Did Moses Get in Trouble for Striking the Rock?

Supposed contradiction and verses:

One record shows that Moses was told to strike the rock for water, the other doesn’t and he got in trouble for it. Both are in the same place.

Please read the passages of Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13

Specific verses

Exodus 17:1 & 6

1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Numbers 20:1, 8, & 11-12

1 Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.

8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.



   These are actually two different events. The skeptic made a mistake in thinking that the wilderness of Sin in Exodus 17 is the same as the desert of Zin in Numbers 20. Admittedly, there are many times where the change of just a letter in a name still represents the same place, but this is not the case.

   The first clue is in Exodus 17:1 where it includes that they were in Rephidim, which is in the wilderness of Sin, near Sinai. This is about 40 miles from where God parted the red Sea and they crossed. In verse 7 of the Exodus passage, we see where this particular place is called Massah, which means test,  and Meribah, which means quarrel. This is not renaming the place, but rather, giving it something to be remembered by because the Israelites murmured and tempted God.

   This brings to light the second location in Numbers 20 which is called the waters of Meribah in verse 13 of the Numbers passage. Why? Simply to note that the children of Israel again quarreled with the LORD. It did not rename the location named in Numbers 20:1, Kadesh, which is in the desert of Zin. This is at the border area of what we now know as the country of Jordan, some 100 miles away from the first location in Rephidim.

   It becomes apparent, that Moses and Aaron evidently lacked belief that they could just speak to the rock the second time around since they had been instructed to strike it the first time. God was not pleased, and thus, neither Moses nor Aaron would enter the Promised Land. Moral of the story: Do what God tells you, when He tells you, and how He tells you to do it!

There is no contradiction!

In His Grace,

            Mike Harris


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