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Moses' Error at Meribah

Num 20:8-13

8 "Take the staff and assemble the community, you and your brother Aaron, and in their presence order the rock to yield its waters. From the rock you shall bring forth water for the community and their livestock to drink." 9 So Moses took the staff from its place before the LORD, as he was ordered. 10 He and Aaron assembled the community in front of the rock, where he said to them, "Listen to me, you rebels! Are we to bring water for you out of this rock?" 11 Then, raising his hand, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff,[1] and water gushed out in abundance for the community and their livestock to drink. 12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you were not faithful to me in showing forth my sanctity before the Israelites,[2] you shall not lead this community into the land I will give them." 13 These are the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites contended against the LORD, and where he revealed his sanctity among them.


  1. "Twice: perhaps because he had not sufficient faith to work the miracle with the first blow. Cf Numbers 20:12" (NAB.)
  2. "The sin of Moses and Aaron consisted in doubting God's mercy toward the ever-rebellious people. In showing forth my sanctity: God's sacred power and glory: an allusion to the name of the place, Kadesh, which means "sanctified, sacred." Meribah means "contention." Cf Exodus 17:7" (NAB.)