Exodus 15:25
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. There the LORD issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test.

New Living Translation
So Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that the LORD set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him.

English Standard Version
And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them,

New American Standard Bible
Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them.

King James Bible
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

Holman Christian Standard Bible
So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he threw it into the water, the water became drinkable. He made a statute and ordinance for them at Marah and He tested them there.

International Standard Version
Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree, which he threw into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD presented to them a statute and an ordinance, and there he tested them.

NET Bible
He cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When Moses threw it into the water, the water became safe to drink. There the Lord made for them a binding ordinance, and there he tested them.

New Heart English Bible
Then he cried to the LORD. The LORD showed him a tree, and he threw it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There he made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there he tested them;

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD set down laws and rules for them to live by, and there he tested them.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, and he cast it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There He made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there He proved them;

New American Standard 1977
Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There he gave them statutes and rights, and there he proved them

King James 2000 Bible
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

American King James Version
And he cried to the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

American Standard Version
An he cried unto Jehovah; And Jehovah showed him a tree, and he cast it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them;

Douay-Rheims Bible
But he cried to the Lord, and he shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, they were turned into sweetness. There he appointed him ordinances, and judgments, and there he proved him,

Darby Bible Translation
And he cried to Jehovah; and Jehovah shewed him wood, and he cast it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There he made for them a statute and an ordinance; and there he tested them.

English Revised Version
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, and he cast it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them;

Webster's Bible Translation
And he cried to the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which he cast into the waters, and the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

World English Bible
Then he cried to Yahweh. Yahweh showed him a tree, and he threw it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There he made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there he tested them;

Young's Literal Translation
and he crieth unto Jehovah, and Jehovah sheweth him a tree, and he casteth unto the waters, and the waters become sweet. There He hath made for them a statute, and an ordinance, and there He hath tried them,
Study Bible
The Waters of Marah
24So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" 25Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. 26And He said, "If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer."…
Cross References
Exodus 14:10
As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD.

Exodus 16:4
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.

Exodus 20:20
Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin."

Deuteronomy 8:2
"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Deuteronomy 8:16
"In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.

Joshua 24:25
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

Judges 2:22
in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk in it as their fathers did, or not."

Judges 3:1
Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan;

Judges 3:4
They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.

2 Kings 2:21
He went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, "Thus says the LORD, 'I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.'"
Treasury of Scripture

And he cried to the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

cried

Exodus 14:10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted up their …

Exodus 17:4 And Moses cried to the LORD, saying, What shall I do to this people? …

Psalm 50:15 And call on me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you …

Psalm 91:15 He shall call on me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in …

Psalm 99:6 Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call …

Jeremiah 15:1 Then said the LORD to me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, …

a tree

2 Kings 2:21 And he went forth to the spring of the waters, and cast the salt …

2 Kings 4:41 But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he …

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; …

a statute

Joshua 24:21-25 And the people said to Joshua, No; but we will serve the LORD…

proved

Exodus 16:4 Then said the LORD to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you…

Deuteronomy 8:2,16 And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you …

Deuteronomy 13:3 You shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer …

Judges 2:22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the …

Judges 3:1,4 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by …

Psalm 66:10 For you, O God, have proved us: you have tried us, as silver is tried.

Psalm 81:7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the …

Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD …

Jeremiah 9:7 Therefore thus said the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, …

1 Peter 1:6,7 Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, …

(25) The Lord shewed him a tree.--There are trees which have the power of sweetening bitter water; but none of them is at present found in the Sinaitic peninsula, and the Arabs are not now acquainted with any means of rendering the bitter waters of Howarah and the neighbouring springs palatable. Perhaps in ancient times there were forms of vegetable life in the peninsula which do not now exist there. Moses would scarcely have been "shown a tree" unless the tree had some virtue of its own; but, on the other hand, the tree alone is scarcely to be credited with the entire effect. As in so many other instances, God seems to have made use of nature, as far as nature could go, and then to have superadded His own omnipotent energy in order to produce the required effect. (Compare our blessed Lord's method in working His miracles.)

He made for them a statute and an ordinance.- God took advantage of the occasion to draw a lesson from it. He promised that, as He had healed the waters, so, if the Israelites would henceforth faithfully keep His commandments, He would "heal" them (Exodus 15:26), keeping them free from all the diseases of Egypt, and from the far greater evil involved in their own corrupted nature and infirmity.

Verses 25, 26. - The Lord shewed him a tree. - Several trees or plants belonging to different parts of the world, are said to possess the quality of rendering bitter water sweet and agreeable; as the nellimaram of Coromandel, the sassafras of Florida, the yerva Caniani of Peru, and the perru nelli (Phylanthus emblica) of India. But none of them is found in the Sinaitic. peninsula. Burckhardt suggested (Travels in Syria. p. 474) that the berries of the ghurkud (Peganum retusum), a low thorny shrub which grows abundantly round the Ain Howarah, may have been used by Moses to sweeten the drink; but there are three objections to this.

1. Moses is not said to have used the berries, but the entire plant;

2. The berries would not have been procurable in April, since they do not ripen till June; and

3. They would not have produced any such effect on the water as Burckhardt imagined. In fact there is no tree or shrub now growing in the Sinaitic peninsula, which would have any sensible effect on such water as that of Ain Howarah; and the Bedouins of the neighbourhood know of no means by which it can be made drinkable. Many of the Fathers believed that the "tree" had no natural effect, and was commanded to be thrown in merely to symbolise the purifying power of the Cross of Christ. But to moderns such a view appears to savour of mysticism. It is perhaps most probable that there was some tree or shrub in the vicinity of the bitter fountain in Moses' time which had a natural purifying and sweetening power, but that it has now become extinct. If this be the case, the miracle consisted in God's pointing out the tree to Moses, who had no previous knowledge of it. The waters were made sweet. Compare the miracle of Elisha (2 Kings 2:19-22). There he made for them a statute and an ordinance. See the next verse. God, it appears, after healing the water, and satisfying the physical thirst of his people, gave them an ordinance, which he connected by a promise with the miracle. If they would henceforth render strict obedience to all his commandments, then he would "heal" them as he had healed the water, would keep them free at once from physical and from moral evil, from the diseases of Egypt, and the diseases of their own hearts. And there he proved them. From the moment of their quitting Egypt to that of their entering Canaan, God was ever "proving" his people - trying them, that is - exercising their faith, and patience and obedience and power of self-denial, in order to fit them for the position which they were to occupy in Canaan. He had proved them at the Red Sea, when he let them be shut in between the water and the host of the Egyptians - he proved them now at Marah by a bitter disappointment - he proved them again at Meribah (Exodus 17:1-7); at Sinai (Exodus 20:20); at Taberah (Numbers 11:1-3); at Kibroth-hattaavah (ib, verse 34); at Kadesh (ib, 13:26-33), and elsewhere. For forty years he led them through the wilderness" to prove them, to know what was in their heart" (Deuteronomy 8.), to fit them for their glorious and conquering career in the land of promise All these diseases. See Deuteronomy 7:15; Deuteronomy 28:27. Kalisch correctly observes that, though the Egyptians had the character in antiquity of being among the healthiest and most robust of nations (Herod. 2:77), yet a certain small number of diseases have always raged among them with extreme severity He understands the present passage of the plagues, which, however, are certainly nowhere else called "diseases." There is no reason why the word should not be taken literally, as all take it in the passages of Deuteronomy above cited. And he cried unto the Lord,.... Or prayed, as all the Targums, that God would appear for them, and relieve them in their distress, or, humanly speaking, they must all perish: happy it is to have a God to go to in time of trouble, whose hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that he cannot hear! Moses knew the power of God, and trusted in his faithfulness to make good the promises to him, and the people, that he would bring them to the land he had swore to give them:

and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet; what this tree was is not known; if it was in its own nature sweet, as the author of Ecclesiasticus seems to intimate, when he says, in chapter 38:5 "was not the water made sweet with the wood, that its virtue might be known?" Yet a single tree could never of itself sweeten a flow of water, and such a quantity as was sufficient for so large a number of men and cattle; and therefore, be it what it will, it must be owing to a miraculous operation that the waters were made sweet by it: but the Hebrew writers say the tree was bitter itself, and therefore the miracle was the greater: Gorionides (l) says it was wormwood; and both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call it the bitter tree, Ardiphne, which Cohen de Lara (m) makes to be the same which botanists call Rhododaphne or rose laurel, and which, he says, bears flowers like lilies, which are exceeding bitter, and are poison to cattle; and so says Baal Aruch (n); and much the same has Elias Levita (o): and this agrees well enough with the mystical and spiritual application that may be made of this; whether these bitter waters are considered as an emblem of the bitter curses of the law, for that bitter thing sin, which makes work for bitter repentance; and for which the law writes bitter things against the sinner, which, if not prevented, would issue in the bitterness of death; so that a sensible sinner can have nothing to do with it, nor can it yield him any peace or comfort: but Christ, the tree of life, being made under the law, and immersed in sufferings, the penalty of it, and made a curse, the law is fulfilled, the curse and wrath of God removed, the sinner can look upon it with pleasure and obey it with delight: or whether these may be thought to represent the afflictions of God's people, comparable to water for their multitude, and for their overflowing and overwhelming nature, and to bitter ones, being grievous to the flesh; especially when God hides his face and they are thought to be in wrath: but these are sweetened through the presence of Christ, the shedding abroad of his love in the heart, the gracious promises he makes and applies, and especially through his bitter sufferings and death, and the fruits and effects thereof, which support, refresh, and cheer, see Hebrews 12:2,

there he made a statute and an ordinance: not that he gave them at this time any particular law or precept, whether moral or ceremonial, such as the laws of keeping the sabbath and honouring of parents, which the Targum of Jonathan mentions (p); and to which Jarchi adds that concerning the red heifer: but he gave them a general instruction and order concerning their future behaviour; that if they hearkened to his commandments, and yielded obedience to them, it would be well with them, if not they must expect to be chastised and afflicted by him, as is observed in the following verse, to which this refers:

and there he proved them; the people of Israel; by these waters being first bitter and then sweetened, whereby he gave them a proof and specimen how it would be with them hereafter; that if they behaved ill they must expect the bitter waters of affliction, but, if otherwise, pleasant and good things: or, "there he proved him" (q); Moses, his obedience and faith, by ordering him to cast in the tree he showed him; but the former sense seems best to agree with what follows.

(l) Heb. Hist l. 6. c. 38. p. 742. (m) Ir. David, p. 21. (n) Fol. 51. 3.((o) In Methurgeman, fol. 9. 2.((p) So T. Bab. Sanhedrin. fol. 56. 2. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 5. p. 17. (q) "tentavit eum", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius, V. L. Tigurine version; "prebavit eum", Vatablus; "tentavit ipsum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. 25. the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet—Some travellers have pronounced this to be the Elvah of the Arabs—a shrub in form and flower resembling our hawthorn; others, the berries of the Ghurkhud—a bush found growing around all brackish fountains. But neither of these shrubs are known by the natives to possess such natural virtues. It is far more likely that God miraculously endowed some tree with the property of purifying the bitter water—a tree employed as the medium, but the sweetening was not dependent upon the nature or quality of the tree, but the power of God (compare Joh 9:6). And hence the "statute and ordinance" that followed, which would have been singularly inopportune if no miracle had been wrought.

and there he proved them—God now brought the Israelites into circumstances which would put their faith and obedience to the test (compare Ge 22:1).15:22-27 In the wilderness of Shur the Israelites had no water. At Marah they had water, but it was bitter; so that they could not drink it. God can make bitter to us that from which we promise ourselves most, and often does so in the wilderness of this world, that our wants, and disappointments in the creature, may drive us to the Creator, in whose favour alone true comfort is to be had. In this distress the people fretted, and quarrelled with Moses. Hypocrites may show high affections, and appear earnest in religious exercises, but in the time of temptation they fall away. Even true believers, in seasons of sharp trial, will be tempted to fret, distrust, and murmur. But in every trial we should cast our care upon the Lord, and pour out our hearts before him. We shall then find that a submissive will, a peaceful conscience, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost, will render the bitterest trial tolerable, yea, pleasant. Moses did what the people had neglected to do; he cried unto the Lord. And God provided graciously for them. He directed Moses to a tree which he cast into the waters, when, at once, they were made sweet. Some make this tree typical of the cross of Christ, which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction to all the faithful, and enables them to rejoice in tribulation. But a rebellious Israelite shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian. The threatening is implied only, the promise is expressed. God is the great Physician. If we are kept well, it is he that keeps us; if we are made well, it is he that recovers us. He is our life and the length of our days. Let us not forget that we are kept from destruction, and delivered from our enemies, to be the Lord's servants. At Elim they had good water, and enough of it. Though God may, for a time, order his people to encamp by the bitter waters of Marah, that shall not always be their lot. Let us not faint at tribulations.
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