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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Rephidim

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a station or encampment of the Israelites, Exodus 17:1 . At this station, adjoining to Mount Horeb, the people again murmured for want of water; and they chid Moses, saying, "Give us water that we may drink." And "they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?" Moses, therefore, to convince them that he was, by a more obvious miracle than at Marah, smote the rock with his rod, by the divine command, and brought water out of it for the people to drink: wherefore, he called the place Meribah, "chiding," and the rock Massah, "temptation." On their way to Rephidim, the Amalekites, the original inhabitants of the country, who are noticed in Abraham's days, Genesis 14:7 , not having the fear of God before their eyes, nor regarding the judgments recently inflicted on the Egyptians, attacked the rear of the Israelites when they were faint and weary; but were defeated by a chosen party, under the command of Joshua, the faithful lieutenant of Moses, who is first noticed on this occasion, and even then pointed out by the Lord as his successor. This victory was miraculous; for while Moses held up his hand Israel prevailed, but when he let it down Amalek prevailed. So Aaron and Hur (the husband of Miriam, according to Josephus) held up both his hands steadily till sunset, and thereby gave a decided victory to Israel. This unprovoked aggression of the Amalekites drew down upon them from the Lord the sentence of "war from generation to generation," between them and the Israelites, and of final extermination, which was commanded go be written or registered in a book, for a memorial to Joshua and his successors, the judges and kings of Israel, and was carried into execution by Saul, 1 Samuel 15:8 , by David, 1 Samuel 30:17 , and finally accomplished by the Simeonites in Hezekiah's reign, Exodus 17:8-13 ; Deuteronomy 25:17 ; 1 Chronicles 4:43 . While the Israelites were encamped at Rephidim, on the western side of Horeb, the mount of God, Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, who lived in that neighbourhood, and was priest and prince of Midian, came to visit him, with his wife Zipporah, and his two sons, Eleazar and Gershom, who had accompanied him part of the way to Egypt, but returned home again; and they rejoiced with him "for all the goodness which the Lord had done for Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians;" and upon this occasion, Jethro, as "a priest of the most high God," of the order of Melchizedek, "offered a burnt-offering and sacrifices of thanksgiving to God, at which Aaron and all the elders of Israel ate bread with Jethro before God," by a repetition of the eucharistic feast upon a sacrifice which Melchizedek formerly administered to Abraham, Genesis 14:18 ; Exodus 18:1-12 . Thus was fulfilled the prophetic sign which the Lord had given to Moses when he first appeared to him in the burning bush: "This shall be a token unto thee that I have sent thee: when thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain," Exodus 3:12 . The speedy accomplishment, therefore, of this sign, at the beginning of their journey, was well calculated to strengthen their faith or reliance on the divine protection throughout. Jethro appears to have been distinguished not only for his piety, but also for his political wisdom. By his advice, which also was approved by the Lord, Moses, to relieve himself from the fatigue of administering justice to the people, the whole day, from morning until evening, instituted inferior judges or magistrates over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, as his deputies, who were to relieve him from the burden of judging the smaller causes, but to refer the greater or more difficult to Moses, for his decision.


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Rephidim'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/r/rephidim.html. 1831-2.

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