From Feast upon the Word (http://feastupontheword.org). Copyright, Feast upon the Word.
The Old Testament > Exodus > Chapter 17
 Verse 2
- Chide and tempt. In what sense are the children of Israel chiding Moses? Is there something inherently wrong about inquiring about water when there is no water? In what sense are the children of Israel tempting (trying) God?
 Verse 5
- Go on before the people. Why does God tell Moses to "Go on before the people"?
 Lexical notes
 Verse 1
- No water for the people to drink. Some have interpreted the somewhat superfluous phrase "for the people to drink" as evidence that there may have been some water available, just not as much water as the children of Israel wanted. As evidence for this view, the verb drink here is based on the Hebrew lishtot which has the implication of continuous action (as opposed to another possibility, shetiya which is the gerund noun formation). (See Leibowitz reference below.)
 Verses 4
- This people? It may be significant that Moses does not refer to the children of Israel as "thy people" here as he does on several other occassions (cf. Ex 32:11-12; 33:13, 16), suggesting that the people's actions at this time are not deserving to be associated with God.
 Verse 5
- The people. It may be significant that God does not refer to the children of Israel as "my people" here as he does on several other occassions (cf. Ex 3:7, 10; 7:4, 16; 8:1; 12:31; Lev 26:12). suggesting that the people's actions at this time are not deserving to be associated with God.
- Wherewith thou smotest the river. This seemingly superfluous phrase my be significant because the rod is usually associated with punishment (such as Moses's use of the rod to bring the plagues against the Egyptians), whereas as here it is being associated with a blessing. (See the Leibowitz reference below; this point could lend support for a welcoming/embracing view of the "stretched out arm" in Ex 6:6.)
 Verses 1-4: Exaggerated thirstiness?
Some scholars see evidence here that the Israelites are exaggerating their plight, and this is why the word chide is being used in these verses. If the Israelites did not have any water, the description here—which seems to suggest the Israelites are being impatient—seems unjustified. (See Liebowitz reference below.)
 Verse 5
- Go on before the people. One view of this phrase is that it is a form of rebuke to Moses for his seeming impatience toward the children of Israel. That is, by going before the people, God may be suggesting to Moses that the people will not stone him as Moses complained in verse 4. Another view is that this phrase suggests a fatherly type of concern on God's part toward the children of Israel. That is, Moses should go before the people in an effort to show concern, empathy, and possibly faith regarding their thirsty plight. (See Liebowitz reference below.)
 Related links
 Verses 1-5
- Leibowitz. See Studies in Shemot (Exodus), Part I by Nehama Leibowitz, pp. 273-83 (The World Zionist Organization, 1981, Sixth impression 1986; Haomanim Press, Jerusalem).