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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

("rests" or "stays") ( Exodus 17:1;  Exodus 17:8;  Exodus 19:2). Here Israel first suffered from want of water, and here they defeated Amalek. Captains Wilson and Palmer make the battle in Wady Feiran , near the ancient city of Feiran (Amidst Traces Of Building And Cultivation) under Mount Serbal. But Holland (Canon Cook's essay on Exodus 16; 17; 19; Speaker's Commentary) places Rephidim after Israel traversed the Wady Es Sheikh at the pass El Watiyeh shut in by perpendicular rocks on either side; a choice position for Amalek as it commands the entrance to the wadies round the central group of Sinai. On the N. is a plain without water, Israel's encampment. N. of the defile is a hill and bore cliff such as Moses struck with his rod. S. of the pass is another plain, Amalek's encampment, within reach of abundant water. At the foot of the hill whereon Moses sat ( Exodus 17:12 or else  Exodus 18:13) the Arabs call a rock "the seat of the prophet Moses." (See Exodus .)

The fertility of Feiran is Stanley's argument for it as the site of Rephidim, Amalek being likely to contend for it against Israel. The "hill" in  Exodus 17:9-10, he identifies with that on which the church of Paran stood ( Numbers 33:12-13). Holland's view is probably the truer one, for Wady Es Sheikh is the only open broad way from the N.W. into the "wilderness of Sinai", Ras Sufsafeh before the open Er Rahah or "desert of Sinai" being the true Mount Sinai, not Serbal. The Βir Μusa , "well of Moses," in the wide part of Wady Es Sheykh , is immediately outside or N. of the pass out of Horeb. Wady Es Sheykh , "the valley of the chiefs," may allude to the elders appointed at Jethro's suggestion to be rulers and judges under Moses ( Exodus 18:21-26). Forster (if his reading be correct: Voice of Israel, p. 118) interprets an inscription with a man's figure with uplifted hands on a rock, "the prophet upon a hard great stone prayeth unto God, Aaron and Hur sustaining his hands." It was after receiving the water supply at Rephidim from God that Israel conquered Amalek.

So it is only after the Christian receives the living water front Christ the smitten Rock that he can effectively conquer his spiritual foes ( 1 John 5:4). Faith and prayer go together, as at Rephidim. Lift up, not an empty hand, but like Moses grasping the rod hold fast God's word of promise, filling the hand with this effectual plea ( Exodus 17:9;  Exodus 17:11-12;  Job 23:4;  Psalms 119:49;  Isaiah 43:26;  James 5:16). (See Massah ; Meribah Moses struck the rock in Horeb at some point not in the people's sight, therefore not near the summit, but in the presence of selected witnesses, the elders ( Exodus 17:5-6). The "spiritual rock, Christ, followed all the Israelites" ( 1 Corinthians 10:4). The repetition of the miracle ( Numbers 20:11) at Kadesh shows that the rabbinical tradition is incorrect, that the rock or the stream followed them literally in all their journeys. Rather He of whom the rock was type accompanied them and supplied all their needs ( 1 Corinthians 10:4).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

a station or encampment of the Israelites,  Exodus 17:1 . At this station, adjoining to Mount Horeb, the people again murmured for want of water; and they chid Moses, saying, "Give us water that we may drink." And "they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?" Moses, therefore, to convince them that he was, by a more obvious miracle than at Marah, smote the rock with his rod, by the divine command, and brought water out of it for the people to drink: wherefore, he called the place Meribah, "chiding," and the rock Massah, "temptation." On their way to Rephidim, the Amalekites, the original inhabitants of the country, who are noticed in Abraham's days,  Genesis 14:7 , not having the fear of God before their eyes, nor regarding the judgments recently inflicted on the Egyptians, attacked the rear of the Israelites when they were faint and weary; but were defeated by a chosen party, under the command of Joshua, the faithful lieutenant of Moses, who is first noticed on this occasion, and even then pointed out by the Lord as his successor. This victory was miraculous; for while Moses held up his hand Israel prevailed, but when he let it down Amalek prevailed. So Aaron and Hur (the husband of Miriam, according to Josephus) held up both his hands steadily till sunset, and thereby gave a decided victory to Israel. This unprovoked aggression of the Amalekites drew down upon them from the Lord the sentence of "war from generation to generation," between them and the Israelites, and of final extermination, which was commanded go be written or registered in a book, for a memorial to Joshua and his successors, the judges and kings of Israel, and was carried into execution by Saul,  1 Samuel 15:8 , by David,  1 Samuel 30:17 , and finally accomplished by the Simeonites in Hezekiah's reign,  Exodus 17:8-13;  Deuteronomy 25:17;  1 Chronicles 4:43 . While the Israelites were encamped at Rephidim, on the western side of Horeb, the mount of God, Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, who lived in that neighbourhood, and was priest and prince of Midian, came to visit him, with his wife Zipporah, and his two sons, Eleazar and Gershom, who had accompanied him part of the way to Egypt, but returned home again; and they rejoiced with him "for all the goodness which the Lord had done for Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians;" and upon this occasion, Jethro, as "a priest of the most high God," of the order of Melchizedek, "offered a burnt-offering and sacrifices of thanksgiving to God, at which Aaron and all the elders of Israel ate bread with Jethro before God," by a repetition of the eucharistic feast upon a sacrifice which Melchizedek formerly administered to Abraham,  Genesis 14:18;  Exodus 18:1-12 . Thus was fulfilled the prophetic sign which the Lord had given to Moses when he first appeared to him in the burning bush: "This shall be a token unto thee that I have sent thee: when thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain,"  Exodus 3:12 . The speedy accomplishment, therefore, of this sign, at the beginning of their journey, was well calculated to strengthen their faith or reliance on the divine protection throughout. Jethro appears to have been distinguished not only for his piety, but also for his political wisdom. By his advice, which also was approved by the Lord, Moses, to relieve himself from the fatigue of administering justice to the people, the whole day, from morning until evening, instituted inferior judges or magistrates over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, as his deputies, who were to relieve him from the burden of judging the smaller causes, but to refer the greater or more difficult to Moses, for his decision.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

REPHIDIM . A stage in the Wanderings, between the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai (  Exodus 17:1;   Exodus 17:8;   Exodus 19:2; cf.   Numbers 33:14 f.). Here water was miraculously supplied, and Israel fought with Amalek. Those who accept the traditional Sinal generally place Elim in Wâdy Gharandel , and Rephidim in Wâdy Feirân , about four miles N. of Mt. Serbal (Palmer, Desert of the Exodus , Index). The tribesmen would naturally wish to defend the springs in the valley against such a host as Israel. Moses might have surveyed the conflict from the height of Jebel Tahûneh, on the N. of the valley. Only we should hardly expect the Amalekites so far to the south. If the scholars who place Sinai east of the Gulf of ‘Akabah, identifying Elath and Elim, are right, then Rephidim must be sought somewhere in that district. (Sayce, HCM [Note: CM Higher Criticism and the Monuments.] , p. 269.)

W. Ewing.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Reph'idim.  Exodus 17:1;  Exodus 17:8;  Exodus 19:2. The name means Rests or Stays , that is, Resting Places. The place lies in the march of the Israelites from Egypt to Sinai. Its site is not certain, but it is perhaps Wady Feiran , a rather broad valley about 25 miles from Jebel Musa , (Mount Sinai). Others place it in Wady Es Sheikh , an eastern continuation of Feiran, and about 12 miles from Sinai. Here, the Israelites fought their first battle, and gained their first victory after leaving Egypt, the Amalekites having attacked them; here, also, the people murmured from thirst, and Moses brought water for them out of the rock. From this murmuring, the place was called "Massah" and "Meribah."

People's Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Rephidim ( Rĕf'I-Dĭm ), Resting-Place. A station of the Hebrews before reaching Sinai.  Numbers 33:14-15. Near it was the fountain which flowed from the rock in Horeb, called "Meribah," and "Massah," whence they were miraculously supplied with water.  Exodus 17:1-16;  Exodus 19:2. It may have been in Wady Feiran or in some part of Wady esh-Sheikh. See Journeys Of Israel.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Exodus 17:1,8-16 Numbers 24:20

Leaving Rephidim, the Israelites advanced into the wilderness of Sinai ( Exodus 19:1,2;  Numbers 33:14,15 ), marching probably through the two passes of the Wady Solaf and the Wady esh-Sheikh, which converge at the entrance to the plain er-Rahah, the "desert of Sinai," which is two miles long and about half a mile broad. (See Sinai; Meribah .)

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

An encampment of the Israelites between the wilderness of Sin and mount Sinai, where the people murmured, and God gave them water from the rock. Here also the Amalekites attacked them, and were defeated,  Exodus 17:1-16 . It is thought to have been in the valley now called esh-Sheikh, a day's march northwest of Sinai, and near the western border of the Horeb group of mountains. SEE SINAI.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

Place near Horeb, where the Israelites encamped; water gushed from the rock when Moses had smitten it, and there Joshua fought with Amalek, while Moses lifted up his hands to heaven, assisted by Aaron and Hur.  Exodus 17:1,8;  Exodus 19:2;  Numbers 33:14,15 . Not identified.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [9]

An encampment of Israel in the wilderness,  Exodus 17:1 remarkable for the murmurings of the people grace in giving them water. See Rock. The word is derived from Raphad, rest—hence in the plural, Rephidim, rests.

Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

 Exodus 17:1 Exodus 19:2 Exodus 18:13-26

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

(Heb. Rephidim', רְפַידַים , Supports, i.e., perhaps, Resting-Places; Sept. and Josephus, ῾Ραφιδίν ) , a station of the Israelites on their journey through the Arabian desert, to which they passed from the Desert of Sin ( Exodus 17:1), situated, according to  Numbers 33:14 sq., between Alush and the wilderness of Sinai. Here the Amalekites attacked Israel, but were repulsed ( Exodus 17:8 sq.). Here also Moses struck the rock, from which the fountain of water leaped forth; to which the later Jewish traditions added many other wonders, as that the rock itself followed the people in theirjourney, supplying water always (seeWettstein and Schottgen, on  1 Corinthians 10:4; Buxtorf, Exercit. p. 391 sq.). The knowledge of this miraculous gift of water reached the Romans. Tacitus alludes to it ( Hist. v, 3), and supposes that Moses was guided by wild asses, and then by the green pasture, to the exact spot where water was concealed (comp., in the Grecian mythology, especially Pausan. 4:36, 5; but the legend of Hippocrene [Ovid, Met. v, 256 sq.] has scarcely any points of resemblance). The most definite indication as to the situation of Rephidim is incidentally supplied in the Scripture account of the above miracle. While encamped at Rephidim, "there was no water for the people to drink," and they murmured against Moses. He was therefore commanded to "go on ( עֲבֹר , Pass, i.e. cross the desert shore) before the people," and with his rod to smite "the rock in Horeb," upon which ( הִצּוּר

עִל , the towering cliff bounding the range et-Tlh) Jehovah stood. (This admirably suits the entrance of Wady Hibran, but is utterly vague and inapt if spoken of the interior.) In consequence of this, Rephidim was called Massah (" temptation") and, Meribah ("chiding"). As the Israelites, though encamped in Rephidim, were able to draw their needful supply of water from "the rock In Horeb, " the two places must have been adjacent. Assuming Jebel Muisa to be Sinai (or Horeb), and that the Israelites approached it by Wady es-Sheik; which is the: only practicable route for such a multitude coming from Egypt, it follows that Rephidim was not more than one march and apparently a short one distant from the mountain. Notwithstanding this indication, however, the position of Rephidim has created much discussion among travellers and sacred geographers. Josephus appears to locate it very near to Sinai, and states that the place was entirely destitute of water, while in their preceding marches the people had met with fountains (Ant. 3:1, 7, and 5, 1). Eusebius and Jerome say it was near Mount Horeb ( Onomast. s.v. "Raphidim"). Cosmas places it at the distance of six miles, which agrees pretty nearly with that of Nebi Saleh (Topographia Christiana, v, 207 sq.). Robinson removes it some miles farther down Wady es-Sheik to a narrow gorge which forms a kind of door to the central group of mountains. He gets over the difficulty in regard to the proximity of Horeb by affirming that that name was given, not to a single mountain, but to the whole group (Bib. Res. i, 120). (See Horeb).

Mr. Sandie places Rephidim at the extreme end of Wady er-Rahah, and identifies it with a Wady Rudhwan. He supposes that the Israelites marched from the coast plain of el-KIaa by Wady Daghadah ( Horeb And Jerusalem, p. 159). This route, however, would scarcely be practicable for such a multitude. Lepsius (ed. Bohn, p. 310 sq.), Stewart (Tent and Khan), Ritter (Pal. und Syr. i, 738 sq.), Stanley (Syr. and Pal. p. 40 sq.), and others, locate Rephidim in Wady Feiran, near the base of Mount Serbal, especially at the oasis of el-Hesmeh or the rock Hesy el-Khatatin (Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, p. 135). The great distance from Sinai twelve hours' march and the abundance of water at Feiran appear to be fatal to this theory. No spot in the whole peninsula has such a supply of water, and Feirin is on this account called "the paradise of the Bedawin." The position of Rephidim, it is thus seen, largely depends upon the route which the Israelites may be supposed to have taken from the Desert of Sin to Mount Sinai. Murphy (Comment. on Exodus p. 174 sq.) regards that by way of Wady Hibran as being out of the question, partly on account of its length (whereas it is really little, if any, farther than either of the two other practicable ones, especially the northern one by way of the Debbet er-Ramleh, which he prefers), and partly on account of the narrow and difficult passes (especially Nagb Ajameh) along it, which, however, are no worse than many others in different parts of their identified route (see Palmer, Desert of the Exodus [Amer. ed.], p. 228).

Keil, who likewise prefers the same northern route for reaching Sinai, observes (Comment. on Pent. [Clarke's ed.] 2, 75) that Rephidim lay at only one day's distance from Sinai ( Exodus 19:2). He therefore locates Rephidim at the point where the Wady es-Sheik opens into the plain er- Rahah, although this would be almost at the foot of Sinai, and past several fountains which would have relieved their thirst without the need of a miracle. If, on the other hand, we should place Rephidim at the other end of the Wady es-Sheik, this, according to Keil's own showing, would be about as far from Sinai as the mouth of Wady Hibran, which last is, after all, only twenty miles, foilowing the windings of the valleys. The great objection to the access by way of the Debbet er-Ramleh is that although this (as the name signifies) is in the main a sandy plain, yet there are not wanting springs at various points along its course one especially, Ain el- Akdar (i.e. "the green"), being situated just at its junction with Wady es- Sheik (Robinson, Bib. Res. i, 125). By the way of the plain el-Kaa and Wady Hibran, on the contrary, there is total drought, so that the Israelites, as the narrative requires, woutl have exhausted the stock brought probably from Elim, without having been meanwhile in a region where their scouts could have procured water within any reaching distance. For the same reason, the most natural route of all by way of Wady Feiran must be suspected, which, as already said, is the best watered and most fertile of all in that vicinity (ibid. i, 126). There is still another route from the Red Sea at Ras Abu-Zenimah (where the Israelites evidently encamped) to Sinai namely, by way of Sarabet el-Khadim. This, although not so smooth as by wadies Feiran and es-Sheik, is nevertheless quite practicable, and is often taken by modern travellers. This route is advocated by Knobel, Keil, Cook (in his Specker's Commentary), and others, who find the Desert of Sin in Debbet er- Ramleh, Dophkah in Wady Tih, and perhaps Alush in Wady el- Esh. The water supply on this route is good, but the presence of a military force of Egyptians at the mines in Sarabet el-Khadim is a grave objection to its having been followed by the Israelites. There are two traditionary spots fixed upon as the scene of Moses' smiting of the rock, and hence called Hajr Mosa, or "Moses's Rock." Ole is pointed out by the Arabs in Wady Feiran,: and the other by the monks in Wady Lejah. The former is too distant and the latter too near for the Biblical account. SEE MERIBAH.

If the Israelites approached Sin ai by wav of Wady Hibran, we should look for Rephidim at the entrance of that valley from the plain along the Red Sea, as suggested under the article EXODE (See Exode); but if they reached Mount Sinai by way of Wady Feiran, as most writers suppose or by way of Sarabet el-Khadim, then we must probably look for Rephidim somewhere near the entrance from Wady es-Sheik to the plain er-Rahah, perhaps at the pass of El-Watiyeh, indicated above by Robinson. This defile was visited and described by Burckhardt (Syria, etc., p. 488) as at about five hours' distance from where it issues from the plain er-Rahah, narrowing between abrupt cliffs of blackened granite to about forty feet in width. Here is also the traditional "seat of Moses." Within the pass the valley expands, affording ample space for a large camp. The nearest water is in Wady Sheb, two miles distant to the south-west (Porter, Hand-book, p. 65). See Ridgaway, The Lord's Land, p. 57 sq. The arguments in favor of the location of Rephidim at el-Watlyeh are forcibly presented by Mr. Holland in Jerusalem Recovered, p. 420 sq. (See Sinai).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

ref´i - dim ( רפידים , rephı̄dhı̄m , "rests"; Ῥαφιδίν , Rhaphidin ): A station in the Wanderings, between the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai (  Exodus 17:1 ,  Exodus 17:8;  Exodus 19:2;  Numbers 33:14 ). The host expected to find water here; to their distress the streams were dry, and water was miraculously provided. Palmer ( Desert of the Exodus , 158 ff) states cogent reasons for identifying Rephidim with Wâdy Feirān . It is the most fertile part of the peninsula, well watered, with a palm grove stretching for miles along the valley. Palmer speaks of passing through the palm grove as a "most delightful" walk; "the tall, graceful trees afforded a delicious shade, fresh water ran at our feet, and, above all, bulbuls flitted from branch to branch uttering their sweet notes." His camp was pitched at "the mouth of Wâdy ‛Aleyát , a large open space completely surrounded by steep, shelving mountains of gneiss, the fantastic cleavage of which added greatly to the beauty of the scene. Palms and tamarisks were dotted all around, and on every knoll and mountain slope were ruined houses, churches, and walls, the relics of the ancient monastic city of Paran. Behind our tents rose the majestic mass of Serbal, and beneath the rocky wall opposite ran a purling brook, only a few inches in depth, but still sufficiently cool, clear, and refreshing."

Such a place as this the Amalekites would naturally wish to preserve for themselves against an invading people. For these desert dwellers, indeed, the possession of this watered vale may well have been a matter of life and death.

If this identification is correct, then Jebel Ṭaḥūneh , "Mount of the mill," a height that rises on the North of the valley, may have been the hill from which Moses, with Aaron and Hur, viewed the battle.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Reph´idim, a station of the Israelites in proceeding to Sinai [SINAI].