Moses Brings Water from the Rock

The Lord Tells Moses and Aaron that They will Not Go in to the Promised Land

Moses Draws Water from the Rock
Numbers 21 begins with the congregation of Israel arriving again in the Wilderness of Zin, to Kadesh, “in the first month.” This was the first month of the 40th year, more than 37 years from the time the 12 spies had explored the land. The wanderings listed in Numbers 33:18-36 have all taken place, the only record of these 37 years. The silence and lack of details speaks loudly.>

Miriam's death is also recorded in Numbers 20:1, and there are no details given nor is there a time of mourning mentioned. In Deuteronomy 24:9, Moses mentions her leprosy incident as a warning to the Israelites. “Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam on the way when you came out of Egypt!” But she gets an honorable mention in Micah 6:4, the last occurrence of her name in the Bible. “For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”

Again, there was no water, and the people gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and quarreled with Moses. “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.”

Moses and Aaron went to the tabernacle and prostrated themselves before the Lord. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord told Moses, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock. Incensed and disturbed, Moses shouted at the people. “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses struck the rock twice with his staff. Water came out in abundance and the people and their animals drank.

But then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron. “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Moses had not spoken to the rock, but angrily to the people, and in heat of the moment, had struck the rock two times. Although water was provided, God noted the disobedience. Some scholars suggest that God's punishment of Moses was because Moses hit the rock two times in anger instead of speaking to it, others suggest that it was because of the words, “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” implying that it was he and Aaron doing the miracle, and not God. In any case, Moses, Aaron and the rest of their generation were not allowed to go into the Promised Land.

The whole congregation of Israel journeyed from Kadesh to Mount Hor. The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, and told them that it was time to go with Aaron's son, Eleazar, up to Mount Hor, remove Aaron's priestly attire and install his son as priest, and that Aaron would die there. Moses did just as the Lord directed, and they went up the mountain in the sight of all of the people. Moses took off Aaron's garments and put them on Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. All of Israel mourned for Aaron for 30 days.

They journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, going around the land of Edom; and the people became very discouraged as they traveled. Amazingly, the people spoke against God and against Moses. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, which bit them, and many of the people of Israel died.

Finally, the people came to Moses, and confessed, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” Ever faithful to intercede, Moses prayed for the people. God instructed Moses to make a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole, and whoever was bitten would be healed when they looked at it. So Moses did so, and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. The intercessory prayers and loving obedience of Moses rescued the people of Israel yet again.

Written by: Pete Miller