The first seven verses of Exodus 17 give readers the story of the water from the rock at Rephidim. The story is straightforward enough. Moses strikes the rock as God instructs him (Exod 17:6) and God provided water in the desert wilderness for the Israelites to drink. Moses calls the place “Massah and Meribah” (Exod 17:7) which produces the point of orientation for this episode, and sets up Part 2. The item that unites the two parts is that this incident (Massah and Meribah) is associated elsewhere in Scripture with Kadesh. Since the location of Kadesh is known, this incident is part of the problem of the location of Mount Sinai (especially for the Midian view) and links this incident to the failure with the giant clans from Numbers 13 (Part 2).
Bible students will know Exodus 16 as the story of God’s provision of manna, the “bread from heaven” that sustained the Israelites during the long years of journeying to Canaan. The chapter is actually filled with a number of textual issues, most of which involve the question of authorship, but including the matter of the manna itself. In this episode, we discuss the phenomena of the text and apply what we find to thinking better about inspiration and historicity.
Exodus 15:22-27 ostensibly serves as an itinerary anecdote about the grumbling of the Israelites at Marah, where they found the water undrinkable (“bitter”). But there is much more behind the short account. These verses theologically and symbolically encapsulate the deliverance from death (the Underworld) at the Red Sea Crossing and God’s desire to have human children in his abode, the “cosmic mountain” of Israelite and ancient Near Eastern thought. The symbolism extends into the New Testament as well. This episode overviews the symbolic motifs in the passage that would have informed an ancient Israelite reader.