Sound familiar? This story isnít a little like the one from Exodus, itís a WHOLE LOT like it! The following points are the same in each story:
- The Israelites complain about not having enough water to drink.
- Moses begs God to give them water.
- God tells them to get it from a rock.
- Moses hits the rock with his rod and water flows out of it.
- Moses names the place Meribah.
These two stories are so similar, that, in an effort to make it seem less silly, many apologists claim that they are the same event simply repeated from different points of view. Letís put that claim to bed by listing the differences which prevent them from harmonizing:
First, the Israelites say they would prefer to have been killed by the Lord along side their brethren rather than die of thirst, but such a genocide had yet to take place in the first version of this story.
Second, the Exodus account takes place at Mt. Horeb in the land of Riphidim, but we were just told that we are now in Kadesh in the Desert of Zin.
Third, the previous story took place long before Moses received the plans for building the Tabernacle, but in this story, Moses goes to the finished Tabernacle to ask God what to do!
So, the stories are far too similar to be different events, but theyíre too different to be the same. Either Moses, the Israelites, and God all did the exact same thing twice, or weíre looking at another artifact of the Documentary Hypothesis, which is exactly what most biblical scholars suggest. In particular, scholars think the earlier story is based on the combined Jahwist and Elohist sources, while the latter story is the work of the Priestly sources who wanted to give more importance to the Tabernacle and the priesthood (surprise, surprise).