Exodus 15:24
And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Marah - Now identified with the fount of Huwara. The fountain rises from a large mound, a whitish petrifaction, deposited by the water, and is considered by the Arabians to be the worst in the whole district.23. when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters—Following the general route of all travellers southward, between the sea and the tableland of the Tih ("valley of wandering"), Marah is almost universally believed to be what is now called Howarah, in Wady Amarah, about thirty miles from the place where the Israelites landed on the eastern shore of the Red Sea—a distance quite sufficient for their march of three days. There is no other perennial spring in the intermediate space. The water still retains its ancient character, and has a bad name among the Arabs, who seldom allow their camels to partake of it. No text from Poole on this verse. And the people murmured against Moses,.... For bringing them into a wilderness where they could find no water fit to drink; saying:

what shall we drink? what shall we do for drink? where can we drink? this water is not drinkable, and, unless we have something to drink, we, and our wives, and children, and servants, and cattle, must all perish.

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. murmured] as Exodus 16:2; Exodus 16:7-8, Exodus 17:3, Numbers 14:2; Numbers 14:27; Numbers 14:29; Numbers 14:36; Numbers 16:11; Numbers 16:41; Numbers 17:5, Joshua 9:18†. Cf. ‘murmurings,’ Exodus 16:7-9; Exodus 16:12, Numbers 14:27; Numbers 17:5; Numbers 17:10†.Verse 24. - And the people murmured against Moses. As they had already done on the western shores of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:11, 12), and as they were about to do so often before their wanderings were over. (See below, Exodus 16:2; Exodus 17:3; Numbers 14:2; Numbers 16:41; Deuteronomy 1:27, etc.) "Murmuring" was the common mode in which they vented their spleen, when anything went ill with them; and as Moses had persuaded them to quit Egypt, the murmuring was chiefly against him. The men who serve a nation best are during their lifetime least appreciated. What shall we drink? Few disappointments are harder to bear than that of the man, who after long hours of thirst thinks that he has obtained wherewith to quench his intolerable longing, and on raising the cup to his lips, finds the draught so nauseous that he cannot swallow it. Very unpalatable water is swallowed when the thirst is great (Eothen, p. 197). But there is a limit beyond which nature will not go. There "may be water, water everywhere, yet not a drop to drink." "Thou wilt bring and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, the place which Thou hast made for Thy dwelling-place, Jehovah, for the sanctuary, Lord, which Thy hands prepared." On the dagesh dirim. in מקּדשׁ, see Exodus 2:3. The futures are not to be taken as expressive of wishes, but as simple predictions, and are not to be twisted into preterites, as they have been by Knobel. The "mountain of Jehovah's inheritance" was not the hill country of Canaan (Deuteronomy 3:25), but the mountain which Jehovah had prepared for a sanctuary (Psalm 78:54), and chosen as a dwelling-place through the sacrifice of Isaac. The planting of Israel upon this mountain does not signify the introduction of the Israelites into the promised land, but the planting of the people of God in the house of the Lord (Psalm 92:14), in the future sanctuary, where Jehovah would perfect His fellowship with His people, and where the people would show themselves by their sacrifices to be the "people of possession," and would serve Him for ever as their King. This was the goal, to which the redemption from Egypt pointed, and to which the prophetic foresight of Moses raised both himself and his people in this song, as he beholds in spirit and ardently desires the kingdom of Jehovah in its ultimate completion.

(Note: Auberlen's remarks in the Jahrb.f. d. Theol. iii. p. 793, are quite to the point: "In spirit Moses already saw the people brought to Canaan, which Jehovah had described, in the promise given to the fathers and repeated to him, as His own dwelling-place where He would abide in the midst of His people in holy separation from the nations of the world. When the first stage had been so gloriously finished, he could already see the termination of the journey."..."The nation was so entirely devoted to Jehovah, that its own dwelling-place fell into the shade beside that of its God, and assumed the appearance of a sojourning around the sanctuary of Jehovah, for God went up before the people in the pillar of cloud and fire. The fact that a mountain is mentioned in Exodus 15:17 as the dwelling-place of Jehovah is no proof of a vaticinium post eventum, but is a true prophecy, having its natural side, however, in the fact that mountains were generally the sites chosen for divine worship and for temples; a fact with which Moses was already acquainted (Genesis 22:2; Exodus 3:1, Exodus 3:12; compare such passages as Numbers 22:41; Numbers 33:52; Micah 4:1-2). In the actual fulfilment its was Mount Zion upon which Jehovah was enthroned as King in the midst of his People.)

The song closes in Exodus 15:18 with an inspiring prospect of the time, when "Jehovah will be King (of His people) for ever and ever;" and in Exodus 15:19, it is dovetailed into the historical narrative by the repetition of the fact to which it owed its origin, and by the explanatory "for," which points back to the opening verse.

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