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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

("chiding".) The designation which Moses gave the place at Rephidim where Israel, just before they reached Sinai in the second year after leaving Egypt, did chide with Moses, "give us water that we may drink," and tempted (from whence came the other name Massah) Jehovah, saying "is Jehovah among us or not?" ( Exodus 17:7; compare as to the sin,  Matthew 4:7.) The severity of Israel's trial, however, is to be remembered; our Lord's own only expression of bodily suffering on the cross was cf6 "I thirst." Thirty-eight years afterward at Kadesh, bordering on the promised laud, again, untaught by the severe discipline of the wilderness ( Isaiah 9:13), Israel in want of water cried, "would God we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!"

God's glory appeared, and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "take the rod, and speak unto the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth his water." But here Moses' old hastiness of spirit, which he had showed in the beginning of his career (Exodus 2), returned; "they provoked his spirit so that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips" ( Psalms 106:32-33): "ye rebels, must we (Forgetting That The Power Was That Of God Alone) fetch you water out of this rock?" Then lifting up his hand he smote twice, whereas God had told him, "speak unto the rock." So Jehovah excluded Moses and Aaron from entering Canaan, for not "sanctifying" Him ( Numbers 20:1-13). This repetition of the miracle disproves the notion from  1 Corinthians 10:4 that the stream literally "followed" them from Rephidim (Exodus 17) to Canaan; all that is meant is a supply of water from time to time was provided naturally or miraculously, so that they never perished from thirst (so  Exodus 15:24-25;  Numbers 21:16).

Christ is the Rock ( John 7:38); the water flowed, and the people drank, at Meribah Kadesh. Moses and Aaron typify ministers. The Rock Christ was smitten once for all, never to be so again ( Hebrews 9:25-28;  Hebrews 10:10;  Hebrews 10:14). If Moses was so severely chastised for smiting again in violation of the type, what peril ministers run who pretend to offer Christ the Antitype in the Eucharist again!  Psalms 95:8, "provocation ... temptation," alludes to Meribah Massah. Also  Numbers 27:14;  Deuteronomy 32:51. The Hebrew for "rock" in Exodus 17 at Rephidim is Tsur , but in Numbers 20 Cela' at Kadesh, marking undesignedly the distinctness of the miracles.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [2]

  • Another fountain having a similar origin in the desert of Zin, near to Kadesh ( Numbers 27:14 ). The two places are mentioned together in  Deuteronomy 33:8 . Some think the one place is called by the two names ( Psalm 81:7 ). In smiting the rock at this place Moses showed the same impatience as the people ( Numbers 20:10-12 ). This took place near the close of the wanderings in the desert ( Numbers 20:1-24;  Deuteronomy 32:51 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Meribah'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]


    1. A station of the Israelites between the Red Sea and Mount Sinai, where they murmured against the Lord, and a fountain gushed from the rock for their use,  Exodus 17:1-7 . It was also named Massah, temptation, when they tempted God there,  Deuteronomy 33:8   Hebrews 3:8 .

    2. A similar miraculous fountain in the desert of Zin, near Kadesh, which see,  Numbers 20:13,14 . This was the scene of the transgression of Moses and Aaron, for which they were precluded from crossing the Jordan. It is called "the waters of Meribah,"  Deuteronomy 33:8   Psalm 81:7   106:32 , and also Meribah-kadesh,  Numbers 27:14   Deuteronomy 32:51   Ezekiel 47:19 .

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

    Mer'ibah. (Strife, Contention). In  Exodus 17:7, we read, "he called the name of the place, Massah and Meribah," where the people murmured, and the rock was smitten. [For the situation, See Rephidim . ] The name is also given to Kadesh,  Numbers 20:13;  Numbers 20:24;  Numbers 27:14;  Deuteronomy 32:51, (Meribah-kadesh), because there also the people, when in want of water, strove with God.

    Holman Bible Dictionary [5]


    Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [6]

    MERIBAH. See Massah and Meribah.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [7]

    Meribah, 1

    Mer´ibah (quarrel, strife), one of the names given by Moses to the fountain in the desert of Sin, on the western gulf of the Red Sea, that issued from the rock which he smote by the divine command . He called the place, indeed, Massa (temptation) and Meribah, and the reason is assigned 'because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they did there tempt the Lord' [WANDERING].

    Meribah, 2

    Mer´ibah, another fountain produced in the same manner, and under similar circumstances, in the desert of Zin (Wady Arabah), near Kadesh; and to which the name was given with a similar reference to the previous misconduct of the Israelites (;; ). In the last text, which is the only one where the two places are mentioned together, the former is called Massah only, to prevent the confusion of the two Meribahs, 'Whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah.' Indeed this latter Meribah is almost always indicated by the addition of 'waters,' i.e. 'waters of Meribah,' as if further to distinguish it from the other ; and still more distinctly 'waters of Meribah in Kadesh' (;; ). Only once is this place called simply Meribah .

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

    Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Meribah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

    mer´i - ba , me - rē´ba . See Massah And Meribah .