bodies, but also was converted into an aid for their salvation; for which reason Paul says that this was "spiritual drink." (1 Corinthians 10:4.)
A Reputation of the same History
1 "Ainsi elle a passe six vingts ans;" thus she was more than six-score years of age. -- Fr.
3 A. V., "He spoke unadvisedly."
4 Lat., "These are the waters of strife." See margin A.V.
5 In C.'s translation of this verse he retains the proper names Meribah and Massah, which in A.V. are rendered, "in the provocation, and in the day of temptation." See C. Soc. Edit., vol. 4. p. 40; and Mr. Anderson's note.