Water From a Portable Rock?

General Christian Theology
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ohio jones
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Water From a Portable Rock?

Postby ohio jones » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:45 pm

Something to ponder while sipping a cool glass of water on a hot summer day:

1 Cor 10:1-4 wrote:For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Exodus 17 and Numbers 20 have nearly identical accounts, 40 years apart, of Moses producing water from a rock. In both cases the people were without water and accused Moses of bringing them out of Egypt just to kill them with thirst in the desert. In both cases Moses took his staff and struck the rock (though the second time God told him only to speak, holding the staff in his hand), and water flowed from the rock, in sufficient quantity to quench the thirst of the people and animals. In both cases the name Meribah was given.

There are at least 3 logical possibilities for the water supply in the intervening 40 years:
1. They traveled from one oasis to another.
2. The rock stayed put at Rephidim, but water continued to flow from it to supply their needs (see Psalm 105:41).
3. The rock moved with them (see 1 Cor 10:4), providing a continuous water supply.

The first option is straightforward. The second option is also not too hard to accept, given a 40 year supply of manna, which also apparently followed them. It does not explain, however, how Moses knew which rock to speak to; Numbers appears to refer to a specific rock that Moses and the people had no problem identifying.

Does the third option sound a bit strange? It does not have any Old Testament support, but there are Jewish writings that describe it, and then of course there are the words of Paul, who would likely have been aware of those writings and may have been alluding to them, taking them a step further in applying them to Christ.

A few examples of this tradition in the Rabbinic writings:

Tosephta Sukka wrote:And so the well which was with the Israelites in the wilderness was a rock, the size of a large round vessel, surging and gurgling upward, as from the mouth of its little flask, rising with them up onto the mountains, and going down with them into the valleys. Wherever the Israelites would encamp, it made camp with them, on a high place, opposite the entry of the Tent of Meeting. The princes of Israel come and surround it with their staffs, and they sing a song concerning it: Spring up, O Well!

Targum Pseudo-Jonathon wrote:And because it (the rock) was given to them as a gift, it turned to ascend the high mountains with them and from the high mountains it descended with them to the valleys, going around the entire camp of Israel and giving them drink each and every one of them at the door of his tent.

Have you heard this before? Do you think it's all wet? What was Paul referring to?
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Re: Water From a Portable Rock?

Postby JimFoxvog » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:02 pm

I take Paul more literally. He's talking about a spiritual rock, not a physical one that gave physical water. The physical rock in the desert was a symbol of the Rock, Christ. So in the intervening years, between the water from the rock incidents, oasis to oasis sounds likely.
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Re: Water From a Portable Rock?

Postby temporal1 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:33 am

the passage above from 1 Corinthians references "spiritual" thrice, and names Christ as the Rock that followed them, so, the message is clear .. (to me) ..
i had not read or considered the Rabbinic writings, but, interesting to ponder.
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Re: Water From a Portable Rock?

Postby YorkandAdams » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:40 pm

This was from this past Sunday school lesson booklet (June 18th). We had the same exact theory brought up. I am inclined to go with the others as the rock was spiritual in the new testament and the rock in the old testament is something that I can not say for sure. open to interpretation
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Re: Water From a Portable Rock?

Postby JohnHurt » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:04 pm


Here is my understanding:

"And that Rock was Christ" could mean " and that Rock that was anointed", as the word "Christ" means "the Anointed".

And there is a very special rock that was anointed by Jacob / Israel:

Genesis 28:(18) And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

And Jacob said as part of his vow to God:

(22) And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

So this stone was very important to Jacob, as the stone had been anointed with oil and was part of the vow that Jacob made with YHVH.

Perhaps this is the rock that followed Israel in the wilderness and provided water.

A very special stone, or pillar, was also used in the coronation of the king:

2 Kings 11:(14) And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.

Judges 9:(6) And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.

2nd Kings 23:(3) And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

A portable stone, selected by Jacob / Israel and anointed by him, and that miraculously provided water to Israel in the Desert, would be a national treasure, and so would belong to the King and used as part of his coronation and other duties.

My studies of non-canonical literature show that when the Temple of Solomon was built, this stone was a national treasure of Israel and was squared to be made into a cornerstone of the Temple. Yet, being of sandstone, it could not support the necessary weight, and so was rejected by the builders. From this, the Psalmist compared the weakness of this stone to the strength of Christ, who is the Chief Cornerstone, Who would indeed become the True Head Stone of the corner:

Psalms 118:(22) The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
(23) This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

An Israelite of Solomon's time who read Psalms 118 would understand what stone was being spoken of, yet Christ and His Apostles understood the fulfilled prophecy that the stone is really a symbol of Christ. (Matt 21:42, Acts 4:11, 1 Peter 2:7)

So in a sense, "and that Rock is Christ" is a correct statement either way you look at it.

The difference is, the physical rock is something that had to "follow them", yet Christ is our Shepherd and is our Leader.
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